Eaton Bank Academy

School Closure Updates – 03/04/2020



Dear Parents/Carers,

I hope that you have kept safe and well and are adjusting effectively at the end of this second week since schools closed. The effects of social distancing and the effective ‘lockdown’ are well under way and will hopefully begin to make a difference across the country, so that we can all return to normality as soon as possible. My consistent advice to staff is that they make sure they are utilising the opportunity to be out of the house for a walk/run/exercise for a short period every day in order to keep fit and I think that is exceptionally important for all families as well. It is too easy to remain seated during this period so anything we can do to keep active and healthy is vitally important. I am sure that you have already been bending and bouncing to the ‘Joe Wicks’ sessions on YouTube but if not, do give them a view as a means to start the day with a bit of exercise!

We have sent out an information sheet ‘Be informed, Be Safe, Be Kind’.(Congleton Town Council Key Information) This should be a really useful document with information about Congleton amenities, pharmacies, contact points, etc. as well as strong messages about the importance of looking after each other as a community and things that we can all do to help each other and neighbours, to be safe and feel protected. We have also today sent out flyers from Fiona Bruce MP aimed at supporting and advising residents during the coronavirus crisis (Fiona Bruce MP Coronavirus Factsheet)

For all students and parents this is undoubtedly a time of concern but even more so for those students (and their parents) in Y11 and Y13. The guidance from OfQUAL about exactly how to move forward with the grade allocations has been delayed but is finally expected out later today. As soon as we have a chance to analyse and interpret the fine detail of the guidelines we will explain how things will be organised. Timelines seem to be shifting quite substantially over the grades issue. Initially the DfE was talking about presenting final grades sometime in late July but it now seems that nationally we will likely revert to the traditional results release days for A Level and then a week later for GCSE from the middle of August onwards. To help keep parents and students up to date we have created a FAQ section on the website and have put in an email address specifically for any questions relating to exams and grades. Please use this as a portal if you have any specific questions not addressed on the FAQ section rather than email individual teachers.

Hopefully you have been out clapping and cheering on a Thursday evening at 8pm for the hard work, dedication and bravery being shown by NHS staff throughout the country. We are trying our best to help from within Eaton Bank Academy. Lots of our staff have signed up as NHS volunteers, we have re-purposed and sent off 270 sets of goggles to be used in care homes and within the NHS and our D+T Technician is busy producing valuable face visors, again to go straight to NHS staff to help protect them in the fight against Coronavirus.

The school calendar states that the ‘Easter Holidays’ are now upon us; please take every opportunity available to relax and enjoy the time with your families. I have asked all teaching and support staff not to set work (or respond to any work) over the Easter Holiday two week period to allow staff, students, parents and families a chance to step back and gain some much needed time to relax, reflect and support each other.

With very best wishes,

Ed O’Neill

Please find attached a Coronavirus Information Sheet from Fiona Bruce MP  Fiona Bruce MP Coronavirus Factsheet

We have been asked to contribute any goggles and face masks that we can to help the NHS; we will be donating around 100 sets of visors to help in the fight against Coronavirus, which will be picked up and distributed this week to the NHS. We will also be contributing our goggles and protective lenses to Cheshire East who will pass them on to those who most require them at this time.

We have created a new page containing useful wellbeing and safeguarding resources, activities and websites. It can also be accessed from a link on the news section of the homepage. If you do have any concerns about a child in our care, please do not hesitate to contact our safeguarding leads.


Our designated leads for Safeguarding and Child Protection are
Mr James – Designated Lead
Telephone: 01260273000 – please use email only during school closure

Miss Griffen – Deputy Designated Lead
Telephone: 01260273000 – please use email only during school closure

If you have an IMMEDIATE concern about a child or situation, please call Cheshire East Consultation Service (ChECS) on 0300 123 5012 (0300 123 5022 – Emergency Duty Team)


Dear Parents and Carers, (Year 11 and 13)

Whilst the final details of OFQUAL’s processes for awarding grades to Y11 and Y13 students is going to be published on Wednesday, we already have a very strong sense of what the various steps are going to be towards grading.

The process is clearly going to involve looking closely at three separate and equally important areas:

(1) starting points for students (KS2 data and GCSE Outcomes)

(2) prior school performance over the last academic year or so (to get a sense of expected progress in school)

(3) teacher assessments of the students (measured over the period of time that they have been in school).

The last of the three is the one in our immediate control. All secondary schools are going to be encouraged to work as department teams to collectively rank all students in a subject and come to an agreed rank order profile. This will then mean that Teacher Assessment grades can be applied. The Teacher Assessments will be sent off to DfE who will then apply a mathematical analysis which combines the starting point and expected, school-level progress, to come out with a final overall grade.

Despite the complications of distance between teachers, rest assured we will work hard on this and get it right.

Every school in the country now needs to be fair and honest in proposing a final grade for students. For those that try to over-inflate grades there will be significant consequences. If a school falls ‘out of tolerance’ when the data profile created by DfE gets applied, it will mean that all results will be subjected to a ‘moderation process’. This would not be a good outcome.

