The Academy is closed indefinitely - click here for details on exceptions and other updates
Guidance, Advice & Updates for Parents & Students
Summer examinations update We wanted to write to you personally to echo the important messages you have received from your Headteacher over the past few weeks and to clarify what the Government has shared with education sector leaders regarding this summer’s examinations. The coronavirus has plunged the world into a state of chaos, and we are all trying to navigate through these unprecedented times and trying desperately to understand how to support each other whilst focusing on the minimising the terrible impact of COVID19. You are particularly affected as you have been working hard preparing for your GCSE, A level and vocational examinations this summer and that will undoubtedly cause you uncertainty and anxiety – this is completely natural as you will be concerned about the next phase of your life; be that into Post-16 education, university or into the world of work. The Government has provided the following guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/news/furtherdetails-on-exams-and-grades-announced In summary, your teachers will submit predicted grades that they believe “fairly reflects the work that they have put in”. The guidance also states that teacher will “take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly will be provided to schools and colleges. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in.” There will be an opportunity for those who wish to appeal against one or more of their predicted grades to sit an examination early in the Autumn Term, although it is unclear how or when that will be organised at this stage. This is one of several reasons why it is important that you keep up with your studies over the months ahead. We completely understand there are many questions yet to be answered and everyone involved in your education is anxiously waiting additional information from the Government. Please be assured your teachers and Headteacher will do everything possible to ensure you get the grades you deserve based on your efforts up to this point. Some of you will be completing coursework and will be submitting that in the normal way, as this is likely to be part of the evidence that your school will have to submit to support your predicted grade, and your school will help you to ensure your efforts are appropriately acknowledged and rewarded. However, it is important to consider that learning is more than just gaining examination results and I would urge you to continue with your studies during this uncertain phase of your education. Learning is a life-long skill and the current situation provides an opportunity for you to develop some of those skills you will use in the next phase of your life. Developing skills such as independent learning, research and A place to thrive 2 conceptual thinking, improving revision techniques, honing a variety of communication skills, developing I.T. capability, including those that support remote/virtual learning, will stand you in good stead for the future and I would encourage you to find the right balance of looking after yourself and those close to you whilst continuing to focus on your future. Your school will update any news regarding your examinations on the school’s website and I would encourage you to follow the Department for Education (DfE) website for the latest updates. The website address is https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education We are also conscious that your normal school experience was cut short and the important social elements of a being part of a school community have bkers or have particular defined needs (see later section). This is part of the
een sadly affected. I know your school is already thinking about how they can redress that when we, as a country, recover from COVID-19. Stay safe and very best wishes for the future.
Closure of School due to Coronavirus
We have been instructed by the Department for Education to close the school to all students except those students whose parents are critical (key) wor
national strategy to delay the further spread of Coronavirus. With effect from Monday 23 March, St Mark’s Church of England Academy will be closed until further notice.
The most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear.
If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
More information for parents can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers
That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in the wider society.
Key Principles that the Government have set out:
Please follow these:
1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical (key) worker, then educational provision will be available for them. Currently this will be at our school. But please be aware that this may change if we cannot provide sufficient and appropriate staffing.
3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical (key) worker, then educational provision will be available for them. Currently this will be at our school. But please be aware that this may change if we cannot provide sufficient and appropriate staffing.
Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
I realise that not attending school causes potential disruption to your child’s learning and routine. The school has put in place steps to help students continue to learn whilst at home through ShowMyHomework
This year’s summer examinations for Year 11 and 13 will also not go ahead, with the government pledging to work with the exams regulator “to ensure children get the qualifications that they need”. We are awaiting further clarification on how qualifications will be awarded and will let you know once we have further information. The school will continue to set work for any Year 11 and 13 students via ShowMyHomework
During the school closure, your child’s non-attendance will not be marked as an unauthorised absence. This will not affect your child’s attendance record.
I will keep you informed of any changes to the school closure via the school website and parent e- mail. If you have any questions on whole school arrangements, please e-mail the school firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any safeguarding concerns please contact email@example.com via email.
I would be grateful if you can keep up to date with the Public Health England guidance on Coronavirus so that you can keep yourself and your family safe. Use the website below, which is currently being updated daily:
The government has asked schools to only remain open to students whose parents are critical (key) workers or children who have an Education Health and Care Plan or social worker. If your child falls into one of these categories they are eligible to attend school.
For safeguarding and planning reasons we must know in advance which students are intending to come into school during the school closure.
If you wish for your child to continue to attend school, please complete the response form using this link by 2pm on Friday 20 March. Once we have received your form we will confirm that you have a place.
