School closure

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OFQUAL UPDATE ON EXAMINATIONS

Since the Secretary of State announced that the 2020 exam series in England would be cancelled to help fight the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Ofqual has developed a process which will fairly recognise students’ work and make sure they get their grades in time to progress. Ofqual has today set out how GCSEs, AS and A levels will be awarded this summer and published further guidance for education staff, students, parents and carers.

For this summer’s awards, schools and colleges are being asked to provide centre assessment grades for their students. These should be fair, objective and carefully considered judgements of the grades schools and colleges believe their students would have been most likely to achieve if they had sat their exams and should take into account the full range of available evidence.

Ofqual has published a message to students to reassure them that they, and exam boards, will do everything they can to make sure that, as far as possible, grades are fair and that students are not disadvantaged because of this unprecedented situation.

Guidance from Ofqual on how qualifications will be graded and awarded in summer 2020 can be found here.

INCREASED FRAUD RISK DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Periods of instability, such as during the coronavirus pandemic, bring an increased risk of fraud.  Fraudsters will actively exploit these difficult times and will target vulnerable areas for financial gain.  Action Fraud reported a 400% increase in reports of coronavirus related fraud in March 2020. The  reported frauds are varied and include:

  • charity fraud
  • online shopping fraud
  • phishing emails

Further information is available on the ActionFraud website. The official organisation in charge of distributing e-vouchers on behalf of the school will never ask you for your bank details.  Therefore, if you receive any other emails offering to support you with Free School Meal vouchers, these are scams - please do not respond or give out your bank details.  

FREE SCHOOL MEALS

The government evoucher system for free school meal provision is now up and running and will begin on 20 April 2020. If your daughter is entitled to free school meals, you will receive an email from Edenred. This is genuine and they are acting on behalf of St Martin’s and the DfE. Please follow the instructions in the email when you receive it. 


Posted 29 March 2020

Free school meal vouchers have now arrived at school and are ready to distribute.  School is open for parents/carers or students to collect and sign for the supermarket store voucher which can be used to purchase food as an alternative to our meal service during school closure. 

The voucher is credited with £25.00 and this will cover free school meal provision for two weeks. The week beginning Monday 30 March 2020 and the week beginning Monday 20 April 2020. Free school meals are not provided during school holiday periods, therefore Easter is not covered.  I remind you that a free school meal is charged at £2.40 per day. 

What time can you collect the supermarket voucher?

You can come anytime between 9.00 am and 3.00 pm. Tuesday 31 March to Friday 3 April 2020.  Please report to the main school office. On arrival you will be asked to adhere to our health and safety expectations, 2 metre social distancing and handwashing. 

What do you need to bring with you?

If anyone other than your daughter is collecting the voucher, we will require this person to bring evidence of who they are. Vouchers will only be given if we are satisfied that you are the parent/carer or have been given permission from the parent/carer of the student to collect on their behalf. The person collecting will be asked to sign that they have received the voucher. 

St Martin's cannot take any responsibility for lost, stolen or damaged vouchers. 


Posted 25 March 2020

The government has strongly reiterated their plea for citizens to stay at home wherever possible and to adhere to the social distancing guidance whilst in public. Today the government has also published further guidance on social distancing that particularly relates to schools and other settings. Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings


Posted 24 March 2020

The Prime Minister gave a speech to the nation yesterday evening. Full guidance can be found from these links 

The Government have asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and for schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.  

Read from the link below,  the updated DfE guidance for schools on temporary closure 
We remain open to the key groups as mandated by the government. We are working closely with Lambeth Local Authority and our provision may move to another school. We will keep you updated.



Posted 23 March 2020

Our arrangements for the school closure which begins on Monday 23  March for the vast majority of students are set out below. We will close for an undefined length of time and do not know when the school will reopen. We will keep families informed via ParentMail and on this website as we receive information from the government. 

We know that this news has come as a shock and it will cause difficulties and stress for students and families but we have made careful and detailed support plans through this unprecedented situation as best as we possibly can. 

All students will receive remote access to learning activities in all subjects alongside a bespoke pastoral programme of support, guidance and prayer underpinned by our values of service, compassion, justice and perseverance. 