On the basis of the above, it is important for students in Year 11 and Year 13 to understand that they no longer need to complete any more work toward their GCSE or A Level courses. Given the complexity of the situation in which we all find ourselves a number of reasons spring to mind as to why this decision has been taken: it would be impossible to genuinely authenticate a student’s work as their own; each student may have more or less valuable access to the resources they need; the health and well-being of themselves or their family might be currently being significantly affected. As I am sure you are aware, there are myriad other reasons that may impinge on a student’s ability to complete work appropriately.

We do want Y11 and Y13 student to keep learning and expanding their horizons. For that reason we are preparing lots of work for students to move onto the next stage of their learning. There are a number of external providers offering services to this end and I will ensure we post these on the website and send them out to you as email reminders, so that your sons and daughters will remain gainfully engaged and active in their learning.

Although I am sure the temptation may be overwhelming, please can I urge you in the strongest possible terms not to contact members of staff to canvass for a particular grade, nor for students to do so either. We fully understand the importance and value of what qualifications mean to students and we will be exercising full professional care and responsibility in the grades we put forward. We want to get this right for the students, for the integrity of Eaton Bank Academy and because if, as a nation, we all contribute to a fair and judicious awarding of grades, we may go some way to changing the face of how assessment is undertaken in this country in the future.

There will no doubt be forms of appeal. Some being discussed (without a great deal of detail at this stage it must be said) include an ‘institutional appeal’ (i.e. from the school as a whole for a year group cohort) or the opportunity to undertake an examination (in effect a ‘re-sit’) at the soonest possible opportunity. Please note, in the latter case, we are not yet clear if this would be upon returning to school, in January or in the following summer season.

As more details emerge I will keep you fully briefed

Best wishes,

Ed O’Neill



Dear Parents and Carers,

This has been an unprecedented time for us all and the speed with which the country (indeed the world) has been plunged into a once-in-a-century crisis has been bewildering.  The suddenness with which the end of formal schooling came about was a real shock to us all and a particular wrench for those students who were within sight of public examinations in May and June.

In a time of such anxiety and fear, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the brilliant support we have received in school.  Parents and students alike have been writing in and offering fantastic suggestions and ideas and showing a really profound understanding of the difficulties we are all facing together. As well as working hard at maintaining remote learning and a provision in school for the children of key workersa large number of our staff have already volunteered to support the NHS whenever they can. In doing so they are directly supporting residents in and around Congleton.  In the face of genuine national adversity, I have been very moved by the loyalty, togetherness and efforts everybody has been making. It is a perfect illustration of how strong, compassionate and thoughtful we aras a community.

I know that the last week will have been very hard for you at homeif you are trying to continue your work from home as well as supervise the learning of your children you are taking on an unenviable task! We are trying hard to ensure that the students have continuity of education and we thank you for all of your efforts in helping support this process.  Over the coming days and weeks we will be developing how we manage the students’ learning.  At present we are aiming to push work out on a regular basis, though it is likely as we move further on we will be working through longer, project-based tasks.  

Being realistic, it is inevitable that for all students there will be a loss of learning compared to what would have been covered in the classroom but we are very confident that, once school resumes, we will be able to quickly make up on lost ground.  Nationally, Years 10 and 12 will have consideration in their final year that will reflect the loss of learning incurred.  It is likely they will sit modified examinations with greater flexibility and range on topics and questions to ensure that there is no detriment on their expected outcomes.   


How things progress over the next few days and weeks is still not clear but I would like to encourage you to use this time as an opportunity to develop a whole range of skills in your children; the new OfSTED framework preaches the importance of a broad and wideranging set of learning experiences for children of all agesThis appears the perfect opportunity to put that to the test.  Please don’t feel that your sons and daughters have to anchor themselves to a computer screen throughout the day.  They will need variety, periods away from the school curriculum and a whole range of stimuli.  We would be delighted to hear of the many and varied approaches you might take to enhancing learning, exploring new subjects and varying the range and scope of what they learn.  We will happily use tweets and posts to broadcast all the novel strategies you are employing to keep your children engaged and active.

In my assemblies last week with the students I urged them away from mindless and reductive activities (continuous X-box/Playstation gaming springs immediately to mind) and instead to take the chance to explore different things – read up on subjects they might not ordinarily study, learn to cook a meal, iron clothes or become a dab hand at tending the garden.  We have really high standards and high expectations of the students but I am writing now to remind everyone that the most important thing is to stay safe, healthy, happy and optimistic.  We will pick up the national curriculum and GCSE/A Level specifications when we get back to the usual routine of school life.  For now, variety in learning and approach could well be the magic ingredient.  

We are most likely looking at a September re-opening (earlier would be fantastic but conditions may mean it is not possible).  Please encourage your sons and daughters to engage with the work we set but equally don’t let them become upset or too minutely focused on it.  Remote learning is not a replacement for school learning – it will hopefully keep the mind active and engaged but there are also myriad other ways to do this. Don’t be shy of encouraging as many opportunities as you can find to expand their horizons and learn new skills.  We are really looking forward to finding out what new skills and abilities they have acquired when we see your children again.

