Newsletter 4 – September 2020
Friday 18th September 2020
Dear Parent and Carers
Welcome back to the academy.
It has been great to see so many children at school since we opened on the 7th September – my staff and I are so pleased to be able to welcome them into the building and be able to get going with teaching and supporting them in school.
It has also been nice to see how good our students have been at keeping to the expectations around hygiene and social distancing to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus. Please do get in touch if you have any queries or concerns about these and we can discuss what we can do to reassure you.
I would like to remind you of the importance of ensuring your child attends school unless they are unwell and/or showing coronavirus symptoms. You will have heard them many times before, but just as a reminder, they are:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new continuous cough – this means coughing a lot more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.
Many of us have questions about other instances when a child should stay at home and self-isolate. We have updated the guide we sent you at the beginning of September to give more guidance on when you should keep your child at home and when you should send them to school. As always, our staff are happy to talk through any concerns you have about whether your child should be attending, so please do give us a call or email if you have any queries.
Should your child be off school, we will be in touch on a regular basis to check on their wellbeing and support them with learning at home if they are well.
Newsletter 3 – September 2020
Wednesday 2nd September 2020
Dear Parents and Carers
I am writing to let you know how much we are looking forward to seeing your child back at school at the start of term and to tell you a few things about how we plan to make our academy as safe as possible to reduce risks around the transmission of coronavirus.
As you know, the government guidance is clear that all schools will be open in as normal a way as possible and all children and young people are expected to attend school. The guidance for parents is available here. As always, my staff will be working with you and your child to support them with any concerns or challenges that might arise and to make sure your child comes into school to get their education.
This letter gives you an outline of what we are doing to prepare the school for opening and of the expectations and rules that will be in place for staff and pupils when onsite.
What have we done to prepare the school for opening?
To get ready for opening, we have completed a risk assessment for the academy which covers all areas of managing a school and makes sure that we are able to put in place the essential measures that are recommended. These include:
- facilities for hand washing and respiratory hygiene – hand sanitizers, regular reminders to wash hands, guidance on ‘catch it, bag it, bin it’ procedures
- increased cleaning arrangements
- a requirement that people who are ill stay at home
- active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
- considering ways in which we can reduce contacts and maximizing distancing between those in school and minimizing potential for contamination as far as is reasonably practical
In our two staff training days on the 3rd and 4th September, all our staff will have training to make sure they are ready and understand the measures that need to be put in place so they can support your child. The majority of our staff have been working on site over lockdown at various times and are used to the requirements and focus on increased hygiene and avoiding physical contact.
Supporting your child as they return to school
As you know, we have produced a personal plan for your child to help them with transition back into academy life. This plan and timetable has been shared with you and I hope you have had a chance to discuss this with a member of the teaching team. If you are not sure of the day and time your child needs to come into school for the first time, please ring the school office on 01449 613931.
When your child comes to school for the first time, we will spend time with them making sure they understand the expectations and how things might be different – your child’s Form Tutor will spend time with your child taking to them, seeing how they are and how they feel about starting school and answering any questions they have. We will continue to remind them of the expectations on a regular basis.
Information about the return to school
Minimizing contact and encouraging maintaining distance
You will have heard about ‘bubbles’ being created in schools to keep groups separate as far as possible, for example in a large secondary school it is suggested that a year group might be a ‘bubble’. In our academy, because of the relatively small numbers, our small class sizes (never more than 10), and the fact that pupils are not always split into year groups, we have decided that the whole school will be a bubble. This is suggested in the government guidance for alternative provision schools such as ours and we feel it will mean we can give the best education possible to our pupils
What happens if a child or member of staff shows symptoms of coronavirus?
If your child or a member in your household is showing coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), do not send them to school and arrange a test. Please let us know and keep in touch with how your family are doing. We can support you with getting a test if you need help. At the end of this letter is a table which gives you more details about what you should do and how long you should isolate for.
If your child shows symptoms of coronavirus whilst at school, we will contact you immediately and ask you to pick them up to arrange for them to be sent home. We have a designated medical room and a member of staff will be with your child until this time.
Government guidance is that if there are two or more confirmed cases within 14 days, or an overall rise in sickness absence where coronavirus is suspected, there may be an outbreak – if this happens we will work with the local health protection team who will advise us on what action we need to take – in some cases they might recommend that a larger number of other pupils self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure.
What happens if there is a spike in infections in our local community area?
