Headteacher’s Newsletter 5th June 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians

Sorry to clog up your inbox; we don’t usually do a newsletter in June but there seems to be a lot to say at the moment.

This newsletter will also be going out for the first time to parents of children who will be starting with us Year 7 in September – hello, and welcome! Thank you for providing us with your contact details. We usually send out three of these newsletters each term – we hope that parents find them a useful way of feeling part of the big Kings’ School family.

Plans for this term

Year 10 – I am really delighted to say that we will be inviting pupils in Year 10 back to school from Monday 15 June (subject to final government approval). Sadly, public health considerations mean we can only do this in a limited way, but it feels like the first step on the long journey back towards normality.

We are only allowed to have 25% of the pupils on site at any time. As such, the plan is to split the year into four groups (alphabetically by surname, approximately) and invite one group in at a time. We will run a special school day, slightly shortened to avoid the busiest travel times. Pupils will have eight lessons on two consecutive days; group A will be in on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday will be a cleaning day and then group B will come in on Thursday and Friday. Groups C and D will then come in the following week. We expect to run this cycle twice, from 15 June to 10 July. This will leave us eight school days at the end, either for more Year 10 teaching or for other year groups, depending on what national advice is by then. Parents of Year 10 pupils will receive specific invitations (including which days their children are invited in) next week.

Children of Key Workers etc – we currently have about 50 pupils in this group. Mr James reminded everyone about arrangements for them earlier this week – please do get in touch if you think your son/daughter is eligible and you would like them to come in. We need to know:

  1. Pupil(s) name(s) and tutor groups
  2. Which days they will be coming in (for the next two weeks)
  3. Which category they fall into

Please send this information for the attention of Miss C Fox, our Attendance Coordinator, via

kings.school@kings-winchester.hants.sch.uk

Other pupils in Years 7-9 – I am afraid that they will need to rely on remote learning for a while yet. There has been no indication from the government yet about when they might be allowed to return. We are leaving the last few days of the term clear in the hopes that that we will be able to invite some or all of them in then.

Pupils currently in Year 6 – I know that Mr Simpson and his team have been writing to you and I hope you are feeling reasonably well-informed. We hope both to visit your children in their current schools later this term and also to continue to provide as much of a normal transition experience as we can via the magic of the internet. More details will follow when we have them.

Survey results

Many thanks to the 822 parents who responded to our survey about remote learning. We had some technical difficulties with a couple of the questions, but your answers to the critical questions 5 and 6 are below:

We also read all the free text comments. Slightly more parents felt we were setting too much than felt we were setting too little, which I take as a good sign. There was a clear feeling that more ‘live’ lessons would be good, so we are doing our best to make that happen. We are slightly constrained by the complexity of providing for the needs of (now) three separate groups (Year 10 at school, other years at school and all four years at home); we also still think that a ‘mixed economy’ of pre-set tasks and live teaching is best and the parent responses provide some support for that view. However, we also heard what parents are saying about the importance of live contact and of structure and we will do our best to provide more of both – it is lovely to think that the sounds of our voices are missed!

On this subject, we very much welcome and depend on your support in encouraging your children/our pupils to engage with what is on offer. Attendance at the ‘live’ lessons that I personally offer each week is only around 40%. This may reflect the quality of my teaching, of course, but I, like my colleagues, am doing my best – thank you for steering your children towards us, when you can.

Lunch for pupils at school

With the return of Year 10 on 15 June we will have reached the point where we need to resume charging pupils for lunch (except those eligible for free school meals, of course).  Year 10s coming in for the first time will probably not expect anything different, but it will be a change for the children of key workers – please do ensure there is credit on your accounts beforehand.

Uniform

As long-term readers of these letters will know, we have been keeping the rules about school uniform under review and they have continued to evolve. Our destination is a “gender-neutral” uniform – many of our linked primary schools now have a single set of rules for all pupils and this seems to us to be a desirable end point for Kings’, too.

Having said that, this is a time of unusual change and uncertainty for the school and so now may not be the moment for big announcements! However, we have spotted one anomaly which we think is worth mentioning now – at the moment, girls are allowed to wear white socks while boys are not. We think white socks with trousers do not look smart, so we plan to insist on black or grey socks for all pupils in the future.  I thought it would be good to mention this now, before summer uniform purchases begin.

Sports Day and Legacy Day

As I hope you have heard, we are determined that Sports Day (Thursday 18 June) and Legacy Day (Friday 19 June) will go ahead! It won’t be exactly the same, of course, and so we are going to be running events only in the afternoons. There will be no other lessons then and the hope is that every single pupil gets involved.

The PE Department have embraced the 21st Century enthusiastically and will be posting information on these ‘Padlets’. I won’t embarrass myself by trying to explain what a Padlet is – please click on them and see! They will be updated all through next week, with messages from the Heads of House

Virtual Legacy Day Padlet

Virtual Sports Day Padlet

Music news (see also attached flyer)

Important information for parents and pupils who have instrumental /vocal lessons with Hampshire Music Service………

🎶 HMS Virtual Learning Zone 🎶

The HMS Virtual Learning Zone is now open for the summer term.

By logging on to the Learning Zone, you will be able to:

*have email conversations with your child’s music teacher

*get advice and information on how to help them progress with their instrumental/vocal skills.

*access an extensive resources section which includes video demos by HMS staff and lots of music, technical exercises, worksheets, ensemble activities etc.

*the opportunity to upload audio or video recordings of your son/daughter playing, for a more detailed response from their teacher.

*the opportunity to request a real-time lesson with their teacher.

Teachers will respond at least once a week during term-time, and you will have open access to all the online resources. This provision is available for HMS students, so please do not share the password with students who will not be registered to communicate with an HMS teacher.

Please visit….

  • www.hants.gov.uk/hms and click on ‘Sign into the Student Area’ link located in the blue bar at the top of the page.
  • Follow the instructions on the ‘Student secure area’ page and click on the pink ‘Secure area’ button to continue.
  • Enter the username and password which you will find in your son/daughter’s practice diary, and click ‘ok’ (username: hmsstudent, password: learningzone).

Here you will find links to the various sections contained within the Learning Zone, along with instructions on how to contact your teacher and upload recordings of your children playing.

If you experience technical issues with the website, please email e-support@hms.hants.gov.uk

Year 8s develop their engineering skills at home 

To replace their missed enterprise day, the Year 8s have been completing a series of activities during their remote BEE lessons. The objective was to learn more about the wide range of engineering careers available.

Their task was to apply their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths knowledge to build a prototype boat that could compete the in the next America’s Cup race. The pictures below show pupils’ creative use of the resources they had available at home. Some fabulous ingenuity and dedication has been shown and definite engineering potential developed.

Year 8 500 km Challenge

Many, many congratulations to pupils in Year 8 who have raised a grand total of £2224.25 raised for their two charities, ‘The Playhouse Foundation’ and ‘NHS Charities Together’.

They did a fantastic job and, if Mrs Sessions-King’s calculations are correct, managed to travel a cumulative distance of 4794 km – just shy of the distance from Winchester to Quebec!

INSET days 2020-21

It seems very strange to be telling you about school closure dates for next year, but life must go on.

Provisional dates are:

3 September 2020, 16 September 2020, 27 November 2020, 29 January 2021 and 1 April 2021

Yours faithfully

Matthew Leeming

Headteacher