News and Updates


18th March 2020

Thursday 19 March 

As you are doubtless now aware, Prime Minister Johnson has given the instruction that schools must close.  We will close tomorrow, 20th March, at 3.30pm.  A difficult decision for any Government to take, but one that is backed by the scientific advice that a crowded school could cause a faster rate of disease transmission over the coming days and weeks, albeit with children far less likely to become ill if they contract the disease.

I am incredibly reassured, however, that the advice also suggests that schools with less dense populations can still function, because it is possible to reduce the proximity of people from each other and also to increase the amount of clear spaces in a building designed to contain more people than the current proposals would permit.

As such, I am delighted that we are able to act with our social conscience and offer to continue to serve certain members of our County community, to include service, accurate at the time of writing, over the Easter break.  I write now to ask families where both parents are key workers, or, in the case of lone parents, where that parent is a key worker, to get in touch with the school, by email, to let us know that you still intend next week to send your child to school.  Please write the email, by 8pm this evening, to Kath Whitehead on leaving the body of the email blank and stating only in the subject line the name and tutor group that your child is in and also the profession in which you (both) work.  If we consider your request appropriate, then we will simply reply ‘yes’.  If we do not feel that you currently sit within the guidance, then we will reply ‘no’.  I feel that I must apologise for the directness of this approach and also for the fact that we may not be able to welcome all students who might want to be on site.  I am trying here to strike a balance based on the advice that I have currently received.

While the definition of key worker was not discussed by Mr Johnson, this traditionally refers to NHS workers, police officers, supermarket delivery drivers and those who look after the vulnerable and elderly.  A full list has not yet been revealed by the Government but those classed as being a key worker could be expanded over the coming hours.  Needless to say, I will keep in touch with you all to update you as I am able.

We will also be welcoming onto site other children who are classed as vulnerable.  We have accurate lists already of these children and will get in touch with parents and carers to invite their children to remain at school and will seek confirmation that they will be coming in.

We are currently working to devise a suitable timetable for the children, who are likely to be taught in Year Groups.  We will start the school day at 9.00am and finish at 2.30pm, with three 90 minute lessons and two 30 minute breaks during the day.  We are also looking at options for simple food service during one of these two breaks and also at the opportunity of allowing onto site any child who is eligible for a free school meal.  If these free school meal children are not the children of key workers, then they will be able to sign in, collect and eat their food, sign out and then leave the site.

This will all need to be quite fluid and is likely to change as we experience this new regime.  It is also likely to change as the numbers of children attending go up or down and also as the number of available staff inevitably reduce.  I will write regularly to keep parents and carers informed as and when our plans change.  I must also now tell you that I have now decided to cancel the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award event next week and also to cancel the Easter revision sessions.

If I can remind parents and carers that the current advice is for students who are not in school to continue to apply the approach of social distancing and not to be coming together in groups when they are away from school.  The upcoming email to explain remote working will see children engaged in productive activity, in the home and not in close proximity to others.

I will write again later today with any further details.  I will also write later with any further details that I have about the GCSE and A level exams.  Until then, please do keep an eye on our twitter and Instagram feeds and on our website.

Please feel reassured that this difficult time will pass swiftly, as much as it is currently causing much strain.  I very much look forward to, when we have all worked together and pulled through, the opportunity to welcome you all into school for the celebratory opening of our new Sports Hall, which continues to be developed, ahead of schedule.  A truly exciting prospect for the coming academic year.

I would like to thank our Chair of Governors, Sarah Wynde, for her support during this situation and I also extend my thanks to the Executive Headteacher of Athena Schools Trust, Jack Mayhew, who I have asked to co-sign this letter.

Steve Smith                                             Jack Mayhew

Head of School                                        Executive Headteacher