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Letters

3rd March 2021

Dear Parent / Carer,

 

I am sure you are aware of the announcement from Welsh Government this morning about plans for children to return to secondary school from Monday, March 15th. On that basis, we are now planning a return to school for the two weeks from March 15th up to the Easter break. From Monday, April 12th it is planned for all children to return to school unless the situation related to Covid changes for the worse.

 

I have attached two letters related to this announcement:

 Please follow links at the bottom of this page

1.       A letter from the Director of Education for RCT outlining the expectations for the return to school for the two weeks from March 15th

2.       A letter from the Director of Public Health about the importance of following all regulations and expectations to minimise the risk of transmission.

 

You will read from the letter that there is a clear expectation for children in Years 11 and 13 to return for the full two week period. In addition, it is desirable for those in Years 10 and 12 to attend as much as possible in this time also.

 

The announcement also stated that ‘wellbeing’ check-in sessions will be of benefit for children in Years 7, 8 and 9 at some point in these two weeks though the expectation is less specific than for the exam year groups above. However, if arranged I have no doubt this will be a useful time in order that all children have made the journey to school and met staff before the Easter break and a full return in April.

 

I am sure you will understand that we have only received all this guidance today and we now need to plan the time from March 15th so that we can provide the best experiences for everyone. This includes a provision in school, the continuation of home learning for those not in school and the separate Hub provision that has continued since January.I would hope that you will receive more specific details for how that return will take place in Pontypridd High School later this week. In that plan, we will confirm the days when we would expect children to attend, how their time will be spent and the systems we will expect everyone to adhere to.

 

I trust this short period before Easter will be the start of a full return that we shall all welcome and I will contact you again with details of our plan for the two weeks from March 15th.

 

Regards,

 

Huw Cripps

Headteacher

 

 


26th February 2021

Dear Parent / Carer

 

We know this week some children have returned to school in our area and if that involves anyone in your family I trust it has been a very positive experience for them. 

 

In terms of our own school, there is at present a commitment from the Welsh Government for certain year groups to return from Monday, March 15th. It is not clear exactly what year groups but we assume those in examination years which could mean all or limited numbers of children from Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 but there is still a lot of discussion around this. Further information will follow and I will certainly be in contact with you as soon as we have clear guidance on the plans to return from March 15th. You will understand that we are in no position to speculate when all children in every year group will be returning as we work towards the Easter break.

 

 In terms of examination year groups, it has been confirmed that A Level results day will be on Tuesday, August 10th and for GCSE on Thursday, August 12th. Last night we held our first full parent / carer meeting 'online' for Year 11 and we will be holding another meeting for Years 12 and 13 next week. My thanks to everyone who was able to attend the Year 10 information meeting earlier this week when we were able to share information about English and Maths .

 

Finally, you may be aware from news reports that all staff in schools are going to receive LFT testing kits so that they can self-test for Covid each week. I can confirm that we have received a certain number of tests and these have been distributed to staff who are most frequently in school at the present time. I understand we will receive more tests so that all staff can be a part of this programme.

 

As always, and on behalf of the staff I very much appreciate your continued support and perseverance with the home learning provision and on a positive note, a return to school does seem more likely now than it has for a number of weeks.

 

Thank you everyone and enjoy your weekend.

 

Huw Cripps

Headteacher

 


11th February 2021

Dear Parent / Carer

 

We know that from the 22nd of February the most recent medical evidence supports the decision to allow foundation phase learners aged 3-7 years to return to school after the half-term break. As yet there is no further information to suggest when secondary aged children will return to school. What we do know is that the Welsh Government will review the situation again on February 19th and at that time we may have more details to work from. We shall have to wait and see.

 

I very much appreciate the ongoing challenge home learning presents for everyone but these current arrangements will need to continue for children in Years 7 to 13 for at least another 2 weeks after half-term.

 

As has been the case since January, after half-term we will continue to provide a provision for vulnerable learners and the children of critical workers in school. Please note that the critical worker provision is only applicable where children are in Years 7 or 8. However, this provision is available to children in years 7 to 11 where they are part of our SEBD class. Catering for school meals will be available on site for children who attend under the circumstances above.

 

All children who access distance learning at home due to current arrangements or who are shielding or self-isolating due to Covid-19 will continue to access BACs payments at a rate of £19.50 per week if they are eligible for free school meals. The Welsh Government has also made available funding at the rate of £19.50 per week per learner to make free school meal provision available during school holidays, up to and including Easter 2021.

 

Welsh Government also wants to remind us all that Restrictions for alert level 4 will continue to remain in place. Outside of school, it will be important that children and their families continue to stay at home as much as possible, engage in essential travel only, and limit their contact with others.

