Monday 13th July 2020
Reopening Update

We have tried to outline the key elements of our reopening plans in the Loom presentation below:
https://www.loom.com/share/31e37d0df8a6469c9ba008b745e45433

Other key documents that are attached to this update include:

We are currently working on our programme of activities for the first week back in September, particularly regarding the times at which the various year groups will be asked to come into school. We hope to finalise these plans and send them out to you by the end of this week.

We hope that this information gives you some reassurance that we are taking great care over our plans for September. We are very much looking forward to having our students back in school and are wholly committed to doing this in the safest way possible.


Friday 10th July 2020
Update

Reopening

We have done a lot of planning for September and we presented our draft plans in this respect to the Governing Body last night. We will reflect on the feedback received through this process and will circulate guidance documentation for our staff, parents and students on Monday.

Fundraising for South African Partner Schools

As our fundraising for our South African partner schools has got off to a slow start, Mr Atherton has decided to launch a PlayStation / XBox FIFA competition for all Fallibroome students. More information about this can be found at:

https://fallibroome.academy/fallibroomes-community-fundraising-challenge/

As mentioned last week, we are keen to hear about any other fundraising suggestions too. Donations to this important campaign can also be made direct through our Wisepay account.

Exam Results Days

We are currently planning for the GCSE and A-Level results days in August. We decided to give the students the option of collecting their results in school or having them sent to them by email. As some of our students have indicated that they would prefer to collect their grades in person, we are now working on plans to do this in a socially distanced manner. Students who have indicated that they would like to receive their grades by email should not come on to the school site to collect their grades as our systems will be specifically designed for the students who have indicated that they want to pick them up in school.

Please note that we have been instructed not to release our internal grades to students or parents during this process. As this advice has not changed, we will not be providing this data on the GCSE and A-Level Results Days. As such, students will only receive a report listing the grades that have been decided upon by the Exam Boards – and these grades may be different from those that we submitted at the start of this process.

For GCSE students, we will also provide a report that indicates if their internal grades were assessed at 5+ or higher in each of their subjects. This will allow us to use a student’s internal grades to determine Sixth Form admission if it is to the student’s advantage to do so.

Cycle to School

The national guidance that has been circulated in recent days continues to emphasise the importance of students avoiding public transport if at all possible. As a result, we anticipate that more students may choose to cycle to school next year.

In order to prepare for the possibility of an increase in bicycles on site, and the consequent need for more bicycle racks, we would like to gauge numbers. If you expect your son or daughter to cycle regularly to school, please email Mr Smalley () by 4pm on Tuesday July 14th so we can consider increasing our provision for storing bikes on site.

Please note that students who cycle will need to wear a helmet and bring a secure lock for their bike into school.

Review of the Year

Even though our school year has been cut short, it is amazing how much we managed to squeeze in before we closed in late March. All of this has been celebrated in our Annual Review, which can be accessed at:

http://fallibroome.academy/fallibroome-academy-annual-review/

Please take a few minutes to look through this – some of the events seem a long time ago now, but are definitely worth reviewing in this way. If nothing else, it will remind us all of how much we are missing!


Friday 3rd July 2020
Update

We have compiled some updates below in response to a number of important developments this week.

Reopening

Yesterday, we received the Department for Education guidance regarding the national plans for school reopening in September. This is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirusoutbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools

The key message here is that we are expected to reopen for all students and all subjects in September. While everyone at Fallibroome is keen to return to some sense of normality, this guidance includes significant restrictions that will necessitate substantial changes to the way that our school normally operates. We will study this documentation very carefully in the days ahead and start planning our response accordingly. It is our intention to have firm plans in place before the end of term so that everyone in our community is very clear about these issues before the summer break.

GCSE and A-Levels 2021

Ofqual have also just published their consultation documents relating to proposed changes to GCSE and A-Level examinations for 2021. This consultation process will continue until July 16th. We hope that this will lead to clear decisions being made about these issues in time for next academic year. Our staff desperately need this clarity so that we can plan our courses and explain these issues to our students and parents as soon as possible.

Live Lessons

We have received excellent feedback from parents and students about the increased number of live lessons that have been provided this half-term. However, a number of our teachers are reporting a noticeable decrease in the number of students engaging in these sessions, especially in Y10. We would consequently urge our parents to monitor this issue and support us in this respect as much as possible.

GCSE and A-Level Exam Results’ Days 2020

We are currently finalising our plans for the Results Days’ in August. We hope to get more information about this out to parents and students next week.

Summer Holiday

It has been confirmed that we will not be asked to continue our support for key workers and vulnerable children through the summer holidays. As a result, the school will close to all students on Friday 17th July.


Friday 26th June 2020
Update

have provided some information and guidance related to a number of issues below:

South Africa Fundraising

Every year, we use our sponsored walk to raise funds for our partner schools in South Africa (Dennegeur and Grabouw). Not only has this project brought substantial benefits to the young people in South Africa, it has also greatly enhanced the experiences of our own students and staff – especially those who have had the opportunity to visit these schools. Please take a moment to watch the video clip below as it summarises the mutual benefit and joy that this relationship brings to everyone involved:

https://vimeo.com/429981973

As we have not been able to schedule a sponsored walk this year, we are very anxious to try to raise an equivalent amount by other means. With this in mind, our Community Managers are asking our students to raise sponsorship for any physical activity of their choosing and, if their parents are happy for them to do so, to send us a video clip of their efforts. Please take a few moments to review the website materials that our Community Managers have put together to support this campaign:

http://fallibroome.academy/fallibroomes-community-fundraising-challenge/

We have set the students a target of raising £6 each as this represents the 6km between Dennegeur and Grabouw. Your support in encouraging such fundraising efforts would be greatly appreciated.

Student Guides

Mr Billington has created two excellent video guides for students to help them manage their Google Classroom activities and to explain how to engage in live online lessons. I would really encourage you to watch these with your son/daughter as they help to clarify a number of queries that we receive on a regular basis:

How to…Manage your work using the Google Classroom To Do list – Watch Video

How to…Join a live online lesson using Google Meet – Watch Video

Reopening

Recent government announcements suggest that it is their intention to reopen schools fully in September. While we are aware of these headlines, as yet we have not yet received any updated guidance as to how we are expected to relax the current restrictions in order to deliver this ambition. We understand that such guidance should be sent to schools next week. As soon as we know more, we will update you accordingly.

Safeguarding

We have updated our safeguarding policies in light of the significant increase in online lessons that are taking place currently. The attached letter provides some key guidance for parents with respect to these issues and also gives you the opportunity to opt out of live online lessons if you wish to do so.

Holidays and International Travel

At the moment, everyone returning from foreign countries (except the Channel Islands and the Republic of Ireland) is obliged to self-isolate for two weeks. With this in mind, it would be wise for parents to avoid booking overseas holidays in the last two weeks of August as this may mean missing school time if we are able to open school more broadly in September. We understand that updated national guidance in this area is likely to be published from June 29th so please monitor these issues very carefully if you are considering international travel in the holiday period.

Investigations Week

We expect subject lessons to continue in their current vein until the end of the summer term. We will not be setting alternative ‘Investigations Week’ activities in the final week of term.
The only exception to this will be for Y12 on Tuesday 14th July as the Sixth Form team are planning a range of activities on this date.

Drama Youth Companies

Our Performing Arts department continue to try to offer opportunities for our students to engage in creative activities and to share these with our community. This week’s offering is performed by students in both our Drama Senior and Youth Companies:

https://vimeo.com/432206374

With best wishes to everyone in our community.


Friday 26th June 2020
Video Conferencing Guide for Parents

Fallibroome is developing new ways of working to provide children with engaging learning opportunities, especially at times when they may need to be learning at home. There are occasions where we believe it is in the best interests of your child to learn collaboratively with their classmates and teachers, using video conferencing.

The online safety of your child is our priority. Fallibroome follows the guidance that has been developed by organisations such as DfE, NSPCC and UK Safer Internet Centre.

The video platforms the school will be using are Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and WebEx.

