The following update was sent out to parents on Thursday 15 July 2021:

There have been lots of developments relating to COVID that will impact on the new school year so we have looked to outline all we can at this point. Unfortunately, we have all learnt that you can never rule out last minute changes, but you can take solace that this should be my last COVID email until the end of August.


Staggered Return to School in September

Unfortunately, the recent Department for Education directives mean we will have to stage a staggered return to school. This is due to us being expected to test children twice on their return to school. This means the return dates will be drawn out and complicated so here goes:

Wednesday 1 September:

Sixth Form students only between 12.00pm-3.00pm to have an initial COVID test and then go home.

Thursday 2 September:

Sixth Form Students in between 2.00pm-3.00pm for an assembly.

New Year 7 students attend between 9.15am-3.05pm to have a transition day and to take a COVID test.

NB – a separate email will be sent out to new Year 7 parents by Lottie Hearn, Assistant Headteacher and Primary Transition Lead, with more details.

All Year 7 parents must agree to allow for their child to have a COVID test at school by filling in the following consent form by Thursday 12 August:

Naturally, this is a choice for parents – either a ’Yes’ or ‘No’ – but we are keen to avoid having to chase families up through the holiday so please help us out by meeting this deadline – whatever your answer.

Friday 3 September:

Year 10 and Year 11 students return to school for a normal day – they will be tested through the day.

Year 7 and Sixth Form students have a normal day in school.

Monday 6 September:

Year 8 and Year 9 students return to school for a normal day – they will be tested through the day.

All other students have a normal day in school.

Tuesday 7 September:

All students have a normal day in school.


COVID Changes for Autumn Term

The Department for Education have directed that we test all children twice on their return but most other COVID measures have been lifted for the September start of the Autumn Term.

This means that the following are no longer required:

* No staggered entries / exits

* No face masks – though for the Autumn Term we will permit them to be worn if a child / family feels particularly vulnerable.

* No Year group bubbles

* No isolations (unless you test positive)

* No school track and trace systems

It also means the following can return:

* House assemblies

* Extra-curricular clubs / events

* After-school library access for all

* After-school canteen provision

* School trips

* Full uniform everyday – so PE kit brought in bags and put on in changing rooms

More details can be seen here:


Retained COVID Measures from 2020-2021

They have been few and far between, but there is no doubt the COVID experience has brought us some benefits, and made us look at how we can run the school differently, so we will retain some of the measures moving forward for non-COVID reasons.

One-Way System:

We will retain the one-way system in the school. The students are very familiar with it and it makes movement around the school far more orderly.

Canteen Splits:

We will also retain the split lunches. The new system means that more children are getting food, more are getting a seat, and the entry / exit systems are much smoother. Even so, it does require children to plan what they buy and when they eat it.

The school’s roll has increased significantly in recent years and even with the canteen extension we cannot cater for the 1,200+ children in one sitting. The canteen would need to extend at least fourfold to give every child a seat. If we could give every child open access then we would – but we cannot.

Consequently, Year 10 and 11 will have access to the canteen at first break (11.05am-11.30am).

Alternatively, Years, 7, 8 and 9 will have access to the canteen at second break (12.30pm-1.05pm).

Our Sixth Formers can filter in for either break to allow for those with different lesson schedule to access food.

There will be additional sandwich room available for all Year groups although there will be no other ‘bubble’ restrictions.

We will also now open up the canteen service after-school again (3.05pm-3.30pm) for snacks as in pre-COVID times.

Hand Sanitiser:

We will look to retain hand sanitiser provision for the foreseeable future.

Certainly, the press are reporting that most all schools will be retaining some COVID measures for the long-term:

Testing Arrangements

We are looking to implement the following arrangements for COVID testing at the start of the new term and require your support. If we work together we can make sure the testing is secure and get the children back into school as quickly and safely as possible.

We will distribute testing kits to all children this week and would ask you to make sure your child takes a test in W/B 31 August before they return to school. If they are negative, send them in, and if they are positive, keep them home to isolate and follow the NHS advice:

We will then test the children twice in school after their arrival:

Wednesday 1 September – Sixth Form students only between 12.00pm-3.00pm – drop in for the COVID test whenever is convenient.

Thursday 2 September – Year 7 students tested through the school day.

Friday 3 September – Year 10 and Year 11 students tested through the school day.

Monday 6 September – Year 8 and Year 9 students tested through the school day.

We will then roll the students through for the rest of the week to take a second test.

As before, the tests will take place in the Sports Hall but your child should arrive on their set day and report to their tutor base and lessons. They will be directed to the sports hall when their testing slot comes up.

After the second test, your child will be given another testing kit and should test themselves with you at home 3-5 days after their last test with us. The government advice is that home testing should continue through September when it will then be reviewed.

