I am writing to wish you a very happy holiday and New Year for 2021. May you and your family be safe and healthy throughout the festive season!
At the end of a very busy and successful term, I would like to thank the students for their hard work and achievements so far. I would also like to thank the staff for their dedication and commitment to excellence, as well as parents and carers for your continued support of Kingsmeadow School and our students.
This has been a year like no other due to Coronavirus. While we have done our utmost as a school and community to ensure school life remains as normal as possible, government restrictions have meant that there has been an inevitable impact on the day to day running of the school since September. I would like to take this opportunity to thank students, staff and families for their support through these challenging times. Despite the tight restrictions that our students have been kept under this year, they have still found ways to express their creativity and commitment to learning. As I write, the music department is in the midst of recording student performances that would normally make up our end of term Music Showcase, live performances normally open to student family and friends. These recordings will be collated and made available to families to view over Christmas, with highlights on the school website.
This year also saw a year 8 Science team make it through to the national finals of the Big Idea competition run by Solutions for the Planet, which should have been held in London, but due to Covid restrictions took place virtually in school on 18 November. The girls worked very hard throughout lockdown, completing weekly challenges, upgrading their product's business plan and partaking in live Q&A sessions. ‘Spike Stoppers’, the team, performed brilliantly and came 4th nationally out of 56. A fantastic achievement, especially during lockdown.
Due to Health and Safety guidelines, our ability to run any public trips or events such as those above, including open evenings and parent consultations, have been curtailed. For the first time ever, we were not able to invite new starters and their families into school last summer as we were in lockdown. I know that this caused some issues for all involved, with the usual face to face meetings between staff and parents unable to take place. Many of the questions and concerns, especially from our new parents, have been around communication. While we have tried our utmost to use other forms of communication to share important messages such as regular postings on the school web page and via the MCAS app, a web page or app is not the same as a face to face meeting.
Although a vaccine seems now to be on the horizon, the current situation is set be with us for at least the next term and may well be the case through to the end of the academic year. We will continue to do our best to keep you informed. Please keep a close eye on our website. All key information will be there.
The last day of this term is Friday 18 December and the students will finish school at 2:45pm as normal. Covid restrictions are in place and I would ask that you remind your child that they should go straight home and not ‘hang around’ public places in Dunston.
Start of Spring term arrangements
Students will return to school for normal lessons on Monday 4 January 2021 and should arrive in school before 8.40am. Please ensure your child is in school on time with the correct uniform and equipment so that lessons can commence with the minimum of disruption.
Ms Murphy is leaving us after 3 years working with the school to move onto pastures and challenges new. I am sure you will join me in thanking all staff who are leaving for their valued contributions to the school. I would like to take this opportunity to wish them the very best in their future careers.
Once again, I would like to thank you for your continued help and support. I hope you and your family have a restful break and enjoy this holiday period. I look forward to seeing your children refreshed and ready to learn in January.
All students have access to our online learning platform Google Classroom. Each child has been issued with individual codes to access key online classrooms. During any periods of agreed absence work will be set through Google classroom and will enable students to keep up with classmates. During the last few months this has been used as the key mechanism to allow those students that have been absent due to Covid to keep pace with their peers and not miss out. Please refer to the Remote Learning Policy for full details. All policies are available via the school website.
In school we have several security programs which all serve to keep our students safe while online. These programs allow us to monitor our IT network, while allowing our students to work safely. We educate our students about online safety, ensuring they are aware how to behave responsibly while online. It is essential that parents support us in this and ensure that while at home their children are using the internet responsibly. There are a few ways in which you can do this:
· Be open about internet safety - Talk to your child about both the benefits and dangers of the internet, to try and help them understand that they have a responsibility to themselves and others while online. Ensure that they know to talk to someone they trust if they feel scared or hurt by something which has happened online.
· Set up internet filters - You can do this through your internet provider. Contact them and ask them how to do this.
· Set up safety settings on your home devices - Safety settings can be adjusted on any device that connects to the internet, meaning that children are not able to access inappropriate material. Information on how to do this can be obtained from the device manufacturer.
