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Holmleigh Park High School

Returning to School and Exams update

Important updates on returning to school, COVID-19 tests, and Year 11/13 exams

Dear all,

It has been a very busy week. Before I go on, I'd like to let you know that our annual parent survey is now open. If you've got two minutes to let us know how we're doing - both in lockdown and more generally, we'd really appreciate the feedback; we'll be using it to help us draft our plans for next year.

Moving on, I have three significant updates to share with you:

1. Returning to School

We will be open to all students from 08:30 on Monday 8th March, and we can't wait to see students again. To ensure a smooth start after around ten weeks away, I'd be very grateful if you can check your children have the correct uniform and equipment - we want to hit the ground running on Monday!

We will operate all of the same COVID precautions we have used all year (you can revisit these here), with two main changes:

First, in line with government guidance, students will now be required to wear masks at all times while indoors - including in classrooms. The government will review this at Easter and decide if this will remain in place for longer. 

As per last term, student masks should be plain, with no pattern or logo. Face shields and snoods are not permitted. We will give any student who needs a mask on Monday 8th one free of charge, but students will need to ensure they bring their own after this. 

As before, if your child's GP has advised that they are exempt, please email [email protected] to confirm. There's no need to do this again if you have already done so. 

2. The Year 8 and 10 zones will be swapped round - students will be directed on Monday

2. COVID-19 Testing

All students will be offered three COVID 19 tests. The Department for Education confirmed on Wednesday that these can begin to take place before the 8th March, which is why we won't have to stagger our return to school. 

Therefore, we'd like to invite all children in to have their first test between Wednesday 3rd of March and Friday 5th March, according to the schedule below

Time Weds 3rd March Thurs 4th March Fri 5th March
09:05-10:00 (P1)   Year 10 (X band) Year 7 (X band)
10:00-10:55 (P2)   Year 10 (Y band) Year 7 (Y band)
11:15-12:10 (P3)   Year 11 (X band) Year 8 (X band)
12:10-13:05 (P4)   Year 11 (Y band) Year 8 (Y band)
13:35-14:20 (P5) Year 12   Year 9 (X band)
14:20-14:55 (DEAR) Year 13   Year 9 (Y band)

(If you are not sure of your child's band, this can be found on Edulink by looking at their timetable)

For this first test, students don't need to wear uniform (though they should bring a mask). Once they've taken their tests, students should return straight home. Results will be sent out within two hours. Results will be sent to parents of students aged 11-15, or directly to students aged 16+.

Students will then take their second and third test during normal lessons in the week beginning 8th March. After this, the government intend to ask students to test themselves at home regularly - we will send more details when we have them. 

There are two things you can do to help us run these days smoothly:

1. First, if you haven't already given consent for COVID testing, please do so  here. If you do not wish to consent, it is helpful if you can do the form and indicate so on the final question so that we are aware. 

2. If your child is likely to find the test challenging, there is a video of how it works included in this week's Good Morning Holmleigh Park, which you can watch here

3. Exam Arrangements for Year 11 and 13

This week saw Ofqual publish the arrangements for students to receive grades this year. We are still waiting for full details from exam boards, but the main points are:

  • Schools will be asked to assess grades

  • Students will sit internal assessments between returning to school and the end of May, which will give them an opportunity to show how much progress they have made this year

  • We will use these grades, along with coursework, classwork, homework and November mock exams, to arrive at a grade which represents how students are currently working

  • There will be a moderation process where exam boards look at our marking to check that they agree that it is fair. 

As a result of this, we have taken the decision to cancel the mock exams intended for March so that students get as much teaching as possible before May. Students will therefore be returning to normal lessons from 8th March - although we will of course continue to set regular practice questions in lessons and for homework. 

We will be carefully looking in the coming weeks at both our curriculum and the exams we set to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the disruption to their education in the last year. I will write to Year 11 and 13 parents with more details when we have them. For now, my message is unchanged: Keep working hard! The more students know, the better position they will be in - not just to get good grades, but to move on to the next stage of their education. 

Best wishes,

Mr Farmbrough