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    Message from the Principal

    Mr J Taylor, Headteacher
    Mr J Taylor
    Principal

    Dear Parent / Carer,

    Although  the  school  has  remained  physically  closed during  this  coronavirus  outbreak,  for  all  except  the most vulnerable students and for those whose parents are     keyworkers     and    for     whom    no    alternative arrangements could be put in place, the staff have been endeavouring to support  students as much as possible through  the  remote  learning  opportunity  provided  by ‘Show My Homework’.

     ‘Show My Homework’ (SMHW) – Satchel One

    All  of  our  students  have  been  using   SMHW  (Satchel One)  on  a  weekly  basis  since  September  to  complete their  homework  and  therefore  it  is  familiar  to  them. SMHW is an online and mobile app where students can receive  resources,  activities  and  messages  and  which parents  can  also  access.  Students/Parents  are  able  to message  teachers  directly  within  the  app  if  they  have any    work-related    questions.    Teachers    are    setting lessons   and   activities   in   line   with   students’   usual timetables  and  this  should  allow  students  to  follow their  normal  timetable  at  home.  This  will  also  include tutor  time  activities  around  'Character  Education'  and 'Votes for Schools'. Students should access SMHW on a daily  basis.  Hard  copy  packs  of  work  are  available  via Reception, if students don't have Internet access.

    It's been great to hear how so many students have been completing  the  activities  set,  but  please  don't  worry  if not  everything  is  completed.  We  do  appreciate  the competing pressures at home at the moment, on both time and resources. This situation has, of course, been unique   to   us   all   and   we   continue   to   refine   our approach. Based on feedback received so far, we have changed   the   tasks   so   that   they   don't   require   a submission  date.  Students  can  send  in  work  via  the digital  drop  box  and  –  just  a  reminder  –  there  is  a messaging   service   within   SMHW   so   students   and parents  can  message  teachers  directly.  Please  see  our website for additional email addresses that you can use to  contact  different  staff  and  departments  regarding any   specific   queries.   We   are   also   posting   regular updates  from  staff  on  social  media  to  give  students extra challenges to keep them engaged and motivated each   week.   Thank   you   for   your   ongoing   support through these testing times.

    I am very pleased to report that, for example, 87.2% of all Year 9 students used SMHW last week,   89.6% of all Year  10  students  and  91.3%  of  Year  12  students.  Of course, both Year 12 and Year 10 students continue to prepare for external exams in the summer of 2021. The average  use  across  all  year  groups  is  85.3%.  Academic and  Pastoral  Year  Leaders  are  contacting  home  for students  in  all  year  groups  where  work  is  not  being accessed  on  a  regular  basis.  Alternative  arrangements have  been  made  for  Year  13  and  Year  11  students, where taught courses have been completed. In Year 13, we have made available packs of material for students for   them   to   pursue   their   chosen   course   /   subject beyond  the  sixth  form  and,  for  Year  11,  materials  in subjects  they  might  wish  to  pursue  in  Year  12.  I  am delighted to report that these are proving very popular with    students,   and    the    academy    has    shared    its resources with other schools across the Trust and South Yorkshire.

    Free School Meals

    Since the Easter holiday, parents of students entitled to a   free   school   meal   have   been   eligible   for   a   £15 electronic  voucher  per  week.  The  intention  is to  email this to parents by the middle of each week. If you wish to   check   or   update   your   email   address   with   the Academy, please send an email with the subject of ‘FSM Voucher’    along    with    your    ‘child’s    name(s)’    to: enquiries@wathacademy.com.  Your  email  address  will then   be   updated.   Last   week,   250   vouchers   were emailed  out  to  parents  and  a  further  16  sent  through the  post.  The  vouchers  can  be  redeemed  for  food  in many of the local supermarkets, including Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Aldi.

    If you receive any of the following you may qualify for Free School Meals: Income Support; Employment Support Allowance (Income Related); Income based Job Seekers Allowance; Guaranteed Pension Credit; Child Tax Credit and your annual income (as calculated by Inland Revenue) is less than £16,190; Universal Credit; Support under Part VI of the Immigration & Asylum Act of 1999; working in the Armed Forces. Please do contact the school if you would like a copy of the application form.

    Hegarty Maths

    Hegarty Maths is a vehicle that the Mathematics Faculty use to provide practice in answering Maths questions. Last week saw students making great advances in their use of this opportunity. We have sailed past the 550,000 questions mark for this academic year, answering a total of 39,571 questions last week. This placed us in the top 3% of all the 1,664 Hegarty schools. Half of all students accessed Hegarty Maths during the course of last week.

