Year 10 & 12 Return to School w/c 6th July 2020
Dear Parent or Guardian,
Year 10 and 12 update
With all that is going on in society at the moment, our young people could be forgiven for being either confused or concerned or both; I know that many adults feel the same way. Schools have been grappling with something like 180 different bits of guidance from the Department for Education and government since Lockdown began at the end of March (it does seem a very long time ago), many of which necessitate considerable amounts of work that can be rendered unnecessary by the following update. It can be frustrating. But actually, in the wider context, such tribulations are minor, when we have families facing unemployment and worrying about how to feed their children (thank you Marcus Rashford!), when many families still have loved ones in care homes that they cannot see or hug and when events in America resonate with so many about the inequality and flaws of our own country.
We adults are wrestling with the enormity of these challenges but we have a duty to inform our young people about why so many Black and ethnic minority people (and many White people on their behalf) are so upset, to show them the facts and the different opinions in order to let them make their own informed decisions about what is going on and what they think should be done.
It is my experience that students at Southgate School care passionately about justice, equality, the environment and fairness. Take for example, the response of some of our students to our recent PSHE sessions about the death of George Floyd and Privilege in the UK today.
‘The George Floyd situation was a very eye-opening moment to many people, myself included. I have seen a lot more people speaking out against racial injustice. I think it's great that people are becoming more aware of this ongoing problem. I do believe there is white-privilege. The main reason being that white-supremacy is in the roots of Western countries’ histories… Looking back to the past our behaviour and actions have changed dramatically but there is more to be done. “The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” – John Maxwell’
‘We all need to come together and shut racism down not just in the United Kingdom and the United States of America but everywhere in the world. God willing there's a change, I'm not hugely optimistic but I am hopeful.’
This is clearly a difficult and sensitive topic for schools to discuss with their students, but if we are serious about promoting a tolerant and truly democratic society, then these are exactly the kind of issues we should be exploring. I will be posting a related assembly online that will go ‘live’ on Monday 22nd June.
However, some good news! We are opening for Year 10 and 12 students for the last two weeks of term and we expect to see all students from these two year groups attending. Before I go any further, there is a full risk assessment (some 19 sides of A4 with 40 items and 5 or 6 sub points in each, so it’s very comprehensive!) underpinning this return, which, in the interests of clarity I have transferred to a PowerPoint that you can access via the following link, to see how we will keep your child safe:
Please also follow the link below to view the Year 10 & Year 12 assessment timetable:
I hope that I do not have to persuade your child to attend, but just to recap why this is a golden opportunity that should be seized; a return to school before the summer break will:
- Remind your child of school routines and systems and will remind them also that they belong to our vibrant and welcoming community
- It will help many with their mental health. It has been tough for all young people to cope with lockdown. (Though I take my hat off to them for how, by and large, they have adapted to it). The chance to get some semblance of normality, to see friends and teachers – at a distance – before summer, will surely be a boost to their resilience. It will be a reminder that they are not alone and that they are not forgotten (though I hope that they know this already!)
- The planned sessions (see below timetable) will be based on next week’s assessments. Teachers will be feeding back on the assessments, addressing gaps in student’s knowledge and suggesting catch up work that can be tackled before September, so that they can hit the ground running in the Autumn when we will either return fully for all students, or at least with significant numbers of them.
Due to social distancing constraints, we are offering students one day of 40-minute lessons with subject teachers, with a break that will be supervised; students may bring a snack.
In the meantime, plans are underway for our return to school in September, (we are desperate to get back), but this can only be done in such a way that we can reassure parents, staff and students that it is safe to come back. The likelihood is – at the time of writing – that some measure of social distancing will still be in place, but we are looking at how we can manage this successfully. All Year Groups will have days in school and will be taught by their subject teacher but the actual practicalities of this cannot be resolved until we know for sure what the government guidance will be. We will, of course, keep you informed.
If you have any concerns or questions arising from this letter, please do not hesitate to contact either your Head of Year, Head of 6th Form, Ms Hussein or myself.
Mr. Martin Lavelle