How we will keep your child safe

  • The technology we use will have been risk assessed by the school prior to setting up any video conferences.
  • Video conferences will only be hosted on school accounts and devices.
  • Meetings will be set up with safety and security as a priority.
  • There will be no 1:1 video conferencing, unless this has been agreed with a parent in advance. Staff who are teaching an online session where only one student has arrived will end the session.
  • Your child will always be invited to join a secured meeting using Google Classroom, which you will also be able to access. We ask you to keep the invitation information confidential and request you do not share it with others.
  • Staff will agree the ground rules for creating a safe online space at the start of each video conference. This will include reminding children not to share private information.
  • We may record the meeting so that the session can be reviewed if there is a need to, and students who miss the session can access it at a later date. Recordings are strictly for the school’s use only. The lawful basis for recording and retaining the meeting is public task as it is solely for the purposes of safeguarding children.
  • Recordings will be kept securely for one month after the event in accordance with our data protection and records management policies. Recordings will only be accessed by authorised staff.
  • Pictures or screenshots of a live lesson will not be shared online.
  • A log of the content overview, date, time and participants of all video conferences will be kept.

How you can keep your child safe

We ask you to ensure:

  • Your child is in a shared space in your house, rather than in their bedroom.
  • Your child is dressed in clothes suitable for school, whilst this does not need to be school uniform, it should be appropriate.
  • Your child is reminded to behave as they would in school.
  • You check there is nothing in the background that may be distracting or private.
  • You check your internet connection is secure.
  • You or your child do not record, store, or distribute video material without permission.

Consent

Should you not wish for your child to participate in video conferencing, please email your child’s Learning Manager:


Friday 19th June 2020
Update

This Week

It has been really encouraging to be able to welcome an increased number of students back to school this week. On average, we have had 50-60 Y10 students, approximately 40 Y12 students and 20 children of key workers etc. in school each day. Even though the taught sessions have felt very different from normal, they have clearly been highly valued by our students and staff. We have also been impressed by the way in which our students have responded to our expectations regarding social distancing etc. We very much hope that these tentative steps back to normality can be built upon in the months ahead.

September

We are hearing various suggestions in the media regarding the possible arrangements for schools in September. However, no further guidance has been provided to us in this respect. While we are doing our best to plan for various scenarios at the moment, we are unable to engage in detailed planning until we have some clarity from the government in this regard. At the moment, we are assuming that social distancing expectations will remain in place to a greater or lesser extent and that this will have unavoidable consequences for our ability to open the school normally after the summer holidays.

Off-Site Behaviour

We have had some reports of our students attending social events outside school and not making any attempt to socially distance in line with current government guidelines. In a few cases, this has been brought to our attention through social media posts etc. We have responded to these issues by banning some individuals from the school site for a period of 14 days. While we take this action with great reluctance, we feel that this approach is necessary in order to reassure the other families in our community who are also aware of these issues.

Uniform

As you will be aware, we have chosen to suspend uniform expectations for the summer term. However, it would be wise for parents to plan on the assumption that uniform will be reintroduced as school starts to reopen after the summer holidays.

South Africa

We have a long-standing association with two schools in South Africa (Dennegeur and Grabouw) which has entailed international visits, cultural exchanges and other work of mutual benefit. Every year, we have also raised money for these schools through our sponsored walk and this has brought tangible benefits to these communities. It has also allowed us to sponsor some individual students to continue their education to secondary level, with life changing consequences.

As we cannot organise a sponsored walk this year, our Community Managers are currently developing alternative fundraising ideas that would allow us to continue our support for our partners in South Africa. More detail about these plans will be sent out to parents in the near future. While we recognise that our community may not be able to contribute as generously to this initiative as they have in the past, we know that our support is needed more than ever at the current time.

It is very much our hope that we will receive clear guidance before the end of term regarding national expectations for schools in September. This will then allow us to plan properly and keep you informed of these arrangements well in advance. In the meantime, thank you for your ongoing support for the school at this extraordinary time.


Thursday 11th June 2020
Update

As we begin to bring more students back to school, I have provided a number of key updates below. While most of this information is particularly relevant to Y10 and Y12, I would encourage all our students and families to familiarise themselves with the documents mentioned here.

Plans for Y10 and Y12

As I am sure you have picked up from the media, there has been a lot of debate locally and across the North West in recent days about whether or not the reopening date for schools (15th June) ought to be further delayed.

A key factor for us in deciding how to proceed has been the advice received from the Local Authority (LA) with regard to this matter, particularly with respect to the guidance that they are getting from their Director of Public Health. In summary, the LA has received a joint statement from the Directors of Public Health for Cheshire and Merseyside supporting the phased reopening of schools from next week. A copy of the joint statement and the LA letter is attached to this email for your reference.

On this basis, the LA are advising their schools to reopen as planned and, alongside the other schools in the Trust, we have chosen to do likewise. Y10 and Y12 students/parents will shortly receive separate emails describing the scheduling and rooming for these sessions.

Y10 and Y12 Student Handbooks

We have written a short handbook for every student who will be coming back into school. It is particularly important that all Y10 and Y12 students/parents read this guidance carefully as it describes how the school will function during the summer term.

Risk Assessments

For reference, I have also attached the risk assessment that has been compiled for all the schools in the Trust. This overarching advice is supported by our Reopening Plan, which is much more specific to our school.

We are really looking forward to having some students back in school during the remainder of the summer term. At the moment we are still very unsure about how schools will be expected to function in September and are awaiting further national guidance in this respect. It seems likely, however, that normal service will not resume after the summer holidays, although we very much hope to be able to extend our provision at this stage and that this will lead us gradually back to normal in the months that follow.

Useful Information


Friday 5th June 2020
Update

Some key points from this week below:

Frequently Asked Questions

We have been through all the parent survey responses and have used this feedback to produce a Frequently Asked Questions document. I hope that this helps to answer a number of your queries, even though some of these issues are heavily influenced by factors beyond our control.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions

Student Handbook and Risk Assessments

We are currently compiling a short ‘handbook’ to describe how the school will function during the summer term. We will try to keep this as clear and concise as possible. We will get this out to you next week. We are also finalising our risk assessment documentation at the moment and will make this available next week too.

Timetable and Scheduling for the Summer term

During next week, Y10 and Y12 students/parents will start to get information about lesson timing, rooming etc. from Mr Priest. Please keep an eye out for these emails as they will include important information about when and where the in-school lessons will be taking place.

Transport to School

If your son/daughter is attending school during the summer term, the Local Authority are asking you to complete the following transport survey. This is particularly important if your child has previously been using one of the subsidised school bus services provided by Cheshire East/TSS.

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=uzdyKPsw7ki4DMGW_d6Z7fDW9B2NRL5AhgZtlG_-7zFUQ1NWQ1lCSEhES1o1SjE1OFcxVUUwR0JPQy4u

Face Masks

I mentioned in my last letter that face masks can be purchased from Finesse in Macclesfield. While this is the case, it seems that they only provide such items for adults. However, this stock is currently available from Classworx at:

https://classworx.co.uk/school/fallibroome-academy/

Remarkably, the school has now been closed to most students for nine school weeks. We are all looking forward to starting to reopen from the 15th June and hope that this will lead to us being able to return to normal in the near future. In the meantime, I hope everyone is keeping themselves safe and well.


Friday 29th May 2020
School Reopening Information for Years 10 and 12

As we reach the end of the half-term break, I have provided a number of important updates below:

Reopening Plans and Survey Responses

For the last few weeks, we have been promised national guidance for the secondary sector, but this has been repeatedly delayed. Eventually, I felt that we had to make some decisions before the half-term holiday so that staff and parents had at least some sense of how we intend to manage the reopening process. This led to the Loom presentation that I sent out last week. In going ahead like this, we knew that our plans might need to be revised if/when the national guidance was finally published. This is exactly what has happened. New national guidance for the secondary sector was published on Monday and can be accessed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-for-the-wider-opening-of-schools-from-1-june/planning-guide-for-secondary-schools

This new guidance includes a number of requirements that necessitate important revisions to our previous plans. As a result, we have been working on amendments to our plans this week in order to make them complaint with the new guidance. Our new approach is described in the Loom presentation below. I have also taken this opportunity to briefly summarise the staff and parent survey responses that we have gathered to date:

https://www.loom.com/share/fd8d050fa4be497fb729a95b6cd245bd

I have also attached a copy of this presentation to this email so that you can go through it separately if you wish to do so.

Year 9

At this point, we feel that it would be sensible for our Year 9 students to focus on those subjects that they intend to continue next year. We have asked our teachers to bear this in mind when setting work for their Y9 classes. As a result, Y9 Google Classroom assignments will start to have a GCSE flavour and we hope that this might help us to mitigate some of the consequences of what is likely to be a disrupted start to Y10 next year.

Y11 and Y13 Grades

We are reaching the end of our internal processes relating to the submission of GCSE and A-Level grades to the various Exam Boards. However, we remain under strict guidance regarding the confidentiality of these grades so will not be able to release this information to parents. Also, we have not been told that we can release our internal grades to parents after the Results’ Days in August. We are consequently working on the assumption that this will not be permissible.