Onsite provision

As per my previous letters, on site provision will be available for key categories of children that have been identified by the government. Unfortunately, we cannot cater for children who do not fall into these groups so they should remain at home with appropriate care. The government has said that the scientific advice shows that schools are safe for a small number of children to continue attending but believe that asking others to stay away will help to slow the spread of the virus. They  have asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. They feel that the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

The key categories of children identified by the government include parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response such as those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors.  Please see my previous letter for the comprehensive list. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home and every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Our onsite provision will consist of supervised sessions by a few members of staff in mixed aged groups. They will continue with their lessons which have been set by their teachers on 

Google Classroom as their peers will be doing from home.  Please note, this provision, in the short term will be at St Martin’s, in the medium and long term it may take place in another school in Lambeth.  Your daughter will also be able to continue with her learning at home through Google Classroom and communicate with her teacher via Google Classroom or through email. 

We will have minimal catering facilities with limited choice, there will be no break service so students will need to bring a snack. They can purchase lunch (£2.40 for a main meal). It will be provided at no cost if your child is entitled to a free school meal. The school day will run as normal from 8.30am to 3.00pm. 

Off-site provision

We are providing home learning via Google Classroom for all students to continue their studies at home. We expect them to follow their usual timetable. Teachers will be uploading work and assessing this on a regular basis. If your child is experiencing difficulties with her learning, she can 

email her teacher or communicate via Google Classroom. Over the past couple of days, we have retrained students on how to access and use Google Classroom. Work packs will be made available to students who do not have access to ICT facilities at home and you should contact the school if your child completes all the work that has been set and requires additional learning activities. 

We will not provide live/Skype lessons due to the possible safeguarding concerns that surround the delivery of these for both students and staff. 

It is important that you try and keep your child to a strict routine, by following her normal timetable she will be able to keep up with the set lessons and have the best possible positive and productive experience.  We will also include some fitness support via video and some daily exercises that your daughter can participate in. 

The government has advised that while schools are closed, parents should do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.

Free School Meals

We will ensure that all students on Free School Meals continue to receive these.  In this current situation we have decided that the best course of action is to provide you with a voucher that you can use in the local supermarket.  If your daughter is eligible for this, please make arrangements to come into school to sign and collect your voucher. The school will be open every day from 8.30am to 3.00pm. Please note, the volume of voucher purchasing has increased, therefore, although we have been promised delivery on Tuesday 24 March we cannot be certain of this so please call first. If your daughter requires a school lunch on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 March, please let me know in advance so we can prepare sufficient meals and they can come into school at 12.30pm to eat and leave the site between 1.00-1.15. Your daughter will not be eligible to remain on site beyond this time. Early next week I will send a separate letter via parentmail detailing how to come in and collect your Free School Meal Vouchers. 

Public Examinations

GCSE and A Level exams will not take place this summer. In a press release issued this afternoon, the government has said that the exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students best, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead. To produce this, teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance in mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly will be provided to schools at a later date. 

The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use it to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in. Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) and exam boards will be having further discussions with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach to ensure that it is as fair as possible and more information will be provided at a later date. The government has said that their aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July, however, as things are currently uncertain this may be subject to change and we will update you as we find out more. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with Year 11 and Year 13 and we congratulate them on their hard work over the last five or seven years.  

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged” Deuteronomy 31:8



Posted 19 March 2020

Posted Government's announcement of school closure from Friday 20 March 2020

With reference to last night’s announcement by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education, schools are to postpone education onsite at the end of the day tomorrow, Friday 20th March 2020. We will  remain closed until further notice except for children of key workers and vulnerable children, as part of the country’s ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic. Further information on who these key workers are and what the provision will look like will be communicated to you later today or tomorrow. 

We are in unprecedented times and will need to follow all the guidance from the government to ensure the health, safety and well being of everyone. 

At this stage, the government has said that exams will not be taking place this year (GCSE and A-Level). Mrs Stanislaus has spoken to the students to impress upon them that their hard work and studies over the past few years have not been in vain and, during the school closure period, to encourage them to continue to study in preparation for Further and Higher Education. 

The DfE will be issuing further guidance to schools on these matters later today and tomorrow, updates will be published here accordingly. 

