WEEKLY EMAIL Friday 25 February 2022

Changes to testing and isolation arrangements

Following the government announcement this week, the arrangements around testing and isolation have changed with effect from Monday 21 February, as follows:

  • Although it is no longer a legal requirement, children are still advised to self-isolate for at least 5 days if they test positive for Covid-19; and then continue to follow this guidance until they have received negative test results on two consecutive days.
  • Close contacts are no longer advised to test daily if they have no symptoms or to self-isolate even if they are unvaccinated.
  • Students and their families are no longer advised to carry out testing twice a week when they are asymptomatic. Testing may be reintroduced if there is a local outbreak.
  • As such, schools will no longer be provided with test kits to pass on to students. Test kits can continue to be obtained online or from pharmacies.

Attendance

As we start a new half term, we would like to once again remind parents of the vital importance of good attendance. The overwhelming majority of students recognise the benefits associated with consistently strong attendance and punctuality. As a school we are broadly in line with national attendance figures but feel we should be aiming higher here at Millthorpe.

Our overall school attendance percentage is still sitting significantly short of its pre-pandemic level of 96%, even when Covid related absence has been factored in. Clearly there are so many complex reasons that might explain why we are in this position. City of York Council has recognised this issue and brought together all York schools to analyse the factors involved and work collaboratively to support students and families. We have a dedicated attendance team at Millthorpe School that wants to work alongside parents to build resilience in all our young people. After such a challenging time over the last two years, it’s important that we make clear the impact of poor attendance.

We believe that every minute counts in school. Missing lessons creates a learning gap and can therefore lead to stress and anxiety, which only increases with further absence. We want all students to feel connected to Millthorpe School, building great working relationships with their teachers and, importantly, benefiting from all the social aspects associated with a vibrant school like ours. We want them to leave us ready to grasp the opportunities that await them and establishing good attendance habits helps them do this.

Please continue to reinforce how coming into school every day is the norm. We recognise that every child is different and some may need a more bespoke approach; this is something we can do if we develop good working relationships with parents.

Obviously, students should only attend if they are well enough to do so. This can be a difficult judgment to make, but on those days when your child just isn’t quite feeling 100%, we ask that you encourage them to come in and have a go as children often feel better once they’ve got themselves up and ready and are back in their routine.

We know that the vast majority of our parents are highly supportive of school and the value of good attendance, for which we are extremely grateful. We’re confident that with a little extra focus, we can not only get back to where we should be as a school but also see all our students being the best that they can be.

Dates for the diary

A reminder that school reopens after half-term on Monday 28 February, with a B week.

School will be closed to students on Friday 4 March for a teacher training day.

Secondary school allocation day

On Tuesday 1 March, those of you with children in Year 6 will find out where your child has been allocated a Year 7 place for September 2022.

On the day, you can log on to the City of York Council’s Parent Portal to check your child’s school place. Parents/carers who applied online will also receive a Parent Portal email on the day. Those who did not apply online will receive a letter.

Further information can be found at york.gov.uk/SecondarySchoolAdmissions

Vacancies

We are looking to recruit school cleaners to work before or after school (10-20 hours per week). We can offer competitive pay and conditions – visit our website for full details of this and other current vacancies.

#WakeUpWednesday – A parent guide to Wink

Wink is a messaging app which allows children to connect and communicate with other users. In a similar style to Tinder, Wink uses the swipe method for browsing profiles and accepting or declining them. Once two users have accepted each other by swiping on each other’s profile, they can then communicate and play games online together. The fact that Wink allows children to share photos, personal information and their location with other users has caused significant concern.

In this parents’ guide, you’ll find tips on a number of potential risks such as grooming, cyberbullying and inappropriate content.

WEEKLY EMAIL Friday 18 February 2022

Dates for the diary

School reopens after half-term on Monday 28 February, with a B week. School will be closed to students on Friday 4 March for a teacher training day.