As we want to allow our students to choose to use their internal GCSE grades for Sixth Form admission processes if they wish to do so, the above restrictions are problematic. To deal with this issue, we are currently working on an approach that will allow us to let students know on GCSE Results’ Day if they have achieved an internal Grade 5+ or higher in each subject without disclosing their actual internal grades. In this way, students will still be able to rely on their internal grades for Sixth Form admission processes if it is to their advantage to do so.

Ofqual have also recently issued further guidance relating to appeal processes. In summary, it is their intention to only allow appeals in very restricted circumstances. For example, if a school thinks that an administrative error has been made in calculating the grade, this can be brought to the Exam Board’s attention as part of an appeal procedure. Crucially, however, it will not be possible for students to appeal against the perceived ‘fairness’ of their grades. Ofqual explain this position in the following manner:

Following our consultation, we have given serious consideration as to whether a student could appeal against their school or college’s centre assessment grades and position in the rank order. On balance, we have decided it would not be in the interests of all students, or the fairness of the arrangements overall, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the appeal would have to be undertaken by someone better
placed than the student’s teachers to judge the grade they would likely have received if the exams had taken place – in the unique circumstances of this summer we do not believe there is any such person. An appeal would also require students to have access to the information their school or college put forward before being submitted to exam boards. This may compromise the reliability of
this year’s approach. Furthermore, if one student successfully appealed against their position in the rank order, it would have negative implications for other students who would, in turn, need to be given an opportunity to appeal. We intend that students who feel that their grades from the summer do not reflect their ability will have the opportunity to take their exams in the autumn series or in summer
2021. If they choose to do this, students will be able to use the higher of the two grades for future progression

While we have serious misgivings about the absence of an appeal process, we recognise that these circumstances are exceptional and the difficulty that Ofqual would have implementing a procedure that was fit for purpose.

As a result of the above, it is important for our Y11 and Y13 students to consider whether they would be willing to re-sit their examination in the proposed autumn 2020 and summer 2021 windows. If this is an option that individual students wish to pursue, we hope to be able to provide more information about these processes in August.

IT Access

As explained previously, it is our intention to enhance our online lessons for Y10 and Y12 from June 8th. Between now and then, we will be in touch with you to ask whether your son/daughter has access to IT infrastructure at home that will allow them to engage in these lessons. If not, we will try to offer in-school support to bridge this gap. For obvious reasons, we will need to keep the number of students that we bring into school to access our IT facilities to a minimum. As a result, we would ask our Y10 and Y12 students to continue to work from home during this period if at all possible (unless they are invited to attend school for specific lessons as described in my Loom video).

PPE

As mentioned in my Loom presentation last week, it is our intention to introduce the use of face coverings for staff and students in September. We expect that these will become necessary when social distancing is difficult to maintain (e.g. in the corridors and around school). We are consequently asking our parents to purchase at last two of these masks for their son/daughter in time for September. Our uniform suppliers (e.g. Finesse in Macclesfield) have already picked up this issue for us and will have face masks in stock if parents wish to purchase them in this way.

Please note, however, that it would be our strong preference to avoid wearing such masks in school. We will consequently end this practice as soon as we are able to do so safely.

We are also asking our parents to provide tissues and hand wipes / hand sanitiser for their son/daughter. This will assist greatly in maintaining safe work spaces for everyone during the school day.

Uniform

We do not intend to insist on school uniform being worn during the summer term. We also anticipate that this may remain the case in September. However, please bear in mind that we will reverse this position as soon as we feel it is appropriate to do so. Parents are consequently advised to ensure that their son/daughter has all the usual uniform requirements in place so that we can return to normal at very short notice if need be.

We have been very encouraged by the survey responses that we have collected in the last week or so. At such an uncertain time, we seem to have succeeded in reassuring the vast majority of our community and retained the strong support of our parents for the decisions that we have taken to date. No doubt, we will have many more obstacles to overcome in future, but I am confident that we will continue to meet these challenges successfully.

With best wishes to everyone.


Friday 22nd May 2020
School Reopening Information for Years 10 and 12

As promised, we have prepared a presentation to explain how we are intending to respond to the recently announced government plans to enable “some face to face contact” for Y10 and Y12 students and their teachers next half-term. While the content of my presentation focuses strongly on our Y10 and Y12 cohorts, it also includes guidance that is very relevant to all our families. The video of this presentation is just over 30 minutes long and can be accessed at:

https://www.loom.com/share/dbb513a31c954ff396b1168cfd224c9e

As mentioned at the end of this video, we are also asking for feedback from our parents and students about these plans. This process includes the opportunity to raise any additional issues or questions that are concerning you at the moment. We will try to collate these into a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ document and respond as soon as we can. Please take a few minutes to complete this short survey by Monday as this will give us the time to review your feedback over the holiday period and plan accordingly:

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=uzdyKPsw7ki4DMGW_d6Z7a-R_Slg9p1LjniiN-Lup0VURTZPMTQwODVOM1pQSElRVThUV1BXRzhUTi4u

We hope that the above guidance helps you to understand the issues that we are working on at the moment and offers some reassurance about our plans for the future too. Please bear in mind though that we may need to change these plans at short notice if further government advice is published that conflicts with our currently preferred approach.

We hope that you are all keeping safe. We are really hoping that this crisis will pass soon and we will be able to get back to normal in the near future.

 


Wednesday 20th May 2020
School Reopening Information

We are conscious that you have not been updated with respect to our reopening plans and that this must be causing you some concern at the moment, not least as this is the subject of so much media speculation at the current time.

As you know, national guidance was provided to schools about reopening arrangements at the beginning of last week. However, this was predominantly aimed at the primary sector and only suggested that secondary schools should try to offer “some face-to-face” contact with their Y10 and Y12 students before the end of the summer term. We were promised more detailed guidance about these matters by last Friday, but this did not materialise. We were then told that further guidance would follow early this week, but again nothing additional has been sent to us. As we are very conscious that our students, parents and staff are very anxious to get some clarity about our intended plans for next half-term, at this stage we feel that we have no option but to make decisions based on the limited information that we have been given to date.

In developing our plans, we have had to assume that the key limitations placed on the primary sector will also apply to secondary schools. A key element of these restrictions is the expectation that students must remain in a small, single group throughout their time in school. This is very important in the secondary sector as it means that groups of students cannot be rearranged for options subjects etc. during the school day, or even from one day to the next. As all secondary schools normally function by moving students between subjects and sets throughout the school day/week, this represents a substantial change to our normal working practices.

In anticipation of these arrangements being confirmed for the secondary sector, we have been working hard on the possible options at our disposal. We hope to finalise our intended approach by the end of this week and I will send out a detailed explanation of our rationale in this respect over the weekend. As part of this process, we will include the opportunity for you to provide feedback to us and we will consider your comments, suggestions and queries over the half-term holiday period.

Of course, it is possible that the government will publish guidance in the next few days that will cause us to reconsider our approach. However, in light of the fact that we are reaching the last few days of this half term, we thought it would be best to proceed on the assumption that this clarity would not be forthcoming. If these circumstances change, we will of course let you know as soon as we can.


Tuesday 12th May 2020
School Reopening Information

As you have probably heard, national guidance has been published this week about the reopening of schools. These documents can be accessed at:

Detailed as this guidance is, it is very heavily focussed on primary schools. For example, the recommendations relating to class groupings and curriculum delivery would not allow a secondary school to operate in anything like a normal fashion. Yet, we know that secondary schools are also being asked to facilitate some ‘face-to-face contact’ with their Y10 and Y12 students, although the nature of such arrangements and their proposed start date are very unclear. As a result, we are left with many questions as to how to implement these guidelines in our setting and we know that all the other secondary schools in the region are facing similar difficulties.

We understand that further guidance relating to the secondary sector will be published shortly. We hope that this additional detail will allow us to judge what is achievable in our context and we will update you with respect to our approach as soon as possible thereafter. We are also conscious of the fact that each family will need to make their own decisions regarding an appropriate return date for their son/daughter so we do not intend to put pressure on parents to send their child to school before you consider it appropriate to do so. We will do everything possible to keep you updated with respect to our preparations so that you can make an informed judgement as to the best course of action for your family.

Please note that our school is still only open for vulnerable students and the children of critical workers. We know that some employers will be encouraging you to return to work at the current time, but we’re not in a position to extend places to other children until we receive further government advice and guidance.

