12 June 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope this letter finds you and your family safe and well.

As I wrote in my last letter, the government recently advised schools that they can have small numbers of students in Year 10 and Year 12 in school from 15 June, subject to risk assessments, social distancing, and other health and safety measures. The purpose of this is to ‘supplement their remote learning’ rather than any return to normal lessons or study.

The guidance for schools regarding the public health status of COVID-19 in Wigan was sent late on Wednesday afternoon this week, after which consultation was needed with the Governing Body of the school. The public health guidance does not give the blanket ‘opening or not opening’ dates that many other Local Authorities in the NW have given (e.g. Lancashire LA). Rather, it allows individual schools, based on their individual circumstances, to make their own decision. The guidance covers the ‘five tests’ in Wigan, and the regional ‘R rate’. This is mainly a very positive and hopeful picture. However, the main conclusion from the
Director of Public Health is as follows:
‘I remain concerned that the overall easing of lockdown in England is still proceeding too quickly and that we should seek to increase the numbers of children in schools cautiously at a pace that individual schools feel confident to manage so it is as safe as is possible for children and staff.’

With this guidance in mind, we will take a cautious and measured approach to the reintroduction of students in Year 10 and Year 12 back into school. From Monday 15 June, we will welcome back small groups of Year 12 students as well as extending personal invites to a small number of individuals in Year 10 for one to one reviews, following stringent social distancing and hygiene measures.

We very much hope to be able to welcome Year 10 students, in small groups, back to school from 22 June. However, the situation remains fluid, with the potential for local lockdowns, so this plan will be kept under constant review. The decision to reopen further will also be subject to further discussion and approval by the full Governing Body of the school.

In addition, you will have received communication this week about significant enhancements to our online learning platforms, particularly Synergy ‘Class Work’. This will make the setting and submission of work completed at home even more effective. We continue to explore a range of exciting and innovative options for further improving our hybrid learning model as we look to the future.

School remains very much open in many different ways. Indeed, our gates have never shut throughout this period. Effectively, we are now three institutions in one. Firstly, we are still a physical school for vulnerable children and those of key workers who attend each day with staff. Secondly, we are an online school, providing work and guidance for over 1450 pupils. Thirdly, we are a community hub checking on the welfare of pupils, including distributing free school meals vouchers to hundreds of families. In terms of this summer’s external examinations, the school has also generated and submitted over 4000 individual GCSE, A-Level and BTEC centre assessed grades to exam boards. I know that many of you will be wondering what will happen in September but the government has yet to give any firm guidance or direction whatsoever in that regard.

Thank you for your patience and support during this difficult period. Please be assured that all decisions are taken with the best interests and safety of our school community in mind. We are very much looking forward to seeing pupils again very soon. I will be in contact with you again as soon as I have further information regarding the week beginning 22 June. In the meantime, please stay safe.

Yours faithfully,
Mr M Wood