3rd April 2020
Dear Parents and Carers
As we near the Easter holiday I would like to update you on a few changes we will be making after Easter to ensure we can maintain the positive start we have experienced with our remote learning timetable.
Lunch time – We are going to start our Period 5 lesson at 13:40. The lesson will therefore run from 13:40 until 14:25. This will allow staff and students an additional 15 minutes to take for lunch. We hope this will give the students and staff the time they need to prepare food and eat it without the facility of a canteen preparing things for them. We will also not expect students to attend the 5-minute tutor period at the end of the day, and the end of Period 5 will be the end of the school day. The tutor period is not required under present circumstances. This change will start from Monday 20 April.
Staff changes – We have some staff changes that will affect individual student timetables after Easter. Mrs Tweedie is leaving us to start a new role at the Guru Nanak Sikh Academy. This will mean her classes will have one of our existing Science teachers for their remote lessons from Easter. Mr Sayarath is returning to Australia at the end of April and while he will continue to teach his classes up until then his classes will have a change of teacher from the last week of the month. We would like to thank both members of staff for their contribution to the school over the last two years and we wish them well for the future.
Year 11 – We will stop teaching Year 11 lessons after the Easter holiday. We have had details from the Department of Education (DFE) today on how they will be assessing Year 11 and awarding final GCSE grades. We will write to Year 11 parents and students separately to explain this in detail. I have been in touch with Mr Freeman, Principal at Woking College, and he has asked me to let Year 11 students who are planning on progressing to 6th Form study what they are doing to support them. Shortly after the Easter break they will be making pre 6th Form work that students can do to prepare for the next stage of study available on their website. You should keep an eye on this page of their website https://woking.ac.uk/information-for-students-staff-parents/information-for-year-11-new-applicants-prospective-parents/
If I hear from other colleges and providers that they are doing similar things, I will share that with you also, however, this would be good preparation for students who may be going to other colleges also.
Year 10 – We have invested in a well-regarded online resource to support GCSE studies called GCSE POD. It offers a wide range of resources students can use to support their GCSE studies independently and staff may well direct students to use it as part of their remote lessons. We have attached a letter to explain how to use the resource. The following YouTube clip explains what it can do https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnhVIUqDueM . There are links and guides to help you access this resource, as well as many others on the remote learning section of our website.
Home Learning – In these last two weeks I have asked staff not to set home learning while we adjust to remote learning. Some staff will be setting home learning tasks over Easter for students to do. This is important for GCSE studies to ensure necessary work is completed and up to date. It will also help provide some activity for students to focus on while they are still having to remain in the home for most of the day. It should not be high volume for Key Stage Three students.
House Activities – Our Heads of House have set the students three challenges to complete this holiday to win points for their House. They have been shared with students through their tutor periods this week. They are 1) a Just Dance challenge 2) an Egg Painting challenge 3) a Toilet Roll Keepy-Uppy challenge! The deadline for evidence of all challenges completed is 24 April and it should be e mailed to House Leaders.
Online safety – Under the present conditions we know that young people are spending considerable time online. At times like these we truly appreciate the benefits of the internet in allowing many things to continue remotely. However, the dangers that are present remain and increased time online means increased risk of exposure to these. We have written the following to remind parents and students of steps they can take to keep safe from some of these dangers.
We are also aware that one of the most popular apps at present amongst young people is a relatively new one called House Party. The following web link provides useful information to parents about what it is, and things you should check for to ensure it is used safely by young people. Please note that as with most social media apps it has an age limit of 12. https://www.internetmatters.org/blog/2019/12/24/what-is-the-houseparty-app-what-parents-need-to-know/
Online Gaming is becoming more and more like a social network. Many games give users the ability to chat to one another. Often this communication is there for users to talk about the gameplay but that is not always the case and far too often it is with people that the children do not know in real life.
