- Just to clarify – the parents of students who need to self isolate have been contacted directly by email. If you haven’t received an email, your child is not expected to self isolate. Apologies for any confusion
- The students asked to self-isolate are a mixture of Year 9 close contacts from lessons/classrooms as well as all students who travelled on Paul’s Coaches on Mon 16th/Tue 17th November 2020
- All Year 11 pupils who have been asked to self isolate from 19/11/20 will have their mock exam papers emailed to them at the start time for their exam.
- We will be inviting all students who are self-isolating to an assembly on Friday morning at 8:45 via TEAMS to outline how the day will work and how to access the online learning resources and lessons. The invite will appear in the students’ calendar or in the ‘EBA all students’ team.
I am writing to you in connection with deep concerns I have about the organisation and planning underpinning next year’s GCSE and A Level examinations. In principle and under normal operating conditions I would say that examinations are broadly a fair and effective way to determine student progress and understanding. It goes without saying that we are nowhere near ‘normal’ at present, with little prospect of things changing anytime soon.
This week, following decisions in Scotland to not run GCSE equivalent examinations, the Minister for Education in Wales announced that examinations would not take place for GCSE and A Level students. This was so that there could be a focus on ensuring the maximum degree of challenge and fairness to students, amidst the disruption of the Covid 19 pandemic. The decision recognises the fact that different groups of students according to geographical location, will have been affected to differing extents by the local cases, cycles of isolation and the general impact of the pandemic. An early decision in this regard also ensures that there can be a strong focus on maximising breadth of learning and understanding to fully prepare students for their future lives and careers.
Ultimately, it appears that, having given consideration to the likely detriment to large numbers of students, particularly those already living in less advantageous circumstances, the government in Wales have taken a decision to forgo examinations in favour of a more balanced and fair form of assessment. Moreover, making a decision at an early stage has allowed for appropriate planning, ability to adjust timescales accordingly and a sense of planned reassurance across schools, pupils and parents.
In my opinion, a similar decision needs to be made in England. With a planned approach that is both robust and well considered, the dreadful pitfalls of the summer should be easily avoided and schools, students, parents and the wider public would be well informed about expectations and processes that would result in final grading. I do hope that the DfE are giving serious consideration to finding a solution that mitigates against the differing experiences inflicted by the pandemic. It is patently obvious that large swathes of the UK have suffered disproportionately with lost classroom time and face to face contact with teachers since September. There are also large parts of the country who have hardly suffered at all. Simply put, it is not a level playing field. At Eaton Bank Academy we have suffered disruption to examination classes and this may very well occur again. Students, parents and teachers are getting very anxious because there appears to be no set of alternative plans from the DfE other than to follow a full cycle of examinations. If the Minister for Education in Wales felt compelled to make this decision because it would be deeply unfair to students across Wales, how can this be a different picture in England?
Where is the degree of alternative planning from the DfE? Are we going to see, yet again, a level of stubborn intransigence that gives way to common sense at the very last minute (or, as with the A Level fiasco, after the last minute)?
You have always been a superb support to the local community and to Eaton Bank Academy. I implore you to use your influence to seek answers from Gavin Williamson that clarify how the imbalance across the country will be meaningfully addressed. This is vital to ensure that all students, parents and teachers understand they are operating within a fair and transparent assessment system. Timeliness in decision making in this regard is also vital; as each day passes, students and parents are asking why students in Wales and Scotland are being treated differently to students in England. This causes anxiety, uncertainty and can easily give way to derision.
I look forward to your response.
14th November Letter from Mr O’Neill
Dear Parents and Carers,
It has been a busy and exciting week in school. Firstly can I thank all of those parents and carers who responded so positively to my email at the start of last week; more than a hundred of you took the time to respond and express your support and good wishes. I passed on a good selection of the comments to the staff and they were all really thrilled and lifted to see such strength of feeling and backing.
In school the food bank collection organised by the Student Leadership Team has got off to a fantastic start; there were hundreds of donated items that went out to local families this weekend and as starting points go it was a phenomenal beginning to a really thoughtful and important initiative.
The students in school seem really happy and focused; I was caught in the midst of a heated debate at breaktime on Friday about whether or not red top or green top milk was the better option…it was nice to see the travails of the world ignored and a good old, fun discussion take hold!
