The following message was sent out to parents on 18 November 2020:

We will all be aware that there is an escalation of COVID cases in South Staffordshire which is affecting all schools. We are not at the stage yet where we need to close any Year groups down, but other local schools have had to do so.

Certainly, it is clear that the way we handle the next few weeks will be important for all of us as we head towards Christmas and doing our bit to keep everyone safe in school will be a big factor.

You can get regular updates on local cases on the following link:

Naturally, as things change regionally and nationally, we are hauled along, and the following information updates you on some of the ways we are tweaking what we do.


* 50p per face mask from Monday 23 November…
* Get tests… Hold the nerve… Help us by using the laid out systems…
* Getting school work in isolation…
* Realistic communication…
* Summer Exams are GO !!!
* Own Clothes Days…

Face Masks

All in all, the students have been fantastic with face masks, and though there have been some justifiable exemptions put in place, we would say that 99% of students are wearing face masks.

Naturally, there are occasional reminders necessary, but these are overwhelmingly forgetfulness rather than a lack of care. Your children have been really impressive.

The only downside is the sheer number of face masks we have had to hand out due to children forgetting to bring them in. We started this message with ‘One to Wear, One as Spare’ but now we are simply saying ‘please make sure you equip your child as we cannot keep providing them’.

We were given a small amount of face masks by the government, and purchased a whole heap more, but these are virtually out and it is unsustainable for us to keep this going.

Quite simply, we do not want to sacrifice resources, catch-up sessions, or teachers to fund this shortcoming. Similarly, our Student Support Team are losing time to hand them out which is taking out mentoring and support time (when it is needed more than ever).

We will automatically bill Parent Pay accounts for 50p for each face mask that is handed out from Monday 23 November.

Naturally, we have given advance notice of the need for face masks, we gave a run-in time, and we’ve now been going a while, so with further advance notice this should not be difficult for anyone.

There are a range of online face mask options at:

Testing, Isolation & Process

We would reiterate the government advice to get a test if you child is showing symptoms and to keep your child away from school if they are awaiting test results.

Each time a child tests positive then we have to go back two days and isolate any children in close contact in that 48hr window. They spread of infection has been incredibly low in these cases but the process is important.

Despite, the current evidence of an extremely low transmission rate in school, when a host of children are sent home as precaution, this seems to spread a fear. Almost always, the families affected are fantastic, it is usually those not directly affected who tend to call in, and regrettably there is a lot of time wasted dealing with rumour and gossip.

Please rest assured we act quickly, we are clear on the processes, we tell people who need to know, and if things worsen dramatically then we will be decisive.

If your child shows symptoms or tests positive then call the Student Absence Line on 01543 267 467. If you have a query then contact main reception on 01543 267 400 or email

Setting Work in Isolation

I have only had positive feedback from those isolating at the moment but I wanted to explain precisely how work is set at this time; not least because there has been a slight change.

Once you – or us if we have sent your child home – notify our Attendance Officer then a system kicks into place.

Parents and students will be emailed by a member of our senior team; Ie – Lottie Hearn (Years 7-9), Sam Sullivan (Years 10-11) or Sixth Form Team (Years 12-13). They will let you know the ball is rolling and may even send some work out straight away.

Following this, teachers will start setting work. We have been emailing it but this will now move over to Show My Homework as they have improved their interface so individual work can be set. It will not all be immediate as the teachers may have a full day in the classroom, but we will aim for it to be within 24-36 hrs.

If you have any problems then let us know via or via the member of staff who said they were your initial contact. Please do not start emailing individual teachers for work.

Rest assured that there is no need for you to do anything – unless we mess up and no work is coming.

Contacting the School

Throughout the COVID period, my staff have been outstanding, particularly in terms of contacting children day and night. I know that many of you agree because you have written in and told me so.

I am currently asking my staff to deliver their normal ‘day job’ lessons, arrange extra catch-up tasks and extra classes after school, continue Saturday School (now both real and virtual), and to set work for those at home isolating. This is a lot of extra work but we know it is important and we all want to do our bit.

Even so, despite the pluses of the extra online contact, it does have its negatives, and it tends to be parents rather than children needing to tweak what they do.

I would be grateful if you could avoid contacting individual teachers directly, especially if it is to direct them to do specific jobs. Many of our staff will teach 100s of children so this can quickly become unsustainable and unrealistic.

Naturally, if you do need any help then by all means contact or in the case of an isolation the member of staff who said they were your contact. If, on a very rare occasion, you do not get a response in a realistic time, then re-send it flagged for my attention and I will personally make sure my colleagues reply.

When I talk to fellow Heads in other schools they tell me that it is staff absences that make life most difficult but I am fortunate that our team are coming in, taking care at home to avoid infection, and working hard every day. I am keen to keep this going so job lists sent in to multiple staff on emails, lengthy weekend / late night messages, or protracted negotiations about report grades and mocks, are not going to help.

If you can help me with following the systems we have in place then hopefully I can help you by keeping things rolling here.

Mock Exams and Summer Exams

All current evidence is that the summer exams will go ahead and despite the COVID obstacles we are working with children to that goal. The Exam Boards are saying this, they have published their exam timetables, and the government is insisting on it too.

Even so, we are getting more and more parent messages on negotiations on report grades, whether mocks are fair, etc. The concern is partly understandable, but the impact of the staff time lost is only hurting the students.

We will look to email all Year 11 and Year 13 parents in the next 2-3 weeks with a concrete outline of all eventualities (even though no-one – including us – knows absolutely what they currently are). We are hoping that setting out possible routes will give clarity and transparency and mean that we can focus our time on the learning for the exams rather than others matters which at the moment are just a sideshow.

Days to Look Out For…

We have an Own Clothes Day set up for Friday 4 December with the £1 donation going to House charities and the PTFA.

We will have an Xmas Jumper Day (again £1 donation for St Giles Hospice – The Greywood MST charity) and a Xmas Dinner Day (though it will be a ‘grab-and-go’ effort, rather than the full sit down) – details to follow…

All donations will be available to make on ParentPay.

To Finalise…

We’ll keep you posted as things move forward and work to ensure the next 22 school days run as normally as ‘normal’ allows.

Matt Allman
The Friary School