With thanks for your ongoing support for the school.

Further updates from our Trust can also be found at: http://www.fallibroometrust.com/ceos-letter-to-parents-guardians-and-students-may-12th-2020/

 


Friday 8th May 2020
Parent and Student Survey Results

I have chosen to focus my letter this week on the survey results that we have collected over the last week or so. I have provided an overview of the key results below with some conclusions and associated actions at the end.

We had 365 parent survey returns in total. These were evenly spread across the school, with between 60 and 80 from every year group.

We also received 611 student survey responses. We had at least 100 responses from each year group from Y7-Y10 and a smaller number from Y12.

The parent responses to each of the questions is provided in the tables below. A short commentary is also given under each table to explain how this data compares to the student surveys and to offer other explanatory information.

Work is being set on a regular basis
Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree % of positive responses
41% 57% 2% 0.2% 98%

The student responses to this question generated even stronger results (99% positive with 56% strongly agree).

How long on average is your child spending working each day
Over 5 hours 4-5 hours 3-4 hours 2-3 hours 1-2 hours Less than an hour
18% 23% 25% 20% 13% 2%

The student responses to this question generated very similar results.

Perhaps predictably, there is a noticeable increase in working hours in Y10 and Y12 with about a third of Y10 students and nearly half of Y12 students reporting working in excess of five hours a day. To us, this seems excessive so we will provide further guidance about how this might be managed at more sensible levels in future.

When we asked about whether the volume of work being set was appropriate, the majority of parents (60% approx.) reported that it was ‘about right’ with 20% saying that it was a little too much and 5% saying is was far too much. The student view seems to be that too much work is being set, with 60% replying that it was either ‘too much’ or ‘far too much’.

In terms of the quality of the work being set, we received the following responses from parents:

How would you rate the quality of work being set
1

(excellent)

2 3 4 5  (very poor)
Overall 20% 37% 30% 9% 4%

Student responses to this question were very similar.

At the moment, we ask our staff to set tasks that are similar in style to what would normally be completed in lessons and/or homework. An alternative approach that is being used in some schools involves the setting of longer term project work that gives the students more flexibility to complete assignments in different ways over longer time scales. The overwhelming response from parents (94%) was in favour of maintaining our current approach, with 80% of students taking the same view.

We also asked parents how they felt their child was coping with the current circumstances. This generated the following results:

How well is your child coping?
1

(very well)

2 3 4 5

(not at all)

Overall 31% 33% 24% 10% 1%

This suggests that about two thirds of parents feel that their son/daughter is coping well at the moment with about 10% suggesting that their child is struggling. The student feedback to this question is quite different though:

How well do you feel you are coping?
1

(very well)

2 3 4 5

(not at all)

Overall  13% 29% 30% 20% 8%
Year 7 39% 31% 34% 15% 3%
Year 8 10% 33% 6% 7% 8%
Year 9 13% 55% 33% 17% 10%
Year 10 11% 19% 26% 30% 13%
Year 12 4% 39% 32% 14% 11%

The number of students reporting that they are not coping well at the moment is about 25% in most year groups, and rises to over 40% in Y10. This suggests that student anxiety levels are quite high currently and this is certainly something for parents to discuss at home with their son/daughter. We imagine that the reasons for this anxiety are quite varied and probably cover issues such as:

  • Loss of social contact with friends
  • Anxiety about health and wellbeing of family members
  • Anxiety about examination requirements and grades
  • Loss of contact with teachers and tutors
  • Loss of extracurricular activities
  • Increased difficulty understanding subject content when learning online –

We will certainly be discussing these themes in school to see what we can do to alleviate these issues and they will be a very high priority for us on our return to school too.

We also asked if you felt that we were communicating with you adequately. This generated the following response from parents:

Very well informed Well informed Quite well informed Not very well informed Not informed

at all

How well informed do you feel about the school closure and other associated issues? 57% 33% 8% 2%

We also asked parents and students to suggest other ways in which we could improve our current approaches. This led to a number of requests relating to setting tasks and deadlines more clearly etc. that we will look into. The two most common requests received were:

  • More online live lessons
  • More feedback on work submitted by students

While we understand the demand for this additional support, it is important to explain why delivering such provision is less than straightforward. To explain this, I have tried to respond to each of these issues separately below:

Online Lessons

We know that many of our parents are really struggling to balance the conflicting requirements of managing their work and domestic commitments at the moment. The same is true of our teaching staff. In particular, colleagues here have to manage their own personal health and wellbeing, the caring responsibilities for their own families, issues related to IT hardware and access, etc. As a result, the capacity that colleagues have to provide live online tutorials is very varied. We are also very conscious of the additional safeguarding issues that arise when delivering video lessons into people’s homes.

For these reasons, we have been careful not to insist that all our teachers should offer online live lessons to their students. That said, we have encouraged colleagues to offer occasional sessions like this when it is possible/appropriate to do so. When this is more difficult, we have asked colleagues to provide narrated PowerPoints and/or directions to the excellent resources that are available on BBC Bitesize and the Oak Academy. From a parent’s perspective we recognise that this is resulting in a very mixed provision, but this is genuinely the best that we feel that we can do in the circumstances.

Feedback

It is completely understandable that students and parents want feedback on the work that is being submitted each week. In normal circumstances, we would absolutely expect this dialogue between students and teachers to be happening on a regular basis. It is so much more difficult for us to manage this workload in the current circumstances though. Some of our teachers teach over 300 students so providing individual feedback using online systems would quickly become unmanageable for our staff. We are very conscious of this problem though and we will look again at these issues to see if more can be done in this respect.

Summary and Conclusions

  1. Work is being set frequently and the majority of this is of a high quality.
  2. The nature of the tasks that we are setting is appropriate and we should not change to setting longer term, project work activities.
  3. Our students are working hard, but some are probably trying to do too much at the moment.
  4. While most students are coping well, a sizeable minority seem to be struggling to cope and this is a particular issue in Y10.
  5. We are keeping parents and students well informed about issues relating to the school closure.

In all likelihood, there is a connection between points 3 and 4. To address these issues, we will work in the following way in future:

  • We would like to emphasise that students completing 4 hours independent work at home each day is enough. Students in Y10 and Y12 may want to do more than this, but anything above 5 hours is unhealthy in our view. We know that our students (and staff) are anxious about covering course content and forthcoming examinations, but we need to persuade our community that these issues will be addressed in time. Exam requirements will almost certainly have to be altered; lesson time on our return to school will have to be devoted to revisiting content covered during the closure; and students who have been unable to access support at home will have to be helped on their return to school. In short, we know that there will be gaps in students’ knowledge when they return to school and we will address these issues in due course. By far the most important issue at the moment is that our students remain healthy and that they return to school in a positive frame of mind.
  • When our teachers set work, we will ask them to identify the ‘core’ elements that all students should try to complete and ‘extension’ work that students could also attempt if they have time to do so. Hopefully, this will help students to manage the volume of work that is being provided for them in a sensible manner.
  • I will also write to all our students to thank them for responding to our survey in such large numbers and to reiterate the key messages above.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to our surveys. The feedback has been very encouraging and has also allowed us to address some of the issues that exist in our community, even if we cannot resolve all of the concerns that have been reported to us. I hope that you find the above summary informative and that we are able to continue to work together positively for the remaining period of the school closure, however long that may be.

 

Saturday 2nd May 2020
Update

We have compiled some more key advice and updates below:

Surveys

Thank you to those parents and students who have already responded to our surveys. We have had hundreds of responses so far and are keen to increase this number still further if possible. We will be closing these forms on Monday morning so please try to contribute before then if you can by going to:

We will review these surveys very carefully next week and will update you regarding any conclusions that we reach from this process as soon as we can.

Reports and End-of-Year Assessments

We feel that it would be inappropriate of us to conduct end-of-year assessments for Y7-Y10 based on activities completed during the school closure period. As a result, we will not be providing subject reports or attainment grades for Y7-Y10 at the end of this year. Once we return to school, we will review these issues and make alternative arrangements as necessary.

We will produce end-of-year reports for Y12 as these will be needed to support UCAS application processes at the start of next academic year. That said, any grades included in these reports will be largely based on the work completed by our Sixth Form students prior to the school closure, although work completed during closure will still be considered before finalising these grades.

Sarah Rawsthorn

We have heard this week that Sarah Rawsthorn (Parent Governor) has chosen to step down from this role so that she can pursue other interests as her family move away from the area.