The staff at St Martin’s remain totally committed to our students and families and we will continue to provide pastoral support, even if this is done remotely. 

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8


Posted 17 March 2020

Following the Government's upgraded advice yesterday, there are some changes to what I outlined in my letter of 16 March particularly around self isolation. 

What is the latest coronavirus advice?

  • If you live alone and have a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, you should self-isolate for seven days
  • If you live in a household with others and have a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, both yourself and all others in your household should stay isolated together for 14 days
  • Everyone, including if you are not displaying symptoms yourself and live in a household where no one is displaying symptoms, should stop all unnecessary contact with others and all unnecessary travel
  • You should work from home where possible and avoid venues such as pubs, clubs, theatres and restaurants
  • Pay particular attention to the advice if you are over 70, pregnant, have underlying health problems or live in London
  • Don't call the NHS 111 helpline if you have mild or moderate illness and instead seek advice online. But do call if your illness becomes more severe.

The Government has also stepped up their strategy to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus and put new measures in place. Many of these will impact on staffing and running the school.  I am doing everything possible to keep the school operating smoothly. You will see the new measures below and the final bullet point, in bold, makes it clear that there is still no change to the Government's decision and schools will remain open.  

 The PM has said everyone in the UK should avoid "non-essential" travel and contact with others to curb coronavirus

  • Boris Johnson said people should work from home where possible as part of a range of stringent new measures.
  • Pregnant women, people over the age of 70 and those with certain health conditions should consider the advice "particularly important", he said.
  • People in at-risk groups will be asked within days to stay home for 12 weeks.

The key new government measures are:

  • Everyone should avoid gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres
  • Everyone should work from home if they can
  • All "unnecessary" visits to friends and relatives in care homes should cease
  • People should only use the NHS "where we really need to" - and can reduce the burden on workers by getting advice on the NHS website where possible
  • By next weekend, those with the most serious health conditions must be "largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks"
  • The UK is now "three weeks" behind Italy - the worst-hit country in Europe
  • If one person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days
  • Those people should, if possible, avoid leaving the house "even to buy food or essentials" - but they may leave the house "for exercise and, in that case, at a safe distance from others"
  • Schools will not be closed for the moment

We are dealing with unprecedented circumstances and are doing our utmost to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment and a community that works together for the greater good.  


God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1-2


Posted 16 March 2020

DfE Updated guidance for education settings on coronavirus (COVID-19) 16 March 2020  

We are continuing to monitor the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus and its potential impact on our students and the wider community. 

We have had no reports of any student, parent or member of staff being diagnosed with the virus. As a school, we continue to take all active steps to ensure the wellbeing of our community,  including an increased level of cleaning, particularly in the high touch areas.

Guidance from the DfE is sent to schools everyday. We have received the following information which I am sharing with you in this letter see below. Today, the Department for Education and Public Health England have issued updated guidance for education settings on COVID-19. This guidance will assist staff in addressing COVID-19 in educational settings. This includes childcare, schools, further and higher educational institutions.

Current advice remains in place; no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England. 

The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the impact of closing schools on both children's education and on the work force would be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be.  Decisions on future advice to education or children’s social care settings will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggest that children are a lower risk group. 

Since my last letter there has been new guidance for self isolation and this includes not calling NHS 111. Please read the new guidance below and via the link. 

Self-isolation

New guidance, stay at home self isolation, click here states that anyone with a new continuous cough and/or a temperature (of above 37.8C) should self-isolate for seven days. You do not need to call 111 to go into self-isolation. If symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after seven days, you are advised to contact NHS111 online www.111.nhs.uk  If your child requires self-isolation you must let us know immediately; we will do everything we can to support.  

What you need to know:

  • staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
  • if staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home
  • clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products
  • supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds more often than usual with soap and water or hand sanitiser and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
The updated guidance can be found here.


Posted 13 March 2020

information for parents and students

On a daily basis we receive guidance from the Department of Education and Public Health England regarding the coronavirus outbreak.  Currently, we are managing the situation in school by maintaining a high level of cleaning in all areas.  Staff and students have also been advised to wash their hands frequently as this is believed to minimise the risk of infection.  We have no reported cases in school. 