 

We have received the first details of the arrangements for awarding ‘Centre Determined Grades’ to GCSE, AS and A Level students this summer. An information letter is available for students on our website and all staff will be working on the guidance received to ensure our plans give all students the opportunity to achieve the grades they deserve.

 

It is close to one calendar year since major concerns were being raised about our attendance in school as Covid spread globally - this time last year we were actually enjoying our school production of Hairspray in the main hall to packed audiences. How times have changed but as individuals, families and as a school there are many different things we can be jointly proud of in the last 12 months. Indeed, the signs are more positive moving towards the summer and when we are advised that it is safe to do so, we hope to be welcoming everyone back to school.

 

For now, my thanks on behalf of all staff and governors for your continued support and please enjoy your time over the half-term.

 

With thanks

 

Huw Cripps

Headteacher


5th February 2021

Dear Parent and Carer

 

This afternoon we have received an update from the Welsh Government regarding the way forward for schools after half-term, from Monday, February 22nd.

 

The statement confirms that 'all Foundation Phase children will return to school during the week beginning February 22nd.  There will be some local flexibility but all Foundation Phase learners will return by the end of that week'. The Chief Medical Officer officer confirms that the return of Foundation Phase children is consistent with and supported by the currently available medical evidence

 

It has been confirmed that for secondary schools existing arrangements will continue and as such we will be open to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers up to half-term and initially for the week after also. All other learners will continue to access our home learning provision during this period. We will make changes to this provision if we think it is appropriate to do so after half-term. The school will be closed to all children during the half-term break.

 

The Welsh Government also announced that they will be reviewing this situation on Friday, February 19th. We should assume a 2 week period of planning so at present it may be the case that the earliest we see any return to our school is March 8th. Some of this detail may be confirmed on February 19th.

 

Obviously, we will continue to keep you informed and we will have more regular communication with students in examination year groups so that we are all very aware of how time will be used at home and when we hopefully return in the weeks ahead.

 

Thank you for your continued support and given all our circumstances I trust you will have a restful and enjoyable weekend.

 

Huw Cripps

Headteacher

 


 

January 29th, 2021

Dear Parent and Carer

 

This afternoon we have received an update from the Welsh Government regarding the way forward for schools in the weeks ahead.

 

It has been confirmed that we will continue to be open to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers up until the half-term. All other learners will continue to access our home learning provision during this period. The school will be closed to all children during the half-term break.

 

The statement continued to say that it would be the youngest pupils who could possibly begin returning to school after the February half-term if rates of coronavirus continue to fall.  This assumes it will be primary school-aged children who will return first and our children at Pontypridd High will not be returning immediately after half-term. Exactly how long after half-term it will be before our children return to school is not clear at this time.

 

As the Welsh Government has said that they are committed to ensuring that schools, parents and carers have plenty of time to plan for a change it is hoped we will receive timely notice of any return so that we are able to plan accordingly.

 

Obviously, we will continue to keep you informed of any further updates. For the next two weeks before half-term, we will continue with the present home learning timetable and we will make changes to this provision if we think it is appropriate to do so after half-term.

 

Thank you for your continued support and given all our circumstances I trust you will have a restful and enjoyable weekend.

 

Huw Cripps

Headteacher


January 25th, 2021 

Dear Parent / Carer 

 

Our Home Learning provision continues and my thanks to everyone who has completed surveys or attended meetings in order that we can discuss the quality of the provision and make changes where appropriate. We have also held meetings with students, parents and carers of children in examination year groups to discuss the significant changes made to how grades will be awarded this summer. Together I am sure we will ensure that every student achieves the success they deserve. 

 

An announcement was made at the start of January by the Welsh Government (WG) that schools would not be closed to most children until at least Friday, January 29th. As such it has only been the children of critical workers and our most vulnerable children who have been in school over the last few weeks. In terms of our school opening to all children, I would remind you that the WG also stated that ‘schools would stay closed to most children until February half term unless Covid cases fell significantly’.  

 

I appreciate that we need a firm decision to be made because at present we are still working on the fact that children and staff may well return to school on Monday, February 1st. However, in addition to the above, please be aware of comments by First Minister Mark Drakeford last weekend. He stated that a "wholesale" return of pupils to school after February half term is "unlikely". On this basis, it would seem that a return to school for most children in the weeks before half-term is ‘unlikely’ also.  

 

Obviously, I do not want to speculate on the decision myself and I trust we will have confirmation of any decision by the Government soon. Hopefully, the information we can present to you helps to answer queries from some parents and carers who have been contacting us at school. Without question, I will contact you about any decision by the WG when it is possible to do so. 

 

With thanks 

 

Huw Cripps 

Headteacher 


8th January 2021

Dear Parent / Carer

 

I am sending you a letter from the Director of Education for RCT in relation to the announcements made this morning by the Welsh Government about school closure and home learning.