School will be open for these students only from Monday 23 March. For replies received after 2pm noon on Friday 20 March, students may be given an alternative start date. This to aid us in planning the correct staffing levels.
Students attending school on Monday 23 March should be in suitable clothes every day or full school uniform and report to the main hall at 8:30am. Please note that the normal school behaviour policy applies whilst children are in school.
The school will be open and students will be supervised completing the work set by their normal teachers.
For next week until we know the number of students attending school our break and lunch dinner service will continue as usual. We will not be holding a breakfast club, however all students who attend will be provided with a free break time option. Those who receive FSM will continue to receive a meal at lunch time free of charge.
Parents should assume there is no/limited public transport available and should make their own arrangements for their child to travel to and from school. Please contact Merton Council if you require any further information on school transport.
The school will be open Monday to Friday from 8.30am – 2.45pm. As our usual behaviour policy applies, any student detentions could be held on site until 3pm.
Free School Meals
If your child is not attending school and is eligible for a free school meal, they will receive a packed lunch for the next two weeks until Friday 3rd April. If you are eligible for Free School Meals your child can pick up a packed lunch each day between 11am – 12midday. We will update those eligible for Free School Meals separately with further plans or changes to this.
It is important to underline that schools remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
I appreciate that this is a difficult time for families and children, but I can assure you the school is taking every step possible to follow government guidance.
Our staff are working incredibly hard to play their role in supporting the government in their strategy to contain this virus. I know that you will join with me in thanking them for their dedication and commitment. Please do all you can to support them and help them at this time. Please work with us to protect them too and follow all Public Health Guidance.
As the situation evolves, we will continue to update you on how our plans change. May I take this opportunity to thank you in advance for your continued support.
Dear Parents and Carers
We write further to the earlier Prime Minister’s briefing and statement made to the House of Commons last night by Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education. Covid-19 is undoubtedly one of the greatest global challenges of our time and we in education must now also adapt and adopt profound changes to our methods of working.
The Academy will close on Friday 20 March - until further notice – to all students other than those in the key worker category as identified by the Prime Minister. We are still waiting for the confirmation from the cabinet office about who is in this group and who isn’t, and we will write to you as soon as we can with more information.
For these children and young people identified, we are anticipating that we will be running - for as long as we are able - provision on our school site, including over the Easter Holidays. This provision will not be the usual timetable or the National Curriculum, however we will endeavour to ensure your children and young people are safe and cared for during this period.
At the time of writing we are not able to confirm whether school transport will continue in its current form and will let parents know as soon as we have more information. Please keep checking the School website and emails regularly as these will be our channels for communication.
For those pupils and students not in these priority groups, who unfortunately will not be attending school for the foreseeable future we are working on continuing to provide learning resources and guidance. We will provide more information about this in due course.
Please could we respectfully ask for your support in not calling us with questions at this stage. We know that you have many questions that need to be answered. You have our reassurance that we are working as quickly and effectively as we can, in order to be able to present a clear plan to you as soon as we can as soon as we get detailed guidance from Government. We will provide a further update later today.
From tomorrow, Thursday 19th March until Friday 20th March the school will be closed to pupils in Year 9, 10 and 12 only. Any students in Year 9, 10 and 12 who are entitled to FSM can come to the school on Thursday 19th March and Friday 20th March to collect a “grab and go” meal at 1pm from the picnic area.
We apologise for the inconvenience but our priority is to keep our students safe and we cannot do that if we do not have enough staff on site. If you cannot keep your child at home safely, please contact us on 020 8648 6627 and we will make every attempt to accommodate your child by group teaching.
We are reviewing the situation as it evolves and will notify you as early as possible of any decisions we make. Please keep your children at home when the school is closed to their year group and ensure that they complete the work on showmyhomework.
You will be aware that we are putting provisions in place should we have to close or partially close the school, as directed by the Government or due to staffing reduction. To aid our planning, please can you complete a quick survey by following this link:
St Mark’s Parent Employment Survey
This is entirely optional, however it will enable us to plan for pupil learning and appropriate pastoral care, as well as contingency planning. Please see our school Privacy Notice if you want to know more about how we use information. This is available here: St Mark’s Academy Policies. At this stage we are still waiting for firm guidance from the Department for Education, however as soon as we know more, we will communicate with you. The information we are gathering will just help us respond quickly.
As it stands, there are still no known cases of COVID-19 among our staff or student groups. As a precautionary measure, a number of families have taken the decision to self-isolate in accordance with the current advice about what to do if you experience possible symptoms – namely:
• A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
• A new, continuous cough
We continually advise our families to follow the guidance as directed by NHS which can be found here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
We continue to be advised by the Government, Public Health England and Anthem Schools Trust, and will update you via our school website and Parent Mail of any further developments.