    National Share a Story Month

    Calling all Year 7 and Year 8 students: this month is ‘National Share A Story Month’ and The Federation of Children’s Book Groups has launched a story competition for all 9-12 year olds, to win the opportunity for them and their classmates to meet a successful author. The theme for the story must be ‘travelling tales’; it must involve any sort of travel, from the usual trains, boats and planes, to journeys through time and space. The story must also mention a home in some form – this could be their own home, or an imaginary home of a different person or creature. Stories may be written as prose or poetry, but mustn’t exceed more than 500 words. The closing date is 30 June 2020 and all entries must be e-mailed to nssm@fcbg.org.uk. More information is available at fcbg.org.uk/national-share-a-story-month.

    Information on the Cancellation of the 2020 External Examinations for Year 11 and Year 13 Students

    The government has cancelled all of this summer’s external exams. Instead, the Department for Education has outlined that students will be awarded a calculated grade. This means ensuring GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. Ofqual is working with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students.

    To produce this grade, schools will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on trial/mock/preliminary exams and non-exam assessment. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student in each subject, which will be a best assessment of the work students have put in.

    In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in previous years. Ofqual will also aim to ensure that the distribution of grades follows a similar pattern to that in other years, so that this year’s students do not face a systematic disadvantage as a consequence of these extraordinary circumstances.

    The government has further announced that they recognise that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they haven’t been able to sit their exams and therefore may be able to appeal the grade the exam board awards. In addition, if students do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools are open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.

    There is a very wide range of different academic, vocational and technical qualifications for which students were expecting to sit exams this summer. These are offered by a large number of awarding organisations and have differing assessment approaches – in some cases students will already have completed modules or non-exam assessment which could provide evidence to award a grade. The government is encouraging these organisations to show the maximum possible flexibility and pragmatism to ensure students are not disadvantaged.

    Year 11 Prom & Year 13 Summer Ball

    Although the initial bookings for these events had to be cancelled because of the continued uncertainty over when social distancing measures might be relaxed, please be aware that we have every intention of celebrating with our two respective ‘leaving’ year groups, who will be finishing their latest key stage with us, as soon as we possibly can.

    Appointment of New Principal

    As I have previously advised, I am retiring at the end of this academic year. I am delighted to advise that, following a rigorous interview process, Mr Liam Ransome has been appointed as the new Principal of Wath Academy from 1 September 2020. Mr Ransome comes with a wealth of experience from his role as Vice Principal at Kingswood Academy in Hull. He was part of a senior leadership team that led Kingswood from Ofsted ‘Special Measures’ to ‘Good’, seeing it become one of the highest performing schools in the country. Mr Ransome will be communicating with parents over the summer, as his start date approaches. Of course Mr Jackson will also continue to support the school in his role as Executive Principal.

    School Gateway

    I have recently written to you about the launch of a new smartphone school–parent communication application (app) called School Gateway, which will become a central hub for our school-home communication. Once you have access to the app, you will be able to

    • receive messages in a similar manner to WhatsApp
    • see your child’s timetable
    • see the contact information we hold about you and notify us if that information is incorrect
    • access key links and online services such as Show My Homework, ParentPay and the School Calendar
    • access your child’s reports.

    The School Gateway app will work on Apple and Android devices. It is also accessible through a web browser on tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

    However, initially, we need to check that the data we hold regarding students and contacts is up-to-date. This is important under General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) but will also ensure that the roll-out of School Gateway goes smoothly. It is important please that the form that was enclosed with the earlier letter is completed accurately and returned to school in the stamped addressed envelope provided. Thank you for the large number of returns already received.
    Once we have checked our records are up-to-date, we can send out further instructions on how to register for School Gateway.

    Supporting Mental Health & Wellbeing

    This is an unsettling time for all members of our community, but you may be additionally worried about your child's mental health and emotional wellbeing. If you are concerned about your child, you can receive an initial telephone call to discuss your concerns further; please email the academy, stating ‘Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Support’ in the subject line. If you have any other concerns about your child, please contact the academy directly using one of the following e-mail addresses:

    We will continue to work with executive leaders across Maltby Learning Trust, the Local Authority and with national government guidance as to when it might be possible for any groups of students to physically start to return to school. This will of course only start to happen once we have the instruction from government to do so and that it will be safe for both students and staff, and of course for students then returning home again to their family setting.

    Thank you for your continuing support at this hugely challenging time. We really do appreciate your efforts in supporting the continued learning of students at home while the current arrangements remain in place.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mr J Taylor
    Principal