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COVID-19 Information

 Covid-19 Testing Privacy Notice


September 2022

School is fully open and attendance procedures have now returned to pre-covid practices.

Any absence should be communicated to the school in the usual way.

You can report a student's absence on Tel: 01993 811431 option 1, or alternatively please email attendance@themarlboroughschool.org.  

The latest guidance around covid is as follows:

“Children and young people aged 18 years and under who have a positive covid test result

It is not recommended that children and young people are tested for COVID-19 unless directed to by a health professional.

If a child or young person has a positive COVID-19 test result they should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day they took the test, if they can. After 3 days, if they feel well and do not have a high temperature, the risk of passing the infection on to others is much lower. This is because children and young people tend to be infectious to other people for less time than adults.

Children and young people who usually go to school, college or childcare and who live with someone who has a positive COVID-19 test result should continue to attend as normal.”

The Department for Education (DfE) have published a guide, Everything you need to know about school attendance on their Education Hub. The link can be found here:


1st March 2022

Dear Parents and Carers,

Changes to covid guidance

Over the half-term break, the Government issued new guidance around the management of coronavirus infections within schools and educational settings.

Self-isolation and daily testing of close contacts

From Thursday 24th February, the Government has removed the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test. However, children who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days. On Day 5, they should take a Lateral Flow Test (LFT). The test should be taken from when their symptoms started, or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms, followed by a further test the next day. If both tests return a negative result, they should return to school, but only if they well enough to do so. No child
should come to school if they feel unwell or if they have a high temperature.

In addition to this, the Government announced the end of routine contact tracing. Contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests. Staff, children and young people should attend their education settings as usual. This includes pupils who have been in close contact with a member of their household with covid. More details can be found in theLiving with COVID-19 plan published last week.

Testing

The Government is removing the guidance for staff and pupils to undertake twice-weekly asymptomatic testing. Unless in extreme cases, schools will no longer be supplied with free test kits. Pupils and families are able to access test kits from their local pharmacy or online.

Face coverings

Face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors in classrooms or communal areas, although individual staff and pupils may choose to continue to wear face coverings if it makes them feel safer and more comfortable. Our pupils and staff have been fantastic regarding this issue and have shown empathy and respect for others. I expect this to continue.

‘Living with covid’

The recent changes feel like a return to normality and certainly reflect the broader changes across society. However, I am acutely aware, as we have said many times before, that ‘living with covid’ is not the same as acting as if it doesn’t exist. We still have around fifteen pupils currently not in school with covid, and one member of staff. We will remain cautious in our approach in order to protect
the health and safety of all members of the community.

To this end, we will continue to be considerate of others and make sure that staff and
pupils continue to take regular LFTs whilst we still have a supply of test kits. We will also continue with our covid secure measures, including the use of hand sanitiser, one-way systems around buildings, the separate social spaces for each year group and continue opening windows and doors to allow adequate ventilation in classrooms and shared spaces.

We will also continue to provide LFTs for our pupils who attend the Ormerod Resource Base and the staff who work there.

Looking to the future

The end of last term saw the return of music and drama in front of a live audience with the ‘Winter Cabaret’ taking place in the MEC. It was a brilliant production that showed the true resilience, talent, enthusiasm and commitment of the pupils and staff here at Marlborough. To all our parents and carers, I would like to say an enormous thank you for all the help and support you provide for your children and the school. It is hugely appreciated, and your messages of support have certainly seen us through some challenging times. We have so much to look forward to in the coming weeks and
months as the school goes from strength to strength.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon
Principal


7th January 2022

Dear Parents and Carers,

Start of Term

Just a short up-date to let you know what a great start we have had to this new term. All pupils have returned to school with enthusiasm and a palpable commitment to their learning – all lessons have been purposeful and focused, and school feels calm and settled.

Thank you

I really wanted to say a huge thank you for your co-operation with the home testing programme. As a result of your support with home testing, we have been able to identify those pupils who have tested positive before they returned to school, which is playing an enormous part in keeping transmission rates in our school low. We will be issuing all pupils with another box of seven home testing kits on Tuesday morning (11th January) to allow home testing to continue.

Similarly, providing your children with masks and face coverings has meant we are able to manage our own stocks and ensure those pupils in need of a face covering are able to have one.

We were able to test the entire pupil population in one day on Wednesday, returning just 2 positive tests across all year groups. We currently have 1 member of staff who is absent for covid-related reasons, so I am conscious that we are in a really good position compared to schools locally and nationally.

We will see how the situation develops over the next couple of weeks, and continue to keep a careful eye on the data and the national picture. For now, we are confident that our staff and pupils are as safe as they possibly can be in school, allowing our teachers to focus on delivering high quality teaching and learning in all our lessons.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hanlon

Principal


4th January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

Happy New Year! I hope that you and your families have had a restful holiday and a good break.

You will be aware that the DfE published an up-dated version of their guidance to schools in the current national context of coronavirus. I will share with you the important information that will impact us here at Marlborough. Throughout last term, the numbers of positive covid cases within the pupil community were extremely low. Similarly, staff cases were very low, meaning that there was little covid disruption to learning. Whilst we cannot predict what the new term will bring, please be assured that we will continue to do all we can to maintain our safe practices, with pupil and staff safety at the forefront of our planning for the new term.

Testing at the start of Term

Firstly, can I remind all of you to make sure that all pupils have tested themselves with a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) the night before, or on the morning of, Wednesday 5th, before returning to school. All pupils were issued with LFT home test kits at the end of last term to ensure that they are able to undertake a LFT at home. Performing a LFT before returning to school is an important step in keeping your child and other members of the school community safe. There are kits available if you do not have any, which can be collected from school our main Reception - although these have to be limited to one box (seven tests) per family please in the first instance.