It was fantastic news to hear that a highly effective vaccine for Covid19 could well be on the way in the near future. We all have our fingers crossed that it comes through to fruition very soon. As a more sobering picture, the Office for National Statistics has said on Friday that one in 85 now has Covid in England. Thankfully, we are nowhere near that level in school but we have had a couple of cases this week. In order to reduce transmission, I urge you to follow the Government guidance during this lockdown period and to emphasise how important it is for all students to be vigilant in wearing face coverings/masks at the appropriate points around school. To all our families who have picked up positive cases we send our very best wishes for a full and speedy recovery; from personal experience I know how unpleasant the virus is and how it sweeps through a family; if there is anything we can do at school to support you please do not hesitate to let us know. Please remember also to use firstname.lastname@example.org if you, or anyone in the family has a positive test. On our part we will contact families promptly. Whilst we missed out on the million pound contract to SERCO, we do have an extremely hard-working and efficient team led by Mr James on our track and trace system in school. We will work quickly and supportively with you, your son or daughter, with staff and Cheshire East to ensure that the appropriate students are self-isolating and to make sure that you are all okay.
The decision was made this week in Wales not to have GCSE and A level exams in summer 2021. This follows Scotland’s decision a few weeks ago to not hold their equivalent of GCSE exams. At the moment, the full exam calendar is still planned in England. I fully appreciate the concern that many of you are feeling at this time; we have been affected by Covid 19 and time out of school is detrimental to progress. Across England, some schools have been affected far more than we have but there are large pockets of the country where children have not been affected at all. When it comes to exams, the results are balanced across the entire national cohort. However, this is absolutely not a level playing field. It concerns me greatly that there has been little to no understanding of this expressed by the DfE and that there is no alternative planning in place. We know from repeated experience that it takes a wave of public opinion to move some urgent and vital decisions from intransigence to sensible action. I am going to be writing to Fiona Bruce and Gavin Williamson. If you feel the same way I would urge you to contact either Fiona Bruce or your local MP to share concerns about this. As a school we are doing everything possible to provide an outstanding education for our students; our students must not be disadvantaged for something beyond our control.
I hope that you are still able to have an enjoyable time this weekend. Helicopters flew over the school grounds this week taking the celebrities over to Wales; as with everything at present. “I’m A Celebrity…” will be different this year but making different work and be enjoyable is collectively what we are all about.
As always, thank you for your support. Take care and stay safe.
“Kindness is power” (Marcus Rashford, MBE)
7th November 2020
Dear Parents and Carers
Thank you for your questions about the initial isolation time period.
The initial self isolation allows us to ascertain those in immediate proximity to the case. We are also liaising with Public Health England to determine exact dates and timescales. As well as a proximity issue it is also a chronology issue which is not always as fixed and obvious as you might expect.
We will get back in touch to all Y7 parents on Monday once we have been able to determine if the proximity issues affect all the year group or a more narrow scope of students. In the first instance, a more cautious stance is the sensible approach to take.
7th November 2020
Dear Parents and Carers
We have, this morning, been informed of a positive case of Covid-19, of a Year 7 student at Eaton Bank Academy.
In the first instance, ALL YEAR 7 students will need to self-isolate until Wednesday 11th November. This means that all Year 7 students must not leave their home until Wednesday 11th November.
Other members of the family do not have to self-isolate at this point, but it is absolutely essential that if anyone displays symptoms that you follow the government guidelines and self-isolate and get tested.
Further communication will follow.
5th November 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
The first week back has been interesting and busy; we are obviously at the start of a new national lockdown today so it is quite a useful time to update you on key information and processes. As ever the students have been brilliant in school: polite and thoughtful and considerate. Please pass on our gratitude and praise and equally, accept that on your own behalf too: your sons and daughters reflect the standards you have set for them and they are demonstrating qualities of the highest order!
We are conscious of the dual need to keep the school and classrooms well ventilated and simultaneously maintain a comfortable working environment for everyone in the classroom. We fully recommend having layers beneath school shirts – plain white T shirts are ideal – and we have recommended having the grey school jumper. However, we are aware, having spent hours scouring online for orders, that it is increasingly difficult to get hold of a jumper if you haven’t already got one. For this reason we have decided that students can wear their black PE EBA Hoodies in class if they feel the need to do so. We want to preserve the school uniform as much as possible – ties and blazers still need to be worn at all times – but, given where we are, we feel that this is a sensible move to ensure students are in a good position to learn effectively. No other hoodies will be allowed. We really appreciate your support on this issue.