ParentPay

Could we remind parents to keep their children’s ParentPay account in credit please. If you have any issues with ParentPay, please contact Mel Brown.

Valuables and personal items in PE

We would ask parents to discourage students from bringing valuable items such as jewellery and air pods into school. If they do bring them in, please remind them that any valuables can be handed to the teacher at the beginning of PE lessons. All items of kit and uniform should be named.

York Apprenticeship Recruitment Event

The York Apprenticeship Recruitment Event will take place on 15 March at York High School. The event, which runs between 4.00-7.00pm, provides young people with a great opportunity to find out about apprenticeship opportunities in the local area. There is no need to register and students are encouraged to take an up-to-date CV with them to the event.

Family Matters courses

A reminder that Family Matters York are offering the following courses, some online and some in person, after half-term:

  • Handling Anger in the Family
  • Time Out for Parents – the Teenage Years
  • Time Out for Parents – the Primary Years

To book a place or for further information please contact Helen Atkinson on 07393 147259 or email helenatkinson@fmy.org.uk. You can also find more information on the Family Matters website.

WEEKLY EMAIL Friday 11 February 2022

Improvement works for September

Many of you will be aware that a range of improvement works are due to take place in preparation for September 2022. This is in response to a temporary increase of students in the Millthorpe catchment over the next three years. The works include extensive refurbishment and expansion of the dining facilities and improvements across the site to doors, steps and circulation areas.

It also includes replacement of all the existing student toilets to provide facilities that have the quality and capacity to meet current needs. The new facilities will all comprise secure, full height cubicles and open handwash areas, designed to make using the toilets as pleasant and safe as possible. The specific details of how we will designate particular cubicles in each area are yet to be finalised, but we expect to provide some cubicles that can be used by any student, as well as those designated exclusively for either girls or boys. Cubicles are designed to be completely private: unlike traditional cubicles, there are no gaps at the top or bottom of the doors; and they are robustly constructed to resist wear and damage.

A guide to coping with exam pressure

We have been delighted with how well our Year 11 students have approached their PPEs this week, but are aware that for some, it can be somewhat overwhelming and they have more PPEs to sit next week.

Ofqual have produced this handy guide and we encourage all Year 11 parents to share it with their child. We would ordinarily do this in school, but as students are not in Form at the moment so that they can get to morning exams on time, this is proving tricky.

Parents of students in other year groups may also want to have a look at this if they are worried about their child feeling the pressure of internal assessments.

Online maths platform

A couple of weeks ago in the weekly email, we let you know about an online maths platform called TUTOR, which we think could benefit your child(ren). This software is being used across school and can also provide unlimited home tutoring support. This letter from the developers explains the benefits of TUTOR, how to register and use the parent view.

If you need any further information, please contact Head of Maths, Mr Bruce.

Accessibility Plan

We are currently reviewing Millthorpe’s Accessibility Plan and would be grateful for any feedback you have on how we can improve accessibility to our site for yourselves and your children. Any comments you have on the following areas would be really useful:

  • Curriculum
  • Physical accessibility
  • Signage
  • Audio and visual systems
  • Written information
  • Anything else!

Please feel free to discuss this with your child(ren) and then send your comments or suggestions to Ms Simpson at m.simpson@millthorpe.southbank.academy

We will share our accessibility plan on completion.

Medicines in school

The policy on Managing Medicines in School has been updated and it is therefore timely for us to send out a reminder of your duties as parents/carers in this area:

  • All medicines required in school must be requested on a medical authorisation form available from the school office.
  • All medicines taken in school must be handed in in their original packaging.
  • All medicines kept in school (including epipens and inhalers) must be within expiry dates. School is not responsible for checking that items kept in school are in date.

Embracing Diversity

The Embracing Diversity working group will meet for the first time this year on 17 February at 6.00pm over Google Meet. Ms Ramadhan and Ms Garner Steel will welcome parents/carers, introduce themselves as Diversity Leaders and report back on the Embracing Diversity group’s activities in the last year. The group will then be looking into the Anti Racist Schools Award; any parents interested in working with us as we pursue this award are welcome to join us.

