Dear Parent/Carer

I did feel it important to give you an update on our planning in college to address the challenges presented by the spread of Coronavirus. We receive daily updates from the Department for Education (DfE) and Public Health England and speak regularly with Health and Safety Officers within The GORSE Academies Trust to ensure that we have available to us the most up to date and accurate information. It is this information that we are using to ensure that we have in place appropriate contingency plans for a range of situations. The current advice is that we continue to operate the college as normal.

We are, however, reaffirming the government advice about hand washing and making sure that toilet areas are stocked with appropriate soaps and hand wash. Cleaning staff have been deployed to increase the cleaning of all touch-surfaces such as door handles. We do have several overnight trips planned for the next weeks, both within the UK and abroad, we continue to monitor the advice and guidance on the suitability of these activities. All college trips and visits are being assessed on a trip by trip basis and it is possible that difficult decisions about cancellations may take place. We will obviously communicate any decisions to students and parents as soon as practicable.

The college leadership team are also planning for a range of different potential scenarios. These include partial closure of the college to limit the number of students in the building or to accommodate high levels of staff absence. Potentially, the closure of the whole college for a limited period is a possibility. In planning we will ensure that we prioritise the needs of students in Year 12 or 13 who are about to sit external examinations. At the present time it is not possible to attach a probability to any of these potential scenarios.

In the event of a closure of the college we are completing plans to issue work to students electronically. One way we are preparing; is to ensure that work is easily available for any students who are absent, for whatever reason. From Monday 23 March, if a student is absent they will be able to find the work for that week on Moodle, which students can access online. Students should catch up with this work as soon as they are able. This will also be the way in which we provide work in the event of a partial or complete closure of college. If we are able to open the college to a limited number of students, we will prioritise those about to sit external examinations. This will also be the case if the college can only operate a limited service due to high staff absence.

As we will communicate via email it is important that all parents/carers and students ensure that we hold your current email address and that it is checked with some frequency. We will share more detailed plans with students in their tutorial lessons during week commencing Monday 16 March, it is very important that students attend these sessions. In the event of closure, students will need access to the internet at home and also a device, such as a laptop, upon which they can work. If this does present an issue, then please contact the Head of Alliance of your son/daughter to see what assistance or support we can offer.

Heads of Alliance can be contacted on the emails below:

Year 12 Earhart and Hawking – Mrs McHale [email protected]

Year 12 Luther King and Yousafzai – Mrs Dean [email protected]

Year 13 Earhart and Hawking – Mr Ellis [email protected]

Year 13 Luther King and Yousafzai – Miss Naylor [email protected]

The current advice from the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is to continue to prepare for examinations and other assessments as normal. As would be expected, Ofqual is working with the DfE and the exam boards and are also planning for a range of scenarios. Their overriding priorities are fairness to students and keeping disruption to a minimum.

During this time, we ask that you continue to follow the college procedures for absence and ask all students to continue with their studies as normal. If you do have any concern about suspected Coronavirus please do contact the college reception or email the college at [email protected].

I share the basics of our plans with you in a spirit of openness and transparency but hope that you understand that this is an unprecedented situation and I am sure that things will change and we will need to respond accordingly to the evolving story.

Yours faithfully

David Holtham