Covid-19 Update 10: One Week In

**PLEASE NOTE THAT AFTER TODAY THIS BLOG WILL CEASE TO BE PUBLISHED HERE AND UPDATES WILL INSTEAD BE PROVIDED ON THE NEW VIRTUAL SCHOOL WEBSITE SO WE KEEP EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE. THANK YOU.

This blog is also available as a video message.

We are now one week in to our virtual school! On Monday we launched our new website and we have had some great feedback. We made it using the sites app in the google suite and it was quite fun to do- maybe you could have a go, too, at making a site. I’d be interested to see what you could come up with on a theme of your choice and I’d especially like to see a site with information about staying safe during this current crisis.

On our new website we have tried to provide the information you need in order for you to understand the approach we are taking and the expectations we have for your distance learning. Of course we may need to adapt things as we go along, but the message for the moment is.. so far so good. Lots of people have got stuck in to the work, and I’ve been really pleased that some teachers have already been sharing some of your work with me, and I look forward to seeing some more.

For the first part of the week I was at the school working in the Childcare Hub. It has been really good to meet new people from lots of different schools, and get to know some of the children too. The work people are doing there is amazing, and most importantly what we do is to allow essential workers to leave their children safely with us so they can get to work.

To end the week I’ve been working at home and had lots of meetings with colleagues on line which is a new experience but one I have enjoyed. We are all learning different ways of working, whether we are teachers or students.

Of course the thing most of us miss is the personal contact, particularly at a time when we need to be looking out for each other’s wellbeing and getting feedback on how things are going. At the start of the week I put a short survey out to staff and I can report we are all ok!  We want to know how you are, too! Mr Oliver has put together a survey and I urge you to complete it please. It’s especially set up so as to provide advice and guidance if there are any problems. You can access the survey here: https://forms.gle/L5XF4fnYYhfMa3Jb6. Please note you must be logged in to your riscacom.net account in order to complete this. 

Meanwhile, as always, take care and stay safe everyone.


THEME FOR THE WEEK: SAFETY FIRST

ASSEMBLY: HEADTEACHER’S VIDEO MESSAGE

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TWEET OF THE WEEK

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COVID-19 Update 9: Summer Term

This blog is also available as a video message.

 


P3I hope you have had a good Easter- a very different one for all of us, of course. I am sure you and your family are being sensible and following the rules about staying safe at home, and I hope you’re all coping ok with that as it is not always easy! I also hope you and your loved ones are keeping well. Everyone’s wellbeing is our prime focus at the moment, as you would expect- more of that later!

Screenshot 2020-04-14 at 11.11.41Monday will be the first day of the summer term, but of course the school is still not open and I am not sure when it will be. I say ‘not open’, but that is not strictly true as the building is being used as a childcare ‘hub’ for the children of key workers. Lots of staff from our school are working here regularly and have also been working over the break, and I know you will be as proud of them as I am for doing this important work. We also have people from other local schools here too, including staff from your primary school. P4It has been a great team effort! You wouldn’t recognise some of the classrooms now as they have been turned into family rooms! We’ve also had a screen fitted in reception as a safety measure. Talking of safety, Mr Hare and Mrs Burrows have been using our 3-D printers to make face masks for hospital staff and we also donated all our safety goggles from the Science department to the NHS.
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So term begins next week, but we will still all be staying safe at home. Your Easter holiday has been four weeks, that’s twice as long as usual, and in tricky circumstances and I imagine some of you are getting pretty bored! Well, we’re now asking those of you in years 7-10 to get on with the school work that has been set for you. I know some of you have already made a start on this, which is great, even though you didn’t have to! Mrs Madden will be providing you and your parents with guidance and expectations about this, and your class teachers will be looking at the work you submit. It is important you do what we ask of you because your learning matters. Much of this will be on google classroom and other web-based platforms, but not everyone has access to the internet so we’ve made arrangements for those of you who can’t get on line.

I just said your learning is important but your wellbeing is too- in fact it is even more important. Our Wellbeing Leaders- the Heads of Year, that is- are working with your form teachers and others to make sure we look after this aspect as well. Mr Oliver is leading for us on this and you’ll be getting more information from him. You’ll be able to share any worries you have, and get any help you need, I assure you.

If you’re in Y11 you’ll be anxious about GCSE exams and qualifications. Mr Coombes is on the case, don’t worry! Y10 will also have concerns. You’ll get regular updates as we all find out more. Mrs Coles is working closely with Crosskeys College, other Sixth Forms, and Careers Wales to make sure you can start the next term where you need to be and doing the course(s) right for you. Mrs Coles is also working closely with Primary schools so our new pupils will be able to start with us well-prepared in September.

Keep a look out for more information on Monday. Meanwhile, I hope you have a good weekend- yes, it’s Saturday tomorrow! I wonder if, like me, you’re beginning to lose track of what day it is!

Take care and stay safe, everyone!

