Headmaster's Message

Letter From The Headmaster

You may not be surprised that in light of recent government announcements, this last Flagpole letter of the year has been rather hastily re-written. Before I move on to the start of next term, I want to thank you all for the support, encouragement and kind words that you have given us over the course of this term. This has been so important in helping to keep things going and make the very best of things. I salute the staff too and the pupils for their sterling work and good humour throughout. Thank you to you all.

Of course, it has been an exceptionally tough term in many ways and we now all need to try to take advantage of the holiday to find time to rest, recuperate and re-charge our batteries. 

Particularly for those involved in the summer public examinations, next term will fly by; our pupils have had much support and guidance regarding how to structure their revision and studies at this time and I know parents of Year 11 and Sixth Form students will be keen to ensure there is a good balance of work, rest, play and quality family time over the Christmas holiday period.

So moving on to yesterday’s government guidance….in simple terms, from the start of next term we will be provided with Lateral Flow Testing equipment which we can use in a testing centre at Princethorpe. Details of how the test works can be found here. The testing in school will be used for the following:

1.    Weekly COVID testing of our own staff who are asymptomatic;

2.    COVID testing of pupils who are asymptomatic but have come into close contact with a confirmed case in school and would, under “track and trace”, otherwise be sent home to self-isolate for up to 10 days.

Below I have written some FAQs to try to explain the latest news as simply as possible and please bear in mind that we await further guidance, so things may be subject to some change. What I will say, before I go into detail, is that I welcome the government’s move to facilitate Lateral Flow Testing in school starting next term. The timing is clearly not ideal, nor the enforced home learning for the first week of term, but we will make the very best of this.

Is it correct that Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 will not be allowed to come into school until Monday 11 January?

Yes, this what the DfE has said. This is to allow schools time to set up the lateral flow testing centre. These year groups must follow normal timetables from home; teachers will be teaching and setting work predominantly via TEAMs. It is therefore critical that all pupils have access at home to a laptop or computer which is connected to the internet.

What about children in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 who are classed as vulnerable or children of key workers?

We are allowed to open the school to children classed as vulnerable and for children of key workers. We will be sending a questionnaire around next week for parents to complete so we can make appropriate plans for any pupils in this category who are intending to be in school.

Please note that any pupil in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 in this category who is in school will need to bring a laptop into school as they will be undertaking home learning (from a supervised classroom) – there will be no lessons in school for them to attend.

Will the Year 11 and Upper Sixth Mocks be going ahead as planned?

Yes, the Year 11 and Upper Sixth will be in school as normal and the mocks will go ahead as scheduled.

What if my child is ill and cannot come in for the mocks?

If your child is ill, you must not send them into school. We will make arrangements for them to take their mocks at a later date when they are well enough to do so.

If my son/daughter has COVID symptoms, can they come into school to be tested?

No absolutely not. If any child is unwell they must not come into school. If they have COVID symptoms, you must book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.

Will the school buses be operating from Tuesday 5 January?

Yes, we have already paid the bus contracts for the year. They will operate during the first week back, albeit with only a small number of pupils.

Will there be food available for pupils in school from Tuesday 5 January?

Yes, hot and cold food will be available, although the range may be more limited than usual.

Will there be any co-curricular activities after school during the first week?

No, these will start on Monday 11 January. However, we will run Princethorpe Prep during the first week back for any Year 11 or Upper Sixth pupil who needs to stay behind before being picked up.

What if my child has a positive COVID test during the holidays?

Please immediately let us know if this is the case by emailing bethsharpe@princethorpe.co.uk

How do I give permission for my son/daughter to be able to participate in the Lateral Flow Testing Programme next term, so that in the event of “close contact” in school, they will not be sent home and required to self-isolate?

We will be sending round a permission form for parents to complete next week.

Will you need any volunteers to help run the testing centre in school?

Yes, we may well need volunteers to help run this. In my next communication I will give further details of how we plan to set up a test centre in school and there will be a form for any parents who are in a position to volunteer help towards this.

As I said earlier, I do welcome the move to facilitate lateral flow testing in school. The testing should help us keep more pupils and staff in school and this can only be a very good thing.

I will be sending you further information next week, but in the meantime, if you have any urgent queries of questions please complete the form here.

I wish you and your families well for the break and hope you have a peaceful and relaxing Christmas.

Ed Hester