The following message was sent out to all Year 7-10 and Year 12 parents by Matt Allman (Headteacher):


I wanted to get in touch to talk ‘Home Learning’ and to give you a brief insight into what is going on at school.

Home Learning:

I have been ‘enjoying’ the challenge of Home Learning like you and well appreciate that doing the roles of parent and teacher are not always mutually supportive.

We have all been thrown from pillar-to-post with the fast-moving coronavirus situation and we as a school were no exception to this. We rushed to get work out for Home Learning to make sure your children could stay busy. Even so, we are now over 2 weeks in, and whilst we are aware we will get criticism if there is not enough, we also recognise that at times there has been too much.

Consequently, I wanted to explain some changes in how we are going to operate and to amend a few directions that we have gone in.

(i) Don’t Beat Yourself Up:

Home Learning is very hard on everyone. You have to keep your sanity and rest assured that there is no grade on your parenting for the work your child does. My own children aren’t doing 4…5…6…7… hours per day and there are no set rules with children as they learn and work in different ways.

My advice would be not to expect children to do full working days / hours and to be flexible. You cannot be the expert in every subject, nor do the job full-time, and the best focus would be to encourage and build up self-direction in your children. Will they get behind ? Yes ? Will we sort it out ? Mostly, yes ? Will everyone else be behind ? Absolutely – and your children will be ahead of most.

I know some of you will respond by saying ‘Well don’t set so much work’ but as we are pitching work at different children, with different abilities, different needs, different interests, and in different families, we have to be more generic than we would in a lesson. We are setting work but to some extent you and your children should pick and choose.

(ii) Making It Easier:

I have asked teachers to be clearer on setting key work to send back for marking – this should help you to prioritise.

I have stressed that they should not mark every piece of work and should look to set some less intensive tasks which reduce parental input.

I have suggested staff choose between HLAs and ‘class’ work – but not to always set both. I have also asked staff to avoid over-long deadlines which become demotivating.

All of this should help – but please do appreciate that what is right / wrong for your child is not the same for the next child. Ideally, we would do individual plans for each of the 1,000+ students – but this is impossible. Just like with parenting, we are never going to get Home Learning right all of the time.

(iii) Working Over Easter:

I have had some parents wanting work over Easter, and some not – like on many things there is no right answer.

I have asked staff to set work over Easter but to adjust deadlines so that they run after the ‘holiday’. This might take a bit of time to implement, as things have already started, so I’d appreciate your patience.

My advice would be to do some work through Easter, but to also fit in a breather, both in terms of school work, and for relationships that may well be stretched by you having to take on the role of a Mr Awbery, a Ms Barratt, or a Ms Cartwright. You should balance this out around your own family arrangements and your own child’s well-being.

(iv) Year 10 & Year 12:

It is impossible to think that their exam courses will run in the way they usually do – too much time has been taken out of the school year. The DfE and Exam Boards are going to have to come to a solution. When we know what it is we will tell you, but for now we are looking to push as much as we can, and steer them through the content, so that when they do return, we can largely revise rather than start totally anew.

NB – I will send an email out to Y10 parents and students next week outlining other accessible resources to support exam work.

(v) Year 9:

I will be contacting each Y9 students personally via email to tell them their subjects from the Pathways process. They should get this email by Tuesday 14 April at the latest.

I have asked staff to start directing Y9s to focus more on studying the subjects they are taking next year. I want to make the work at home as relevant as possible and to give them a head start for September.

NB – I will send an email out to Y9 parents and students next week outlining other accessible resources to support exam work.

Other Snippets of News:

* Tutors are looking to call home at least once per fortnight – health permitting…

* There is lots of student/teacher contact going on via mail and SMHW….

* Staff are in school on a rota, but are also working from home on planning, assessment, marking, etc…

* We are continuing to support key worker children and our ‘vulnerable’ children…

* We are working on predicting Y11 and Y13 grades – but remember the government have told us we must not tell you what we have predicted…

* We are working to support community efforts to feed the more vulnerable families and households…

* We are updating the website and social media accounts so do keep an eye out…


On a personal note, I want to ‘thank you’ for what you are doing.

I know your own jobs and families have their own stresses and strains at this time, so any support you are putting in on ‘home learning’ is fantastic.

Of course they are your children, and you want to help them, but we do not under-estimate what you are doing, and admire you for all that you do.

Again, ‘thank you’.

Take care and keep well.