WEEKLY EMAIL Friday 19 June 2020

Message from the Head of School

Dear parents/carers

We have had a really good week this week in school with approximately 70% of Year 10 students returning for lessons. Their punctuality, behaviour and engagement has been impeccable; teachers have been really happy to welcome them back and be able to teach once again, despite the limitations and clearly defined two-metre restrictions. We hope it is not too long before we can welcome all of our students back after the summer. We will ensure that, as soon as we have any details or information about the wider opening of schools to other year groups, and dependent on any degree of social distancing, we will contact all parents with the ways that we will manage the transition back to school. We hope to let all parents know what September will be like before we close for the summer holidays but we have to acknowledge that the government guidance may continue to change over the break; we will always keep you informed via email of any changes that occur during the holidays.

Black Lives Matter campaign

This week we received this powerful letter from over 200 previous Millthorpians stating their support for the BLM campaign and requesting that Millthorpe considers its role in the education of children. You can read our response here.

Parent surveys – teaching and learning

Thank you to the parents who completed the KS3 parental surveys last week; we had 349 responses. You can find the graphical representations of the main questions and responses here. Below is a summary of the results of the survey from the graphs shared and from the free text.

We were very pleased to see that the vast majority of our students are working for between one to four hours daily and feel like the amount of work that is set is appropriate. We have previously suggested that three hours of school work each day would be a sensible amount of work for our Key Stage 3 students to complete, alongside some other physical and wellbeing activities to keep them healthy. We shared some examples to help students/parents and carers structure the home-school day earlier during lockdown, should you or your child prefer to have a more structured plan; these are available on the school website should you wish to use them. We know that many students and families prefer the flexibility to plan their time themselves around family time or the need to share IT facilities across parents and children.

At this point it is important to note that students and families need to take a personalised approach to home learning. We understand that some students will find completing all the work set takes considerably longer and can feel overwhelming; there is no expectation that all students will complete all the work set. All of the work that is set is purposeful and useful to students, but we are realistic and understanding about how much students can complete independently. We do not expect students to be able to complete the same amount of work and learning as they would do in school, nor would we expect students to work from a screen for this amount of time. We understand that every household has different circumstances and competing pressures and commitments, therefore we will continue not to set a rigid schedule or strict deadlines and we will not issue any sanction for missing or incomplete work. We will encourage students to prioritise and complete KAPs, so that students can receive feedback from their teacher on how well they have done and how they can improve.

We were very pleased to hear that the overwhelming majority of students can access this work easily through ClassCharts. We acknowledge that while most of the guidance and instructions are clear and easy to follow, according to some students this is an area we could improve. We will be asking all departments to make sure that their instructions are clear, particularly regarding the submission of work, and we will ask all work to include an email contact for the teacher, so that students know who to contact for additional support with each piece of work without having to search for the email address.

There were some comments that there may be other platforms available that might be more effective for remote learning and after exploring different options, we hope to be able to move to Google Classrooms in September. In order to do this we have a number of steps to make including migrating all the staff emails, creating new student emails and training all staff how to use the platform effectively. The email change takes a couple of weeks, hence why we plan to do this in the summer holidays and the training for staff will begin in July and continue in September. We are confident that this platform will enable more rapid and effective feedback and improved communication between students and teachers and among students, as well as bringing many other possibilities for effective remote learning when this is necessary.

We can see that only a few students have submitted ‘Proud Pieces’ of work and that in general they are not getting enough feedback from all of their subjects. The aim of the request for Proud Pieces was to help acknowledge the work students are doing. We know that teachers are not able to acknowledge or assess every piece of work when we are in normal school lessons but the teachers are able to circulate the room, ask questions, acknowledge the work, effort and learning conduct that students demonstrate; this is exceptionally difficult to replicate remotely. We hoped that students submitting their Proud Pieces would enable them to receive some feedback outside of their Key Assessed Pieces of work. Please encourage your child to submit work they have spent time on to their class teachers; the feedback we have had from both staff and students is that this makes a big difference. Our teachers and tutors will remind students that they can submit any piece in this way when they set work on ClassCharts.

The survey suggests that not many students receive feedback on KAPs and our teachers tell us that some students are not submitting their Key Assessed Pieces (KAPs); we are not sure if this is because the students may not have realised which tasks are KAPs. In future, teachers will make sure they are more clearly identifiable and re-publish previous KAPs on the site, as some parents have told us that their child was unsure how to submit these pieces. If your child has submitted a KAP and not received feedback within seven days, please contact their teacher.

Some parents have asked us about GCSE option choices and very soon all Year 9 students will receive confirmation of their GCSE subject choices. Subject teachers will be setting work in all Year 9 lessons that begin to prepare them for GCSE work. We are aware that some subjects have stated this explicitly, but all subjects will be setting work that begins to introduce them to more challenging tasks that get children used to working at the level required for GCSEs. We would strongly encourage students to continue with the subjects that they have not chosen for their options as part of ensuring they complete a broad and balanced Key Stage 3 curriculum.

We have had some requests to use Zoom or video conferencing to deliver virtual lessons but we are still unable to do that at this point. We continue to look into moving towards some form of live interaction and possibly some video lessons once we have the new platform in place that allows us to manage invitations and participation safely. We have completed training on how to include pre-recorded clips, narrate documents and presentations and set remote quizzes and more interactive resources. We were pleased to note that in all subjects, students are largely finding the work interesting and engaging.

Parent surveys – pastoral care and wellbeing

In response to the wellbeing questions, where parents/carers requested pastoral support for their child, the Pastoral Team have been making telephone contact this week and all children who requested a call have now received one.

A very small number of parents/carers did not require pastoral support but did request a call from their child’s Form Tutor with some urgency. The Form Tutors of these students have made telephone contact this week.

A number of parents/carers did not require pastoral support but said that their child would “definitely value a call.” Form Tutors have begun making these calls this week and they will continue them next week.

Where parents/carers did not require pastoral support, and a phone call was not urgent or not particularly needed, Form Tutors will begin making these calls in the coming days.

All students who do not already have regular contact with a member of staff can expect to have received a telephone call from their Form Tutor in the near future.

If, at any point, you need further pastoral support with your child, please contact their Form Tutor using the email address list on the school website.

Best wishes

Miss G Greenhalgh

Remote assemblies

Several responses to our recent survey enquired about the possibility of having a remote assembly for our students to watch. We have listened to your suggestion and here is Millthorpe’s first remote assembly by Mr Baybutt. It reassures students about what we are doing to support them remotely and also sets them a kindness challenge.

We will do one assembly per week for the remainder of this academic year. These will be emailed out in the Friday email and also uploaded to the Health, Wellbeing and Pastoral Care page on ClassCharts.

Lockers

We are aware that some students still have belongings in their lockers at school. As things stand currently, for health and safety reasons, we are unable to allow people in to school to retrieve belongings, but as soon as we are able to allow access, we will let you know.

Read Theory Challenge

Year 7 Read Theory Challenge students are continuing their amazing reading progress. One hundred and sixteen students took at least one quiz last week and 1,886 reading quizzes were taken in total!

Congratulations to 7BLO who are the Read Theory top form for the second week in a row.

If your child needs any help getting started with Read Theory please send an email to Ms Bradsell.

Keeping up with current affairs

Take a look at this week’s edition of The Week Junior here.

Safeguarding

If you have significant concerns for the welfare of a child during lockdown, in addition to being able to contact Ruth Cooper during school hours, you may wish to make direct contact with the York MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) on T: 01904 551900, option 3. They operate an out-of-hours service so concerns can be raised with them at any time.

For further information please see the safeguarding link on our school website.