Message from the 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
Mr J Taylor