WEEKLY EMAIL Friday 22 January 2021

Message from the Head of School

Thank you once again for all your support during another challenging week. We hope that your children have benefited from more live and interactive content in their lessons. We’re reviewing how this is going and looking at ways to further improve the online learning experience. This includes analysing the responses to the parent survey from last week (see below) which will be very helpful in shaping or approach.

In particular, thank you for your many messages of support – we always share these with staff and it really does mean a lot to them to know how much their work is valued.
There’s still lots of uncertainty surrounding the coming weeks. The possibility of not all schools opening fully after half term has been acknowledged by the government, who have committed to giving schools and parents at least two weeks’ notice of when schools will open again to all students. The grading of GCSEs is now under consultation and testing of close contacts is also under review (see below for more details).
Year 11 – preparation for GCSE grading
As notified earlier in the week, the consultation on how to grade GCSEs this summer is now underway. If you wish to take part in the consultation, please click here.
It is clear from the wording of the consultation that students will almost certainly be expected to continue studying as far into the academic year as possible (probably into June) to give them the maximum opportunity to learn. There is also likely to be more emphasis placed on evidence gathered near the end of the course, possibly involving materials supplied by exam boards.
This means that it is really important that Year 11 students continue to engage with learning and apply themselves over the coming weeks as they still have the opportunity to influence their results at GCSE. Alongside this, they are still developing the knowledge, skills and understanding that will help them move successfully to the next phase of their education.
We have been immensely proud of the way Year 11 students have conducted themselves throughout the unprecedented challenges of the last 12 months and particularly how hard they worked on their return to school in September. Whatever happens now, we want them to give themselves the best possible chance of leaving Millthorpe with the outcomes they deserve.
We will of course keep you updated with any developments.
DfE Chromebooks

As many of you will be aware, the DfE has allocated each school a number of Chromebooks, which we are pleased to have been able to distribute to disadvantaged students in accordance with DfE instructions. We have very limited capacity for providing devices to other families but if you are struggling to provide a suitable device/s for your child/ren, please contact us to see if we are able to help.

If you have a laptop or tablet that is in good working condition, we would still welcome any donations. You can drop devices off in Reception between 8.00-11.00am or email a.collins@millthorpe.southbank.academy to make arrangements.

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing
Staff attending school are now testing themselves twice a week to help reduce the risk of transmission, but plans for testing students and staff who are identified as close contacts of positive cases as an alternative to self-isolation have been ‘paused’ by the government whilst it seeks further clinical evidence. As usual, we’ll keep you updated with any new information.

Best wishes

Gemma Greenhalgh
Head of School

Remote learning – parent survey feedback

Early on in the remote learning process we asked parents for feedback on our remote learning provision and the quality of online teaching. Thank you to those parents/carers who responded. Please read this short report which details how we have taken your comments on board and improved our offer.

Form-time welfare sessions

This week has seen the launch of our Google Meet Form-time Welfare sessions and unlike in lessons, we ask that wherever possible, students have their cameras and microphones on. We also ask that backgrounds are blurred and, as some students have reported finding it difficult, we hope this handy guide from Google will help. There are options for phones, tablets and computers.

Remote Assembly

In the recent parent survey, we received a number of requests for remote assemblies as this was something that many students and their families appreciated during previous periods of lockdown. We were only too happy to oblige and here is the first remote assembly of 2021. We will continue to share an assembly in this weekly email throughout the period of lockdown.

Each assembly will also be uploaded to the “Health, Wellbeing and Pastoral Care” Google Classroom, which every student has access to, every Friday so that they can watch it at a time of their choosing.
However, in order to listen to the assembly from Google Classroom, they will need to download it first. The instructions of how to do this are as follows:
1. Click on the PowerPoint in the Google Classroom.
2. Click on the three dots in the top right corner and select “Open in a new window”
3. When the new window opens, there will be an arrow facing down next to the 3 dots which is the download button. Students should click this to download the PowerPoint.
4. Play the PowerPoint as a slideshow. They should then be able to listen to the assembly providing they have speakers/headphones.
This week’s assembly theme is “5 steps to wellbeing” so we hope that our students, and their families, find this useful.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Every January, Year 9 Millthorpe School students spend a day learning about the horrors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, and are encouraged to make a pledge to ensure that they are part of a world in which such atrocities do not happen again.

This year, our plans to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day with Year 9 students have been postponed because we felt that it was too emotive a topic to teach remotely, and that we needed to have the students in front of us in a classroom to monitor their reactions and emotions and ensure that there are no misconceptions.
However, we have received this resource from an organisation called “Big Ideas”, which has partnered with the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation to launch a national project called “Foundation Stones.” Full details are on the PDF but essentially, students, parents and carers are encouraged to find and paint a small stone to commemorate the Holocaust, a subsequent genocide or maybe a message of hope for the future. The stones will then become part of a new national UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre which is being built. They say “Each painted stone is a commitment to remember the past and to build a future free from all forms of prejudice, discrimination and hatred.”
We wanted to draw your attention to this project and ask you to consider participating. Obviously many young people in our school (especially those in Key Stage 3) may not have a good understanding of the Holocaust and it will not be appropriate for every child. But if you felt confident in sensitively explaining the Holocaust to your child(ren) and explaining why they might choose to take part, we would be delighted if some of our students and families could contribute to this national project.

Act early on potential extremism

The Head of Counter Terrorism Policing has advised parents and carers to Act Early and keep a close eye on signs of extremist grooming as young people spend more time out of school and online.

Whilst this is not something that we ordinarily deal with, this is a national project that we have been asked to share with all parents/carers so that you are aware of the potential signs of online extremist grooming and can act accordingly. Please follow this link below to find out more:

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR VIGILANCE AMID NEW LOCKDOWN | Counter Terrorism Policing

York College Virtual Open Event

York College is holding its next Virtual Open Event on Thursday 11 February from 5.30–8.00pm. Students can register online by visiting the York College website.

Support with food

York CVS and Healthwatch York have compiled a list of all the places where families can get food during lockdown if they are struggling, without needing Food Bank vouchers.

The Week Junior

Due to the current restrictions The Week Junior magazine is available online and can be accessed via the following link: magazine.theweekjunior.co.uk. To log in, select ‘Have you got a voucher code?’ and enter the code: TWJ2678tuv

Safeguarding

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.