Internal and external events

Some trip, visits and externally hosted events have been cancelled.  External visitors are following the protocol of their organisation and St Martin’s protocols when they arrive. 

As a school we are doing the following :

Cleaning

  • We have implemented a higher level of cleaning in all areas 
  • Extra care is taken on high touch areas such as door handles, push panels, taps, toilet flushes, handrails and table tops and antibacterial spray is being used for this 
  • We are using antibacterial wipes for keyboards and any other appliances that are regularly touched

Awareness

  • We have posters around the school highlighting the importance of handwashing and maintaining a high level basic personal hygiene
  • NHS posters on handwashing are on display in the lavatories
  • A poster and hand sanitiser is located in the reception 
  • Hand sanitisers are located in parts of the school
  • You will be aware that there is a shortage of hand sanitiser. We are being careful with the stock that we have. In the meantime, please ask your child to bring their own to school for their personal use.  

What you can do

  • Provide your child with hand sanitiser to use as appropriate. This is not a substitute for washing hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. However, sanitiser is a useful alternative where handwashing is not available
  • Provide your child with tissues to use when she sneezes and coughs
  • Remind your child about the importance of good basic personal hygiene
  • Ask your child not to share personal items, for example their mobile phone or headphones and not to share food items that have to be touched eg bags of snacks, such as crisps

The latest update from Public Health England can be found daily here. The Department for Education has launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

  • Phone: 0800 046 8687 
  • Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk 
  • Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)

As you will be aware there is talk of possibly closing schools. I will keep you updated but currently there are no plans as yet for wholesale school closures in any part of the UK. The Department for Education in England is advising all schools to stay open.  See also the link to BBC news. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-51835486  

We are looking at our contingency plan should the Government decide to close all schools.  We use Google Classroom where students can find resources and tasks for each of their subjects.

Personal hygiene is the most important way we can tackle COVID-19. Public Health England has a dedicated webpage with a range of posters and digital materials at: https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101-coronavirus-/resources Sign up is quick, free and means you will be alerted as more resources are made available. 

Preventing the spread of infection

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

The general principles to avoid the spread of infection are:

  • washing your hands often with soap and hot water, or using alcohol based sanitisers if handwashing facilities are not available. This is particularly important after taking public transport
  • covering your cough/sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin.  Catch it, Bin it, Kill it
  • students, staff and visitors should wash their hands:
    • before leaving home
    • on arrival at school
    • after using the toilet
    • after breaks and sporting activities
    • before food preparation
    • before eating any food, including snacks
    • before leaving school
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

A reminder of the symptoms to look out for: 

  • a cough  
  • a high temperature  
  • shortness of breath 

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu. If you are worried about your symptoms or those of a child or colleague, you should remain at home and call the NHS dedicated helpline - 111.

We understand that these are concerning times, and we will continue to answer questions as best we can from anxious families.  There is no reason why your child should not continue to attend school as normal, however, should your child exhibit any of the signs above, the best course of action is for them to remain at home and follow the NHS guidance.  Please let us know should this be the case. 

For more information please check the UK government response here.  You can also sign up for daily email updates on this page.


Posted 25 February 2020

We have been continuously receiving guidance from the Lambeth Local Authority regarding the recent outbreak of the coronavirus. 

The coronavirus continues to dominate the news and we are mindful of this in school. We have reminded students about the importance of applying those basic hygiene rules that are common to our daily practices, most importantly, regular hand washing.  As this is a rapidly changing situation, the most up to date information can be found here.  This website is updated daily so you can check in for the latest information. Below are some additional links:

Can we take this opportunity to remind you of the things the people can do to help stop germs like coronavirus from spreading such as ‘Catch It’, ’Bin It’, Kill It’.

  • Catch It: always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough of sneeze

  • Bin It: bin the tissue

  • Kill it: wash your hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel  

We encourage you to ensure that your child is up to date with their vaccinations against other vaccine preventable diseases (especially the MMR vaccine which protects against measles). You can contact your GP if you are unsure about your child’s vaccination history. 

You should not be unduly worried about the possibility of your child contracting the coronavirus. Furthermore, there is no reason why your child should not continue to attend school as normal.