There is lots of information for parents available on the ThinkUKnow website, including how to keep your child safe and what to do if you are concerned.
GCSE, A Levels, Btec and other External Exams 2021
The last few months have seen tensions rise in the media over the prospect of how grades would be awarded to students taking external qualifications this coming summer following the disruptions of this last year. The Department for Education confirmed on 3 December that all exams in England will be going ahead. There will though, be some adjustments. While the full details are still to be announced, what has been shared is that consideration will be given to the time that has been missed in school by the exam boards, by being more generous with grading, giving advance notice of those topic areas to be examined, ‘exam aids’ will be provided in some exams and allowing any students that misses an exam due to Covid to resit in July.
These will still be challenging exams and I know that parents and carers will be supporting their child to carry out careful revision and accept all the support and guidance offered by their child’s subject teacher.
As information is made available we will keep you updated.
MCAS, Reports and Subject Specific Evenings
As discussed above, I am particularly concerned about communication and keeping parents and carers up to date with how their child is progressing in class. Normally parent consultation and subject specific evenings is the key time to sit face to face with your child and their teacher to discuss progress. This year this has been impossible due to government guidelines around Covid. This term would normally have seen a Year 7 settling in parents’ evening where parents and tutors would have met to talk about how children have settled a few weeks into term. Instead these meetings took place by phone over the course of a week and on the whole were positively received. We are now exploring how to run subject specific evenings for the remainder of this year while Covid restrictions remain in place. The next is the Year 11 subject specific evening in January. Details will follow as to how this will be organised, but again it will be a phone consultation to allow parents and carers to seek specialist advice as to how their child is progressing and what needs to be focused on to improve progress.
Student Reports continue to be available via MCAS along with timetables and behaviour information. MCAS allows you to request corrections to personal details directly. Please ensure that you have an up to date login to access your child’s MCAS. Please contact Mrs Smith if you need support with this on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Year 11 and year 10: Sixth-Form Open Evening
We have not been able to host the traditional sixth form open evening on site this year. However, the head of sixth form (Mr Hood) along with our sixth form teachers have produced a virtual open evening. This is a series of short presentations you can watch and listen to which will give you the information you need in order to make an informed choice about why you should consider continuing your studies here at Kingsmeadow.
For further information students can talk directly to their teachers; parents can contact Mr Hood: email@example.com
Awards Evening 2019-20
Whilst we have been unable to host an awards evening at school this year, we are still keen to recognise the effort and achievements of our students during the 2019-20 academic year. Slightly different to previous years, students have been nominated by staff based on how well they displayed the Kingsmeadow Character Traits throughout 2019-20 rather than through subject-based efforts. This means that students will be recognised for their Compassion, Courage, Integrity, Pride, Quality and Respect. This also includes some awards for demonstrating these traits during lockdown.
Every student receiving an award will get a certificate, a £10 Amazon voucher emailed to them and will feature in a special Awards Presentation video which will be circulated at the end of this term.
The Behaviour Policy is based around the Kingsmeadow Character Traits: Compassion, Courage, Integrity, Pride, Quality and Respect. Your support to help our students meet these expectations is invaluable and always appreciated. To view the full policy please go to our website.
Attendance, Punctuality & Registration
All students should arrive in school by 8:30am ready for the day ahead. Please ensure your child is in school on time with the correct uniform and equipment. The school has a dedicated absence line and if your child is absent for any reason or has to leave school to attend an appointment please contact Mrs Oliver, Attendance Officer. If your child has a medical appointment during the school day, please ensure that they bring an appointment card so that they can be allowed to leave school. However, we ask that you make these appointments outside of the school day. Parents are reminded that the school should be informed promptly of any absence known in advance. Holidays must not be arranged during term time.
If your child is affected by Covid, please inform the school immediately as there may be consequences for other students. It is vitally important that any information is shared as soon as possible to keep the whole community safe.
