Back to School September 2020

Reopening LHS in September

We are delighted that all of our students are able to return to LHS in September.

It has been a long and challenging lockdown period, and we cannot wait to see students again in the new term, but we also want to reassure parents and students about the steps that we have taken to reduce risk. We thought that the following information would be useful.

General principles

Although government guidance makes it clear that the risks of reopening schools are minimal, there are still important control measures to take in order to reduce risks of transmission as far as possible.

With this in mind, we have adjusted our school risk assessment, taking into account the five key measures outlined in the government guidance, as follows:

  1. ensuring no students who have been diagnosed with or are displaying symptoms of coronavirus attend school, and developing a careful and thorough response should any cases be reported in school;
  2. encouraging staff and students to clean hands more often than usual;
  3. ensuring good respiratory hygiene using the “catch it, bin it, kill it” approach;
  4. enhancing our cleaning regime working closely with our cleaning contractor, with a specific focus on cleaning frequently touched surfaces;
  5. minimising student contact and mixing as far as possible.

Information and guidance from the government is altering regularly as they try to respond to a changing situation in the UK, and indeed across Europe. We are planning to reopen fully in the way described in this information sheet, but if there are regional or national changes to the advice given, we may have to adapt our plans. Of course, we will inform parents of any such changes.

Our plan is to deliver the curriculum in the way described below for the first four weeks of term in September, and then review how well this is working.

The LHS Curriculum

We intend to deliver our normal curriculum at all Key Stages, using our full timetable, as designed before lockdown, so that students can have access to a broad, balanced and engaging curriculum. Therefore, students will study their usual subjects at LHS from September.

We have made some changes to our use of specialist spaces (for example, Technology, Art and IT), in order to allow this curriculum to continue. This may mean that some practical lessons will be replaced with other more theory-based learning activities in standard classrooms. We are still delivering practical lessons, just not with the same regularity.

Year group bubbles

Government advice about reopening in September is clear on the need for keeping students in social bubbles where possible. Students at LHS will be organised in Year Group bubbles, and, as far as possible, will have their lessons in a year group teaching zone, with subject teachers moving to them rather than the other way round.

Some specialist practical teaching will take place, as explained above, with the priority given to Key Stage 4 and 5 students.

Break and lunch times

Period 2 and Period 4 will be extended in order to allow students to take a short morning break and to have a lunch period as well. The exact timings will be staggered so that not all year groups are on break and lunch at the same time. Students in different Year Group Bubbles, but with the same lunchtime, will visit separate areas for their lunch, with Caterlink, our lunch provider, offering the same reduced service in three areas for the main school (Snack Shack, Hall and current canteen). Sixth Form students will be able to use their own Sixth Form catering area, Café 6.

Students can still bring their own packed lunch to school (and we would actively encourage this), as they will be allowed to eat in their designated rooms in their Year Group zones. They might also want to bring a snack to school each day, in order to reduce footfall in the canteen.

Please note that, at least initially, there will be no food service available in the canteen at morning break.

Social distancing on school site

Students will be expected to maintain social distancing from other students outside of their year group bubbles. In particular, they should avoid close or face-to-face contact.

Students will be taught in their normal sized classes, but classrooms will be arranged in such a way as to minimise contact, and teachers will remain in a “teaching bubble” as far as possible, at the front of the classroom.

Some movement around corridors and other areas will be inevitable, but is considered by Public Health England to be low risk. We will be using one-way systems in the school where this is possible.

Certain activities (contact sports, singing) are considered high risk and we will not be engaging in them within the curriculum. Assemblies will be delivered as pre-recorded video assemblies through tutor groups for the first four weeks of term. The library will be closed as well.

Hygiene on school site

We have purchased hand sanitiser, tissues and lidded bins in bulk ready for September. Students will be encouraged to use these materials to clean their hands more regularly than usual, and to follow ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ advice. We would also encourage students to bring their own sanitiser for their personal use.

