18 August 2020

This is the third part of the guidance for parents/carers about opening in September - focusing on transport, communication, the structure of the day and safety....  The transcript is underneath the video if that is helpful.  The information about communication referred to in the update is at https://www.waltonledale.lancs.sch.uk/parents/communication.

Best wishes and take care.

James Harris


Transcript of video:


This week is all about results day for the outgoing Year 11 and we have been busy managing the impact of the various government announcements!

Meanwhile preparations are continuing for our return to school on the 2nd and 3rd of September so it seemed an appropriate time for a third update so that parents and carers can be talking with our students about what school will be like when they return.  I will put all of this in writing as a summary in the final week so that everyone can be confident in the provision that we are making.

As I have said all summer the key principles of opening are the same - ensure that we are close to normal as we can be, but ensure the safety of every member of our school community.  To do this we need everyone to have the values that we know as ASPIRE - particularly the R and E - respect and empathy.  All of us, staff and students, have to take responsibility for our own actions and the way in which those actions affect others.    Hygiene - cleaning or sterilising hands and surfaces regularly and using and binning tissues if we sneeze will be imperative.  This is something that we are already used to in our own homes and in shops.  Students do not need to socially distance from those in their own year group, but mixing with other year groups has to be reduced as far as possible.  Students must stay two metres away from adults - we will be making particular arrangements for students whose needs make that impossible, but all classrooms have been laid out, for example, with the teacher 2m away from students. WE have taken a pragmatic view on masks - any student or member of staff who wishes to wear a mask may do so.

As you know we have several school buses and a wide catchment area.  This means that we cannot change the start and end time of our school day for different year groups as some schools are doing.  We will manage the arrival of students by bus at the rear of the school - they have to wear masks on the bus and will not remove them until they are only with their own year group waiting for their first lesson.  It is arrival at the front of school where we need your help.  Firstly, if students arrive early, as several often do for various reasons, they cannot come into the dining room as they usually would - they will have to remain outside the buildings until 8.35.  The front of school is busy at the start of the day so please can Year 7 arrive around 8.35, Year 8 and 9 around 8.40 and the oldest 2 year groups at the start of school at 8.45.  Please can I very strongly encourage you, if you bring your son or daughter by car, to drop them a couple of hundred yards away and ask them to walk the rest - I am expecting more cars outside the front of school than usual.  The government is encouraging those who can to walk or cycle to school, but I appreciate that many of our students travel a considerable distance to come to us.  Likewise at the end of the day we will release Year 7 at five to 3, Years 8 & 9 at 3pm and Years 10 & 11 at five past three.  That enables us to manage the flow of students onto the buses and out of the front gate.  We will keep this under review over the first week or so and amend as necessary.

Thinking about traffic at the front gate leads me on to communication between home and school.  We have always prided ourselves on seeing parents and carers to discuss issues whenever you turn up and resolving lots of relatively minor issues on a face to face basis.  No school is perfect at communication, but we try our very best!  Under the current conditions parents and carers cannot come through the school gates unless you are dropping off or picking up a child who is temporarily physically disabled (e.g. has a broken leg).  All communication will have to be email and phone and I have written about this on the website - look at the Parents section under Communication.  We want to get this right, but we cannot have external visitors on site.  There are some specific occasions where a face to face meeting will be essential, but these will be rare and by prior appointment only.

Thinking about these things leads to Year 7s first day on the 2nd September.  I appreciate that many parents and carers will want to drop their son or daughter off individually - it is a big day for them!  We will have a team of staff on the front gate from 8.35am to meet and greet our new intake - please don't drive or walk onto site yourself.  We will look after them, we promise!  Likewise, at the end of the day, park a distance away and let your son or daughter walk to where you are.

In my last update I talked a bit about changes to the structure of the day and I just wanted to reinforce that, whilst we are aiming for things to be as normal as possible, we have to make some changes to ensure safety.  Students will go straight to lesson 1 (I will email timetables out to parents and students before we open).  At the end of each lesson they will be directed from the relevant block year group by year group.  They will follow a one-way system around the school to their next lesson and will wait outside the block, with others in their year group, until admitted. again year group by year group.  There will be 15 minute gaps between each morning lesson, rather than one 20 minute break, to allow for this movement along with appropriate hygiene.  Lunchtime will be staggered so that each year group has lunch on their own.  As I said last time I strongly encourage students to bring their own food, but we will operate a grab bag ordering system for those on free school meals and those who wish to order food.  There will be no food available at break to start off with.  There will be gaps between the afternoon lessons as well to enable movement and hygiene.  As I say, I will produce this as a written summary for everyone to see in the final week before opening.

I would like to finish this update on practicalities with a reminder about uniform and equipment.  Uniform orders can be collected this week and next Tuesday to Friday from 10 until 2 (18th to 21st and 25th to 28th August).  Some things are a bit different - every student needs their own stationery - the list is on the website.  If you have ordered it from us (which we believe to be the cheapest way to do it) then we have had trouble sourcing enough pencil cases (I think a lot of schools are doing the same thing!) so we may need to give them out on the 1st day back.  Students also need a mask and a  bag to put it in particularly if they travel by bus, they need a bag to hold their books and equipment and a pack of wipes so that they can ensure their environment is secure.

There is a lot going on and a lot of work has been done to ensure that we open securely on the 2nd and 3rd September.  As I have been saying all along - we are really looking forward to being a physical school community again.  There will be more updates over the coming couple of weeks and please get in touch if you have any particular queries.

Best wishes

Posted by James Harris

Category: WLD Updates