This communication could be either a typed messages or live audio. Some games also have features such as the ability to leave written messages. One of the dangers with typed messages is that they can contain hyperlinks to websites that are not appropriate for children. Moreover, the safety and appropriateness of all this communication depends greatly on the security settings that have been put in place by a user.
Parents need to be aware of the settings in their children’s games to make sure they can’t be contacted by adults who are online for the purposes of grooming. The thinkuknow.co.uk website offers the following advice to parents, supervise younger children during online gameplay, ask your children what they would do if an unknown user tried to talk to them online, ask them to show you the games they play and the conversations they’ve had, discuss whether they know the people they communicate with in real life. The internetmatters.org website has guides for a wide range of consoles and games about how to check and set the privacy settings for online games, please use the link below to find out more.
Wellbeing – We understand that the news and measures surrounding the Coronavirus will cause worry for both students and families. We have placed together a number of links to organisations you can approach over the holiday to provide support through these times if you feel it might be needed. Please see the Advice for Wellbeing page on our website https://www.thamesmead.surrey.sch.uk/remote-learning/wellbeing/
Contacting us – School will be closed over the Easter period. We have worked closely with our Key Worker parents and have established that we do not need to open for their children over these two weeks. We know that the present situation means that there may be a need for you to contact us urgently. If you need to contact us urgently please do so via e mail on email@example.com. and the appropriate person will be contacted and asked to get back in touch with you. We will not be checking the voicemails regularly and may miss any important phone messages that you leave.
PPE for NHS – Thamesmead has donated 150 pairs of our laboratory goggles to a joint effort by Surrey Schools to provide Surrey Hospitals with much needed personal protective gear that they can use when treating patients with COVID-19. Thank you to our Science Department for their generosity.
I have attached a letter from Liz Mills, Director of Education, and Julie Iles Cabinet member for all age learning at Surrey County Council. There are some links in the letter you may find useful. Please can I say the content of the penultimate paragraph does not reflect the experience at Thamesmead, we have felt incredibly supported and valued by our parent community this last fortnight and are grateful for the patience, support and understanding that you have shown us.
It has been the most unusual half term and there is nothing that suggests students will be returning to school after the holiday. We will resume our remote lessons with the students, and be open for those students who have needed to attend school on Monday 20 April at 8:30am. While I know it will be an unusual holiday for us all with the present social distancing restrictions in place but I hope that it will allow you some time together that you can enjoy with your families.
I am very proud of the staff here who have done such an incredible job to learn how to, and deliver remote learning to our students in such a short space of time, and I have been so pleased to be able to share with them all the thanks that you have passed to us for their hard work this last two weeks. It has been truly appreciated. I know they are going to enjoy their much needed two week break, but also that they finish this term with a sense of professional satisfaction and reward that we have been able to support our learners through this situation even though the school is closed.
Best wishes for a happy Easter and for continued good health and safety, from all of us at Thamesmead.
Message from PC Caroline Barnes 3885
Youth Intervention Officer for Spelthorne
Schools in Spelthorne have had to close due to measures to control the spread of Covid-19.
If your child is off school this is not an excuse for them to go out and cause anti-social behaviour in the community and cause more upset and distress to members of the public who like us all are trying to manage the current situation in the best way possible.
Unfortunately, we are seeing a large number of reports of groups of youths gathering in areas within Spelthorne behaving in an anti-social manner.
Your child should be at home during school hours and should be adhering to the social distancing requests made by the Government at this time. The social distancing requests apply to all young people following the shutting of all schools across the country on Friday afternoon.
Please talk to your children about what is expected of them during this difficult time and advise them that should they be found responsible for any anti-social behaviour or criminal acts they will be dealt with.
Thank you for your cooperation during this time.
School Trips Update
We have had a lot of enquiries regarding the trips we have planned. We are liaising with all travel companies and our insurers regarding these. Once we have gathered all the information we need to make decisions we will contact you regarding each trip and explain the way forward. Thank you for your continued patience here. You will understand that these companies are very busy dealing with enquiries at present.