This update explores:
- Covid-19 – update on expectations around testing and isolation since the Government announcement on Feb 24th
- Our Noadswood family culture
- Supporting children and young people with questions and/or anxiety around world events
- Partnerships with local schools
- Reading at Noadswood including World Book Day – Thursday March 3rd
- Year 11
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope that the students have enjoyed the half term break, and that you have all had a good weekend together, in these ongoingly difficult times in our world.
Covid-19 – update on expectations around testing and isolation
Lateral Flow Testing:
As many of you will know, since February 24th, the government has removed the guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to take twice-weekly asymptomatic testing.
So, shall we test tonight (Sunday) and on Wednesday as we have been doing?
If you have test kits at home, and you feel able to ask your children to test this evening (Sunday) and on Wednesday evening, as we have been doing, especially if they have any virus-type symptoms, we would be grateful. The guidance has changed, but you may feel able to support this in the name of as many people as possible staying well as possible as we come back together.
We will let you know as to whether we will receive any further batches of test kits to the school and issue them if we do. Beyond that, and moving forwards, all colleagues and students will be able to access test kits from a local pharmacy or online as required.
What do I do if my child has symptoms that I think may be Covid-19 in the future?
Anyone with symptoms – continuous cough, high temperature, loss of taste or smell, but also significant cold/virus symptoms - should take a PCR test, stay at home and follow government guidance if the test outcome is positive.
At present, that guidance advises us to stay at home for five full days and then receive two negative test results on consecutive days before returning to their setting.
Colleagues and students who test positive in this way should use any Lateral Flow Test kits they already have at home to undertake testing on days five and six, before returning to school if they test negative on those days 5 and 6, or when they get two neg tests between days 6 and 10 if not.
Once we all run out of Lateral Flow Tests, we are all asked in the guidance to order additional test kits online via gov.uk.
Lateral Flow testing more widely could be reintroduced if there is a local outbreak but we would first be advised by Hampshire Public Health if this was deemed to be the case.
I had heard that people do not have to self-isolate after a positive test anymore?
The government has indeed removed the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test. However, adults and children who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least five full days, and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received two negative test results on consecutive days as described above.
As a school, we are therefore still likewise advising that anyone who tests positive should self-isolate and should not come into school. If that applies to your child, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org as always. We don’t think any of us would feel comfortable with someone we know has tested positive being in school with our whole community, and we hope we will retain your support for this advice.
What about contact tracing?
Routine contact tracing will end. Fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 will no longer be asked to test daily for seven days and close contacts who are not fully vaccinated will no longer be required to self-isolate.
Will other Control Measures remain?
Obviously, we know that Covid-19 has not disappeared and we are instead living alongside the virus. With this in mind, we still have to have some protective measures in place at school to reduce any chance of an outbreak. As you know, throughout the pandemic we have tried our best to keep our students and staff safe and the school open; thanks to your support, your information and your questions, we have been able to manage things well as a whole community.
We will now recommit to these control measures that we are all familiar with:
- Good hygiene for everyone - Everyone should be cleaning their hands regularly and ensuring they sneeze or cough into a tissue or elbow.
- Appropriate cleaning regimes as per our published cleaning plan
- The best possible ventilation we have in school and encouraging as many people as possible to spend social times outside on all decent days. Hopefully there are more of them to come! We will also be exploring acquiring air cleaning units in advance of next winter’s virus seasons.
If you want to read more from the guidance, it’s here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
And if you have any questions, you know where we are at email@example.com
Our Noadswood family culture:
One joy for me is the prospect of being back with your children and my colleagues tomorrow, continuing to enjoy their company, and to take pleasure in all their successes and kindnesses. You’ll have seen from our socials how much incredible work the youngsters were doing before the break, how many creative, enjoyable things they were doing and were proud for us to showcase. The kindness, the leadership and the challenge from some of them, enabling our school to hit more and more objectives that are important to them and us also blew me away, regularly. I will have more to share with you about this later in March.
I enjoyed delivering assemblies with each year group the penultimate week before the break in which I shared with them some fantastic stats they should be so proud of about the numbers of them who have not had one single demerit, about anything at all, since September which go into the 80s in terms of percentages for all year groups. I reminded them how very many of them uphold the values and the behaviours you and we all know make a school a happy, safe place for them all.
I went on then to remind them of our key expectations for our happy, safe environment in which to learn brilliantly well and enjoy themselves – we were really pleased with the outcomes of our recent surveys that conveyed so much to be proud of about our school thanks to your children and all my colleagues (we’ll devote a separate letter to this very soon including a You said, We will do table).
