9th April 2021
Dear Parent or Carer,
I hope that this correspondence finds you and your loved ones well and that you have been able to enjoy the recent Easter break, especially considering the lifting of some of the Covid-19 restrictions around being able to see your more of your family and friends: these are welcome changes but as we are told by the Government and SAGE repeatedly, we must be cautious and adhere to the rules still in place stringently.
I would like to bring to your attention some important updates and key information which will affect your child on their return to the academy on Wednesday 14th April.
New Build Update
I would like to thank all our parents and carers students for their support and understanding of our need to have had to close the school to students previously on the 26th March and on Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th April. The short-term inconvenience that we are experiencing will be well worth it as I can honestly say that the new building is fantastic and really will create an inspiring environment for our students and staff. I will share images of the brand new, three storey block in the coming days when we take ownership of the building. As their existing bubble classrooms are soon to be demolished, Year 7 will be the first to fully occupy the building. For the time being, given the Government’s guidance, other Year Groups will remain in their current bases for the majority of their lessons, but will be escorted safely to the new building for timetabled specialist lessons such as IT, art, drama, dance, music, design & food technology, sports science and hospitality and catering (if opted for).
The DFE allows schools occupying new buildings to close to students to deal with the logistics of moving IT equipment such as desktops, monitors, smartboards and other equipment, furniture such as tables, chairs and cabinets, cupboards teaching resources and stock from the buildings that are soon to be demolished and from other parts of the Academy site in order for us to deliver teaching and learning and catering in the new building that will eventually house 80% of our daily operations.
Just like moving to a new house - but on a much larger organisational scale, I’m sure that you will understand - there will always be snags and teething problems. Most of these we have contingencies for, but our existing kitchen and dining halls, soon to be demolished, have been decommissioned and the large appliances are being transported to the new building along with new cashless catering tills and serveries. As we do not officially receive access to the new building from the Department for Education and the building contractors until the project is signed off at some point on Monday 12th April, there may be some disruption to the normal services and menus provided by our catering staff until the kitchens are fully operational. This will only be a temporary situation, but in anticipation of any potential problems, I need to inform you that we may not be able to provide hot food on Wednesday 14th April and cold food such as sandwiches, baguettes, bagels and fruit will be on offer should this be the case. Students who are entitled to free school meals will be provided for, but parents and carers may wish to provide a pack up lunch for their children on Wednesday. We will update parents and carers to confirm dining arrangements and if hot meals will be available via a SchoolComms email and text message on Tuesday 13th April.
On 6th April, the Government updated their guidance on the wearing of face coverings in educational settings and students, staff and other adults are still expected to wear them in classrooms, in communal areas such as corridors, stair wells and in the dining room until seated to consume food and drink. This will be reviewed on the 17th May by the UK Government’s Department for Education. Until that point, we must request that your child, unless exempt for medical reasons or other conditions outlined in the Government’s guidance.
Face coverings, however, do not need to be worn outside of buildings on the premises due to indoors being deemed as a greater risk. They must though be replaced as students re-enter corridors and other communal areas including classrooms. I need everyone to pull together and support the Academy in enforcing this Government requirement: at this precarious time, when, as nation, we are following a ‘roadmap’ to the easing of restrictions on the 21st June, we cannot be complacent and must do all do our bit as no individual can see themselves as being more important than the wider community and society as a whole and I need your support in helping our young people understand this. I am immensely proud of the way our students have responded to this health crisis, but a very small minority of students need to be reminded that wearing face coverings in classrooms and communal areas is not just a school rule for the sake of it but is part of Government guidance so please speak to your child about the importance of wearing a face covering to protect others – I would truly appreciate it. Whilst uncomfortable and an irritation for all of us, both UK Government and its scientific advisers - as well as the World Health Organisation - stipulate that face coverings should be worn as a preventative measure.
The UK Government and Department for Education’s guidance on face coverings can be found in via the following link, on page 5 of the published document:
You may also wish to read the World Health Organisation’s published guidance.
‘For indoor public settings such as busy shopping centres, religious buildings, restaurants, schools and public transport, you should wear a mask if you cannot maintain physical distance from others.’
The new building and exceptional closure days
Whilst we have invested in a ‘Reval’ machine in the new dining hall through which students can put cash onto their account, this is solely intended for those families who cannot access ParentPay, our cashless catering system, because they do not have internet access or a smartphone. The quickest and safest way to put funds into your child’s catering account is to use ParentPay.
If you do not already have an active ParentPay account, in the interests of health and safety, can I please request that you do so before your child attends the Academy on Wednesday 14th April.
Please follow the link below to access the ParentPay system and thank you in advance.
As mentioned previously in my letter to you, teaching staff will provide learning through Microsoft Teams on Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th April. Students should therefore follow their normal timetable, attending lessons via their Teams Classrooms. Students are expected to be on time and ensure they complete any tasks as directed by their teachers. Tasks will be set in the form of assignments in classrooms. There is a dedicated page on our website to support staff, students and parents and this can be found here www.ashhillacademy.org.uk/online-academy
Should you be unable to access Microsoft Teams during these days, please contact the Academy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning on the above number.
I look forward to welcoming back our wonderful student community at the normal times for each year group on Wednesday 14th April.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding in this challenging time – it is greatly appreciated and making such a difference.
Mr G Moffatt