Update from Preston School
Friday, August 28, 2020
Our latest update for all students.
Dear Preston families,
I hope that you and your families are well and good. I am conscious that I only wrote to you last week but I wanted to give you some more details of our return to school and also update you on face coverings and other things that you have seen or read about in the media.
I hope that your child is happy and confident about coming back to school full time. I am sure that some have some worries and anxious moments but please do assure them that we will do everything that we can to support them. If you would like to make us aware of any such issues, or any other significant change of circumstance since March, then please do email your son/daughter’s Academic Mentor or Learning Manager so that we can support them in the best way possible.
As a staff we are very conscious that returning to school full-time will take some adjustment for our students (and staff!). This is always the case after the summer holidays but especially so this year. As always, we want to balance the highest level of pastoral care with high academic expectations. It is a difficult balance because if we focus too much upon academic studies, we run the risk of not doing the pastoral work properly. Likewise, if we only focus on the pastoral, students are further disadvantaged and many of them want lessons to return as normal. To help strike this balance we have put in several measures to help support students on their return:
* Additional AM time each day
* Support staff available throughout the day to support individual where necessary
* No homework (Knowledge Builders or subject-set) for the first few weeks of term (exact dates to be confirmed and communicated)
* No Engagement in Learning (EIL) detentions, for lateness to school or no equipment, for the first few weeks
We will gauge the effectiveness and appropriateness of these measures as we move through the first few weeks of term, and communicate with students and yourselves any changes with plenty of notice.
Also, just to reconfirm the dates for the start of term:
Thursday 3rd September INSET Day (staff only)
Friday 4th September Year 7 only
Monday 7th September Year 7 only
Tuesday 8th September All students in (including Years 8-11)
Thank you for your patience with us in supporting our new Year 7 students with an additional day in school on their own. As you appreciate, their ending to primary school and subsequent transition to Preston was highly disrupted and we need this time with them to welcome them and make them feel comfortable in their new school.
Also, a reminder of the adjusted times of the day from September:
For clarity, if there is no time written in a specific lesson box then it starts at the specified time, e.g. Period 1 for everyone. Therefore Years 8-10 will need to be in school for AM at 8.30am and Years 7 & 11 will have their session begin at 8.40am. Please also remember that students should only be on site 5 minutes before their AM time starts. Please also note the adjusted finish times at the end of the day, to minimise student interaction from different year group ‘bubbles’. As someone who is on duty during every lesson changeover, break time ad lunchtime this will be a challenge for me, but we believe that this is the best way of following the current guidance given and also fits in with what most other secondary schools are doing.
Due to the year group bubbles, the AM rooms are adjusted for the start of the year. Therefore, on their first day students should go to the following rooms:
Year 7 students should come in through reception on their first day when they will be taken to their AM room, so that they know where to go on subsequent days. There will be lots of staff there to direct and support them! They should be in school uniform on their first day please, so that if there are any issues we have two school days and a weekend to identify and put them right. If they could bring trainers with them on the first day as well please – as we have some team-building exercises for them to take part in and we don’t want them to ruin their school shoes on their first day!
No doubt like me you will have seen the media coverage on the issue of face coverings in school earlier this week, and the subsequent change in guidance. As you know, face coverings (masks or face shields) are only mandatory in areas designated high-risk. South Somerset is currently low risk and so the decision-making is passed to individual Headteachers and Principals. My stance on this is that all students and their families, as well as staff, have to do what is best for them. So, face coverings are optional and there will not be a compulsion to wear them unless the guidance changes. I know already from speaking to many of you that some children will wear them and some will not. I also know that to be true of staff as well. No-one in our school community will be commented upon or disadvantaged, whatever their decision on face coverings, and this will be emphasised to all on the first day that we return so please make the right choice for you and your family.
Finally, as in the nicest possible way I hope that this is the last time that I have to write to you before September, once again a huge thank you for all of your support across the last 6 months. I am incredibly proud of our school community and what have we have achieved over this testing time, in many different ways. This is not possible without the hard work of our students, families, staff and governors and, like any great team, everyone plays their part. A special thanks for our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) who have all gone above and beyond, often behind the scenes and unnoticed, to ensure that our students get the best possible educational deal.
I am really looking forward to the start of term and seeing students back in classrooms, as I know all staff are. I am sure there will be elements of our plan that we need to adjust as we go and if you have any individual questions or concerns then please do get in touch with a member of staff or myself.