12.00pm - 16/07/2020 - School Update

Dear Parents/Carers

You will be aware that the Government is expecting all students to return to school in September. In recent days, we have been meeting with staff and planning for different eventualities.

In its message to schools, the Government states: "For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in school far outweigh the very low risk from coronavirus (COVID-19). The curriculum should remain broad and ambitious: all students should continue to be taught a wide range of subjects, maintaining their choices for further study and employment."

However, the Government guidance makes clear that a 'one size fits all' approach will not work and schools will need to come up with local solutions for reopening as every setting has different cohort sizes, age groups, facilities and building restrictions.

We are planning for three possible scenarios at St Bede's from September:

  1. If the infection rate continues to fall, the school will return to a full timetable for all years. In this scenario we still intend to 'stagger' break and lunch times so that inter year mixing is minimised. In order to allow for this the school day will be slightly shortened and teaching would take place between 8.45am and 2.50pm with students arriving from 8.35am onwards. (NB. Despite a shortened day the amount of teaching time will remain unchanged.)
  2. If the infection rate locally does not fall as quickly as hoped, the school would return in year group 'bubbles' with movement around the school and public mixing severely restricted. In this scenario we would need to limit the curriculum we offer to some year groups.
  3. If the infection rate rises locally or nationally and the Government imposes another lockdown, the school would remain closed and online learning would continue.

We are hopeful that we will be implementing the first scenario and to this end we have a fully staffed timetable in place to allow for the full curriculum to be taught in all years. We intend to review the situation at the end of August before making a final decision. Having shared our plans with governors, we will be communicating to parents well in advance of the new term.

In the meantime we can answer the following questions:

How will you ensure the health and safety of the staff and children?
We are awaiting further guidance from Public Health England about the cleaning of schools and we intend to implement their recommendations. We will continue to promote hand washing at regular intervals throughout the day with soap and hot water available in all our toilets and hand sanitiser in every teaching space. If we go ahead with the first scenario outlined above, it will not be possible to observe strict social distancing in all teaching spaces but by staggering break and lunchtime we intend to reduce the opportunities for students from different year groups to mix.

Will all students return on the first day of term?
Our plan is that we take students back two year groups at a time in the first week of September so we can refocus and explain to each child about our expectations and the 'new normal'. The programme will be as follows:

  • Monday 31 August: Bank holiday – school closed to students
  • Tuesday 1 September: INSET day – school closed to students
  • Wednesday 2 September: Years 7, 12 and 13 only in school
  • Thursday 3 September: Years 9 and 11 and six Year 7 tutor groups only in school
  • Friday 4 September: Years 8 and 10 and six Year 7 tutor groups only in school
  • Monday 7 September onwards: All students in school

What happens if an individual becomes ill with the virus?
We will ask the individual to self-isolate and engage with the NHS 'track and trace' system. We would then take advice as to whether groups or individuals need to self-isolate following any confirmed case.

How will students travel to and from school?
We expect public transport to be running fully in September but the advice is likely to be that students should travel on foot or by bike where possible. St Bede's has a number of students who live a fair distance from the school and we expect that many will travel by bus as in the past. Students should follow health advice when using public transport.

Will the canteen be open?
We are currently discussing reopening with our catering company and we hope to have our usual range of food and drink on sale in the autumn. We are planning that each year group will be allocated time in one of our canteens on a rota basis. You will continue to have the option of providing a packed lunch.

What is happening with public exams?
The exam boards are now consulting with schools about possible changes to public exams and GCSE and A level exam syllabuses in 2021. We will be communicating any changes to students and parents/carers when we have more definite information.

Thank you for your support over the last six months. The school will be closed to all students over the next few weeks and we hope everyone has a great summer. We look forward to seeing some of you on our results days - A levels (Thursday 13 August) and GCSE (Thursday 20 August).

Please find attached details of instrumental tuition at St Bede's.

With best wishes

Mr Crabtree / Mr Powell
Headteacher / Head of School

Message from the Chair of Governors:
I am retiring as chair of governors at the end of this academic year, after 10 years as a governor of St Bede's. It has been a privilege to work in our nurturing Christian learning community, where our parents and carers are so supportive of the school, our talented and committed staff and governors go the extra mile for the children and our surrounding churches nurture our students and staff. St Bede's is a special place, and will always be in my prayers.

Governors are particularly grateful at the end of this term for the selfless, dedicated way staff have worked so effectively for the students throughout the pandemic. Many staff have never been as tired as they are now at the end of term and we wish them a good rest during the holidays.

Also on behalf of governors, I wish to pay special tribute to Mr Crabtree as he retires. In his six years as Headteacher, he has led the school courageously through budget cuts and restructuring to being judged Outstanding by Ofsted and by our Christian inspectors, as well as having significantly expanded the school and the many facilities it offers your children. Governors are deeply grateful to him, and wish him a blessed retirement.

The governors and I are delighted to have appointed Mr Powell as Headteacher for September. Having observed his energy and excellent work on St Bede's leadership team over the past three and a half years, governors have real confidence in Mr Powell's abilities to lead the school successfully through the many challenges ahead, not least of which is the pandemic and its aftermath. During these challenges, I am sure you will continue to offer him and the staff the same support you have given the school over recent years.

I wish you all many blessings as, together with our staff, students, governors and churches, you continue to build the nurturing Christian learning community that is St Bede's.

Victoria Clifford
Chair of Governors