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Principal's Newsletter

26 June 2020

Dear Parent/Carer

I am writing to you all now because I want to keep everyone fully up-to-date with a situation that I appreciate could be both confusing and worrying for parents. In many ways the media is focusing on how things are returning to normal but I am fully aware that many of our parents still have concerns about the current situation. In this newsletter, I will go through where we are in terms of reopening and try to reassure parents that the measures we have put into place make the school a safe place to be. 

Key Worker and Vulnerable provision

As you will be aware the school has never closed to this group of students and we have been open throughout the Easter holiday and May half term break. Since Year 10 have come back to school a separate provision has been set up in the west wing for these students, where they have access to computer rooms, teaching classrooms, our gym, sports hall and toilet facilities. We have a dedicated team of staff who are delivering sessions to these students so we can guarantee that they will be safe when they come into school and aren’t mixing with other students. The government have confirmed that the provision for key workers and vulnerable students will not continue over the summer, therefore, it is important to note that the last day of this provision will be Friday 17th July.

Year 10 reopening

We are delighted that Year 10 lessons have restarted at North Gosforth Academy. As you can see from the photograph below, lessons look very different with only 8 students to a class maximum, designed to fit in with social distancing regulations. It is a different experience but is really good in ensuring that students receive good quality time with their teachers. Whilst other schools have only been able to offer generic sessions with form tutors, we are proud that our Year 10 students are receiving subject specific lessons with their normal teachers and that they are receiving more hours of education than Year 10 students in other schools.

This whole process has been managed extremely carefully and before the Year 10 students returned to school, parents and students were invited in for an individual meeting with senior leaders to assess how they were feeling and to talk through safety measures that were being put in place.  We are at the end of the first week of lessons and I am delighted to say they have gone extremely well, students have been really pleased to see their teachers and teachers likewise have been delighted to be reunited with their students.

The appearance of the school has changed in many ways just to make sure we can all be safe. There are hand sanitisers at every entrance to the building and signage around the building to make sure that students keep their distance. A 31 page risk assessment has been accepted by the Local Authority and we are confident that every measure has been put into place to ensure student safety. 

Keeping in touch meetings for Year 7, 8 and 9 students

Following on from the success of the Year 10 interviews we are planning to offer a parent and student meeting with their tutor for every single student in Years 7, 8 & 9. The intention is to gauge how students are doing and how well their remote learning is progressing. This means that we can make careful plans for the next academic year in terms of “catching up” with their learning. It is important to have these meetings before we break up for the summer so we can make best use of the time next academic year. 

Optional meetings for Year 11 students

For our Year 11 students, we know that the abrupt end of their schooling was a real shame and we want to give them a similar opportunity to visit school for a keeping in touch meeting if they wish. As such, for any Year 11 student who would also like a keeping in touch meeting then they can make an appointment to have a one-to-one meeting with Mr Findlay during the first week of the summer holiday (w/c 20/07/2020).  Students who wish to take advantage of this may want to come into school to discuss their plans for the future, get some advice on the options available to them, or simply to have a chat with a familiar face. If you wish to take advantage of this opportunity then students should contact main reception on admin@northgosforth.co.uk or 0191 236 1700 before Friday 3rd July to arrange an appointment.

Remote learning

Can I applaud all parents and carers for their efforts in supporting their children during this troubled time. As a parent myself I know how difficult it is to effectively support your child across a range of subjects. We have started to use the Frog VLE platform to set more specific ‘work assignments’ for students across all year groups. This allows a greater sense of contact between student and teacher as well as more options in terms of feedback. The Frog app has also gone ‘live’ over the last couple of weeks and that has allowed students to access the work set from a smart phone.

I would encourage any student working on paper at home to use their school email address to send the work completed to the relevant teachers to ensure that they get some feedback as well. This is as simple as taking a photo of the work and emailing to the member of staff concerned. All email addresses follow the same format – forename.surname@northgosforth.co.uk.

If there are any problems with making this contact, please feel free to contact Mr Fryer on his email: mark.fryer@northgosforth.co.uk. He will be happy to assist.

Plans for September

We are all waiting for further information as to how schools will operate in September. The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, has stated that all schools will be back in September but further guidance has not been issued yet. My view is that the government is waiting to see how the R rate progresses over the next month before it clarifies its position.

Finally, I would like to wish you well over the summer months to come and hope that each week brings us a little bit closer to normality.

Warm regards

Steve Campbell

Principal

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