22nd May 2020
Dear parents and carers,
Re: SDUTC College Update
There has been a significant amount of media coverage on the government’s recent announcement of its plan to rebuild the UK for a world with COVID-19, its roadmap, and this includes the partial reopening of primary schools from 1st June which has been the source of great controversy. This is of course a highly politicised matter and the debate continues regarding the scientific basis upon which it has been determined that it is safe for children to start returning to schools. As a College, we continue to make plans for a partial reopening for Year 10 and 12 students at some point in June, with the remote learning provision continuing for all year groups throughout the remainder of this term. However, aligned to the government’s plan, we will have to adapt and change our own plans as more is learnt along this very challenging journey. The aim of this letter is to give you an update on the current situation and what is being planned for the forthcoming weeks. Further updates will follow as we are working in a particularly dynamic and fast-changing environment, but please rest assured I will make every effort to keep you kept abreast of what is happening at the College. The current arrangement for students who are in college will be still the same after the May half term.
Partial Reopening for Year 10 and 12 Students
The date of the partial reopening of the College for Year 10 and 12 students was initially suggested as Wednesday the 3rd of June (principal letter sent on the 20th of May 2020). It is important that every effort is made to get all children back into education as soon as it is reasonably practicable and safe to do so, and this is the first stage of the process which is in line with national guidance. Thank you to some of our Year 10 and 12 parents who very promptly responded to our recent survey used to identify the number of students we could expect to attend College when it is reopened. This has helped inform our planning for a timetable of learning for these students, and to ensure the appropriate safety measures are in place to reduce the risk of increasing the rate of transmission amongst students and staff. I will write to confirm the open date and times of the partial re-opening of the college.
Work is ongoing to develop a part time timetable for these students and further details will be shared with you once they have been confirmed. The days in school will feel very different for the students – they will be in smaller class sizes (maximum 10), in different classrooms to the ones which they are familiar and there will be new routines and expectations students will have to follow to help mitigate the risk of transmitting the coronavirus disease. These include social distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene.
How risks to students, teachers and families will be managed
The College is following the government’s guidance on the implementation of protective measures in educational settings very closely in preparation for a partial reopening, and to help reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus disease as more children return to school. We are currently working through a range of protective measures that can be put in place. A Coronavirus (COVID-19) risk assessment has been completed; as has a risk assessment for the College’s reopening. A Social Distancing Policy has also just been produced and sent to our governors for approval. More details on such measures, alongside our expectations of students’ and parents’ support, will be sent to you once we have firmer plans for the partial reopening, but will include:
• Increased and regular hand washing by students and staff
• Good respiratory hygiene by the promotion of the catch it, bin it, kill it approach
• Identification of students at increased risk
• Immediate self-isolation if displaying symptoms
• Additional staff supervision to ensure social distancing is maintained
• Maximum class sizes of 10 students – classroom furniture to be reorganised to maintain social distancing
• Staggered breaks (and separation between classes to be maintained)
• Increased signage
• Frequent cleaning of touched surfaces by the Cleaning Team
• Equipment / object sharing to be discouraged as much as possible
• Provision of hand sanitisers, tissues and sanitising wipes in classrooms.
In the meantime, our ‘remote learning provision’ will continue for all students. You will have received information on how we are continuing to improve and develop that provision and the information can be found on our website. However please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, thank you for all your support throughout this period of uncertainty. I understand how unsettling it has been for parents and students, and the anxiety and concern felt by many as we have had to navigate our way through this pandemic. We will continue to provide as much support as we can for all our students, irrespective of year group, and should you have any worries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact the College. I will write again shortly with a further update on our position and how our plans are progressing for a partial reopening for our Year 10 and 12 students, this will not be before Tuesday 9th June 2020.
Stay safe and happy,
Firstly, thank-you so much for your encouragement, patience and support for our staff in these dynamically challenging times. I hope that all is well in your household and that the change of pace has been beneficial to nurturing the family bonds that the “noise” of life so often gets in the way of.
I could never have predicted how much everything we take for granted can change in one week. As I said my farewells to the students last Friday, I could see that the year 11 and 13 students were subdued and unsure of the future. They had so many exciting plans to work towards; the prom, progression to the sixth form, university, apprenticeships and not least the academic challenge of the exams and submission of coursework. The news that OFQUAL are using teacher assessments is welcome and as a staff we feel we have substantial data to ensure a valid and accurate picture of the academic attainment can be judged fairly and accurately. It is however very strongly recommended that students continue with any outstanding coursework. Ms Wade and her team are continuing with the plans to give Year 11 their formal send-off and our prom date will be rescheduled when things return to some “normal”. We will of course, say our formal farewells to year13/14 in the imminent future.
As I locked up the building earlier in the week, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride in what we have grown since the South Devon UTC project was first approved in parliament in 2014. Our college provides young people with an opportunity to specialise in the STEM subjects at 14, a specialism that has great relevance to our current human crisis.
The expertise of the nations’ scientists, engineers, mathematicians and programmers are never more important than now. This week alone has shone the light on their excellent response to this global crisis and how fundamental these skills are in helping the NHS to be best prepared for the challenge ahead.
- The Imperial College epidemiologists use of data modelling to make predictions of the pandemic and to support the government in their preparation and planning.
- Chemical engineers working with Ineos ethanol manufacturing plant have re-purposed their systems to produce a million bottles of hand sanitiser donated free to the NHS.
- The collective of Formula 1 engineers and designers working together to form a rapid response to develop prototypes for respiratory machines and systems.
- The Army logistical teams and Royal Engineers’ setup of the field hospital in exhibition centres providing beds for thousands more patients.
- >The Computational Biologists who have uncovered the DNA structure of the virus to support the biologists in generating vaccines.
The ripple of national applause yesterday evening at 8.00pm demonstrates our gesture of support for the healthcare and key workers so critical to helping us get through what lies ahead and I once again thank you for your support for them in staying home and therefore saving lives.
Finally, as we approach the Easter break and an uncertain Summer term, I would like to share with you my pride in our students. Their choice to join the UTC and to develop their STEM expertise is to be respected and admired and I hope that they may continue to become the future innovators and scientific leaders of the future.
Keep safe and stay connected,