The most recent guidance from government on planning for outbreaks is that alternative provision providers such as our academy will continue to allow all pupils to attend on site what the level of restrictions placed on a local community. We will make sure we keep you informed and answer questions you may have should government restrictions be placed on our community area – your child should continue to attend school if they are well and not self-isolating.
If my child is self-isolating or shielding what plans are in place to remote learning?
Throughout lockdown, we provided our pupils with learning packs and online lessons. We are putting in place a comprehensive remote learning programme which your child will be expected to access from home providing they are not ill. Should this happen we will support you to make sure you have the IT equipment you need and are set up so that your child can access this – we will be contacting them daily to make sure they are logging in and learning.
This programme will be available to all children should there ever be a case of a local ‘lockdown’ and should schools be asked to limit the numbers of children who can attend.
Face coverings have become a normal part of life during the coronavirus pandemic and most children over the age of 11 will be used to using them. Government guidance on the use of face coverings in schools is that they are not necessary because of all the other controls that are in place. However, they understand that in some cases the use of face coverings can bring additional confidence to parents and children to support a return to school.
Within our academy the guidance is as follows:
- If you wish your child to wear a face covering in communal areas, e.g. corridors then we will respect this but you should take responsibility for ensuring that your child knows about the safe wearing of face coverings – cleaning hands before and after touching them, and storing in an individual, sealable plastic bag, and regular washing of a reusable face covering. Any face covering should be plain in colour and design, black, blue or grey, and bandanas or hoodies cannot be used as substitutes
- Within the classroom, government guidance is that use of face coverings is not generally necessary and can have a negative impact on teaching and learning and expects that face coverings are not worn in classrooms. If you have a particular reason you wish your child to wear a face covering or visor within the classroom, please let us know and we will arrange a meeting with you to discuss this and agree next steps which we will review with you regularly.
We will never exclude a child based on the decision to wear a face covering.
Should there ever be a local ‘lockdown’ we might be asked to review this guidance and will let you know what is expected.
This guidance only applies to children in year 7 and above – if your child is in the primary school, they should not be wearing a face covering.
Please encourage your child to bring as few belongings as possible to school. As always, they will be asked to hand in their mobile phones and any valuables when they get to school, which will be stored in a named plastic bag.
All pupils should wear their OA school uniform as usual.
Support for everyone’s mental health
This has been and continues to be a challenging time for everyone and we understand that children and their families may experience feelings such as anxiety and stress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. As we have done throughout lockdown, we will continue to call you to check how you are doing and provide your child with access to mental health support, including counselling should they need it.
I hope this gives you some idea of how much work and energy we are putting into making sure you and your child feel confident about returning to school and reassures you that we have put clear measures in place to manage the risk of coronavirus. However, if you have any further questions, please do call the school office on 01449 613931 or email me via email@example.com
I look forward to seeing your child at the start of term.
Mr M Piper
Newsletter 2 – July 2020
Tuesday 14th July 2020
Dear Parents/ Carers,
As we near the end of the summer term I wanted to share news about the academy, the summer break and plans for the new academic year in September.
These last few months have been truly challenging time for our whole academy community. I want to express my thanks to you for all that you have done at home. It has been tough for everyone to try to keep home learning on track and manage family life during lockdown. Our academy has remained open since the lockdown began – and all the staff here at the academy have been so pleased to see more and more of our pupils returning to our academy building over this term.
The most recent government guidance is clear – all schools will be open in as normal a way as possible from September. All children and young people will be expected to attend their school or academy as normal from September.
Here at Olive AP Academy – Suffolk we have produced a personal plan for each pupil in September to help them with transition back into academy life. This plan and timetable will be shared with you and you will receive a call from a member of your child’s teaching team before the end of term. They will share details for the start of the next academic year with you.
We don’t know for certain what the coming months will bring but what I can promise is that we have good plans in place for all our pupils, in all eventualities. We will always be ready to react quickly, to look after everyone in the academy’s wellbeing and safety and to make sure that our pupils’ learning programmes are not disrupted.
Our academy will be closed for the majority of the summer holiday. Our last day for students is Tuesday 21st July at 12.00 noon. The Academy will be open for Year 11 on Monday 20th July for a leavers activity and post 16 readiness discussions.
Should you or your child need to contact a member of our staff or need any help during the summer holidays you can leave a message for us on 01449 613931 and a member of staff will call you back as soon as they can. You can also email the academy team during the summer holiday at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will do all that we can to support to you through the summer break. Attached is the Summer Sizzler outlining activities for your children to engage with around the county. Also included are useful numbers and contacts should you need them over the break.
