School closure newsletter #5

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Welcome to our latest ‘school closure newsletter’. I hope that you and your family members have been managing to remain fit and healthy over the last few weeks.

School re-openings

As you will no doubt now be aware, the government has signalled that it would like secondary schools to introduce some ‘face-to-face support’ for students in Year 10 and 12 from 15 June at the earliest. However, its guidance goes to say that the numbers of students attending from each year group at any one time should be limited to a quarter of the cohort. We are finalising plans for what form this ‘face- to-face’ support will take for both year groups, carrying out risk assessments and consulting with staff. We hope to be in a position to share these plans with students and parents later in the week.

There are no plans nationally at the moment for students in Years 7, 8 or 9 to return to school sites before the summer holidays and therefore the online or ‘remote’ learning that we have been posting will continue to form the basis of their education for the rest of this academic year.

Remote learning

Thank you to the over 200 students and, separately, 200 parents who responded to our recent surveys about online learning. The feedback was overwhelming positive and constructive, and has really helped us plan for this next stage of school closure. The main suggestions that we received and feel we can act on from June 8 include:

  • posting all of the work for the coming week by Monday morning to allow students and parents to plan their week in advance
  • reducing the number of individual subjects that students need to concentrate on each week;
  • giving individual feedback on work more regularly
  • building in planned opportunities for students to ask questions or for assistance between the work being set and its submission deadline
  • limiting the number of emails received during the week. In response, from Monday 8 June:

Year 7 students will receive work for 7 subjects each week:

  • English, maths, science, French or German
  • one of the creative arts (art, drama, music)
  • one of the technology subjects (food, design, ICT)
  • one of the humanities subjects (geography, history, RS).

The creative, technology and humanities subjects will cycle around each other every 3 weeks.

Year 8 students will receive work for:

  • English, maths, science, French or German each week
  • RS every fortnight
  • their 4 other ‘Year 9 Choices’ every fortnight.

Year 9 students will receive work for

  • English, maths, science each week
  • RS every fortnight
  • their 4 ‘Year 10 GCSE Options’ each fortnight.

We are writing to students in Years 8 and 9 and their parents this week to inform them of the Choices and Options they have been allocated as they move into Years 9 and 10 respectively in September.

Year 10 students will receive work for

  • English, maths, science each week
  • their 4 ‘GCSE Options’ each fortnight.

Year 12 students will continue to receive work regularly at a frequency determined by their subject teacher(s). However, from June 8 they will follow a timetable of streamed lessons each morning, one per day, with a follow-up progress check/seminar two afternoons later.

Many respondents to our surveys stated that they’d like to see more online, streamed lessons taking place. For the larger classes in Years 7-10 this presents us with a number of practical problems but from June 8 we are aiming to use teacher voiceovers and videos much more regularly to better explain some of the content students will be working on in the coming week. Streamed lessons and seminars have started in the sixth form and will become a more regular feature over the coming weeks, continuing alongside any re-opening of the Whitby Sixth Form site. The sixth form team will continue to be in regular contact with students in Year 12 about academic and welfare issues as they arise.

As you can see from above, we are limiting the number of subjects each student has to concentrate on each week, and introduced fortnightly deadlines for non-core subjects in Years 8-10.

We are trying to limit the number of emails teachers send out each week, but parents need to be aware that postings into the Google Classrooms automatically generate emails sent out to the student members of these classrooms – it’s not teachers sitting at home prolifically penning individual emails all evening!

Mrs Harrison, Mrs Gordon and their colleagues will continue to monitor work completion on a fortnightly basis and contact home to offer support if and when they feel it might be needed. We also want to improve the way in which they recognise the effort and achievements of our students. Watch out for more postcards being sent home and for Hot Chocolate Friday making a virtual reappearance!

Once again thank you for your engagement in our surveys. I’m sure that our provision moving forward will be all the better for the suggestions you have made.

Provision for the children of key workers and vulnerable children

We are continuing to provide daily provision on the Normanby site for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, in partnership with colleagues from Eskdale School. If your child falls within one of these categories and needs to access this provision, please contact us at

Distributing face visors

Students at Whitby Sixth Form benefit from partnerships we have developed in recent years with a number of universities around the country. We’re grateful for the support they offer at different key times in the year. It was therefore a pleasure to be able to respond to a request from the University of Hull who asked for our help in distributing 1000 face visors that they manufactured following a fundraising appeal. Jess Jones, Hannah Robinson and Amelia Braim from Year 13, together with our KS5 Director of Learning, Mrs Verrill, recently delivered these visors to a number of local care homes and other health settings. All 3 girls have just completed their two-year Health & Social Care course with Mrs Verrill and Mrs Gordon, and are progressing onto university in the autumn – Jess and Hannah to study nursing and Amelia to study primary education.

PPE Distribution Team

And finally…

In the last newsletter I featured some of the fantastic art work students had produced at home in recent weeks. They’ve obviously been cooking too! Below is a selection of some of the creations cooked up over the last couple of months. Thank you to Mrs Carter and her colleagues for sharing these photos and well done to all of the students involved. Based on my own parental experience, I hope that our students’ washing-up and tidying away skills have also been improving!

Lockdown Baking 2 June 2020

Thank you for all of your continuing support.

Yours faithfully

Simon Riley

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