WEEKLY EMAIL Friday 20 November 2020

Changes to teaching groups in Key Stage 3

As we continue to seek ways to minimise the risks and impact of COVID-19 on our school community, we will be changing the teaching groups in KS3 so that students will stay in the same group for most lessons.

To help prepare for this significant change, school will be closing at 12.20pm next Wednesday 25 November.

As you are aware, for a number of reasons associated with students’ wellbeing and the quality of their learning experience, we opted in September to continue to have students moving between lessons so they can be taught in an appropriate classroom for each subject. This continues to be our preferred option and, after several weeks of operating in this way, this certainly doesn’t appear to have impacted unfavourably on the number of positive cases compared with other local schools, most of which have far greater restriction on the movement of students.

Nonetheless, we are very conscious of the need to minimise as far as possible both the risk of infection and the likelihood of students missing school as a result of being an identified close contact of a confirmed case. One way we know we can do this is to arrange teaching groups so that students sit near the same students in as many of their lessons as possible. With this in mind, we have re-grouped all students in Years 7, 8 and 9 so that they remain in the same groups for most subjects. Note that this isn’t possible in PE, Technology (which must be taught in smaller groups) or MFL (in which students study either French, German or both). Students will also follow, as far as possible, the same seating plan in every lesson.

This will mean that, for at least some of their lessons, all students in KS3 will:

  • have a change of teacher
  • have a change of classmates
  • sit next to different people
  • have a change of rooms

Students’ timetables will not change – they will continue to be taught the same subjects at the same times across the two-week cycle.

Please note that, for this arrangement to be effective, groups and seating plans will need to remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.

We will let students know about the changes next week and give them their revised timetable (i.e. with any changes to teacher or room included) ready for the new arrangements to come into effect on Monday 30 November.

To make the transition as successful as possible, it is essential that teachers are able to spend time together so they can exchange information and learn from colleagues about the new students they will be teaching, as well as planning lessons to allow newly formed groups to bed in. They will also complete reports on the progress of the classes that they have been teaching to ensure that we have recorded their progress so far. This can then be shared with parents and their new teachers before they change.

To make sure staff have the time to do this properly, school will be closing at 12.20pm on Wednesday 25 November. This is a serious step for us to take but we consider it is a vital part of our response to this unprecedented situation. If you need us to supervise your child until the normal end of the school day, please contact us so we can make suitable arrangements. We will provide a study space for any Year 11 students who wish to remain in school and work for the afternoon.

We recognise that this is a significant change to undertake in the middle of a school year and that it may present challenges for some students. It is not a decision we have taken lightly but it will have a significant impact on the number of other students your child comes into close contact with whilst at school, thus reducing the risk of time out of school and making the school a safer environment.

Face masks

Students continue to be extremely good at remembering to wear face coverings when moving around the school and we are very grateful for your support for this important safety measure. We have noticed an increase in the number of disposable masks we are handing out to students, so could you please remind your child(ren) that they need to bring a clean mask, in a sealable bag, to school every day. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

Keeping warm in cold classrooms

As the winter weather draws in, we appreciate that some classrooms may get quite cold. We must keep the windows open to ventilate the classrooms as this is one of the best ways of reducing the risk of the coronavirus spreading. However, we also want to make sure that students are warm enough to concentrate on their learning.

What can students do to keep warm?

  • Wear a Millthorpe School jumper as well as their blazer.
  • If your child does not have a school jumper and cannot get one, or they are wearing one and are still cold, they can ask their teacher if they can wear a coat or jacket to keep warm in lessons.

What is not allowed?

  • Non-school uniform jumpers or hoodies. If your child is wearing a jumper, it needs to be the Millthorpe School uniform jumper.
  • Wearing outdoor items in the corridors when moving around school. They can of course wear a coat if moving around outside, but when inside the building, they must remove their coat/jacket as normal.

So, as always, students should be wearing their Millthorpe School uniform only (including school jumper if they have one) at all times whilst inside the school building. If they get to a classroom and it is cold, they must check with their teacher and they will then be allowed to wear a coat or jacket. Please remember, non-school uniform jumpers and hoodies cannot be used instead of a coat/jacket.

Eco Laundry

If your child is in need of a school jumper or a coat the Eco Laundry may be able to help!

School Jumpers
If your child receives free school meals, we have a limited stock of school jumpers in our Eco Laundry at a cost of £2. Please phone the school office to see if we have one in your child’s size and we will add £2 to your Parent Pay account. If you are unable to pay the £2 we will provide a jumper free of charge if we have one available.

If your child does not receive free school meals but you would like to buy a jumper and need to use the Eco Laundry rather than Keal’s for financial reasons, please contact the school office.

We have a number of coats in the Eco Laundry for £3. If your child needs a coat, please email the school office with the size needed and we will try to provide a suitable coat.
Donations of uniform and coats 
If you have school uniform or coats that you could donate to our Eco Laundry, please ask your son/daughter to bring these to the school office.

The Gideons International

Every year The Gideons International donate a copy of the New Testament of the Bible to every student in Year 7 who wishes to take one.

The bibles will be distributed to Year 7 next week in their RE lessons but it is the student’s choice whether they decide to take one or not.


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.