A Message from the Headteacher: 20/3/20
Dear Governors, Staff, Parents, Carers & Students
I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you all again today. I want to say from the beginning of this letter the most important issue is that everyone in our ‘Hilbre Community’ remains safe and well throughout these turbulent weeks ahead and that we all continue to support each other.
This school is ready to play its part in tackling the COVID-19 virus. Yesterday we sent out a survey asking parents to indicate whether they would be classed as a ‘Critical Worker’. At the time of sending out the survey we were still waiting for clarification from the Department for Education as to who would be included on the list. We have this morning received the definitive list of Critical Workers. I hope there is no doubt in your minds that Hilbre will ensure we provide cover for any Critical Worker that requires our support.
I need to say quite clearly that for children who need to attend school we will only be providing ‘Child Care’ provision, it won’t be lessons as normal. I have to ensure that we support the children of Critical Workers and support our most Vulnerable students. We will direct any students in attendance at school to the vast amount of work my colleagues have made available on Show My Homework. I take my responsibilities incredibly seriously in this area but I also have a duty of care to safeguard my colleagues. My colleagues are also Critical Workers.
The advice is clear, if at all possible, children should remain at home. Depending on how many students we have in school each day will determine how many staff I am required to bring into school. My staff, unless they are on the rota for a particular day will be working from home.
I really cannot emphasise how important it is to realise, that we should only be looking after children at school if they cannot be looked after at home. It is also of vital importance that if members of your household become unwell that all members self-isolate as a precaution and follow the Public Health England advice.
Over the last few weeks my colleagues have been working extensively to ensure that in the weeks ahead we continue in our efforts to educate all Hilbre children. In reality, what we have tried to create is a ‘Virtual School’. Show My Homework will be the main method of sending students their normal work to complete from their subject teachers and a range of challenges and other activities to maintain our Hilbre ethos whilst they work from home.
We will also be making sure the mental health of students, families and colleagues is not neglected throughout this period of isolation. In addition we will continue to provide support from our pastoral team, safeguarding team, sixth form team and SEN support team. Colleagues will be making regular contact with our most vulnerable students to ensure they are supported to remain safe. I’m not for one moment thinking this is going to be easy in the days ahead but what we are attempting to do is to continue to do everything we would normally, but just in a very different way.
I have been overwhelmed by the support you have all shown as we try to cope with the considerable challenges associated with this issue. Governors have provided their full support as I have been forced to make very difficult decisions. Email and Facebook posts from parents and cares have heightened our resolve to tackle the problems we have faced. Our students, your children, have simply been magnificent.
In this paragraph I want to direct mu comments specifically to the students. Every single member of our school community is incredibly proud of everything you have achieved. For some of you, Year 11 & Year 13, I know this has impacted greatly on your preparations for public examinations. As I said to you in assembly yesterday I will do everything in my power to ensure none of you are disadvantaged. Hilbre’s staff will support you as you prepare for your next step, whatever direction that may take you in. We have already communicated that Year 11 students wishing to stay on in our Sixth Form will have an opportunity to do so. For students going on to University or onto apprenticeships our support for you remains. We will work tirelessly with Year 10 and Year 12 students to ensure that disruption to your exam courses is minimal. Younger students, in Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 we will also ensure that disruption to your learning is minimised. Your form teachers, subject teachers and other colleagues will attempt to make regular contact with you either via Show My Homework or via your school email address. You all have so much potential and if we all work together this awful situation will have no lasting impact on any of you.
Yesterday I met up with Headteachers from across the Secondary sector on Wirral. We are all determined to work together in the best interests of all of Wirrals students. I must reiterate that the school service we provide is designed to act as a child minding service to support Critical Workers to do their vital jobs. As I know you all appreciate it really isn’t ‘business as normal’.
I must state very clearly that I couldn’t be prouder of the work that my colleagues have completed in these very testing times. The sense of team sprit has never been greater. I am truly humbled by their level of professionalism. I must ask that as a community we all act in a way that does not unnecessarily put my colleagues at any more risk than is absolutely vital during the weeks ahead.
Finally, on personal note may I wish you all and your families good health and thank you also for the kind messages so many of you have to sent to me.
The letter sent by Mr Bellamy on 19/3/20 reads as follows:
Dear Parents, Carers and Students,
As this week has progressed, we have found it increasingly difficult to continue to operate as normal, as illness and self-isolation impacts on our staffing levels and pupil attendance. This is a similar picture that schools up and down the country have found themselves in.
As you will be aware, the government has now announced that schools will be closed to everyone from Monday, except children of key workers and vulnerable children, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus. At the time of writing, we are awaiting a definition from the government about who is classed as a key worker. We will be in touch as soon as we know who these key workers are. This will help us to ascertain who will need additional support from school for their children/wards. Vulnerable children; those with a social worker, those who are looked after or have an EHCP, will also have to access to this extra support during these unprecedented times. We will also ensure plans are in place to support any student that needs further assistance.
For all students, staff have been working hard to ensure that we have lessons ready to go online from Monday. Teachers will be placing lessons on Show My Homework (SMHW) on the day that they should have lessons. If students face difficulties with any of the subject content, they can email the teacher or make a comment on SMHW. The teacher will endeavour to respond as soon as they can, usually within a day. Please remember that some teachers may be unwell so will not be able to send you a message until they feel better. Teachers will be checking that students are accessing Show My Homework. If it is apparent that students are not logging on, teachers may send you an email or even give you a call. We do not know how long these arrangements will continue, so it is important that you keep up to date with the work set. We strongly recommend students complete some work every day.
We also found out that GCSE and A Level exams will not be conducted this academic year, however, the government has promised that no Year 11 or Year 13 student will be disadvantaged. I know that the exam boards, Ofqual, Ofsted and the government are working on the practicalities of this, and of course, as soon as we have any more information we will share this with you.
I know that these are uncertain times, the situation is changing daily, but I want to reassure you that we are adapting our plans and making sure we can continue to put the best learning, care and support in place for all of our students. When students are not in school, we are looking to parents and carers to support them to make sure that they are attempting the work set. Please do keep in contact if you need anything.
I am very grateful for your continued support in what has been, and what will continue to be very testing times. On behalf of the Governors and Staff of Hilbre High School keep safe, keep well and keep in touch.