Sarah has given an enormous amount of time to the school in her years as a governor. Her SEND expertise has been especially valuable to us and she has also played a key role in providing a parent’s perspective on our work. She leaves with our grateful thanks for her contribution to the school and we wish her every success in the future.

Video

Mr Jones has compiled the following video as a celebration of the various dance shows and performances that we have seen at Fallibroome in recent times: https://vimeo.com/412805786

If nothing else, as we are all probably getting fed up of being locked away in isolation, this serves to remind us of what we have to look forward to when things get back to normal!

 


Friday 24th April 2020
Update

We have compiled some key advice and updates below:

Online Resources

I am aware that many families have been accessing the BBC Bitesize resources that have become available in the last few days. Alongside this, we have also seen the launch of ‘Oak Academy’ this week (see https://www.thenational.academy/). This impressive resource includes a wealth of online lessons and activities for a wide range of subjects up to Y10. We expect these materials to expand over the weeks and months ahead too. I know that our teachers will be making use of these resources in the tasks that they set through Google Classroom, but there is plenty here that can be accessed independently by students and parents too.

Y7-Y10 and Y12 Surveys

We are keen to gather feedback from students, parents and staff about the way that our distance learning systems are working currently. With this in mind, we have prepared surveys for Y7-10 and Y12. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey that is relevant to you so that we can decide if any changes to our approach are needed in the weeks / months ahead. Please encourage your son/daughter to complete the student version too. We will take this feedback very seriously so would really encourage as many students and parents to complete this process as possible.

Y11 and Y13 Surveys

We always complete ‘exit surveys’ for our Y11 and Y13 cohorts. We will do this again this year, but this information will be sent out separately.

Y11 Transition Work

As previously explained, we will stop setting work for Y11 from Friday May 1st.

We will then use the following week to create new Y11 Google Classrooms based on the students who have opted to study each subject in the Sixth Form. Teaching staff will then set Y11-Y12 transition work for students in each subject starting from Monday May 11th. This will include 3 or 4 tasks that the students can complete independently over the summer months. We will not ask our staff to provide ongoing support and feedback for these tasks. Instead, we will ask them to design the tasks in such a way as to help students make a positive start to Y12 and to include a review and discussion of this content in the first few lessons next year.

In setting up these transition activities, it is important that students and parents do not assume that admission to the Sixth Form will necessarily follow. Decisions with regard to Sixth Form admission will not be made until after the GCSE results have been published and the quality of any transition work completed will not form part of these considerations.

Press Coverage

There have been a number of good news stories in the media recently with a Fallibroome connection:

While it seems to me that the UK has passed the peak in the current crisis, it is obvious that the return to some sense of normality is going to be very slow. Keen as we are to put all this behind us, we know that the next stages will need to be managed with real care and patience. We remain very unsure when schools will be asked to reopen, but we will let you know more as soon as we are able to do so.

With best wishes to everyone in our community.


Sunday 19th April 2020
GCSE and A-Level Exam Grades

As the official Easter holiday has come to an end, I have provided a few key updates below:

Home Learning

Our staff will now return to providing regular work for our students. We would consequently encourage parents to try to re-establish working routines at home so that our students retain some sense of normality at this time.

I would also like to draw your attention to the BBC Bitesize resources that are being launched from April 20th (https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize). There is a wealth of high quality resources available here that can be accessed by our students independently. Our staff are also likely to make use of these materials through the work that they set in Google Classroom.

GCSE and A-Level Results

It has been confirmed that the A-Level results this year will be published on 13th August and the GCSE results will follow a week later on the 20th August.
We have plans in place to ensure that we provide the data required by Ofqual to support GCSE and A-Level results and we will be working hard on this over the next six weeks or so.

PPE Project

Our work providing PPE for frontline workers has continued throughout the holiday period. Up to last Friday, we had delivered over 2,000 face visors to offices right across the region. This has been a remarkable achievement by all the staff and students involved. As you may have already noticed, our work in this area was featured in the Macclesfield Express last week. We also understand that East Cheshire Hospice intend to feature our support in a follow-up article in the Macclesfield Express this week. I know that the team of colleagues and students who have led this work have been greatly heartened by the public response to their efforts and they remain determined to keep this output going for as long as the need exists.

Re-opening Schools

There is a lot of media speculation at the moment about the need to re-open schools, with some even suggesting specific dates when this might happen. Our understanding is that no such date has been agreed and that this is very unlikely to be confirmed in the near future. It is consequently better to assume that schools will remain closed for some time to come.

We are very conscious that student, parent and staff anxiety about lost learning and the particular impact that this will have on examination courses will increase as the school closure period continues. We understand that these problems are acknowledged by Ofqual and that they accept that a sensible approach with regard to future examination expectations will need to be developed, particularly for Y10 and Y12 students. We await further detail about these matters and will update our students and parents as soon as we know more. In the meantime, I would encourage all our students to try not to worry unduly about these issues and to assume that a reasonable approach to future national examinations will be developed in response to the current crisis in due course.

With best wishes to everyone in our community at this time.


Friday 10th April 2020
Update

As we come to the end of our third week of closure, I have provided a number of updates below.

Exam Grades

Letters from Ofqual have already been sent out to Y11 and Y13 families to explain how the exam grading processes are going to operate this year. Ofqual have now produced the following video to support this documentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXuDOrtJY1Q&feature=youtu.be

Face Masks

So far, we have manufactured and delivered 804 face visors for frontline workers. The full list of offices that we have supported so far are:

  • Stepping Hill Critical Care 200
  • Waters Green Docs 60
  • Rossendale 70
  • Rollins Pharmacy 8
  • Prestbury Pharmacy 8
  • Bollington Vets 2
  • Genesis Care Home 20
  • Ashfields Rest Home 20
  • Macc District Nurses 20
  • Macc Community Nurse 30
  • Honnete Support Services 20
  • Alderley Edge Medical Centre 50
  • CWP Mulberry Unit (Macc) 30
  • Macc Outpatients 5
  • Macc Ortho Outpatients 5
  • East Cheshire Hospice 20
  • Macclesfield Wards (inc Covid) 90
  • Holly Burton 30
  • Rowan Care Home 20
  • Clumber House, Poynton 60
  • Sylk Care 10
  • Macc Ambulance Station 10
  • Macclesfield RSPCA 16

We are continuing to produce more today and, because demand has been so high, we intend to continue this manufacture tomorrow (Saturday). While we have been surprised by the extent of the need for this equipment, it was a particularly emotional moment for everyone involved when we saw this message from the Intensive Care team at Stepping Hill:

Food Bank

Thank you to those families who donated to our food bank appeal just before the school closed. If you are able to continue to support this work, the Silk Life foodbank continues to need contributions. They have a collection box in Sainsbury’s or the Silk Life building, which is open from 9.00 am-11.30 on Tuesday mornings on George Street (behind The Snow Goose pub). There is a particular need for rice, tinned veg, tinned meat meals – as well as coffee, jam and sugar.

Skeleton Provision

We continue to offer a skeleton provision in school for families of key workers and vulnerable students. Typically, we have had fewer than ten students attending school through this period, some of whom are with us on the bank holidays too. We have been pleased to support these families in this way and the students themselves have been a great help as enthusiastic contributors to our face visor production line!

With thanks for the messages of support that we continue to get from our community and with best wishes to everyone at this difficult time.


Monday 6th April 2020
GCSE and A-Level Exam Grades

As you are aware, last Friday Ofqual published their description of how the national examination system will operate at A-Level and GCSE this year. Having discussed this documentation at length with senior staff, we have reached some key decisions about how we intend to manage these processes at Fallibroome.

In summary, we now know that GCSE and A-Level grades will be decided upon in two stages this year:

  1. Internal Grade
  2. External Grade

Internal Grades

Schools will be asked to provide a grade for each student by the 29th May. As such, we will need to refer to all the work produced by every student. In completing this task, we will not use the mock exam grade on its own. Instead, we will consider the work done by the students before and after the mock exam period. Key coursework assignments will also be considered, including those that were only partially completed at the time of the school closure. It is very important to highlight that
we will not be considering the work done by students after the school closure (March 20th) as this may disadvantage students who have been ill and/or do not have access to high quality IT facilities at home.

The process will not be a simple aggregation of the marks achieved by each student throughout the two year course. We know that many students work much harder in Y13/Y11 than they do in Y12/Y10. Every year, we see some students improve quite rapidly in the final months so our staff are used to seeing the difference that such late transformations can have on a student’s final grade. Our staff will be asked to consider all such factors when deciding upon their internal grades.

