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21st January 2021

Dear parents and carers,

Thank for your continuing exceptional support during this period of remote education. We are fortunate to have such a positive and resilient community of parents and carers, and we are enjoying working with you to ensure that both remote education and in school provision is as effective as it possibly can be. Thank you also for all of the positive feedback and emails – this really does mean a lot to us and we are keen to continue to gather views from parents and students in order to improve our provision still further – more details below!

Qualifications 2021 Update
Coverage and frequent updates in the media with regards to the summer examinations and grading can create anxiety and can possibly hamper what it is that our students need to be focusing on in the coming weeks. I have explained in a letter to Year 11 and 13 students what we do know, and the broad principles and expectations that we should work to in the weeks ahead. Below, I have outlined what we know to date from the Government. I must stress that this is what we know at the moment and things may very well change in due course, at which time I will of course brief you further.

• Grades will be awarded as late in the academic year as possible.
• This means that all grades remain “still to play for” – winter 2020 mock exam results will not be decisive in the awards of final grades.
• Grades will be awarded through teacher assessment judgements, not through Department for Education algorithms.
• All curriculum content and assessment activity will continue as planned through the remote learning programme.

There are likely to be some assessment activities and questions set and standardised by the exam boards. We warmly welcome this in ensuring that all schools across the country are as scrupulously fair and transparent in grading as we always are at Stepney All Saints.

Students should continue to focus on work completion, engagement with remote learning and giving their best efforts in all forms of assessment activity – this is the best way to guarantee success.
Our collective hard work to date has ensured that as a school we remain very positive about progress in our exam cohorts and are confident in working with students to achieve the grades that they deserve in their 2021 qualifications.

I will of course continue to update students and families as soon as we have concrete information on any of the detailed arrangements.

Remote Learning Update
Thank you to students, parents, and staff for the incredible hard work on making live lessons function so well over the past two weeks. Our online attendance has been excellent, and we want to maintain these levels over the coming weeks. We are also keen to evaluate how things are working, capturing positive feedback as well as hearing thoughts for further improvement. To this end we have had online discussions with students and have had valuable feedback from parents and staff.

One issue, of which we are aware, is that of screen fatigue and the risk of having every minute of every lesson seated directly in front of a computer or tablet. We are asking teachers to ensure that there is scope within lessons for some independent work, either written or practical – away from the screen in order to ensure a reasonable balance of activities. There is likely to be some variety here between subjects and the content studied, but we do want to ensure a healthy balance. There may be times when intense input is needed and others where part of the lesson can be off screen independent work, which is reviewed at the end of the session. We will of course keep how well this is working under review in the days and weeks ahead.

To support students in getting time away from screens, we are adapting the school day with each lesson running for 50 minutes. As of Monday 25th Jan, the school day will run as follows:

Period 1: 9.00 – 9.50
Period 2: 10.00-10.50
Break: 10.50-11.20
Period 3: 11.20-12.10
Period 4: 12.20-13.10
Lunch: 13.10-14.00
Period 5: 14.00-14.50

In terms of engagement and behaviour, normal school rules apply. Students must attend their lessons at times I have shared using their school login – not a private email – and any behaviour which goes against our school rules will be dealt with. We wish to maintain our usual high standards and ask that all students participate fully in the online provision.

As a reminder, all of the remote learning provision, including homework, is provided via Google Classroom and a full guide on how to access this platform is available on the school website – https://stepneyallsaints.school/for-students/google-classroom/

Year 9 Options Evening 10th February 2021
We are determined that we do not fall behind with our school calendar of events and curriculum planning. With this in mind, we have put together a range of resources and mechanisms to assist Year 9 students and parents with options choices in readiness for Year 10 and GCSE study.

We have created a dedicated section of the website to guide you through the options process – www.stepneyallsaints.school/year-9-options-information. Videos from the various option subjects are available as well as the options booklet outlining the requirements of all Key Stage 4 subjects. In addition, you can support your child by looking at the following websites which provide independent and impartial advice about career pathways: www.nationalcareers.service.gov.uk and www.careerpilot.org.uk/information/gcses/choosing-your-gcses.

I will share more information on this as we get closer to the options evening date.

Thank you for your continued support and please stay safe.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Woods
Headteacher