I will continue to be in touch to update you as developments occur, particularly around how grades will be awarded for Year 11 and Y13 students.  Stay safe, healthy and well-balanced and look after each other.

Best wishes,

Ed O’Neill 


To ensure we keep our staff numbers on site to a minimum we will be closing school reception from tomorrow (24/3/2020) until further notice. If you wish to contact the school, please email and we will respond to you as soon as possible within working hours (8am to 4pm).

Thank you for your support.

How viruses spread and why you should follow NHS advice



Dear Parent/ Carer,

As has been reported in the national media, we have been instructed to close the school on Friday 20th March until further notice. We will notify parents as soon as we have more information.

Remote Learning

We will do all we can to continue to provide work for our students in this period. With this in mind, we intend to use Insight and the school website as the key resource for setting work and communicating with our students.  We recommend that you review your son’s /daughter’s Insight account with them every evening so that you can support them in structuring their studies at home as much as possible.

It will clearly not be possible for us to mark work and provide ongoing feedback for all students during the closure period. To make this manageable, we ask that students and parents in other year groups keep such emails to their teachers to a minimum.

Following on from the announcement of Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, we can confirm that there will be no GCSE or A-Level exams this summer.  However, please be assured that all students will receive their qualifications.  We do not know at this stage how final grades will be established, but we are confident the national examination system will treat them fairly. When we have further information about how qualifications will be graded and how UCAS will allocate university places, we will let you know.

Free School Meals

The Government has announced that families entitled to free school meals will be put on a national voucher system, whereby they will receive free coupons with monetary value to cover the loss of school meals. We plan to purchase Tesco vouchers, which will be emailed, texted or posted to parents/carers over the next few days.

Key Workers

Eaton Bank Academy will remain open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. The definitive list of who is a key worker has yet to be released by the Government, but we expect the list to include medical professionals, health workers, critical infrastructure and emergency services. When this list is issued, we will email parents to establish who fits this criteria – please ensure you respond as soon as possible so we can establish numbers.

While this closure is far from ideal, we will do our best to minimise the impact on our students.  Please keep an eye on the school website for further information and updates.

With thanks for your understanding in this matter and for your ongoing support of the school.

Yours faithfully,

Edward O’Neill

Dear Parent/Carer,

Across all year groups students will continue to learn from home.

Each day, where possible, teaching staff will update Insight app with work to be completed throughout the day.

Work set should take around an hour meaning that students can follow their normal timetabled lessons including breaks and lunch times

Where possible students will be set work which is away from computers to try to limit screen time.

Initially as staff and students learn to work in this new system and learning environment, teachers will not be providing feedback on work (except for year 11 and 13 coursework). Where possible, answers or feedback will be provided to allow students to self-mark their work.

We have populated the school website with subject specific learning resources suitable for each year group. In a situation where a teacher does not set work students should continue with past learning or access the website to find additional work.

Any student who does not have access to the Insight app should notify main reception in order to either set up Insight or receive paper-based work. Ideally this should happen prior to Friday afternoon.


Thank you for your support,


Edward O’Neill

Please find below urgent information and resources that have been developed with a range of useful websites and resources to support schools, parents, children and young people, developed from Cheshire East Educational Psychology Service.

Anna Freud Self-Care Infographic BPS Talking to children about Coronavirus Corona Educational Psychology Service support to Schools and Parents (2) Coronavirus Social Story Coronavirus Workbook for Children


Dear Parents/ Carers

In light of the latest information from the Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officer, dated Monday 16.3.20, we would like to update you on our current response to the ongoing Coronavirus situation.

Students should stay at home for 7 days minimum if they have either:

  • A high temperature;
  • A new, continuous cough.

Please refer to  if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.

We are currently prioritising work for Y11 and Y13 students to access. This can be found by accessing the links on the school website.

As with all the schools in the Fallibroome Trust, we are cancelling:

  • All trips and visits (including all domestic and foreign trips) for the remainder of the academic year
  • All non-essential visitors to the school (this includes sporting fixtures, external assembly/presentation deliverers, planned photography sessions, etc)
  • For staff, all non- essential and/or extra-curricular meetings and activities, including Governors’ meetings and Parents’ Evenings.

At present the DfE’s guidance to keep schools open remains the same, as of 16.3.20.

Please be aware that the situation and the government response appears to be developing rapidly. In circumstances of significant staff absence, Headteachers will consider supervision and Health and Safety requirements and may send selective year groups or classes home. In such extraordinary circumstances preparation for national examinations will be maintained, with on-line resources being extended where feasible.

In the longer term, we are awaiting confirmation of what will happen for the summer series of examinations.  As things stand, there is no change to our expectations that the summer series will continue as planned.  The Secretary of State is in discussions this week to deliberate on this very issue; as soon as we know any more we will let parents and students know.

As always, our overarching priority is to ensure that our students and staff stay safe.

Yours sincerely,

Edward O’Neill
Cheshire East website

Prevention is always better than cure, so, as with the flu virus, the most effective way for people to protect themselves from coronavirus is to adopt good respiratory and hand hygiene to prevent the risk of infection and a ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach to coughs and sneezes.