Emergency Contact Numbers and email addresses
According to the most recent legislation called Keeping Children Safe in Education (September 2020) the school is required to have at least two emergency contacts with a current telephone number for every student. An inactive phone number could lead to your child not being safe or the school needing to contact the police in case of an emergency. It is your responsibility to inform the school of a change in an emergency contact’s number or details. Please also ensure that we have a current email address as this is used regularly to keep parents and carers informed, especially in these times of Covid restrictions.
All details can be amended via MCAS.
Equipment and Student Planners
As part of our commitment to develop them as independent learners, all students are expected to come to school each day with the necessary equipment to take an active part in their lessons. As well as essential equipment such as a pen, pencil, ruler, calculator, students should have their planner and a reading book with them at all times. Student planners are a vital means of communication between home and school and should be checked and signed by parents once a week. They should also be used for any routine communication between home and school.
During these times of Covid, a face covering must also be part of essential equipment. Please ensure your child has a face covering with them every day.
The Kingsmeadow uniform is an important part of the culture and ethos of our school. High standards of dress are expected at all times and students must come to school every day in neat, clean uniform as an indication that they take pride in belonging to the Kingsmeadow School community. We fully expect families to support the school in these high expectations. Please can I ask for your support in ensuring your child is dressed properly. Please use the Christmas break to ensure your child has the correct uniform for the Spring Term. Uniform helps ensure equity between students, creating a sense of pride, aspiration and professional identity for our students and school. Your support in this matter is greatly appreciated.
Mobile phones must be switched off and kept out of sight when on the school site at all times. The school cannot accept responsibility for any such items that are lost or damaged on site. Use of mobile phones to make calls or send texts during the school day (or even found switched on in school bags) will continue to be treated as a serious breach of the behaviour policy. Parents should contact students only through the school reception during the school day. The school appreciates the support of parents/carers in upholding the mobile phone policy.
Behaviour in School and the Wider Community
The vast majority of our students exhibit excellent and courteous behaviour at all times and are a credit to their families. The school has high expectations of the way that students behave in the local community and we expect them to be good citizens at all times. In particular students:
must remember they are representing the Kingsmeadow community when they travel to and from school whether on the scholars or on the service buses, and any inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated
must go straight home at the end of the day unless they are taking part in an organised school activity supervised by a member of staff
must not behave in an anti-social or inconsiderate way near local bus stops and shops, particularly in the centre of Dunston near St Nicholas Church
Due to the potential risk to the health, safety and welfare of all members of the school community, particularly under the current restrictions and guidance, as well as possible damage to the school’s reputation, any incidents when students fail to heed these instructions will be dealt with severely.
Reporting Covid cases over the Christmas break
As we near the Christmas break the following information has been shared by the Department of Education to allow clarity as to whom to inform and what to do should any students test positive or display symptoms between Friday 18 December and Monday 21 December.
If a student or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), or has no symptoms until Monday 21 December or later, there is no need to contact the school. Parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.
If a student or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) before Monday 21st December then they should contact the school via the school website, to assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation, as the individual may have been infectious whilst in school.
I hope you and your family have a restful and peaceful Christmas and New Year. If you have questions about anything, please do not hesitate to contact the school.
I would like to wish you well and I hope you and your family stay safe and well in these difficult times and especially over this Christmas and New Year.
Key dates in the Spring term
Key Assessment 2 w/c 1 Mar 2021
Subject Specific Parents Consultation w/c 22 Mar 2021
Key Assessment 2 w/c 25 Jan 2021
Subject Specific Parents Consultation w/c 22 Mar 2021
Key Assessment 2 w/c 18 Jan 2021
Year 9 Report w/c 1 Mar 2021
Key Assessment 2 w/c 1 Mar 2021
Subject Specific Parents Consultation w/c (19 Apr 2021)
Key Assessment 2 w/c 22 Mar 2021
Subject Specific Parents Consultation w/c (18th January)
Key Assessment 2 w/c 8 Feb 2021
Subject Specific Parents Consultation w/c 15 Mar 2021
Key Assessment 2 w/c 8 Feb 2021