Hand sanitiser stations will be placed at key entrances to and exits from buildings.

We have provided appropriate PPE equipment for our First Aid teams to use, as advised by Public Health England.

Advice from Public Health England

In some cases, the local Health Protection Team may recommend that a group of students self-isolate at home for precautionary reasons. This could extend to a whole year group or the full school cohort. We hope, obviously, that this does not happen, but wanted to forewarn you as best as possible.

Arrival and departure from school

Wherever possible, students should walk or cycle to school. They should avoid using public transport unless there is no suitable alternative available.

We are still waiting to hear from Reading Buses about their school service for the new term, and will let you know as soon as we have any update.

Students from different Year Groups will need to use a specific entrance gate. Details of this (and tutor rooms, see below) will be sent out just before the start of term.

As you might imagine visits to school site must be kept to an absolute minimum. Therefore, we ask all parents to stay off site for the time being and to only enter the site by pre-arranged appointment. 

Start of term in September

The new term will start on Thursday 3rd September for all students. We will use the Tuesday and Wednesday INSET day to complete our final preparation for classes to begin on Thursday.

Students will begin the term with an extended Tutor time to go through the new procedures and systems of support with their tutor.

Details of the specific rooms for each tutor base will be sent out just before the start of term, so that students know where they are going on the first morning!

Uniform and equipment

Students will be expected to wear full school uniform in September.

I have attached the current uniform list in case it is needed. Year 9 students should remember that they move up to the silver badge from the start of the new academic year.

In terms of face masks, there is still uncertainty in the government advice about whether students should be encouraged to wear facemasks in school. Our current stance is that they are not required, but we will review the guidance over the next month and advise as appropriate before the new term starts.

On days when students have practical PE lessons, they will be able to wear their PE kit to school for that day, in order to avoid use of communal changing rooms. This can include plain dark tracksuit trousers if the weather is not conducive to wearing shorts. This will only apply to practical PE lessons – some lessons may be changed to a classroom setting. This adjustment to the timetable will be made clear to students in September, when they receive their personal timetable from their tutor.

Students should bring all equipment to school each day, including calculators and specialist equipment (for example, Art resources) on days when this is required. Students will not be able to share equipment. The school Resources area is available from the start of term should students have any equipment needs.

Students should make sure that they have a personal reading book in their bag each day. For students in Year 7 to 9, this will be supported by the Accelerated Reader programme that the school has used for the last two years.

Students must also bring a full water bottle to school each day.

Behaviour at LHS

I am always proud of the behaviour and conduct of the vast majority of students at LHS, and I have been incredibly impressed with their maturity during lockdown, whether in school or learning at home. I am sure that students will realise that personal safety is just as important as learning in the post-lockdown school environment. We want to keep students safe, and we want to maximise their classroom time in order to support them in quickly recovering their learning.

This means that we will publish an amended behaviour code in September, with a sharp focus on safety and personal conduct. Some aspects of our behaviour policy, such as safe rooms or detentions, will be arranged within the year group zone. Should students act unsafely, they will be removed from lessons and, if necessary, parents will be contacted and students sent home, in line with the national guidance on exclusions.

We hope that students are looking forward to returning to school as much as we are looking forward to seeing them.

We know that some students and parents will be more anxious about a return than others, perhaps due to personal circumstances within families. This is entirely understandable. We will provide a great deal of support for all students in September, with the tutor playing a key role in checking in with students each day.

I hope that this outlines our plans for September in a clear way. Please do not hesitate to contact us through your child’s Head of Year if there are any further concerns or you wish for us to clarify anything. Our absolute focus will be on supporting students to make great progress in their learning. Our recovery curriculum will involve additional sessions being offered to students in lots of different ways. We will communicate this in September in more detail.

In the meantime, have a lovely, restful summer break. We have all earned it.

Best wishes, and keep well,

David Ramsden                                              

Headteacher, LHS                                          

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