Emergency Closure

Updates on Beacon Academy response to COVID-19

Communication for parents and carers: sent Monday 23rd March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

We are all entering such difficult and uncharted times once again this week. We are facing the stark reality of our school closures, increased restrictions and the now vital need for social distancing.

Like all of us over the last few days, you will have been doing everything that you can to adhere to the advice to stay at home, to keep everyone safe in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, you were probably installing various group chat apps on your devices, to ensure that social lives remain as upbeat as they can, virtually. I certainly had an interesting afternoon with my parents and my sister and her family as we tried to get all of us onto Houseparty to mark Mothering Sunday yesterday – thankfully we got there in the end. I would definitely recommend this app and Zoom to stay in touch with your loved ones, if you have not already looked in to this.

In terms of the various learning platforms that we are subscribed to, such as Edulink, Bedrock and MyMaths, we know that they will be and have been completely overloaded at peak times, such as this morning. Thank you to those of you who have got in touch - we have passed the issues onto the companies concerned. This is certainly not unique to our school, as many students nationally will be trying to log on to these platforms to work remotely at the same time. Please bear with them as they will also be having to go through a period of adjustment. What is heartening is the amount of contact that we have had which conveys how diligent everyone is being with trying to get into a new routine.

Throughout this time, our teaching staff will be doing everything that they can to keep continuity and a steady momentum going for you and your children. I have said previously, these are different ways of working for us all, whether a teacher, child or a parent, so our ongoing mantra of respect, care and unity at this time, which will be tested I am sure, will need to prevail.

I also fully understand, that as we face an unknown number of weeks of change both personally and professionally, we are all dealing with the complex stresses and strains that this global pandemic is presenting us with. With this in mind, I think that at this time, it is important to say that although we feel it is imperative that we keep a steady stream of work coming for your children, we also appreciate that there are going to be huge periods of adjustment in the family home. I think we should all be looking at the coming weeks, possibly months, as a marathon, not a sprint.

We all know that there will be days when inevitably your children will find it easier to engage with their school work than others - we get that. Please however do stay in touch with your child’s teachers who, personal circumstances permitting, will do all they can to support you and your children remotely. If one of your children’s teachers is not able to respond, please email the Head of Department of the subject area. You can find their email address via our contact us page.

We feel it is important to reiterate the outline for each year group from today:

If you have a child in Year 7 or Year 8:

At this stage we think that it is important and realistic that students concentrate on their core subjects.

English: Students will get an English lesson each day, from Monday to Thursday. Their lessons will be a combination of Bedrock (which teachers will be monitoring), reading and analysis. Friday is for students to catch up and/or read for pleasure.

Maths: Work will be set lesson by lesson on MyMaths or MathsWatch and will be marked automatically. Worksheets may also be set; these will come with an attached mark scheme for you and your children to use.

Science: Work will be set lesson by lesson. Work on Educake is assessed automatically. Alternatively, the class teacher may set other tasks for students to complete and they will communicate clearly whether this to be emailed back to the teacher upon completion.

Other subjects: As previously communicated, other subjects are setting tasks. Please remember that these are optional.

If you have a child in Year 9:

We are acutely aware that students in Year 9 are approaching GCSEs in Year 10. At this stage we think that it is important and realistic that students concentrate on the core subjects however, depending on the length of the closure we may review this information.

English: Students will get an English lesson each day, from Monday to Thursday. Lessons will be a combination of Bedrock (which teachers will be monitoring), reading and analysis. Friday is for students to catch up and/or read for pleasure.

Maths: Work will be set lesson by lesson on MyMaths or MathsWatch and will be marked automatically. Worksheets may also be set; these will come with an attached mark scheme for you and your children to use.

Science: Work will be set lesson by lesson. Work on Educake is assessed automatically. Alternatively, the class teacher may set other tasks for students to complete and they will communicate clearly whether this to be emailed back to the teacher upon completion.

Other subjects: As previously communicated, other subjects are setting tasks. Please remember that these are optional.

If you have a child in Year 10 or Year 12:

We are acutely aware that students are already seven months into their courses. To support their progress, teachers will continue to set appropriate work for every lesson they would have had, as per their timetable. We expect students to complete this work within a reasonable time frame which will be determined by the teacher and they will communicate clearly whether this work is to be emailed back to the teacher upon completion. Feedback will be given to the students in a timely way.

We know it is likely that, when we re-open, students may have gaps in their learning. I referred to this in my email last week. Please be assured that we are and we will continue to rigorously plan for our students return, however, the work that we are setting them over this closure period will definitely stand your children in good stead moving forwards.

Please also refer to the slides that were shared at the Year 10 and Year 12 assembly last week, for further details about each subject area that your child is studying.

If you have a child in Year 11 or Year 13:

As I said on Friday, the situation that your children in these year groups are facing is heart wrenching. We all feel desperately sad for our diligent students who have who have been working so incredibly hard in the build up to the exams, only to no longer have the opportunity to take them this summer. There are still many unanswered questions that will clearly require a deep level of thinking on behalf of the Department for Education, Ofqual and exam boards over the next few weeks. Schools and colleges, along with the aforementioned will be doing everything that they can to ensure that grades are awarded fairly and consistently in these very trying circumstances.

Please be assured that we know your children well and that as a school, we have an excellent track record. Our teachers are experts in their subjects and they know the qualifications and the students that they have been teaching over the years inside out. We will all be waiting for the detail on how these qualifications will be assessed and when we know more, we will be back in touch. There was also some very limited information that, after the process of the awarding of grades, which is due to happen in July 2020 according to the DfE release on Friday 20th March, that if students feel their awarded grades in some subjects are not a fair reflection, they will be able to sit an exam at a later date. Again, we have no further information on this either but once we do, we will let you know.

I think it is also worth saying that we must not forget just how much your children in these year groups have learnt and achieved during their time with us. Yes, exams are important and they have become part of the way we assess their courses nationally, however, it should not detract from what they will have accumulated over time in terms of sheer knowledge, skills and experience. I really hope that as time progresses, our students and your children who are in the 2020 cohort will be able to celebrate just how much they have achieved as scholars and that their love of learning will continue.

I acknowledged last week that exam courses finished abruptly for our students in Year 11 and Year 13 and we will no longer be setting work for them. However, once we have the opportunity to do so, we will look give our students starting courses in our sixth form preparatory work for the subjects that they have opted for in September. Mr Howarth and Dr Grossman are looking in to this and will be in touch in due course.

In terms of our Year 13 and Year 11 students who will not be remaining with us, once the grades are in, I am sure that the universities and colleges will also look to support their future students in a similar way. You will need to contact them directly in due course. In the interim, do encourage your children to do all they can to keep their momentum going with their future subjects, where possible. If they need to contact their teachers about this for some guidance, they can of course do this.

In addition I said that we are thinking about how we can ensure that we mark the end of each of these year groups. We are planning to re-organise their proms or set up a reunion type event for early next academic year. We will also make sure that their yearbooks and hoodies are distributed once available. We will be in touch about these when we know more detail as the weeks progress.

For all year groups:

We encourage you to refer to this resource on the website that focuses very much on supporting your children and their wellbeing during this time. We hope that you will find some of these links helpful. Please be assured that I will maintain communication with you all as and when we need to with any new information that we feel we need to update you with.

We are immensely proud of the way your children have approached and coped with the last few weeks. They are mature, resilient and brilliant young people.

Kind regards

Anna Robinson

Headteacher