Please bear with us through these challenging times and be assured that we are doing our very best to respond to this rapidly evolving situation in the interests of everyone in our school community. I understand that this is a very concerning time for everyone and I wish all our families good health during these uncertain times.
We hope you’ve had a restful weekend. The Academy is open tomorrow, Monday 16 March 2020 and look forward to welcoming our students at 8.25am. If your child is absent please call 020 8648 6627 (option 1). In these uncertain times, we hope that our families are well and in good health.
I understand that many of you will be feeling very worried at the moment, so I wanted to update and reassure you about what we are doing to safeguard our school community against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Thankfully, we have not yet had any confirmed cases of the virus at our school, and we continue to follow the Public Health England (PHE) guidelines very closely. Yesterday, the Government advised that that if you develop a new persistent cough and/or high temperature (37.8 degrees or above), to please self-isolate your child at home for 7 days.
The advice from the Government for people with symptoms has changed. You do not need to call NHS 111 but should follow advice on the NHS website and also the stay at home guidelines. Please see links included in this letter.
What to do if your child develops the symptoms
- Call the School Attendance Office on 020 8648 6627 (option 1)
- Inform the Attendance Manager of your child’s name and symptoms
- Self-isolate for 7 days from the point of your child displaying mild symptoms
- You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into isolation
- If your condition worsens, call NHS 111 or in an emergency call 999
- If after 7 days your child no longer has any symptoms, he/she may return to school
Virtual learning in the event of school closure
In the event of a school closure and to minimise the disruption of learning for your child, we have arranged a virtual learning platform to enable continued learning from home. You and your child will be able to access further guidance from the school website, in the event the school has to close.
We will utilise the virtual learning platform ‘Show My Homework’ and where required, will send communication to students via their school email account. Please check with your child that they have their login details for both accounts.
If the school has to close, we will contact you via Parentmail, text and update our website. I would strongly advise that if you have recently changed your contact details (mobile and/or email address) to please inform the school office of the changes as soon as possible. Please call 020 8648 6627 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Travelling overseas during Easter break and/or other term breaks
- For your safety, we strongly recommend that you do not travel to countries listed as ‘against travel’ as advised by the FCO
- You should consult the latest travel advice from the FCO and Public Health England
- Subscribe to email alerts for the country/territory you’re planning to visit. Get email alerts here https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Preventative Measures at the Academy
I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you about the steps we have taken to ensure good hygiene and limit the risk of viral infection at school.
- Hand washing facilities with soap for all students, staff and visitors
- Enhanced cleaning regime carried out by our cleaning contractor
- Deep clean of the Academy carried out by our cleaning contractor
- A ‘no hand shake’ approach during our greetings
- COVID-19 guidance posters around the Academy
- Screening declaration form for all visitors on site
- Safe isolation procedures in place to deal with suspected symptoms
- Communication and guidance provided to students during coaching time
- Alcohol based surface wipes for each department and key areas
- Tissue available for every classroom
- All students have and continue to receive briefings on keeping safe & healthy during these uncertain times.
- Staff are regularly briefed on updates and actions to take to ensure the safe and wellbeing of St Mark’s community
These measures will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
I understand this is a very concerning time for everyone, but it is important that we all remain calm and respond appropriately according to official advice and guidance. I wish all our families good health during these uncertain times.
Stay at Home Guidance
Public Health England
Government Action Plan https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan
NHS 11 Online
To protect the wellbeing of all our visitors, staff and pupils, we have introduced some precautionary measures for all visitors to our Academy site. These remain subject to change, according to Government advice. Ahead of our event, if any of the following statements apply, we kindly ask that you follow the Public Health Guidance and quarantine yourself for 14 days – this would mean that you do not come into school but instead, call NHS 111 for further advice.
- You have travelled to a category 1 area
- You have travelled to a category 2 area and have developed symptoms
- You have, within the past 14 days been in contact with anyone with suspected or confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19)
We welcome all visitors to the Academy but have agreed to review our welcome to all visitors and exercise a ‘no hand shake’ greeting. In light of the additional precautionary measures, we still look forward to seeing you at future Academy events.
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do. Use the NHS 111 Corona Service
https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 Use this service if:
- you think you might have coronavirus
- in the last 14 days you've been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus – see our coronavirus advice for travellers
- you've been in close contact with someone with coronavirus
Please see joint statement from Merton LA and Public Health England
A letter was sent home via ParentMail to all parents. See letter below. Please inform the main office if you have changed your email and/or contact details to ensure you continue to receive updates from the Academy. Thank you.