But we also know from some of your survey returns, and the students’, not to mention my own day to day experience with them, that a minority of them aren’t making it easy enough, consistently, for other people to feel relaxed, happy and safe right across our site or on their phones. It is all too easy for some of them to make comments to one another, or do something they think is funny but isn’t to others, in person or online, that damage an otherwise good day. This isn’t something to be swept under the rug, despite how incredible so much of what goes on at Noadswood is, day by day.
The writer and school behaviour/culture expert, Dr Andy Cope wrote just before the break about the two most important things in life being ‘children and happiness, and that when the world’s doing its worst, it’s even more important that we give of our best.’ He goes on to talk about the impact of the pandemic on attitudes, behaviour and motivation on young people and how much tougher it is now for young people (and us!) ‘to raise our personal bar to our best and to make it stick.’
We want to pledge afresh to bouncing forward even stronger. We’re pledging to make every day about kindness, about respect, about focusing on regulating ourselves so that others aren’t bothered by other people CONSISTENTLY as opposed to nearly all of the time, as now. We’re pledging to focus on the quality of our relationships – all of our relationships – between adults and young people, and young people with each other, remembering how good we all feel, when excellent relationships are in place, and how the reverse is the case when things are more fractious.
And we’re pledging to look afresh at other important cultural matters, such as uniform and how everyone spends time at breaks and lunches – more to follow soon on this from Mr Rowling, who’s been consulting with students and colleagues alike about all this. Perhaps you’d like to add your voice to this work beyond the survey we’ve recently put out? If so, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: school culture and we will pass it to Mr Rowling.
As we enter a new half term, it’s important for me to restate that if your child is affected by someone else, and you feel the school has not yet got things to the point when your child feels happy and things are resolved, make sure you contact any member of my team, and in particular:
Helen Loveday, Assistant Headteacher and our Designated Safeguarding Lead at email@example.com
Dan Rowling, Assistant Headteacher at firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew Hewitt, Deputy Headteacher at email@example.com
They will be able to intervene swiftly to help. They will also loop me in immediately, and they can decide together on next steps with you. I will also then be available to become directly involved, if you remain concerned. It’s our absolute responsibility to keep working with you until things are right, no matter how bumpy this gets along the way. The child is at the centre of things, and we have a duty to keep them there, no matter what. If it is still not right for your child, then things are not right as a school – we all matter.
If you are experiencing tough times at home with your child(ren)’s behaviour and attitude at home, there is a workshop on March 8th that you might benefit from, led by Lorraine Lee, a Professional Parenting Practitioner with over 16 years' experience in Hampshire Schools. This is a one-hour workshop providing the tools and strategies that will help parents/carers to put in boundaries and have appropriate responses to persistent challenging behaviour:
Supporting children and young people with questions and/or anxiety around world events:
Over the past few days, we have been discussing together how best to offer information of context and useful answers to questions the students may have about the current crisis in the Ukraine through the appropriate curriculum areas (more to follow on that). Be assured this will be done with sensitivity and without an over emphasis or a skew that would raise concerns – school needs to be a place that provides contextual information that the children need, but also one that has a consistent usual experience to keep our collective minds on everything else in life, we know.
If your child(ren) are experiencing particular anxiety, it’s useful to remember the following, that’s sound thinking for us all:
We also have plenty of support available in school. If you would like specific support for your child, please do reach out to Helen Loveday at firstname.lastname@example.org or to your child’s tutor or year leader team or to our ELSA, Sarah Harwood on ePraise or at email@example.com. We will be able to point your child(ren) to someone they can talk to, and talking all of this through when we need to is some of the best advice of all.
Perhaps you have some expertise through your working lives that could provide some information or support to our children at this time? If so, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words, Support for children, in the subject line and one of us will be in touch.
Partnerships with local schools:
Despite Storm Eunice’s best efforts on Friday 18th February, Noadswood colleagues had a terrific day of learning together as staff teams with colleagues from a whole range of other local schools, many of whom helped us no end with the organising of the event. Particular thanks are due to Eddie Rollett, Assistant Headteacher, for all of her hard work in pulling together a superb array of nationally renowned speakers to work with us in the interests of all the children in the local area.