We are also interested in hearing feedback from parents/carers about student experience as non-white British students.

Please register your interest by emailing globaldiversity@millthorpe.southbank.academy; we then will send you the link for the meeting. We look forward to seeing you there!

Year 9 Residential: 18-21 July 2022

A reminder that if you would like to secure a place on the Year 9 residential trip in July, you will need to return the reply slip with your child’s name to the office and pay the initial deposit by Friday 18 February.

If you have any queries, please contact Mr Newman or Miss Forrester.

Family Matters courses

The short courses offered by Family Matters York give parents the opportunity to meet other parents and find out that they are not alone; to think about what they are doing with their children; and, in the light of the course material and ideas from other parents, decide if they want to make any changes.

The following courses, some online and some in person, are starting after half-term:

  • Handling Anger in the Family
  • Time Out for Parents – the Teenage Years
  • Time Out for Parents – the Primary Years

To book a place or for further information please contact Helen Atkinson on 07393 147259 or email helenatkinson@fmy.org.uk. You can also find more information on the Family Matters website.

Family Matters also offer Reconnect, a five-session couple-to-couple mentoring service, focusing on relationship skills to help you strengthen your couple relationship. For details contact Emma at emmamarshall@fmy.org.uk

Make Your Mark 2022 ballot

The Make Your Mark 2022 ballot, conducted by UK Youth Parliament, takes place throughout the month of February and is the largest consultation of young people (11-18s) in the UK. Please do encourage your child(ren) to have their say.

There’s lots of information on the British Youth Council | Make Your Mark website and in this videoVoting takes place online so couldn’t be easier.

STEM work experience opportunity for Y10/11 students

There is a STEM work experience opportunity at the University of York in July for GCSE students. Anyone interested should apply directly – full information can be found here. Please note that the deadline for applications is 30 March 2022.

Kooth – online counselling service decommissioned

Kooth is an online platform providing anonymous access to online chat/text-based counselling, discussion forums and online self-care resources for children and young people aged 11-18 years old. This was commissioned during the pandemic and whilst it has helped many young people, it is felt that it has not reduced the number of referrals to specialist agencies such as CAMHS. Therefore, Kooth will be decommissioned on 31 March 2022.

If your child currently accesses Kooth, please speak to them about this. Kooth workers will agree exit plans and signpost to other agencies before they complete their work with an individual.
Recommended alternatives are:
Childline
Childline is free, confidential and available any time, day or night. Young People can talk to childline by:

YoungMinds Textline
Text YM to 85258.

Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis. All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors. Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

#WakeUpWednesday

We have not received a #WakeUpWednesday from National Online Safety this week so we do not have a handy guide to share with you. However, please could we instead ask you to consider speaking to your child about their mobile phone and social media use? Every week, we support young people who have accessed inappropriate material online, shared something they wished they hadn’t or fallen out with peers (normally on group chats). Please further consider checking your child’s devices to satisfy yourself that they are being used appropriately.

WEEKLY EMAIL Friday 4 February 2022

Message to students about our expectations

Today, all students watched a presentation by Miss Greenhalgh reminding them of the school motto of Ready, Respectful, Responsible and what that means in terms of our expectations of them in certain key areas.

Year 11 Exams
All students were reminded of the importance of these exams and the need to respect Year 11 students by not disturbing them.
Toilets
It’s vital that toilets are only used for their intended purpose, not to socialise or congregate. All students need to feel safe and comfortable using them. Misuse of toilet areas will be robustly addressed. The good news is that brand new toilets will be in place across the school in September.
Punctuality
Miss Greenhalgh spelled out the impact of being late to form and classes in terms of lost learning, not only for the individual but for the rest of the class as well. For this reason, a higher sanction of an after-school detention will be introduced for lateness starting on Monday
Uniform
As the weather begins to get milder, the temporary arrangements regarding coats will cease today and from Monday, normal rules will apply: only school uniform (blazer and optional Millthorpe jumper) allowed inside the building during the school day.
Finally, Miss Greenhalgh reminded everyone what a fantastic school Millthorpe is, with an exceptionally warm and inclusive community, and that the vast majority of students work incredibly hard to make it a successful place.

