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Principal's Blog - 8th January 2021

Dear all,

I would first of all like to thank you all for your amazing support this week. As a parent I know how stressful and frustrating home learning can be on top of completing your own work. Thank you so much to all the parents/carers that have reached out this week to praise the live lessons. As you can appreciate staff love to teach, they enjoy and feel comfortable in the classroom environment interacting with your children. To talk to a blank screen is very different so I want to say a special thank you to the teachers who are working outside of their comfort zone and adapting to teaching online. This also could not be done without the help of our support staff who are on site working with the key worker students and supporting our teachers in delivering live lessons, it is very much a team effort and I am so proud of how our staff community have come together during this time to ensure that our students are at the very heart of everything that we do.

This week we have been implementing the changing plans that the Government has introduced, and I hope the following information will be helpful to you.

Live timetables:

We have created live timetables for every year group please click on the link below to access these. Plus, on our “home hub” we have developed other activities/ strategies and fun stuff to keep you all going through these difficult times.

https://www.ormistonriversacademy.co.uk/home-study-and-revision

Exams:

On Wednesday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced an update regarding teacher assessment of exams for the summer 2021 season. Our exams team will contact all students and parents when we have received all the relevant information. However, it has been confirmed that exams will not take place in the summer. A consultation will open shortly to discuss the proposals of how schools and Trusts will assess the exam groups.

I appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone and I am aware of the shock and disappointment this news will bring. Previously, the Government had consistently told students, parents and teachers that exams would continue this year, and we had all planned on that basis. However, once the initial shock has worn off, I would urge you all to consider these three points, and I hope they will provide some reassurance:

1. Your hard work will still be recognised. The effort you have shown so far, and will continue to show in the coming months, will not be wasted. On the contrary, the new system will make sure this is fully reflected in your final grade.

2. Your eventual results will be indistinguishable from real exams. In the long run, it won’t matter that your grades came via this system. You will still be able to progress to Sixth Form and University in the normal way. The value of your GCSE and A Level qualifications is not being altered; only the way in which they are administered. None of your ambitions for the future will be affected by this decision.

3. The new system will be fair and balanced. Grades will be awarded based on objective evidence. Any grades that your teachers set will be moderated carefully, to ensure they are consistent within and between schools. If any student were to be disappointed with their eventual grade, we expect there to be a mechanism to appeal and take a follow-up exam in the autumn, just as there was last year.

I know it is asking a lot of you all, on top of everything you have been through already, but I would urge you to take these points on board and keep going. Today, you will be shocked and disappointed – anyone in your position would be. However, in the coming days you will process the news, and in the long run you will be absolutely fine. Your teachers were aware of this possibility and will guide and support you through the remainder of this year. For now, continue to attend all your online lessons, keep working hard and enjoy your learning, and know that every piece of work you complete will make a difference.

We do have January exams scheduled for next week, and, as Principal, I believe that these should still run for those students that wish to complete the exams. The exam team has been in touch with the individuals concerned to discuss this, however I think it is only fair and right that each student decides what is best for them.

Testing:

From Monday 11th January we will be testing students and staff who are on site for whom we have consent. All key worker students will now be tested regularly and we will be running a drop in session for these students every Monday morning from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon. A separate letter with the details has been sent to the parents of key worker students who have registered to attend. If you are unable to attend a Monday testing session, parents of key worker students must book a test for your child/ren. You can do this via the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. In order to secure a free test, in response to question 5 “Why are you asking for a test”, you will need to choose the following option:

“My local council or health protection team has asked me (or someone I live with) to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms”

Free School Meals:

The Government has announced that the voucher scheme will be launched again, and as soon as we have further information we will be in touch with those individuals. In the short term we have food grab bags that can be collected on site and if you would like these please contact: amahoney@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk

Wellbeing:

The pastoral team is still on hand to support you in these difficult times, despite your child not being physically present in school. Prior to Christmas we launched our Well-being App which you can download to your phone. This App has links to a wide range of support for mental health and well-being. It also allows you to send a message directly to Mrs Corbett if you have a specific worry or concern you would like to discuss with her. You can download it here. https://orawellbeing.glideapp.io/

You can also email wellbeing@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk if you would like any help or support.


We also have a well-being Google Classroom that any student can join. This classroom has a range of support materials and activities to promote positive mental health.The code to access this room is 3kiaauz.


Starting on Monday 11th January the Student Support Team will host a live drop in session on the Google classroom for anyone who wants to chat. This will be during the break time with year 7 on Monday, year 8 on Tuesday, year 9 on Wednesday, year 10 on Thursday and year 11 on a Friday.


We understand that the SSA’s play an important role in school life for many of you so, from now on, during lockdown you will be able to request a one to one well-being phone call from an SSA. Here is the link for this form if you are interested in this. https://forms.gle/bF8sfJ6eRC6wSgMD6


If your child currently receives counselling in school we are working with our counsellor to move this to a phone appointment, so you should receive a call about this over the coming days if you haven’t already.


There are also a range of external agencies that offer excellent advice and support for young people. Here are some of the links and numbers should you need them.

youngminds.org.uk | Tel: 0808 802 5544. Or text YM to 85258 - A UK charity committed to improving emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people and empowering their parents and carers.

childline.org.uk | Tel: 0800 1111 - Counselling service for parents, children and young people, offering free and confidential help and advice.

Kooth.com - Free support services for young people delivered by qualified counsellors via online chat.

place2be.org.uk | Tel: 0207 923 5500 | Email: enquiries@place2be.org.uk - Offers counselling support for young people in schools helping them to cope with wide-ranging and complex social issues including bullying, bereavement, domestic violence, family breakdown, neglect and trauma.

Text the school nurse for confidential advice and support on 07520 615731


If you need support with anything at all during this period do please get in touch.I know a number of you are going through significantly difficult periods at the moment and I will do all I can to support you and your children. We will get through this period as a community together. We will do everything we can to support you all and ensure that our students’ learning is as effective as possible in the meantime.


We will continue to use social media to share updates and stories of what is taking place on site and off, please send any images/new stories to: Jingate@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk


As always, many thanks and very best wishes.



Emma Baker

Principal







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