This will mean that we have three test results on their return to school – 1 at home and 2 in school – and we can be more secure that the risk of students returning to school whilst COVID positive will be low.

We will presume consent for all children whose parents gave consent for COVID tests last time unless you email and tell us differently.

Alternatively, for the very small minority of parents who refused testing before, we will presume you are take the same stance unless you email us to say you now consent.

The in-school testing does not need a staggered arrival through the day as children no longer have to isolate if they sit near someone who later tests positive. This does make sense when you consider that recent figures showed around 650,000 children were off isolating although only 28,000 of them actually went on to test positive for COVID (less than 5%). Equally, the pre-school test will help to prevent infection coming into school and if every parent does their bit then everyone will be safe. This system allows us to get your child swiftly back to their desk

We are reliant on our testing volunteers again and it would be wrong not to acknowledge the amazing support they put in to help your and my children back into school.

If you wish to get hold of testing kits you can do so via local chemist or via the following website: Please be aware that there is likely to be a charge for home testing kits from August so we would advise you to stock up before the end of this month.


Summer Exams 2022

The Department for Education has organised a consultation on the exam arrangements for those children taking exams in Summer 2022.

You can take in part in this consultation by following this link:

It does seem likely that next year’s Year 11 and Year 13 students will get some advance notice on their exam topics but by adding your voice to the consultation you can influence the final decisions.

You can read more information about Exams 2022 here:


Virtual Parents Evenings

One of the other more positive aspects of the COVID for many parents have been the Virtual Parents Evening and you will be aware that we recently launched a consultation on whether we retain this system moving forward. This consultation was after a lot of positive feedback and increased attendance at the evenings.

The consultation saw 92% of parents vote to take the virtual option so we will be moving to make this happen in 2021-2022.

There will always be the option for parents to come into school to talk to staff and with Partnership Evenings and ACE Meetings (targeted parents evenings) there will still be other chances to come into school.

We will continue to use the Teams package through your child’s school email address and details will be circulated in advance of every such event.


Tutor Bases

We have told your children where their tutor room will be for the start of the next academic year but in case it gets forgotten in the excitement of the summer holidays here are the details:

Darwin – 7D1 (S5), 7D2 (S8), 8S1 (G7), 8S2 (S4), 9S1 (F2),  9S2 (M4), 10S1 (S1), 10S2 (S7), 11S1 (C7), 11S2 (S6)

Garrick – 7G1 (G5), 7G2 (W9), 8G1 (G6), 8G2 (S2), 9G1 (U4), 9G2 (U2), 10G1 (G4), 10G2 (G2), 11G1 (C6), 11G2 (G3).

Johnson – 7J1 (U7), 7D2 (U8), 8D1 (U9), 8D2 (M1), 9D1 (U5), 9D2 (F1), 10D1 (M3), 10D2 (W6), 11D1 (F4), 11D2 (U6)

Seward – 7S1 (W4), 7J2 (W5), 8J1 (W3), 8J2 (W2), 9J1 (W7), 9J2 (U3), 10J1 (M2), 10J2 (S3), 11J1 (F3), 11J2 (W10)

Sixth Form – VID1 (C2), VID2 (U1), VIG1 (C5), VIG2 (C9), VIJ1 (C10), VIJ2 (C1), VIS1 (C4), VIS2 (C3)

We would be grateful if you would remind your child of this so they know where to go in September. Please remember the tutor groups are next year’s so if you child is in 8J1 this year then you look for 9J1 on this list.


Parent Support:

As always, we appreciate that different parents have different views on how we are implementing COVID-related measures at the school. We know that we do not always get things right, and we know it will be impossible to please everyone, but we are continuing to try our best.

This week alone, we have spoken to some parents who believe the COVID pandemic is wholly fake and part of a global conspiracy, whilst others have said they believe the restrictions are being relaxed too soon and great transmission dangers are ahead. We even received legal paperwork from one family making the Headteacher personally liable if we force their child to take a vaccine (which we have no intention of doing).

In schools, it is always a mixed bag, and that is part of the fun. Equally, we have been fortunate to benefit from a vast, vast majority of parents being sympathetic and supportive through all of this even when they are tearing their hair out at another isolation.

Of course, all our staff have their own individual perspectives too, but we all try and implement the government directives in as sensitive and school-relevant way as we can. If you disagree with a step or a standard, feel free to let us know, but please accept that like you we are doing our very best in extremely tough circumstances.

Matt Allman, Headteacher, added: “Our student and staff isolations are increasing so to be frank we are looking forward to the early finish on Friday 16 July. Beyond that, we hope you all have a lovely summer and look forward to speaking with you again in the new academic year.”