New guidance for schools arrived yesterday in preparation for the lockdown which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020. The DfE have stated that no extra-curricular activities should now take place (other than for childcare reasons). If there are any changes to this we will let you know.
We fully appreciate that the advent of a national lockdown and the increasing infection and serious illness rates across the country will be causing significant alarm and concern. At Eaton Bank Academy we will continue to be absolutely vigilant in our control mechanisms, hygiene standards and use of all preventative strategies that we are able to utilise. Continued vigilance and common sense on buses, walking to and from school and after school hours is hugely important so that together we can maintain high levels of safety and protection for our entire community.
As ever, if you feel that we can be of any help or support or if you want to discuss any concerns with us, do not hesitate to get in touch.
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope that you and your families have had a restful half-term break and are ready for the return to school on Tuesday 3rd November. With the first half-term complete, we have had an opportunity to reflect on how the changes we have made across the school due to the pandemic are working. We’re very pleased to say that on the whole, attendance has been very good and our students have embraced the idea of bubbles and taken the risks of Covid-19 very seriously. Whilst we have had positive cases of the virus within the school community, the resulting close contact tracing, self-isolation and remote learning have worked well.
As we come together again after the break, please read this reminder of our expectations to keep us all as safe as possible and minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19 at Eaton Bank Academy:
- Students must not attend school if they have symptoms of coronavirus or live in a household with someone who has symptoms
- Students must not attend school if they have been instructed to self-isolate as a result of contact tracing
- Everyone must wear a mask on public transport, on corridors and at break and lunch whilst indoors, if not eating or drinking (unless exempt). At this moment in time, masks are not required in lessons
- Everyone must wash or sanitise their hands regularly throughout the day
- All pupils must remain strictly within their year group bubble at all times (unless moving on corridors)
- Everyone must socially distance wherever this is possible.
Ventilation in rooms and coats:
There is increasing evidence of the importance of good ventilation in classrooms and we are aiming to keep windows open as much as possible during teaching. Please encourage your child to wear their school jumper under their blazers or a t-shirt/thermal vest under their shirt, to keep warm in lessons. Wearing outside coats or hoodies in school will not be permitted. Furthermore, it really is important that students wear a warm, waterproof coat to school as we are encouraging students to spend as much of their break and lunchtimes outside, throughout the winter months – this is an important safety measure. We have made a significant investment into outdoor seating to support this, providing students with a pleasant space outside in their bubbles.
If your child is not able to attend school as a result of self-isolation or illness (but is well enough to engage with some learning), please adhere to the following procedures for remote learning:
- Students should follow their school timetable as if they were at school
- They should access their ‘live lessons’ through Teams or alternatively the resources in Sharepoint
- If they are struggling to access either of these, they should contact email@example.com in the first instance.
We look forward to the new half-term and welcoming our students back to school on Tuesday 3rd November. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support.
Dear Parents and Carers,This morning we have been informed of two positive COVID-19 cases, one in Year 8 and one in Year 11. We have carried out an investigation to identify all the potential contacts and on the basis of Public Health guidance, we have now identified approximately 66 students amongst the two year groups who are designated as ‘close contacts’. The criteria to be deemed a ‘close contact’ is very specific and relies on closeness of proximity and duration of time spent in close proximity.We have sent individualised emails/text messages to each family notifying them if their child needs to isolate and informed them that they can return to school on Thursday 5th November.All other students in both year groups (who have not received an email/text) do not need to self-isolate and should return to school on Tuesday 3rd November as planned.It is important that we are all aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and that only well children attend school or childcare settings.The main symptoms of coronavirus are:· high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)· new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)· loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normalIf you or your child develops any of the above symptoms or become unwell please contact NHS 111 for advice.With best wishesYours sincerelyMartin JamesDeputy Headteacher
Dear Parents and Carers,