Those who qualify for free school meals, you will receive food vouchers and food parcels by the end of July. The total for the seven weeks is £105 – please note the vouchers have a redeem date by 13th August. The money must be spent by then or you will lose it.
Year 11 will receive their exam results on Thursday 20th August 2020. I have sent a separate letter to Year 11 outlining the process for collection. Staff will be present at the Academy on Thursday 20th and Friday 21st August to answer questions and queries about how to enrol at your new centre of learning, next steps etc. Mrs Lewis will have already been in contact. I am pleased to announce that we will be supporting our Year 11s further this summer and into next term with a mentoring programme. Mentors will be working with our Year 11s through the autumn term as they move on to further education, training or apprenticeships.
If you are worried about the welfare of a child or young person over the summer, please contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/our-services/nspcc-helpline/
Please don’t hesitate to ask anyone at Olive Academies for any advice or support you or your family may need. We will always do all that we can to support you. I will be writing to parents in the coming week to confirm arrangements for the phased return in September.
I hope that everyone has a good summer and stays well and healthy. All the staff here at the academy are excited about the start of the new school year in September. I hope that we can build on the achievements and the resilience that so many of our pupils have shown during these difficult months. We have a fantastic year ahead to look forward to.
Newsletter 1 – June 2020
Dear Parent / Carer,
I am writing to introduce myself, as Headteacher of Olive AP Academy – Suffolk. This is the first newsletter I have sent, and will be sending one approximately every six weeks keeping you informed of the latest developments and updates as they arrive from the Trust and in these COVID times from the Department for Education.
Just to confirm my intentions whilst working with and for your children – as Headteacher, my unprecedented focus is on standards of teaching, learning and progress. I firmly believe that education is based on a three-way relationship – home, school and pupil. Working together will support progress and ensure all our pupils achieve to the best of their ability. I have three children of my own, two of secondary school age – so I do know what you are all going through!! That said there are always areas we can improve on whether at home or school.
I had a pupil say to me earlier this week that I shouldn’t treat the pupils at this school like mainstream pupils. I responded by saying so you want to be treated like second rate citizens? The pupil replied “No”. We will treat all the pupils in this Academy in exactly the same way as we would treat any pupil – and I include my own children in this – with respect! Manners, being courteous and kind cost nothing but make such a positive and lasting impression.
We are living in unprecedented times and this does mean, at times we receive conflicting information. The latest being about whether the Academy will be open over the Summer holidays. We haven’t as yet made any decisions but will inform you as and when a decision has been made. What I can say is that our current Year 10 pupils have missed a huge chunk of their Key Stage 4 courses, and at some point they will need to commit to catching up. I have been looking at their curriculum and modifying the offer they will be receiving.
An important notice for all pupils currently in Year 11. We have been offered a significant sum of money to support pupil transition from school to post-16 education and training – Ms Judy Lewis, the Academy careers lead will be in contact with further details. In essence the funding is to ensure all pupils are in employment, education or training once leaving school at 16. I am also aware that Year 11 pupils never got an opportunity to celebrate the end of Year 11 and the completion of their more formal education. Ideas and suggestions would be welcome and considered. Cont. over Executive Headteacher: Annabel Bates Associate Headteacher: Mike Piper Chilton Way, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 1SZ T 01449 613931 F 01449 775421 E email@example.com W www. apsuffolk.oliveacademies.org.uk Olive Academies is a company limited by guarantee no. 8747464, registered in England and Wales.
Pupils returning in the future will notice significant differences – The physical appearance of the building has changed for the better, with a complete refurbishment of the East Building and numerous internal changes. Staffing has been firmed up and I am pleased to introduce the Senior Deputy Headteacher – Mrs Mears. She is incredibly keen to promote the learning and engagement of our pupils, regardless of their starting points, and is looking forward to working with all of you. Like me, she is driven by ensuring the pupils are given the best life chances during their time in education.
To register any concerns whether they be attendance, safeguarding, welfare, or just a query – please e-mail the Academy on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring on 01449 613931
My expectation is that queries are responded to within 24 hours – if even just a holding call.
Just a reminder for those of you that have children attending the Academy – we will be closed to pupils on Friday 26 June for a Trust wide training day.
There is much to do in our drive to become an outstanding educational provider, what I do ask is for your support, understanding and a sense or working together to ensure the best possible outcomes for all pupils. If you have any questions, queries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me directly via the e-mail or number above.
Mr M. Piper, Headteacher