 

The letter includes details of how our most vulnerable children and those of critical workers may still attend school during the weeks ahead.

 

As I have stated before, we will be in contact with the family of each vulnerable learner about attending school. At the beginning of next week, we will also provide you with details of the application process for the provision related to critical workers and their child(ren).

 

The return to school at the start of this new year has presented us with more change. I acknowledge you will be receiving a lot of information from school at the present time but I trust you will understand the importance of us keeping you informed of everything that is impacting you and your child(ren). 

 

Please keep in touch and contact us regarding any matter you would like to discuss further.

 

With thanks

 

Huw Cripps

Headteacher

 

January 8th, 2021

 

Dear parent/carer

 

This morning the First Minister announced further changes for schools in Wales. The key elements are summarised as follows:

 

  • All children, with the exception of high priority vulnerable learners and the children of critical workers, will continue to access remote learning until the 29th of January. If rates of infection have not reduced by this time, schools will continue with remote learning until the February half-term break.
  • Only high priority vulnerable children and the children of critical workers will have access to on-site education in schools along with learners undertaking essential exams and assessments until the 29th of January (or until the February half term if rates remain high).
  •  Schools are not more unsafe now or pose a higher risk for teachers and children. However,  the new variant of Covid-19 is far more infectious and is leading to increased numbers of people falling ill and being hospitalised.
  • For GCSE, AS and A level learners, a decision has been made to cancel the spring term assessments that were planned to take place between 22nd February and 23rd April. Revised assessment arrangements for the award of these qualifications in summer 2021 will be put in place shortly and further information will follow in due course.
  • Special school staff that provide intimate personal care for children with complex medical needs will be included as part of the priority list for vaccination to ensure that the most vulnerable are kept safe.

 

From Monday18th January, schools will continue to provide education for the children of critical workers on school sites. Eligibility has changed slightly and will only include the following groups of workers:

  • Health and social care workers (including care home staff).
  • Public safety (emergency workers) and national security workers.
  • Education and childcare workers.
  • Food and other necessary goods workers (please note this is an additional category)

 

If you have explored all possible childcare options and genuinely have no other alternative and have to work, then please advise the school by Monday the 11th of your requirements for the week commencing the 18th of January. The current legislation only requires one parent to work in one of these outlined areas of work to access school-based education.

 

Arrangements for high priority vulnerable learners will remain unchanged.  

 

Please note, that places will be capped to ensure the health and safety of your child and school staff during this concerning period. The safest place for your child currently is at home but if essential, your school can provide education for vulnerable learners and the children of identified critical workers in school. Where demand for places exceeds supply, requests will be prioritised based on need. If you have any concerns or exceptional circumstances, please raise these directly with your child’s school. On-site provision is for education and not childcare, as school staff still have a responsibility to deliver education remotely to all children throughout the school day. In addition to this, they will continue to provide remote wellbeing support for those that require this.

 

Thank you for your continued patience and for supporting your child’s learning during these very challenging times.

 

Many thanks

 

Gaynor Davies
Director of Education and Inclusion Services


8th January 2021

Dear Parent / Carer,

 

You are probably already aware of the news being reported about school closure in relation to the 'lockdown' situation in Wales.

 

The Welsh Government has confirmed the following this morning:

  1. Schools will remain closed to the majority of children until January 29th at the earliest. If cases do not drop then schools will remain closed until after half-term. This would mean schools re-opening on Monday, February 22nd where it is safe to do so.
  1. The planned 'internal assessments and tests' for Years 11, 12 and 13 students have also been cancelled. These were intended to be completed between February 22nd and April 23rd. Information is limited at the moment as you will understand but Qualifications Wales have announced that 'revised assessment arrangements for the award of these qualifications in the summer of 2021 will be put in place shortly.' Obviously, we will keep everyone informed of any changes as soon as we receive that information. 

I can reassure you that staff will be discussing the implications of these decisions today. Because 'home learning' has now been confirmed for a longer period of time we will be making sure that your child(ren) receives the best possible wellbeing support and learning provision. Where we need to we will adapt what we are doing and you will be informed of any changes as soon as possible.

 

I am sure the Director of Education for RCT will issue a more detailed letter for students, parents and carers later today and I will ensure you receive that information. 

These are difficult times for everyone but together we will see this through and our experiences over the last year will continue to inform the ways in which we provide the right advice, support and learning. I am very much aware that the present situation is presenting many different challenges so please keep in contact with us so that we can provide the help where it is needed. 

I will of course keep you informed of further developments and my thanks for your continued support in working with us through the weeks ahead.

Regards,

Huw Cripps

Headteacher