Many thanks for your continued support and the very many emails and messages we have received in relation to the online learning programme for Year 9.I would like to take this opportunity to recognise how excellent students have been in their engagement, contributions and work ethic throughout this period. Your support behind them is greatly appreciated. If there are any issues please do not hesitate to get in touch with us as soon as possible. I would also like to remind you that students in Year 9 are to return to school on Monday morning as normal; the only exception to this would be if a student develops symptoms that might require further investigation or if symptoms arise in the house and/or a household member is taking a Covid19 test. In all cases and eventualities just listed, please keep us informed so that we can make the best decisions in the interests of the whole school community. Please email Covid@eatonbank.orgto inform us confidentially about any tests being taken or any positive test results received. As I am sure you are aware, the national re-structuring of geographic regions into ‘Tiers’ has placed Cheshire East into Tier 2 on ‘high alert’. This brings with it the necessity for all people aged 11 years and over to wear face coverings in communal areas. We have been excellent in adhering to our own self-imposed face mask rules at Eaton Bank Academy but now we have to comply with the government requirements and extend the use of face masks. This now means that in school, in all indoor communal areas (this really relates to the year group hubs at breaks and lunchtimes) students must wear masks. They are allowed to move/remove the masks whilst eating and drinking. Masks are not required in classrooms during lesson times. If you wish for your son or daughter to keep their mask on during lessons that is not a problem. I know this may cause some reactions about the difficulty or even apparently contradictory messages this ruling sends out but we need to comply. We really appreciate your support on this issue. It will take effect from 8:45 am on Friday 16th October. If you have an existing medical exemption or particular SEND requirement for your son or daughter not to wear a mask, then that will still hold. Otherwise, all students must wear masks in communal areas at all times other than when eating or drinking.
If your son or daughter is using a bus service, please reinforce that a mask must compulsorily be worn at all points of the bus journey. Thank you for your continued support. As ever, please get in touch if we can be of any help.
Dear Parents and Carers,
You will be aware that there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the school. We have
liaised with Public Health England and would like to thank you for your patience and understanding
whilst we deal with this. We know that you may find this concerning, but we are continuing to
monitor the situation and are working closely with Public Health England and are following their
advice. Part of the advice from Public Health England is to offer reassurance that for most people,
coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. This communication is to inform you of the current
situation and provide advice on how to support your child.
We currently require all Year 9 students to remain at home and self-isolate. The self-isolation
period will last until the end of Sunday 18th October. Unless otherwise notified, students should
return to school on Monday 19th October. Other members of your household can continue normal
activities provided your child does not develop symptoms within the isolation period. All lessons for
Year 9 will be live lessons via Teams, until further notice. The school remains open for all other year
groups. There are no issues affecting bus travel in relation to this case, although we would like to
emphasise that our school position is to encourage all students to wear masks at all times on a bus.
At present this is not the DfE’s position, nor is it Cheshire East’s position, but we think it is important
and would urge you to support us in this matter.
We are aware in school that endless amounts of conjecture, misinformation and highly emotive
posts are circulating on a Facebook page called ‘Congleton Chats Back’. We have been aware of this
site for a long period of time and we are sure you will have worked out that we do not post or
respond to the many ridiculous (often defamatory) comments that are posted there. However,
given the heightened situation in which the COVID-19 pandemic puts us, there is a strong chance
that it will be an area causing unnecessary alarm to parents and the community. We therefore urge
you to be patient and wait for the school to respond to issues. We will always be clear and
consistent in communications and aim to respond to parents as quickly as possible. If you have any
concerns, please do get in touch directly with the school as soon as possible.
Once again, thank you for your fantastic support.
What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
• a new continuous cough
• a high temperature
• a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19, they must not come to school and should remain at
home for at least 10 days from the date when their symptoms appeared. Anyone with symptoms
will be eligible for testing and this can be arranged via https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirustest or by calling 119. All other household members who remain well, must stay at home and not
leave the house for 14 days. This includes anyone in your ‘Support Bubble’.
How to stop COVID-19 spreading
Eaton Bank Academy, Jackson Road, Congleton CW12 1NT. Telephone: 01260 273000 FAX: 01260 297352 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with
• stay at home if you have symptoms or are told to self-isolate
• follow the government’s guidelines relating to social distancing
• wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
• use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or
Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19- stay-athome-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronaviruscovid-19-
Dear Parents and Carers,
We have been informed this afternoon of a positive Covid 19 case in Year 9. We have taken advice from Cheshire East and PHE and are taking the precautionary measure for all of Year 9 to stay at home on Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th October, whilst we investigate further. We will be liaising with Public Health England and Cheshire East and we will continue to communicate throughout the day on Monday. For Monday and Tuesday this week, Year 9 will have live lessons which they can access through TEAMS.