Assemblies

The Millthorpe Parents Forum agreed that if we shared the focus of recent assemblies with all parents/carers, it would help to encourage further discussion and debate at home. The following topics have been covered over the last two weeks:

  • Holocaust Memorial Day
  • E safety – make sure you leave the right digital footprint (Year 7 will see this next Wednesday)
  • LGBTQ+ Month – Telling the story of Alan Turing (Year 10 will see this next Tuesday)

Year 9 Residential: 18-21 July 2022

This week we were pleased to announce to pupils that the Year 9 residential trip is returning for 2022. Pupils will have received a letter with some key information, payment dates and a reply slip in form time today. All pupils are welcome to join the trip and we’d love as many pupils to join us as possible! To secure a place on the trip for your child, please return the reply slip with your child’s name to the office and pay the initial deposit by Friday 18 February.

More information will follow after this date once we have pupil numbers. If there are any queries in the meantime, please contact Mr Newman or Miss Forrester.

Rail safety

We have once again been contacted by Network Rail to ask us to share their concerns about high volumes of trespass on the railway in our area. There is nothing to suggest that this is Millthorpe students, but please take the time to speak to your child about this and show them the video. We have attached the video aimed at a younger audience too in case this is more suitable for your child.

Network Rail have made things easier for you to watch the free safety videos by just entering the email railsafety@learnliveuk.com into the ‘I am registered’ field when you first watch the videos.

Virtual Summer Courses: ‘Deutschland online erleben’

UK German Connection are offering virtual courses to pupils aged 15-17, giving them an opportunity to practise and improve their German skills and immerse themselves in the language with like-minded peers from many different European countries. It’s a unique opportunity to exchange on topics relevant to their lives, gain new perspectives and make friends, all under the guidance of specialist German teachers.

The programme consists of a week-long practical language course, run by the Pädagogischer Austauschdienst (PAD), which will be embedded in a wider programme delivered by UK-German Connection. This will include a network of UK participantscomplementary language support from a UK teacher, and an opportunity to engage with German peers. The programme is completely free.

An optional visit to Germany is being planned for the autumn of 2022 if travel restrictions allow. This trip will provide all successful applicants of the Virtual Summer Courses with an opportunity to meet German peers and also meet each other in person whilst getting a taste of German culture and everyday language.

You can find out more on their website: www.ukgermanconnection.org/virtual-summer-courses

Application deadline: 1 March 2022

Family Matters courses

The short courses offered by Family Matters York give parents the opportunity to meet other parents and find out that they are not alone; to think about what they are doing with their children; and, in the light of the course material and ideas from other parents, decide if they want to make any changes.

The following courses, some online and some in person, are starting after half-term:

  • Handling Anger in the Family
  • Time Out for Parents – the Teenage Years
  • Time Out for Parents – the Primary Years

To book a place or for further information please contact Helen Atkinson on 07393 147259 or email helenatkinson@fmy.org.uk. You can also find more information on the Family Matters website.

Family Matters also offer Reconnect, a five-session couple-to-couple mentoring service, focusing on relationship skills to help you strengthen your couple relationship. For details contact Emma at emmamarshall@fmy.org.uk

Basketball Development Camps

If your child would like to take part in a Basketball Development Camp over the February half-term or Easter holidays, please take a look here for details. You can also find the application form here.

South Bank Singers

The South Bank Singers will be performing a short concert on Saturday 12 February, their first for over two years, at St Clements Church. They are hoping that as many local people as possible will join them.

Further information can be found here.