Our staff are also aware of the SEND students in their groups and will also know who has been awarded access arrangements for their examinations. As our teachers are accustomed to seeing the difference such factors can make to a student’s performance in their formal examinations, they have also been asked to include this in their considerations when deciding on their internal grades.

This process is not unlike that normally used by us towards the end of our GCSE and A-Level programmes every year. Our staff are very accustomed to providing ‘predicted grades’ for their students in this way and we have a strong record of doing this accurately.

In providing these grades, teachers will be asked to use the normal grade range (A*-E at A-Level and 9-1 at GCSE). At GCSE, we will also ask teachers to use ‘5+’ to identify those students who are performing at the upper end of Grade 5, as this may be needed to decide upon Sixth Form entry (more detail provided on this below).

Subject leaders will be responsible for ensuring that the grades awarded by individual teachers are consistent and fair across their team. This process will also be subject to oversight by the Senior Leadership Team. Final decisions regarding Internal Grades will rest with the Headteacher. Parents are consequently asked not to direct any queries in this respect to individual teachers. Also, please remember that we are not permitted to share these internal grades with parents before the final grades are decided upon by Ofqual. It is also not yet clear if we will be authorised to make our internal grades available to parents and students even after the final grades have been published. As we would prefer to make our internal grades available to our families at the end of this process, we will do so if at all possible. At the moment, we are assuming that this will be allowed.

External Grades

We will submit our internal grades to Ofqual who will then be responsible for reviewing and moderating them as appropriate. Our understanding is that this will be done quite mathematically. In summary, Ofqual will be responsible for ensuring that the distribution of grades nationally and within each school are similar to previous years. In doing this, we understand that they will look closely at the national grade distributions in each subject as well as each school’s historic performance before finalising each student’s grades. The scale of this task can only mean that it will be done in quite a formulaic fashion. We consequently assume that the internal grades that we submit will be amended to some extent. In this light, it is very important that parents and students do not assume that the internal grade submitted by us will be simply accepted and converted to each student’s actual grade by Ofqual.

The External Grade will be published for each student as their official GCSE/A-Level grade. We understand that this is likely to be on the same date as usual (mid-August), although it may be earlier. This will have the same standing as any other GCSE or A-Level grade in previous years. As stated above, this may differ from the grade submitted by us to Ofqual. At the moment, we
know very little about potential appeal processes, but we will share this with our students and parents as soon as we know more. We understand that resit opportunities will be made available in the Autumn term 2020 and Summer 2021, although little detail has been published about these arrangements at this point in time.

The External Grades will use the normal grade range (A*-E at A-Level and 9-1 at GCSE). The external system will not use Grade 5+ at GCSE.

Sixth Form Admissions

Every application will be considered individually, but it is important that students demonstrate a strong core of academic ability in order to provide the best foundation for a successful outcome at the end of A-Level study. The changes to national GCSE grading systems detailed above require us to adapt our approach to Sixth Form admissions, as described below.

Overall Entry Criteria

Students should have achieved at least four External Grades at 4 and above, although two may be accepted. These should include GCSE Mathematics and GCSE English at External Grade 4 or above. Please note that these grade passes will only be accepted from GCSE qualifications. In addition, students should be able to meet the Subject Specific Entry Criteria, as detailed below.

Subject Specific Entry Criteria

Students should have achieved an External Grade 6 in all the subjects that they have chosen to pursue in the Sixth Form. If students achieve an External Grade 5 in their chosen subject/s, we will then review their Internal Grades. Through this process, we will admit students who have been awarded an Internal Grade 5+ in their chosen subject. Students who achieve an External Grade lower than 6 and an Internal Grade lower than Grade 5+ will not be admitted to study this subject in the Sixth Form.

Students wishing to study Maths in the Sixth Form should achieve an External Grade 6 in Maths. If a student fails to achieve an External Grade 6 but has achieved an Internal Grade 6 in this subject, we will admit them onto the Mathematics course. Students with an External Grade for Maths lower than 6 and an internal grade of 5+ or lower will not be admitted to study this subject in the Sixth Form.

Negative Moderation

We are conscious of the fact that Ofqual may choose to moderate our grades in a negative manner and this may result in our students getting grades lower than we feel they deserve. While we will do all we can to avoid such a scenario, it is a possibility that we cannot ignore. To manage such a set of circumstances, we have decided that we will allow students to choose either their internal or external grade for Sixth Form admission purposes (i.e. whichever is higher). For example, if astudent gets an External Grade 5 in their chosen subject but has been assessed by us as Grade 6, we will allow them to study this subject in the Sixth Form. This will allow them to start their A-Level courses in the normal manner and then choose to re-sit any GCSE examinations if they wish to do so, although this will not be obligatory.

We hope that this will provide some protection for our students in these circumstances and that this will reassure those who are anxious about how the external systems will be applied. We recognise that there is a lot of anxiety amongst our student body at the moment about these arrangements. As I mentioned in my letter last week, we think that Ofqual have done the best they can in these circumstances and we remain optimistic that the national system will treat our students fairly in the end. I hope that the above detail offers some clarity about how we will manage these systems at Fallibroome and that you are reassured that every effort will be made to ensure that our students’ achievements are recognised appropriately.


Friday 3rd April 2020
Examinations Update

Ofqual have published their guidance to students, parents, teachers and school leaders today. I have attached this information to this email for your reference. In our view, Ofqual’s guidance is clear and helpful. It also seems to us that the processes that they have described here are probably the best that can be done in the circumstances. The desire to be fair and reasonable to all Y11 and Y13 students across the country is also very evident.

At the heart of this process is the requirement for all schools to report “the most likely grade a student would have achieved if they had sat their exams this summer and completed any non-exam assessment”. When schools submit these grades, they will be closely scrutinised by Ofqual and will be subject to adjustment in order to ensure comparability with national trends and previous cohorts. It is important to highlight at this stage that schools are specifically prohibited from sharing their internal grades with students and parents until after the final grades are decided by Ofqual at the end of this process.

Parents and students are asked not to contact their teachers to make their case for a particular grade during this period. As a school, we have an excellent track record of assessing our students’ likely outcomes accurately so we believe we can complete this process in a way that is fair to all our students and that protects the integrity of the A-Level and GCSE examination system nationally. It is clearly very important for our students and parents to trust us to complete this exercise in a carefully considered, rigorous and professional manner.

We will review Ofqual’s documentation very carefully over the Easter holiday period and will provide further guidance and clarification as soon as we can. We intend to take these processes very seriously and we recognise the important role that we have to play in ensuring that every student gets the grade that their efforts deserve.

Year 11 & Year 13 Letter 03.04.2020

Letter_to_students_-_Summer_2020_grading

Summer_2020_grades_for_GCSE_AS_A_level_EPQ_AEA_in_maths_-_guidance_for_teachers_students_parents


Friday 3rd April 2020
COVID-19 Update

GCSE and A-Level Grades

We were expecting information from Ofqual earlier this week about GCSE and A-Level grading systems. We now understand that this will be published tomorrow, although it might be delayed until next week. Once Ofqual have clarified this for us, we will provide supplementary information to explain how these processes will work in our school as quickly as possible.

At the moment, it seems clear that we will not be expected to use the work that students have completed after the school closure date to inform their final grade. As a result, we intend to adopt the following approach to the ongoing provision of work for Y11 and Y13.

Year 13

No further work will be set for Y13 after Friday 3rd April. By this stage, the teaching of the examination courses would normally have been completed and lessons would be focussing on examination revision. There seems little value in focussing on this revision when we know that these examinations will not be taking place. Instead, Mr Payne will be providing guidance about pre-university work for all Y13 students in the coming days.

Year 11

We will continue to set GCSE level work for Y11 up until Friday 1st May (excluding Easter). However, we do not expect Y11 students to complete all this work. Instead, we encourage students to continue working on those subjects that they intend to study next year.

From Monday 4th May, we will set Y11-Y12 transition work for those students who are hoping to join us in the Sixth Form. New Google Classrooms will be set up in each subject for this purpose. However, this work will not be set on a lesson-by-lesson basis. Instead, we will ask our teachers to provide some guidance resources and suggested activities that students can complete at their own pace over rest of the school year.

Easter Provision

We intend to remain open for the families of key workers and vulnerable students throughout the Easter period, including the bank holidays. That said, we are keen to keep the number of students coming to school as low as possible in order to maximise social distancing arrangements. Parents are asked to contact Mr Smalley () if they want to access this provision. As mentioned previously, our teachers will not be setting work for their students during the Easter break.