The number of positive cases across Cheshire East is increasing and there are positive cases amongst members of the wider community in Congleton and beyond. It is important for us all to follow the Government advice surrounding social distancing at this time; should a member of your household be awaiting test results all of the household should isolate until the results are known. If your child or any member of your household is displaying any of the symptoms associated with Covid 19, you must all self-isolate and the affected person must get a test. We all have a part to play in helping to reduce the risk of transmission.
If any positive cases within your family emerge, please email on Covid@eatonbank.org so that you can confidentially let me know the situation and I can act accordingly.
School will remain open for all students in Y7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 13.
Thank you for your understanding and support with this matter.
Clarification regarding Self Isolation Rules from the NHS
Family members of Year 9 students do not need to isolate and, as long as they are symptom free, can go about their usual routines. Everyone must follow the NHS rules regarding when to self-isolate
Self-isolate immediately if:
- you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
- you’ve tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
- you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
- someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
- you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app
- you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk – see GOV.UK: how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK
September Reopening – Parental Handbook and Attendance Information
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for your continued support of the school.
Included in this communication is a parental handbook Eaton Bank Academy Parent Handbook – Coronavirus 2020 which will hopefully answer all relevant questions about the return to school process.
After the unprecedented circumstances of the last few months, we are very much looking forward to welcoming back all our students on Wednesday 2nd September. Students must be in school by 8.45am, in full uniform, with the equipment specified in the parent handbook. As I am sure you will be aware, the government has set out very clearly that all students must return to school full-time in September.
This guidance can be found here:
Guidance for full opening – schools https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools
In addition to this guidance, the Government also published a guide for parent/carers:
What parents and carers need to know https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-in-the-autumn-term
They have made this decision because the prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased, the NHS Test and Trace system is operational and our collective understanding of the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments in schools has increased.
The government recognises the importance of children and young people attending school – for their educational progress, for their wellbeing, and for their wider development. We completely agree with this and we welcome the mandate that school will be compulsory for all young people. We understand that there may be some nervousness about your child returning to school and we will do everything we can to allay these concerns by setting out in the parent handbook how we are reducing the risks of transmission of the virus within our school.
It will, of course, be important that we continue to work in close partnership with one another in order to keep Eaton Bank Academy and its community as safe as possible. We would specifically request that:
· Students have to wear face masks/ face coverings* in corridors and in changing rooms (and on buses). We understand that there may be some personal circumstances which may prevent students wearing masks/face coverings, please let us know if this applies to your son/daughter.
· We will ensure that there are bins in every classroom; we ask all parents to please ensure that students bring a hand sanitiser, a pack of tissues and wipes (if possible) with them to school.
· If your child or any member of your household shows symptoms of coronavirus then you must not send them into school.
· We will be engaging fully with the NHS Test and Trace programme. If your child is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus you must:
– book a test for them
– provide details of anyone they have been in close contact with – ensure that they self-isolate. See https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/) for more information on this.
· ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ remains an important preventative approach in the fight against Coronavirus.
We appreciate that, as we look ahead to the summer holiday period, some families may wish to travel abroad. Please be aware that we have a duty to enforce the law in respect of attendance and therefore we will not be able to grant permission for your child being out of school for this reason. We would also urge you to carefully consider the timing of your holiday as it may be the case that quarantine measures are still in place, depending upon where a student has travelled to and the timing of the travel in relation to government guidance.
With very best wishes to you and your family.
Mr M James
*Face Masks/ Coverings
We know that this requirement goes beyond what the DfE are currently saying but we do feel that this is a sensible and measured precaution for the safety of all our school community. The DfE guidance on face coverings for school usage may or may not change; we feel that whatever the DfE guidance suggests, at Eaton Bank Academy we should be going above and beyond the guidance in order to commit to the safety of our entire school community. In so much of this crisis, the DfE have offered basic ideas without putting detail and substance behind the ‘principles’. We feel this is one area where we as a school need to take control of the message and safety and put in place our own arrangements. We will be discussing with students and staff the need to keep washing hands to mitigate cross transference from face coverings. If we can get to a point where everyone is wearing them (only in the corridors during change of lesson, changing rooms and on buses) we will very significantly reduce any chance of virus transmission through droplet dispersal.