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THEME FOR THE WEEK: INTEGRITY

ASSEMBLY: VIDEO MESSAGE FROM THE HEAD

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TWEET OF THE WEEK

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COVID-19 Update 8: Easter Holidays

Whilst pupils have been on holiday for nearly two weeks following the Government’s announcement on Wednesday 18th March, staff at the school have been working, some in the new Childcare Hub, some preparing resources ready for the new term  when we will be functioning as a “virtual” school. Many of us have been doing both roles. We have a great team here at RCCS and I am very proud of what has been achieved.

Hub Update

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The Childcare Hub has now been running for a couple of weeks. Many of the rooms in the school have been transformed as we have worked with our colleagues in local primaries to make sure  we have the right furniture and resources for our new 4-14 age group. We are operating from 8.30 until 5.30, providing childcare for key workers. We have now reached our capacity in terms of numbers, though it is worth checking back later as things may change. I could not be prouder of everyone who has been involved in setting this up, including staff from our school and from the wider community. Teachers and TAs have been taking on the childcare roles, supported by a team of administrators setting up all the rotas, caretaker and cleaners making sure the site is safe, and cooks ensuring we are well fed, with breakfast and lunch being provided. Staff involved come from schools right across our area. The emphasis is on safety and physical distancing at all times. Do check out the Twitter account and website for more information and some pictures!

School Update

imageAs mentioned above, the Easter holiday started early for pupils at 3pm on Friday 20th March and ends on Friday April 17th April. We are expecting to reopen as a “virtual” school on the following Monday- there will be no actual access to the site and we will work at home either on-line or from work packs if need be. Work has already been uploaded to our Google classrooms, and we’re using other platforms and websites as well. We also have a wellbeing classroom (code: lx3gvir) which Mr Williams has set up, with quizzes, riddles and games rather than the more academic tasks and many tutor groups have their own virtual homerooms. Staff have been holding meetings on line, and I’m delighted we have been so well prepared for this new way of working having engaged in an extensive amount of training over the last few years, and I have to say a bit of last minute stuff as well! It’s really important everyone does get a break, however, and  has a chance to recharge their batteries. That goes for parents and children too, as I know lots have been engaging with home learning alreadyPlease note our teachers will be on their Easter break or working in the childcare hub for the next two weeks, so they may not be uploading or reviewing work during this period, until the term begins again on 20th April. We’ll be issuing further guidance about remote working at the start of the new term. Meanwhile, you can access our current home learning guide for parents here, and pupils can access google classroom codes here.

In terms of things like concerns over qualifications and grades, future term dates and year group allocations, transition from Y6, transition to Y12 and many other issues, I know parents and students will be anxious and worried and that many questions remain unanswered. These matters are being looked into, but I would ask you to be patient for a while longer. Meanwhile, here’s the latest update from Mr Coombes regarding examinations:

Following the Welsh Government decision to cancel exams for summer 2020, Qualifications Wales are working with WJEC to establish the fairest way to issue grades for GCSE qualifications. Grades for GCSE qualifications in 2020 will be calculated using a range of evidence. They will be based on a combination of factors which may include marks for work completed to date and standardised teacher assessed grades. Teacher assessed grades will be based on what teachers would expect a learner to achieve at the end of the course. They need to represent a fair, reasonable and carefully considered judgement of the most likely grade that might be achieved in normal circumstances. This is a professional judgement based on the combined assessment information held for that learner and will be a holistic judgement rather than focusing on a single source of evidence like mock examinations. These are not target grades or aspirational grades and are not related to performance measures.  (Source: Qualifications Wales, March 2020)

UPDATE: You can see the latest information from Qualifications Wales here

Finally, here’s the link to the council website with information for those of you entitled to free school meals and some other useful information

This is not an easy time to lead a school.  I could not do this without the support and encouragement I get from the entire community. Thank you so much for this. Please stay safe and look out for each other. There’ll be a further update on Friday 17th April.

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John Kendall, Friday 3rd April.


TWEET OF THE WEEK

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COVID-19 Update 7: Free School Meals

FREE SCHOOL MEALS

From Monday 30th March 2020 the Authority will provide all eligible free school meal pupils whose parents signed up to this facility via the email below with 5 frozen meals each week.  These meals will be delivered to your home address on a weekly basis. Further information with regards to dates and time will be posted by the end of the week. 

If your child is eligible and you wish to receive this service and haven’t yet contacted us, please can you contact the following email address bridgesintowork@caerphilly.gov.uk urgently. 

If you require any further information please telephone one of these numbers:-

07717803962

07701020128

07920152568

07754746779

07789938346

07720948033

.

Be aware of scam emails

We have been informed that some parents have received an email stating the following: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported’.

We can confirm that this is a scam email and is not official. We urge parents that if you receive any emails like this, please do not respond, and delete it immediately.

