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Whole School Letter - 07/01/2021

Our Ref: FCG/SJM

7 January 2021

Dear Parent/Carer

I am writing to wish you a Happy New Year as well as writing to update you about a number of matters in the Academy.

National lockdown

You will by now be aware that we are in a further national lockdown and that, regrettably, the Academy is closed to most students until we receive further guidance from the government. Currently, the Academy is only open for vulnerable children and the children of critical key workers. If you feel that your child is in either of these categories and you would like them to access the provision in the Academy, please contact us by telephone or by emailing enquiries@somercotesacademy.co.uk to confirm this.

All other students are learning remotely from home. Students are following their timetables and accessing lessons through Microsoft Teams. Can I thank you for your support with this process? We have been very impressed with the students' engagement in their lessons. If you do have technical problems with accessing the lessons, please contact us.

Expectations and Safeguarding for Remote Learning

While most of students are working from home, safeguarding remains our priority and remote learning has brought about new challenges to enable the Academy to continue to keep the students safe. Therefore, we ask that you support the Academy by encouraging you child to adhere to some simple guidelines whilst working online.

Whilst any student is accessing a virtual lesson through Microsoft Teams we would like the students to keep the cameras turned off on their devices unless invited to switch them on by the member of staff delivering the lesson. We also request that students mute their microphones until invited to speak by their teacher. For the purpose of keeping all students and staff safe from harm, we do not allow students to take photographs of each other whilst in the Academy and therefore ask the same of the students whilst working remotely from home. If students are known to be taking screenshots of members of staff or students whilst working remotely, they will be serious sanctions on the students' return to the Academy.

The expectation of students' behaviour during the online lessons is exactly the same as in normal face-to-face classroom lessons within the Academy. If there are any safeguarding concerns that you or your child have ordinarily reported to the Academy, please do so via the telephone or by emailing the enquiries address.

If your child is unwell and unable to attend online lessons, please report this to the Academy as you would when usually reporting your child's absence from the Academy.

Pastoral support during the lockdown

At 9.00am every morning, students working in the Academy and at home will be part of a Teams tutor time. In this session, the form tutor will ensure that students are ready to start learning for the day and deal with any concerns. Regular assemblies and the Friday quiz will also be run in this slot. Please encourage your child to be on Teams at this time in order to participate in these activities.

During the lockdown period, the pastoral team will also be available by telephone to support students and families. If you would like to receive a call from a member of the pastoral team please call or email the Academy.

Transport to the Academy

Transport is still available for those students attending Somercotes Academy who are normally entitled to education transport but this should only be used if absolutely necessary to reduce interactions between pupils. Lincolnshire school transport will run as normal this week but parents MUST inform the Council by Wednesday 13th January 2021 if their child still needs to use education transport from Friday 15th January 2021 onwards. Parents should complete the Request school transport form on the Academy website. If at any time during the current lockdown your child starts to attend the Academy again and they need their usual education transport, parents should complete the Request school transport form. Parents of students travelling on the TMAT routes from Louth/Manby/Grimoldby and Holton-le-Clay (PC Coaches) do not need to complete this form but should inform the Academy of any changes to their transport needs.

Free School Meals

If your child is entitled to a free school meal, a weekly pack can be requested through the Academy and collected from either the kitchen door at the Academy between 10.30am and 12.30pm every Wednesday or from Mablethorpe Co-op carpark at 12.30 on a Tuesday. If you would like to collect your pack from Mablethorpe, please let us know so that we can ensure that enough packs are available.

Somercotes Academy Foodbank

For the month of January, the Academy will continue to have a food bank in the reception area. Please help yourself or contact the Academy if you would like to use it. Donations will continue to be gratefully accepted at the Academy reception or Pupil Office.

Asymptomatic Lateral Flow Testing

Following my previous letter, we have been working to establish the Lateral Flow Testing Programme in the Academy. Thank you to all of those parents who have already completed the online consent form for this testing. However, since we made the initial request for this to be completed, the government has updated the information required as part of the consent form. An updated consent form along with the full terms of consent and a privacy statement are now available on the Academy website. The updated form must be completed for all students. If you completed the form before 5 January, this means that, unfortunately, I need to ask you to complete the new form. The advantage of this updated form is that it collects information which will enable you to receive text and email confirmation of your child's test result. Participation in testing is voluntary and active consent is required. I would encourage all parents and carers who wish their children to participate in testing to complete the form so that when we do get permission to re-open the Academy fully, we are in the best position to do this safely and quickly. We plan to commence the testing of children of critical workers and vulnerable students next week.

Year 11 Examinations

You will be aware that the government has now said that GCSE exams have been cancelled this year. Next week's iMedia exam will also not take place at Somercotes Academy. We understand that this will be of considerable concern to our Year 11 students and we have spoken to them to reassure them about this today. As soon as we have more information about how students will be assessed, we will share this. It is important, at this stage, that Year 11 students continue to engage in their lessons and complete work to the best of their ability as this will contribute towards the evidence base that forms the Academy's teacher assessments.

Mobile Data Increases

We are able to request mobile data increases for students who:

  • Do not have fixed broadband at home
  • Cannot afford additional data for their devices
  • Are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education

Students with access to a mobile phone on any of the following networks may be able to benefit: Three, Smarty, Virgin Mobile (offer not on Pay-as-you-go), EE, Tesco mobile (offer not on Pay-as-you-go) and Sky Mobile (offer not on Pay-as-you-go). If you wish to request a mobile data increase, please email the enquiries address stating: your child's name, the name of the mobile phone account holder, the mobile phone number, your mobile network and whether you pay monthly or Pay-as-you-go? Some networks have limits on the number of data increases they will offer. A privacy statement relating to the sharing of this data can be read at get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/guide-to-collecting-mobile-information/privacy/.

Finally, can I reiterate again my thanks to you in all that you are doing to support your child's education and wellbeing. If you have any questions or need further support, please do not hesitate to get in touch via our email address enquiries@somercotesacademy.co.uk or by telephone on 01507 353459.

Yours faithfully

Mrs F Green

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Somercotes Academy Principal

Frances Green