The following COVID message was sent out to parents on Friday 11 September 2020:

As we end our second week back, we wanted to again flag up how things are progressing, as well as highlighting one or two things that may impact on you further down the track.

School Systems & Inevitability:

We would estimate that around 99.9% of your children have continued to be fantastic with our school’s COVID systems. We have had one child out of school for a day for failing to adhere to a final warning in relation to this; but we are sure this will now resolve itself. One child out for a day is better than 210 in a Year group for a fortnight.

Even so, my guess is that it is inevitable that at some point we will have to deal with a COVID case. Other local schools are already managing this scenario, and we as a school can only reflect the community we live in. If numbers rise locally, then they will seep into school at some point. We already have some students and staff quarantining, or having tests, and as we roll through the winter months, this is only going to go up.

We have set guidelines on how to approach this situation which involve Public Health England and Staffordshire County Council. You can be sure that we won’t be making decisions totally off our own bat or without due regard for safety and legality.

For now, we ask that you encourage your children to keep following the school and government rules, like all other local secondary schools (who we met with this week) we strongly recommend children wearing facemasks in communal areas, and your support with hand sanitisers, tissues, etc, is appreciated.

Tiered School Opening Plans:

We have contingency plans in place for a partial school closure but we are hoping they gather dust and are never deployed.

They revolve around reduced Year groups in school and rotas. Naturally, we would prioritise the Year 11s and Year 13s who are facing exams this school year; next are the Year 10s and Year 12s who are on their formal courses (and face vocational exams this year); and then we have the Key Stage Three year groups.

If we get to this point, then you can expect much of what you saw last school year in terms of Show My Homework, Teams tutorials, etc. However, it would be wrong to think we will have set Teams lessons throughout the school day for every class. This is not due to a lack of will, or idleness, but simply because home learning requires a different approach to school lessons for teachers. This means it cannot be offered non-stop whilst also retaining a busy in-school programme.

Please rest assured we will continue to do our best. We are accountable with our own jobs for exam results so have no interest in seeing a child getting behind.

School Transport:

We received an email from Midland Classic – in reference to the Fradley and Handsacre / Armitage / Hill Ridware buses – that children are not keeping their facemasks on for the duration of the journey. We check they are on when they set off but it appears they are removed soon after departure. This is corroborated by children I talk to.

The bus drivers have said their priority is understandably getting the children home, and naturally they can’t pull over every time a facemask comes off, but this is a concern for us as the bubbles we maintain in school disappear on the buses. We, like you, cannot sit on the buses with the children to make sure they comply. Equally, if it was a simple as a teacher just telling a group of children, then one of us would read Macbeth to every Year 11 and sit back to see 100% Grade 9s roll in. Instead, it has to come from them and the values all of us instil in them.

If your child is not wearing a face-mask on a school bus, or whilst out-and-about in town, then we would ask you to talk about this. Clearly, it runs the risk of spreading the virus in school and across families. Again, if we get a case in school, it will not be formulated by Mr Brown or Miss Stone in a lab, rather it will come in from the community we all live in. I know none of us want even a partial school closure.

Parents Evenings:

We were looking to do Parents Evening in school, most likely centred around tutors, but the recent government measures have knocked this out of the water.

We have a Y7 Tutor Evening coming up this half-term and this will now not take place in school. The likelihood is that others will not either. We are looking at alternatives but I am trying to manage the feasibility of them.

We rely on you to help us and value your support – this is why we send out these emails. However, with our staff all doing extra COVID duties; and working on extra classes to close the gaps for those facing exams; we are not in a position to load them up with massive lists of phone calls or online meetings. We have some teachers who teach over 100 children in a Year group and to run through all of those conversations via phone or video-conferencing will take weeks we don’t have.

We know this is not ideal, but out of the three extra priorities of (i) keeping COVID measures in place to stay open, (ii) catching up exam classes, and (iii) operating re-adjusted parents’ evenings, those evenings come last on the priority list. We know those of you who try to see a doctor, a dentist, and so on, will know lots of things are not feasible just at the moment.

We are working on it, we know not meeting you is not a plus, and we know we both need to get messages across. We’ll see how things develop and find a way through.

It is the same story with other calendared events, like Partnership Evenings, which will become online offerings for the foreseeable – though we appreciate we’re all sick and tired of videos.

Open Evening:

All local secondary schools have had to make the decision not to run an open-school Open Evening. Sadly, these will have to be virtual events – we have no option. More details will be on the school website soon.


We have spoken to most Year groups this week and spelled out the focus and commitment they need to deliver to catch up. We have though stressed it is possible, they can do it, and we will go all out to help them.

At the same time, we read the R rate is now above one, and Birmingham is facing a tougher lockdown.

The dangers to our schools and our homes are right on our doorstep. It will only be through working together that we can keep your child’s education moving in the right direction.

Thanks for your support.

Matt Allman, Headteacher, added: “We’ll keep these messages rolling for as long as we think they are useful and when we have something new to say. This is a fast-moving and fluid situation but hard-and-fast guidance is available nationally and we should all ensure we follow the government messages.”