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Secondary Start-of-Term Arrangements

Posted: August 7, 2020

Welcome to the new academic year! I trust that you have all enjoyed a relaxing and enjoyable summer despite the unusual and challenging circumstances that we have found ourselves in.

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been discussing how we can build on successes from our previous class suspension and also use these experiences to improve our provision during this next period of class suspension.

Our main thinking points have been:

  • Maintaining a structured approach to the school day using Zoom based lessons.
  • Ensuring that we continue with our commitment to delivering each of the MYP, DP and CP subject courses.
  • Delivering our planned curriculum in a way that is appropriate for the online format and enables progression of learning for all students.
  • Assessing learning in a way that is manageable and meaningful.
    Providing further opportunities for interaction and feedback within lessons.
  • Enabling MYP students to complete work within lesson time.
  • Creating a balanced approach to learning that takes into account wellbeing considerations.
  • Emphasising the importance of relationship and community building, particularly at the start of the year.
  • Adopting an approach that is sustainable for both full class suspension and when we start the phased return to school.

The outcome of these discussions, which have included student voice and consultation with a range of staff, is that we will start the academic year with an adapted timetable that we believe will enhance student learning in the online format. The key points of this are:

Starting each day with a 20 minute Learning Team block – this will provide opportunities for students to connect with their learning advisors and peers, organise their learning for the day, build relationships and engage in wellbeing strategies and discussions.

3 x 100 minute lessons per day – this is a change from our previous online model of 6×45 minute lessons per day. The key intention of this change is to reduce the cognitive load of switching between Zoom lessons and take into account that completing activities online does tend to take longer. This approach will also provide further opportunity for a variety of activities, greater interactivity with the teacher, more opportunity for feedback and the scope for completing work by the end of the lesson. 

The timetable will operate on a 5 day rotation.

  • Year 10 and Year 11 students will also have a non-contact block within their timetable. This will provide opportunities to complete any work and also make progress on other aspects of the curriculum such as Community Engagement and the Personal Project.
  • Year 12 and 13 students will continue to have non-contact lessons that will enable them to work independently to complete key components of the course.

Zoom links will continue to be shared with students to enable access to each lesson.

So, the structure of the school day will look like this:

Students will be able to see their updated timetables via Gateway, Ding! and the ESF App – please note, we are still fine tuning some aspects of the timetable and I would encourage students to check their timetables again on Tuesday 11 August 2020.

Please note that the timings for Lunch and Block 3 may change when classes start to resume onsite. Furthermore, once classes fully resume onsite our current plan is to revert to our usual timetable of 6×55 minute lessons on a 10 day rotation. Information regarding this will be shared in a timely manner.

Start of Term Arrangements – Wednesday 12 August:

  • This will be DAY 3 on our rotation.
  • Students will have an extended Learning Team time from 8.25 to 9.30am, which will include a year group assembly.
  • This will lead to a shortened Block 1 from 9.40 to 10.30am.
  • The rest of the day will follow the usual schedule.

I strongly believe that this approach will enrich the experience of all Secondary students and enable us to respond effectively to the thinking points outlined earlier in this email. I do recognise that any change may take time to embed and will involve a process of adaptation. However, please be assured that our staff have been highly engaged in modifying approaches to curriculum, assessment and lesson delivery in order to maximise outcomes for students. This work will continue on Monday and Tuesday during our staff training days, as well as through ongoing staff collaboration.

Next week, I will be in contact to provide further information regarding expectations of students during online learning, attendance and other key information that will ensure a successful start to term. 

I hope that this information proves useful and, as ever, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would like further clarification.
In the meantime, I hope you and your family the last few days of the school holidays and I am sure your child will enjoy a successful start to the academic year.

Mark Poulsum
Head of Secondary