Please also read the September reopening information slides listed below
Dear Parent / Carer.
This message contains important information concerning the conditions under which The Charter School East Dulwich will reopen to all its students in September and how the School will operate during the first half of Autumn term.
Please read this message carefully and make time to discuss its contents with your child(ren) well before school reopens. Please also recognise that the government plans to announce further guidance on 10 August, so these plans, too, may have to change.
Government guidance released on 2 July states: “Schools must do everything possible to minimise contacts and mixing [between groups of students] while delivering a broad and balanced curriculum.” The government has recommended that children in Years 7 to 9 be organised, as far as possible, into consistent teaching groups, or ‘social bubbles’, across all subjects and school activities. Older students can safely be organised into year group bubbles of up to 240 students.
The Charter School East Dulwich will comply in full with this guidance. As previously communicated, the School will also retain all of the hygiene measures adopted during the Lockdown and will comply with government expectations regarding the reporting of cases of Covid-19.
The rest of this message will address the following:
Timings of the school day
Staggered breaks and lunches
Prep time - KS4
Parents may prefer to consult the document below for specific timings of the school day.
As previously communicated, School will reopen for students in Years 7 and 10 on Tuesday, 1 September; to students in Years 7, 10 and 11 on Wednesday, 2 September; and to students in all year groups on Thursday, 3 September, 2020. Students joining the School in Year 7 will have a shorter day, running from 9.00am to 2.30pm, on each of these days, in order to ease their transition.
Schooling is compulsory for all students from these dates and attendance will be taken as normal. Parents should continue to monitor their own and their children’s health and should not send children into school if they or any other member of their household shows symptoms associated with Covid-19.
Timings of the school day
Students will be allowed onto the school grounds and into the school buildings at slightly different times and through different entrances in order to keep Year Groups as separate as possible. They will be dismissed at the end of the day in a similar fashion.
Students should aim to arrive at but not before their designated time. Public health guidance is very clear that young people should not gather in large groups. For this reason, we will not allow students to wait outside the school gate or to congregate in the playground in significant numbers before entering the main teaching block. Nor will we admit students to school through the wrong entrance.
All students will be expected to make their way directly to Lesson 1 immediately on entering the school site. Students should also leave school promptly in order to avoid mixing with students outside of their group on their journey home. Parents should reinforce this expectation with their children prior to their return to school in September.
Once the teaching day starts, all students will have a slightly longer school day as a result of changes designed to keep them safe and well. Lesson 1 will start at 8.30am for all students. Students in Key Stage 3 will finish at 3.30pm every day. These students will no longer be required to stay later on Thursdays. Students in Years 10 and 11 will have an extended school day on Thursdays when they will remain in school until 4.30pm.
Staggered breaks and lunches
The School will limit opportunities for contact between year groups and ease congestion around the campus by staggering both break times and lunchtimes. No more than half of our student population will be in circulation at any one time and this half will follow strict circulation protocols around the site designed to keep year groups separate. We understand that this may affect specific friendships across year groups, but feel that these steps are necessary in order to keep children safe and well.
The School caterers will return to site and the School will be able to serve both hot and cold food. Students will be issued with payment cards so that they don’t have to use thumbprint-recognition devices. The payment cards will be funded via ParentPay in the normal manner.
Tutor group arrangements in the lower school, or Key Stage 3, will be different from September. Teaching and tutor groups will be the same in these year groups and vertical tutor groups will be suspended. Government guidance regarding teaching groups may well change at some point during the year, but we would spare our young people the disruption that could bring. Instead, we will commit to these tutor group arrangements for all of 2020-21 and explore the reintroduction of vertical tutoring for 2021-22.
We have appointed three highly capable year leaders to support these year groups: Ms. Blackwell (Year 7); Mr. Pettigrew (Year 8); and Mr. Reynolds (Year 9). As you may know, students in the upper school, Key Stage 4, are already organised into tutor groups with peers of their own age. Ms. Watson, who is joining the School in September, will serve as Head of Year 10. Key Stage 4 tutor groups operate under Mr. Owoh’s ultimate leadership.
Tutor time will also move from the start of the school day to a point midway through the morning, so students should arrive at school ready to learn.
All students will study all the subjects included in the school curriculum. Students in Key Stage 3 will have the majority of their lessons in their ‘base’ room but will continue to move around the building for lessons such as Art and Design Technology that require specialist facilities. Students in Key Stage 4 will continue to move between classrooms for each of their subjects.
There will be constraints on what students can do in specialist lessons requiring access to equipment. We hope these constraints will ease as public health restrictions become less onerous. For at least the first half of Autumn term, students taking Physical Education lessons will not be allowed to change clothes on-site. Instead, they should wear their PE kit to school on the day they have PE.
Prep time - KS4
The School will also ensure that its older students benefit from timetabled Prep, or supervised study time, meaning that they will have one hour per week under supervised conditions when they will be expected to focus on consolidating their learning across the curriculum. All students in Years 10 and 11 will benefit from this additional provision, except for those who study Triple Science, who will spend this time in additional Science lessons.
There will be no assemblies or other gatherings of more than 30 students until at least January. There will also be a stay on school trips and on visitors to the School. The School will not resume large gatherings of students or staff until government guidance says it is safe to do so.
The School is deeply committed to offering a wide range of enrichment activities at the start and end of the formal school day. However, this is one area in which we feel we need more government guidance before we can commit to how extensive an enrichment programme is possible next year. We do not expect this guidance before Summer. We strongly suggest that parents assume there will be no enrichment activities outside of the school day until after October half term.
Students who, from September, will be in years 8 through 10, will have been absent from school since late March. Many may have had very limited contact with their friends or extended family during this period. Some may have been ill or experienced illness in their families. I’m aware that, for some families, the end of the school year has brought these challenges into sharp relief. However, they will not be addressed productively before the end of term.
The proper course of action now is to focus on support and catch-up in the Autumn term in order to address the effects of Lockdown on children’s education and wellbeing. This will include:
A diagnostic assessment of students’ achievement, which will be communicated home in late September or early October;
a carefully planned series of interventions that will, in some cases, require additional catch-up sessions after school;
significant pastoral time devoted to building children’s resilience; and
where necessary, ongoing support with anxiety and other mental health issues.
We will provide more detail regarding all of these measures closer to September and throughout the Autumn term.
I hope you will see that we are trying to make schooling as normal as possible for your children. However, the constraints we face as a result of the public health situation are very real and we will require all our students to take them seriously. I strongly recommend that parents make time over the Summer to discuss these changes with their children and the raised expectations of conduct that will be necessary in order to keep all children safe and well in school.
My colleagues and I welcome the return of our full student population. The past few months have been challenging for us all in different ways. For those of us who have remained largely school-based throughout Lockdown, the absence of all but a small number of students from our campus has made it seem a strange and artificial place. Although the next school year is likely to bring challenges of its own, we will at least be able to face them squarely together.
Thank you for your continued support.
Mr. A. Crossman
The Charter Schools Educational Trust