 

 

COVID-19 Update 6

RCCS will be closed in its current capacity as a comprehensive  school from 3pm this afternoon. Following Wednesday’s announcement from the Welsh Government, the Easter holidays for pupils in Wales will start then, so there is no expectation that pupils will complete work over the next couple of weeks. You will be advised when the new term starts, and we expect to be functioning very differently. At this point pupils will need to complete the work that has been set on line, or in the packs that will be provided. That is not to say pupils cannot already begin to engage with the work that is set, as some have indeed already begun to do this week. Well done!

  • You can access our home learning guide for parents here
  • You can access google classroom codes here

We asked yesterday that parents who work in the Emergency Services, NHS or social care and who will need child care during this current crisis contact us.

In connection with this, I am pleased to confirm that our school has been designated to be one of the Hubs to support these children, so as from Monday, although the school will be closed as stated earlier, our premises will be used for this purpose and this will be staffed by colleagues from RCCS and other local schools and council services. I will be working closely with Mrs Armishaw, headteacher of Waufawr Primary school, and other Caerphilly colleagues  to lead this project.

You should not visit the school unless specifically invited to do so until further notice. Contact should be by email only. Please do not contact us on social media we are unable to respond.

The Authority is looking to continue to provide a free school meal to all eligible pupils whilst the schools are closed to pupils.  If your child is eligible and you wish to continue to receive this service please can you contact the following email address bridgesintowork@caerphilly.gov.uk They will then contact you to obtain further information in order that we will be able to coordinate appropriate ways of delivery and any special dietary requirements. It is anticipated that the meals will be in frozen batches of 5 per pupil and will be prepared and consumed at the home address. If you require any further information please telephone 01495 237921.

I have attempted to provide you with as much information I can over the last couple of weeks and I really do appreciate the kind comments we have received in this regard. I am sorry but I do not have the answers to all your questions, however, such as “when will school restart normally?”, or “when will my Y11 daughter have confirmation of her grade allocations?” If it helps, I have a son in another school in Y11 so I am in the same boat as you.

Finally I want to share the same message I shared yesterday with staff and with pupils. You must prioritise your health and wellbeing, and that of your loved ones, above anything else during this difficult time. Keep as active as you can. Keep communicating with each other. Look after each other. Be understanding. Be kind.

We will all learn a very important lesson from this crisis; to make sure we value and cherish what really matters.

Take care everybody and stay safe.

John Kendall, Headteacher, 1.30 pm, Friday 20th March 202

COVID-19 Update 5

The school will be closed tomorrow, Friday 20th March, to all pupils other than those whose parents/carers are emergency or healthcare workers, and/or those whose work or family commitments make safe supervision of their child impossible, or anyone unable to make lunch arrangements for their child.

However, please note that pupils in the above category should not attend if they are unwell, if they are in households where a member is in self-isolation or if they who fall into the vulnerable category mentioned in our previous update.

Any pupils attending must report to Room R3 at 8.50 am.

Pupils and staff who are not attending school, others than those who are unwell, should be working at home on Friday. Work is currently being uploaded to our Google classrooms. Please keep checking for updates

We are also preparing work for collection for those pupils who have confirmed they have no internet access.

  • You can access our home learning guide for parents here
  • You can access google classroom codes here

There will be a further update tomorrow.

Meanwhile I have been asked to request that anyone who works in the Emergency Services, NHS or social care and who will need child care during this current crisis contact the school as soon as possible vie telephone or email risca@caerphilly.gov.uk to assist the local authority in co-ordinating this. A separate text has been sent as a reminder.

The support we have received from the community at this difficult time has been amazing. Please take care of yourselves.

J Kendall, Headteacher, 11.55 am,  Thursday March 19th 2020

COVID-19 Update 4

BREAKING NEWS AT 1.15pm

There has just been an announcement from Welsh Government that all schools in Wales “will close for statutory provision of education at the latest on Friday March 20th.” The situation at our school remains as per the announcement below for tomorrow, Thursday. I will provide the community with a new post update when I know more. Thanks for your understanding. 

Due to increasing staff absence we are going to have to restrict attendance from tomorrow, Thursday 19th March, so only the following pupils should attend:-

  • Pupils in Y10 and 11
  • Any other pupils whose parents/carers are emergency or healthcare workers, and/or those whose work or family commitments make safe supervision of their child impossible, or anyone unable to make lunch arrangements for their child

Pupils who are in households where a member is in self-isolation or pupils who fall into the vulnerable category mentioned in our previous update should not attend school.

Pupils and staff who are not themselves unwell should be working at home. Work is currently being uploaded to our Google classrooms. Please keep checking for updates.

We re also preparing work for collection for those pupils who have confirmed they have no internet access.

  • You can access our home learning guide for parents here
  • You can access google classroom codes here

Thank you for your support, as always.

Please take care of yourselves.

J Kendall, Headteacher, 12.30pm,  Wednesday March 18th 2020