Great start to an unusual New Year
Well we’ve had a very successful first week of online learning at Millthorpe and I feel very proud of what our staff and students have achieved at one night’s notice. Thank you firstly to all of our parents for helping students get on board with the new arrangements so quickly. Secondly, I’d like to thank our students for their excellent engagement with the online provision. Yesterday, there were 4018 ‘marks’ for attending lessons out of a possible 4780 – that’s over 84%. 75% of all students attended four or five lessons and 94% engaged with learning during the day and these figures are set to rise today.
Remote learning timetable from 18 January
When a staggered return was announced, we felt that continuing to follow the normal timetable was the simplest thing for students. Now that the closure has been extended, we have carefully reviewed the position to make sure we are able to provide the best online learning experience for our students and fulfil government expectations. In conclusion, the model we have chosen does not deviate substantially from the current arrangements that seem to be working well for many students but shortens lessons.
Please see below the new model that will begin on 18 January (not 11 January).
- 9.05 – 9.55am: Period 1
- 10.05 – 10.55am: Period 2
- 10.55 – 11.20am: BREAK
- 11.20am – 12.10pm: Period 3
- 12.10 – 1.00pm: LUNCH
- 1.00 – 1.50pm: Period 4
- 2.00 – 2.50pm: Period 5
- 2.50 – 3.10pm: Welfare
The benefits of this approach are as follows:
- Students continue to study the same variety of subjects for the same number of lessons and continue to be taught by their class teacher as we believe that effective relationships are key.
- Lessons start at the same time but are reduced from one hour to fifty minutes to allow students (and staff) to stretch their legs and have a comfort break between lessons.
- Teachers can continue to collaborate to ensure resources are high quality and consistent.
- The additional welfare slot at the end of the day provides tutors the opportunity to check in with their form. This contact might be via phone, small group Google Meeting or a direct message through their tutor group Google Classroom.
Enhancing our learning with live audio/video content
Over the next week, we are going to explore the use of live audio and/or video content as part of the range of interactive elements in online lessons. Follow the link here for more details of our approach to live content.
Parents will be contacted next week with online protocols that clearly set out our expectations of online conduct. It is absolutely essential that these are shared with students before we begin to deliver using live video or audio.
Assessment and feedback
In the previous lockdown we didn’t have a platform with interactive functions in place; the move to Google Classroom has allowed students to interact with their teachers. Students now have the opportunity to check their understanding, receiving immediate feedback, while also benefiting from their peers’ responses. This has clearly been very well received by the vast majority of our students and has increased the level of engagement dramatically. The school network has held up well – problems earlier in the week were more widespread as children everywhere logged in to Google.
Whilst features such as the Google Stream, Google Questions and Google Forms all provide excellent vehicles for personalised feedback, we recognise that there also needs to be some opportunity for more ‘traditional’ assessment through Key Assessed Pieces (KAP) with detailed, high quality feedback leading to an opportunity for our students to improve their work. Our staff have been asked to ensure every student receives at least one of these summative assessments before half term in all of their subjects in line with our normal ‘in-school’ assessment policy.
Even though we don’t have the vast majority of our students in front of us in school we still want to continue to recognise the great work they produce. The golden ticket is going virtual! All staff are asked to identify one student that has clearly gone over and above that week: this might be their contribution in the Google Stream or the effort that’s gone into an assignment. Please always keep an eye on the Friday email when the list of student names will be published. Each time they appear they will be entered into a half termly prize draw.
I’m delighted to inform you that Rob Beever has joined Millthorpe School as Deputy Headteacher at the beginning of this week. By 8pm on his first day, the country went into a six-week lockdown! It’s definitely been an interesting time to join us; nevertheless Rob has settled in well and is looking forward to working with the student body when they return. He will be supporting the pastoral team as well as leading on curriculum developments in school. Rob’s teaching career has seen him work across both the pastoral and academic sides of school life. He spent 10 years at Rossett School in Harrogate moving through the pastoral system to be head of pastoral and achievement at KS4. Four years ago he left to become Assistant Headteacher at Outwood Academy Ripon, responsible for the Quality of Education. An intense two-day interview process clearly highlighted that his core educational values align with those we hold so dear at Millthorpe. I know he is very excited to contribute in the fullest sense to the success of our students.
I look forward to introducing him to you in person when things return to normal. He is available for parental contact by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laptops and devices
Thank you to those of you who have offered to donate laptops or tablets for use by students who don’t have access to a suitable device at home (including one very generous parent who has donated two brand new laptops). If you have a device that is in good working condition and you would like to donate it to school, please drop it off in Reception between 8.00-11.00am or email email@example.com to make arrangements.
Head of School
Pastoral support during lockdown
We are very aware that some young people will find another lockdown difficult. You can find a document attached with a number of useful websites, apps and phone numbers that you might want to share with your child if they are struggling.
If your child requires pastoral support from a member of staff within school, please get in touch. All staff contact details are available on our website. Form Tutors will also be making contact with their tutees from 18 January.
Increasing data allowances on mobile devices to support disadvantaged children
You may be aware that the Government has introduced a scheme to increase data allowances for mobile phone users on certain networks. This is to enable disadvantaged children to access remote education if their face-to-face education is disrupted.
As a school, we can request mobile data increases for students who:
- do not have fixed broadband at home
- cannot afford additional data for their devices
- are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education
Children with access to a mobile phone on one of the following networks might be able to benefit:
- Virgin Mobile
- Tesco Mobile
- Sky Mobile
If you would like us to apply on your behalf and you meet the criteria, in the first instance please email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting ‘mobile data offer’ in the subject line. We will then contact you to gather the precise information we need to apply.
Year 11 studies
It is vitally important that Year 11 students continue to complete the learning and assignments given to them by their subject teachers. It has not yet been confirmed exactly how GCSE grades will be determined this year but it seems certain that the work completed between now and the end of their time here will have an impact on their outcomes in some way.
Year 11 taster sessions at York College
Just a reminder that York College is holding its Virtual Taster Days for Year 11 students next week.
Students can still register for these, or they can simply go to the York College website next week to take part. Students can join at any time of day and see a huge range of videos and activities, information and FAQs. They can also email the subject areas directly with any questions they may have.
If you have any questions, please contact the Schools Liaison team at York College on email@example.com
Home learning heroes
We’ve had some amazing engagement with remote learning this week and we would love to see what your children have been up to in their remote classes so far. It would be great for families and students to share their experiences, so please tweet us photos of any work your child has done – it could be a science experiment, artwork, design, food, written work or anything else they (or you!) are proud of. We are also asking staff to tweet any great examples they see too (with permission of course).
All you need to do is mention @MillthorpeNews in your tweet and use the hashtag #homelearningheroes so that we can create a compilation of tweets in future.
Year 9 options process
As we are unable to hold our usual Options Evening for Year 9 students this year, information about the process and different subject choices will be available virtually. More details will follow nearer the time.
If you have significant concerns for the welfare of a child, in addition to being able to contact Sophie Johnson 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.