Online Safety

When our students are in school, we are very careful to manage their access to the internet so that inappropriate websites etc. are not accessed. As we cannot do this at the moment, we would strongly urge parents to apply web filtering safeguards at home. Different web providers will be able to provide advice about how this can be done, but links to this service for the major companies are provided below:

With thanks for your ongoing support for the school and with best wishes to everyone in our community at this time.


Friday 27th March 2020
COVID-19 Update

As we reach the end of our first week of school closure, I have provided some key updates and advice below.

Home Learning

We have been hugely impressed by the volume of work being completed by our students at this time. However, we are also hearing about some students becoming anxious/stressed about keeping up to date, missing deadlines, etc. This can be a particular issue for our SEND students as they do not have access to their TA. Please reassure your son/daughter that they are only expected to do the best that they can in the circumstances. When everyone returns to school, we will review what has been achieved and plan future lessons accordingly. There will be no sanctions applied to students for not being able to complete work during the school closure period.

The best way for parents to monitor the tasks being set and completed by their children is to sit with them with their Google Classroom account open. The parent version of Google Classroom is not particularly helpful so it is much better to use the student screen.

Please note that we do not intend to set work for our students during the Easter period. However, our skeleton provision in school will remain open at this time for key workers and vulnerable students. If students are in school over Easter, they will need to bring appropriate materials with them to read etc. However, parents of these students are asked to bear in mind that we will not be able to allow group activities, board games, etc.

Social Distancing

All of the Macclesfield Head Teachers are getting reports about teenage children gathering in groups on the local parks and skate parks. This is clearly putting their own lives and that of others at risk. We would consequently urge all parents to ensure that their sons/daughters behave in a socially responsible manner during this period of national crisis. These gatherings should simply not be taking place.

GCSE and A-Level Grades

We understand that announcements about the systems to be used to decide GCSE and A-Level grade will be announced by Ofqual next week. We will update you about this as soon as we have clear guidance in this respect.

With best wishes to everyone in our community at this time.


Tuesday 24th March 2020
COVID-19 Update

As national measures relating to the management of Covid-19 are clearly escalating, I wanted to update you with respect to several issues, as outlined below.

Skeleton Provision

We are continuing to offer a skeleton provision for parents who desperately need this support. In managing this facility, it is very important for us to limit this service to the smallest possible number of students as doing so helps to minimise the risk to our staff and the students themselves. Thank you to all those parents who have worked very positively with us in this respect.

GCSE and A-level Grades

As yet, we have had no clarity regarding the national systems that will be used to determine A-Level and GCSE grades. At the moment, it seems likely that teachers will be asked to provide a professional estimate for each student, but it is already clear that other important factors beyond the school’s control will also be used for this purpose. Also, external moderation systems will be required to maintain a sense of fairness across the country and we do not how these will be designed and implemented. In this climate, it is important that parents do not email staff asking for estimated grades or other indicators of likely performance. We will respond to any national requirements that are introduced and will keep parents informed about these processes as much as possible.

Under current proposals, it seems that students who are disappointed with the GCSE or A-Level grades this year will be given the opportunity to sit these examinations in September 2020 or May/June 2021 if they choose to do so. While such an outcome would clearly be less than ideal, it does seem that such a fallback provision is being planned currently. In this light, it remains important for our Y11 and A-Level students to continue studying in case they decide to follow such a route in future. At the moment, we are not in a position to provide advice as to how applications to our Sixth Form will be managed. Once we know how the GCSE grading systems will be applied, we will then consider how these outcomes will need to be interpreted for this purpose.

Y11 and Y13 Leavers

We had excellent final assemblies with our Y11 and Y13 Leavers last Friday. The quality of the performances was remarkable in light of the fact that we only had 24 hours to prepare. While there was a lot of sadness that the year had come to an abrupt and premature end, it was great to have this opportunity to recognise the huge contribution that these students have made to our school in their time here. We wish them all every success in the future and we look forward to hearing from them in the years ahead too.

Online Learning

Staff and students are working very hard to keep on top of our online learning systems. We have been impressed by the way in which our students have responded to this new environment and this gives us hope that we can recover any lost ground very quickly once service returns to normal.

While current developments are very concerning, we remain optimistic that our community will manage these circumstances successfully and we look forward to bringing everyone back to school in the near future.


Thursday 19th March 2020
School Closure and More Information

As has been reported in the national media, we have been instructed to close the school at the end of the school day on Friday 20th March until further notice. At the same time, we are being asked to continue to provide support for vulnerable students and the families of ‘key workers’. Our pastoral team are currently working hard to identify and work with such families so that we can put this provision in place in time for Monday morning. I have tried to summarise other key information and advice for our community below.

Year 11 and Year 13

The cancellation of this year’s GCSE and A-Level examinations has come as a shock to everyone. After so much hard work has been done by our students and staff, this is a deeply disappointing outcome, not least when we know that both cohorts were on track to do exceptionally well this year.

At this point, we do not know what the government’s plans are with respect to recognising the achievements of our Y11 and Y13 students. In this uncertain situation, it remains important for our students to continue studying their examination courses at home. While this work will inevitably be less focussed and intense than would have otherwise been the case, our students need to note that we may be asked to provide ‘estimated grades’ for them in the future and we do not know what evidence may be required from us for this purpose.

We are also very conscious of the need for our students to be fully prepared for the next stage of their education, even if they do not have to sit formal examinations. With all this in mind, our teaching staff will continue to set work for Y11 and Y13 students up to their official leaving dates (Thursday 7th May for Y11 and Friday 15th May for Y13). We also looking at trying to provide ‘transition work’ for Y11 students who are hoping to join us in the Sixth Form and we hope to provide more information about this later in the year.

Last night’s announcements mean that tomorrow will be the last day in school for our Y11 and Y13 students. We are determined not to let this moment pass without taking the opportunity to celebrate their time at Fallibroome with them and to recognise the enormous contribution that they have all made to our school during their time here. We are consequently planning ‘Leavers’ Assemblies’ for tomorrow afternoon and we will treat this as a non-uniform day for both cohorts. Y11 students will also be allowed to bring their school uniform shirts in to be signed, as has become customary at this time of year.

Provision of Work

We will do everything we can to continue to provide work for all our students in this period. With this in mind, we intend to use Google Classroom as the key resource for setting work and communicating with our students. We recommend that you review your son’s /daughter’s Google Classroom account with them every evening so that you can support them in structuring their studies at home as much as possible. We suggest that students do their best to follow their normal timetable routine by completing tasks relevant to the subject that they would normally be studying at that point in the school day. This might help to maintain some sense of normality through this difficult period. When setting assignments, our teachers may choose not to set new work for every individual lesson. Instead, they might set work on the Monday that needs to be completed throughout the week. Where possible / appropriate, we have asked our teachers to provide a time indication for each assignment so that students can structure their work accordingly.

Year 10 and Year 12

The length of the school closure has heightened our concerns for these cohorts in particular. We have consequently asked our staff to pay special attention to supporting these students over the months ahead. In particular, we have asked teachers to do their best to provide enhanced materials (e.g. PowerPoints with audio explanations and/or online live group sessions using Google Meet) for these students. While the ability of our teachers to provide this support will be very dependent on their own health and caring responsibilities, I know that our staff are very determined to do all they can to support their examination classes in this way.

Provision of Feedback

It will clearly not be possible for us to mark work and provide ongoing feedback during the closure period. However, we have asked our teachers to prioritise responding to any email queries they receive from their Y10 and Y12 students so that additional support can be provided as necessary. Teachers will also do their best to answer queries from Y11 and Y13, although we anticipate that these will be quite few in number. To make this manageable, we ask that students and parents in KS3 year groups avoid emailing their teachers at this time. Also, please bear in mind that our teachers may be unwell themselves so may not be able to respond to such queries quickly.

Continuity and Quality of Work Set

In a normal school environment, teachers design tasks based on the progress students have made in the previous lesson. As this school closure period is going to be very lengthy, this continuity will be lost and it will become increasingly difficult for our staff to set really meaningful work for their students. This is especially true of non-examination cohorts. While we will do our best in these circumstances, we ask for your understanding with respect to these issues.

While this closure is far from ideal, we will do all we can to minimise the impact on our students. Even though our Y12 and Y10 cohort are a very high priority for us during this period, we know that a lot of extra work will also need to be done with all our students to help them to catch up on their return to school.