We believe passionately that we are stronger together than we are working by ourselves. Now, more than ever, we need to be able to lean on each other within and across the educational community, and now, more than ever, we need to recognise we have as much to learn from each other as we have to offer. All in the interests of our children across the Waterside. For those reasons, Noadswood’s Trust board (our Governors) are as keen as I am to explore opportunities to deepen partnerships with all of our local schools. These partnerships include ones that strengthen particular areas of school life, such as safeguarding, local traffic concerns, or progress in writing or reading between key stages, or ensuring a rich curriculum for all, to ones that could become more formal partnerships in the interests of the best opportunities for the children, you as parents and our staff.
You might well want to know more about these planned partnerships – Our Chair, Gary O’Flaherty, and I will be consulting you about it soon, but the best way for you to offer your views and have real input into this crucial work for our school is for you to become a school governor yourself. You can help drive the strategic direction of the school, ask your questions to us directly, hold us to account for hitting the objectives we set ourselves and understand deeply the challenges and opportunities we face. There are 6 meetings a year to attend of the full board and a further 5 for your chosen committee, but we are flexible and understanding when your own work and families mean you have to give apologies, and you always have the option to join all meetings via Teams, making it easy if you can attend one hour of a meeting or you need to arrive late/leave early.
It is your input and perspective we need. We would benefit HUGELY from new parent/carer voices on the board – if you are even a tiny bit interested in playing this part in your child’s school’s success, drop my PA, Berni Wyse, an email at email@example.com with the word Governor in the subject line and I will get in touch with you to tell you more. I can’t tell you how much we’d love to have you on the board.
Reading at Noadswood including World Book Day – Thursday March 3rd
We recognise the importance of reading on World Book Day and every other day, of course. It’s a skill that unlocks so many others throughout the curriculum for young people, not to mention the benefits to our imagination and our wellbeing.
We’d like to say well done to year 7 who have participated brilliantly in our Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) initiative, this involves 30 minutes of reading once per week. We’re delighted that this Monday during period 3 that year 8 will be joining us for DEAR- so don’t forget years 7 and 8 to pack your favourite book tonight.
We’re excited to be promoting all things reading this week, with our masked reader competition and several author visits this week and next. On World Book Day itself which is on Thursday 3rd March we’ll be asking all students to bring to school their favourite book, we’ll be extending tutor time by 15 minutes for a school wide DEAR event. We’ll also be welcoming local primary school pupils to Noadswood to “Build a Book in a Day” with our friend and award-winning author Stewart Ross, helped by our brilliant year 10s and Miss Harrison.
Whilst we won’t ask pupils to dress up, many of our Noadswood staff will be coming to school dressed as some great literary characters. We will be launching a competition to see if pupils can match the member of staff to the character and the book. Having fun with fiction is what it’s all about.
We know that many of our Year 11 students have been working hard this half term to prepare for their March mocks. It’s understandable that during this time your child might require additional support and feel anxious about the coming months. We’d like to signpost you to some links and upcoming events that they will find helpful. We’d also like to assure any Year 11 students, that even if revision has been slow to get started, it’s not too late- we’ve got lots of support on offer:
Below is the link to our GCSE support page, it has details of all revision classes and links to useful websites: https://www.noadswood.hants.sch.uk/school-life/gcse-support-20212022
All students now have access to our VESPA platform, this is a brilliant online resource where pupils can complete questionnaires to find out about how they revise with suggested activities and accompanying videos. These are designed to help with increasing effort, managing anxiety and creating effective systems for revision. They can be completed independently or with your child. Many of our local colleges use VESPA as it has all the tools to help develop a positive skill set to be successful at GCSE and beyond.
Mr Wooster is running weekly sessions on Wednesdays after school in the library. These are intensive revision sessions where Mr Wooster can give one to one support to your child and help create a bespoke revision plan for your child. If you think this would help your child please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We know that as the exams get closer, that understandably, anxiety levels can increase. Lorraine Lee will be running a session for year 11 on how to look after their mental well being as they prepare for their exams. Lorraine will also be running an online session for KS4 families, focused on how families can best support their children on their GCSE journey and beyond. More details to follow.
We are busy constructing Year 11 revision packs. These are full of all the stationery essentials that will help you with your revision. We’d like to thank Exxon for their donation to our school which has made it possible to create these. In the meantime, if you are in any year group at Noadswood and require help with stationery please do contact your year leader ans we’ll be able to assist with this.
If this letter prompts any questions or specific thoughts for you, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s tutor or year leader team, or any of us on our email addresses or on ePraise – we will be keen to hear your thoughts and ideas and to answer your questions. For Covid-19 matters only, it’s still email@example.com
Thank you for your continued support of our school and above all, your incredible support for your children – it’s a massive ingredient in the success of the school.
Kathryn Marshall and the Noadswood Leadership Team