WEEKLY EMAIL Friday 19 March 2021

Remote learning update

We have had a number of students learning from home because they are shielding, self-isolating or have had a positive Covid test. Our teachers will now ensure that all of the lessons, activities and resources for their lessons are available as per your child’s timetable. This means that any student learning from home can follow their school timetable. Similarly, there will now be opportunities for students learning remotely to access live teacher explanation via Google Meet and/or recorded videos and resources from their Google Classroom. If the teacher is teaching via a Google Meet this will be clearly announced in the stream for that lesson.

Like other schools across the city, our priority is our exam classes. We have had a significant number of Year 10 students having to self-isolate, so we have made it our particular focus to provide live teacher explanation via Google Meet and/or recorded videos and resources for this year group.

Our protocols for students, teachers and parents remain the same as they did when we were delivering remote education in full National Lockdown. In addition to these protocols, teachers will ensure:
  • that any Google Meet is displayed on the teacher monitor only and never on the board;
  • that their monitor is angled away from the class;
  • that their camera is either off, on the teacher, or on the board;
  • that no students in school are in the camera shot at any time;
  • that the Google Meet is structured explanation or input.
  • the meet will not be ‘left’ running as a live stream.
Our teachers will set independent work via Google Classroom and try their best to monitor the stream for any questions, but unlike remote learning during lockdown, this will not have the same level of interaction, as our teachers are delivering lessons in their classroom to a physical class of students at the same time.
In some instances, it may be that a lesson is not available in the classroom. This could be due to the practical nature of the lesson or the absence of a teacher, for example. We have provided links to the Oak National Academy lessons for any period where there is not a Millthorpe lesson available. This can be accessed via our website under our Remote Learning offer and Curriculum sections.

Email communications

As a school, when we need to quickly get a message to a large number of people at once, we use email as our primary method of communication with parents/carers. Can we please ask that you check for emails from school on a daily basis? This is vital at the moment when there are numerous important messages to communicate but we would urge you to get into the habit of checking as a matter of course.

Please contact the school office asap if you have changed your email address or you think we may not have the correct address for you.

If you think you are not receiving emails, please do check your spam/junk folder and add Millthorpe to your safe sender list.

Face coverings

Can you please remind your child(ren) that they must bring their own mask to school every day and that they must not share masks. Disposable masks should not be worn more than once and, therefore, are not recommended.

GCSE Support Materials

As you will be aware, exam boards have been asked to provide support materials to help teachers assess students in order to determine their GCSE grade this summer. Some of you will also have heard that the Government has decided to make these materials publicly available, its rationale being that this will prevent certain students gaining an advantage if materials were to be leaked. We were disappointed (as we imagine many schools were) that this decision was announced after we had developed detailed plans for the preparation and assessment of Year 11 students and we understand that some students and parents may be anxious about the effects of this approach.

However, it should be borne in mind that usage is optional and there will be a range of materials from different boards that schools can choose from. Mark schemes and exemplar materials will be kept secure. It is also worth noting that there will be no comparison of grades between schools, nor any norm referencing nor other formulae applied to limit the award of grades at an individual school.

As such, we are still confident that our approach will give students a suitable opportunity to properly demonstrate their knowledge and skills across their exam subjects and we would like to reassure parents that we will do all we can to make sure our students are not disadvantaged in any way.

Plastic bottles

A number of our students are part of a nationwide student initiative called Plastic Free Schools and as part of the project, the Student Council and Climate Change Club have been lobbying for the phasing out of the sale of plastic bottles in the canteen. The benefits of the scheme are threefold:

  • Millthorpe will play its part in reducing plastic waste and litter, thus lessening the environmental impact;
  • It encourages the healthier choice of drinking fresh water;
  • Families can save money at a time when finances are difficult for many.

This environmental initiative is endorsed both by school and our catering providers Hutchison Catering, who have now started running down stocks of drinks in plastic bottles. Can we therefore remind all students that they should arrive at school with a reusable water bottle that they can refill with fresh, cold water from the outdoor sinks as needed.

The Group Chat Challenge

Many young people, and indeed adults, are very attached to their phones and tablets. They can be used really successfully to help people to keep in touch with friends and family and can be a vital source of support. However, they can also place people under enormous pressure to be available 24/7, and this can have a detrimental impact on physical and mental health. It can also have a considerable impact on the amount and quality of sleep that an individual can get, and their ability to concentrate the next day.

Students were asked to consider this and agree a sensible time amongst their friendship groups when they should try to stop sending messages to one another. The findings were interesting: sometimes encouraging, sometimes a little concerning! Following this feedback from students, Mr Baybutt has set students the “Group Chat Challenge”. The reasoning, research and advice has been explained to students in Form Time this week.

Please take a look at the presentation which your child has received this week and ask your child and their friends to rise to the challenge!

If you are a parent or carer who is exasperated by your attempts to get your child to put their phone down and go to sleep, or you share concerns about the amount of time your child spends on their phone, especially at night, this may help. Of course, we are not expecting you to enforce this, but it is just something that may help in your discussions with your child.

Trespassing on the railway

You may remember that we shared a concern with you on 5th February after British Transport Police contacted all York secondary schools to alert them to a worrying increase in the amount of your people trespassing on the railway in York.

Today, we were visited by PC Dan Smith from the British Transport Police to share a specific concern that happened at about 4pm yesterday. A group of teenagers were seen trespassing on the railway line which runs between Hob Moor and Little Hob Moor. BTP were trying to identify the students in question but the images were inconclusive. Whilst this may not be any of our students, it is certainly a route that many of our students will take to travel home so we are concerned.
Please can we urge you to speak to your child if they do walk over Hob Moor on their way to and from school, and remind them about the dangers of trespassing on the railway. The http://www.youvstrain.co.uk/ website may be of use.
Students in Key Stage 3 have already received a PSHE lesson on this topic recently, and one is planned for Key Stage 4 students after Easter. However, this is an immediate concern so please do talk to your child to ensure they are not putting themselves at risk.

Free school meal vouchers – Easter break

If your child(ren) is entitled to free school meals, a voucher for £30 per student will be emailed to you on Friday 26 March to cover the two-week Easter break. City of York Council are funding this provision.

Census 2021 support

As mentioned in last week’s email, the team at York CVS are running a Census Support Centre offering assistance to people who need help with completing the online Census questionnaire.

The service is available until 4 May but the team is offering additional hours over the next week as follows:

  • Saturday 20 March – CLOSED
  • Sunday 21 March (Census Day) – additional opening from 9.30am – 4.00pm
  • Monday 22 – Friday 26 March –  9.30am – 4.00pm

Wheelchair users can book appointments Monday-Thursday from 10.00am – 1.00pm.

To book a face-to-face or call-back appointment, please contact York CVS Census Support on T: 01904 621133 and choose Census Support.

Further information can also be found here.

Speakers for Schools – Insight day with The Biorenewables Energy Centre (University of York)

As part of their Green Skills Week, Speakers for Schools will be running a virtual insight day on Thursday 8 April from 10.00am – 3.30pm with the University of York. More information is available here.


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.