Communication

Please bear in mind that, once the school is closed, it becomes much more difficult for us to send bulk emails out to our parents. We will do our best to keep these systems operational, but we may need to resort to posting updates only through our website. We consequently advise everyone to check our website regularly for any additional information or advice during the closure period.

Summary

Our students have been remarkable throughout this period. They have shown great resilience and have continued to take their studies very seriously. Nevertheless, maintaining this focus and energy at home for months ahead with much reduced support from school is clearly a daunting challenge and will require much oversight and guidance from parents. Having witnessed the way in which our students have responded thus far, I am sure that they will rise to this challenge and that we will be able to recover any lost ground very quickly once everything returns to normal in a few months’ time.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise the extraordinary efforts that have been made by our staff in recent weeks. School staff have been very much in the front line in this crisis and I am immensely proud of the way in which our community has responded to these exceptional circumstances with positivity and commitment. I have no doubt that this will continue throughout the closure period too.

While the current circumstances seem especially unfair on our Y11 and Y13 cohorts, the nation’s health clearly has to remain everyone’s most important priority. At this point, we must all trust in our political leaders, senior medical professionals and the examination system to make the right decisions and to treat all our students fairly when final grades are decided upon. I remain very optimistic that all necessary actions will be taken to allow our young people to progress on to their chosen destinations.

We have received many supportive and positive comments from our parents over the last few weeks, for which we are very grateful. As we are facing very uncertain times in the months ahead, I would like to send our best wishes to every member of our community. We are very much looking forward to having everyone back in school fit and well in the near future.


Wednesday March 18th 2020
Management of Covid-19

I am writing to update you with respect to our ongoing approach to the management of the coronavirus pandemic. To my knowledge, we have not yet had a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19 in our student/staff community, although this may be because very few people are being formally tested for the condition. We are certainly seeing an increasing number of students and staff self-isolating.

School Closure for Year 10

The increasing number of staff self-isolating is making it impossible to support all year groups in school safely. For this reason, we need to ask Year 10 to stay at home from tomorrow, Thursday 19th March until at least the end of school on Tuesday 24th March. We have asked our Year 10 teachers to provide work for their students using Google Classroom.

While it was our original intention to send Year 8 home if we reached this stage, we have chosen Year 10 as we are hoping that this will reduce the need for parents to put caring arrangements in place for their children. If our staffing situation continues to worsen, our next course of action will involve the suspension of Y12 lessons. If these circumstances arise, we will still allow our Y12 students to study independently in our Sixth Form Centre if they wish to do so.

We will review this position over the next week and consider the following future options:

  1. If our staffing levels improve, we will try to bring Year 9 and 10 back into school.
  2. If our staffing issues remain at approximately the same level, we will bring some of Y9 and Y10 back to school on Wednesday 25th March and we will then ask other years groups to remain at home for the following week.
  3. If our staffing issues worsen, we will suspend Y12 lessons and we may also ask other year groups to remain at home. We are particularly anxious to avoid sending Y11 and Y13 home if at all possible.

Emailing Staff

We have asked our staff to provide work for Y9 and Y10 using Google Classroom. However, I need to ask parents to refrain from sending emails to their teachers requesting additional advice and guidance. The volume of this communication is already becoming very difficult for our staff to manage. Instead, we request that your son/daughter does their best with the tasks that have been set. We will then deal with any issues or uncertainties on their return to school.

Food Bank

Alongside the other Macclesfield schools, we are supporting a campaign to collect non-perishable items for local food banks. We anticipate that some families are likely to really struggle in the weeks and months ahead so would like to do what we can to help. If you have any such items that you can donate, please ask your son/daughter to bring them into school. We will have collection points outside my office in A-Block and in the main school Reception area.

As events continue to move quickly, we will monitor these circumstances very carefully and will provide further updates as necessary.

With thanks for your understanding and ongoing support for the school.


17th March 2020
Management of Covid-19

Following last night’s announcements by the government, I am writing to update you with respect to our ongoing approach to these issues.

School Closure for Year 9

The national decision to increase self-isolation periods to 14 days has added to the staffing difficulties that we are experiencing at the moment. For this reason, we need to ask Year 9 to stay at home from tomorrow, Wednesday 18th March until at least the end of school on Tuesday 24th March. We have asked our Year 9 teachers to provide work for their students using Google Classroom. We will review this position over the next week and consider the following future options:

  1. If our staffing levels have improved, we will ask Year 9 to return to school on Wednesday 25th March.
  2. If our staffing issues have remained at approximately the same level, we will ask Year 9 to return to school on Wednesday 25th March and we will then ask Year 8 to remain at home for the following week.
  3. If our staffing issues have worsened, we may need to ask Year 9 to remain at home and ask other year groups to do likewise.

We will update parents regarding these options at a later date.

School Events

In light of the national guidance to avoid all non-essential travel, we are going to cancel all off-site school trips and scheduled activities until at least Easter in the first instance. Further information regarding individual events will be sent to parents from the leaders of these activities in due course.

We are also reviewing any on-site events that will involve large numbers of visitors coming onto our site. With this in mind, we have decided to cancel the Y7 Parents’ Evening (Wednesday 18th March) and the Y13 Review Evening (Monday 23rd March). We have also decided to cancel the Spring Concert (Wednesday 1st April). All other school events are currently subject to review. In the near future, the leaders of such events will let the relevant parents know whether or not they are going to be cancelled.

Once we have returned to normal, we will do our best to reschedule as many of these events as possible. We recognise, however, that this may not always be feasible. As events continue to move very quickly, we will continue to monitor these circumstances very carefully and will provide further updates as necessary.

With thanks for your understanding and ongoing support for the school.


March 16th 2020
Management of Covid-19

As the Covid-19 outbreak continues, I am writing to update you with respect to our ongoing plans to manage these issues.

School Closure

At the moment, the intention seems to be to keep schools open for as long as possible. We are conscious, however, that this may change quickly. In the event of school closure, we will do our best to provide work for our students using Google Classroom. We will also prioritise supporting Y11 and Y13 during this critical period.

Partial School Closure

It seems inevitable that staff absence levels will increase in the weeks ahead as colleagues are instructed to self-isolate, either because they are ill themselves or because someone in their household has become poorly. While wehave processes in place to cover such scenarios, it is likely that our resources in this respect will become overstretched quite quickly. In these circumstances, we may choose to instruct one of our year groups to stay at home for a period of time. This will then free up a number of our teaching staff to be redeployed to cover other staff absences. If these actions become necessary, we will probably choose to ask Year 9 to stay at home first as they are the oldest non-examination cohort. Further escalation of these issues may cause us to ask Year 8 or Year 7 to stay at home.

In the event that such actions become necessary, we may need to act very quickly. We may only be able to communicate such decisions to parents on the day itself and will use email and our website for this purpose.If at all possible, we will try to provide such information the day before any school closures decisions are applied.

Student Illness/Absences

The current guidance states that self-isolation is appropriate if someone has a new persistent cough and/or a high temperature. If you need further advice in this respect, please contact medical professionals as school staff are not able to offer guidance in this area.

If you decide to isolate your child at home, please let us know by contacting the absence line on 627229.

If we notice students in school with a persistent cough and/or a high temperature, we have set aside a separate room for them to wait while their parents are contacted and asked to take them home.It is our intention to authorise absences for students who need to self-isolate. Please provide a note to this effect on their return to school.

Provision of Work

If we need to partially or fully close the school, every effort will be made to provide work and ongoing support for our students, with particular priority being given to our examination cohorts.

If students need to self-isolate while the school remains open,they will need to monitor the assignments and lesson materials being posted on Google Classroom and do their best to keep up in this way.Regrettably, it will not be possible for our staff to set work for individual students who are absent from school for these reasons.

School Hygiene

We have been working with our school cleaners to prioritise the regular cleaning of ‘touch surfaces’. We are also monitoring the toilets on a daily basis to ensure that soap, hot water and hand dryers are all provided and working properly. Unfortunately, this is being made more difficult by a small minority of our students who wilfully overuse or even abuse these facilities. While this can be very frustrating in normal times, it is particularly so in the current climate. We would consequently ask all our parents to speak to their children about these matters and to let us know if they see or hear of any students who behave in such a socially irresponsible manner. We would also encourage parents to provide their son/daughter with tissues that they can use during the school day.

Dining Hall

In the event that our catering staff are unable to come into school, we may be unable to provide hot meals during the school day. We may consequently need to switch to a cold service and/or packed lunches for all students. Again, this might be necessary at very short notice.

We will continue to monitor these circumstances very carefully, particularly with respect to government advice regarding expected school actions.