We will be testing all pupils on their first day back at school (Wednesday 5th), starting with the Sixth Form. This means that all pupils will have been tested twice at the start of this new year – once at home, with the second test at school.

Of course, if your child tests positive, has any symptoms, or feels unwell, please do not send them to school and let us know in the usual way.

Changes to the isolation period

The new guidance outlines the changes to the isolation period for anyone who tests positive for coronavirus. The exact wording is here:

"Since Wednesday 22 December, the 10-day self-isolation period for people who record a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 has been reduced to 7 days in most circumstances, unless you cannot test for any reason. Individuals may now take LFD tests on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period. Those who receive two negative test results are no longer required to complete 10 full days of self-isolation.

The first test must be taken no earlier than day 6 of the self-isolation period and tests must be taken 24 hours apart. If your test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative test result and return to your education setting from day 8."

The guidance then recommends taking daily LFTs until what would have been Day 10 of the self-isolation period.

Daily testing for close contacts

The guidance also says that identified close contacts no longer need to need to isolate or take a PCR test, but can continue to come to school by taking daily LFTs: "People who are fully vaccinated, or children and young people aged between 5 and 18 years and 6 months, identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should take an LFD test every day for seven days and continue to attend their setting as normal, unless they have a positive test result or develop symptoms at any time."

Use of face coverings in education settings

We will be following the guidance of wearing masks or face coverings in classrooms, as well as in corridors and internal communal areas. This basically equates to everyone wearing masks when inside buildings. We will be continuing with wearing masks or face coverings when arriving at and departing school. We do have a supply of masks in schools. However, we would really appreciate it if families could provide their children with a face covering where possible. The advice on face coverings in classrooms will be in place until Wednesday 26th January, at which point it will be reviewed by the DfE.

Adequate ventilation

One of the most effective ways we have been able to limit the transmission of the virus at school is through careful and deliberate ventilation of teaching spaces. Pupils will be permitted to wear coats in lessons whilst windows and doors are open and the weather remains cold. We will review this at the end of January, along with the wearing of masks in classrooms.

Covid-secure systems and protocols

We will continue with all of our whole school covid-secure protocols. These include retaining:

• the one-way systems around school and in buildings (continuing with the existing arrangements);

• the integrity of the Ormerod Corridor by not using it as a thoroughfare; • our separate social spaces;

• our separate food serveries (with a new food cube added in the Year 7 and the conversion of the Conservatory Cafe now completed);

• Key Stage Pastoral Bases and Student Services;

• The controlled dismissal of pupils at the end of the school day.

We will be up-dating our whole school Risk Assessment this week in light of these new guidelines.

Thank you in advance for your continued co-operation and commitment to ensure that the start of the new term is as safe and smooth as possible for all pupils and staff.

I look forward to welcoming your children back to school later this week.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon, Principal


17th December 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

End of Term

I am writing to you at the end of another incredibly busy and successful term here at The Marlborough School. I have just finished helping some of our young people load a mini bus full of donated groceries to deliver to the Food Bank in Kidlington – just one example of how we have seen our community come together in order to support each other in real and tangible ways this term. It will be a long time before we take our daily social interactions for granted, and we are well aware of how important school is for providing safety, structure, routines and a consistent level of support for all our pupils (and staff!)

I continue to be incredibly proud of the speed with which we adapt as a school community in response to new rules, guidance and regulations. Once again, we have performed remarkably well – the end of term has seen a very small number of pupils testing positive, with our figures consistently measuring around 1% of pupils absent with covid at any one time during the term. We have continued to deliver all our lessons, and staff attendance has in fact been slightly above what we might usually expect for this term – colleagues have consistently gone above and beyond to support the school and our pupils. The Pre-Public Examinations for Year 11 and Year 13 went really well, with both year groups in a strong position to tackle the return of summer examinations next year.

Virtual Christmas Concert

If you missed it on our website, you are invited to spend half an hour in the company of the talented musicians of The Marlborough School who performed in the Virtual Christmas Concert 2021. The concert is a really high-quality production and is guaranteed to get you in the festive mood. So, settle down with a cup of tea and mince pie and watch it here: https://youtu.be/PM6V0apg-d4

RLT Report

Paul James, CEO of River Learning Trust has asked me to draw your attention to the RLT Annual Report to Stakeholders: December 2021. This report provides a brief review of the past year across the River Learning Trust and can be accessed here: https://riverlearningtrust.org/report-tostakeholders-2021/

January arrangements: Pupils return: Wednesday 5th January 2022

Staff return to school for a professional learning day on Tuesday 4th January 2022.

All pupils will return to school on Wednesday 5th January. There are no plans to stagger the start of next term. However, in line with updated Department for Education guidelines, we have been asked to provide on-site Covid testing to all pupils when they return.

On the first day back, we will be conducting on-site Covid-19 testing for all pupils who have consented to participate in the testing programme. The approach we will take will be the same as the one we took for the return of students in September, however, there will only be one test rather than two.

We plan to test all pupils in one day, beginning before school starts with the Sixth Form from 8.15am.

Please remember to use the Lateral Flow Test kits (LFTs) we have provided for all of your children to make sure they test themselves either the night before, or on the morning of 5th January, before returning to school.

Christmas Holidays

Last year, we received different guidance and up-dated arrangements for schools throughout the holiday period. I am hopeful that this year will be quieter and that we can all enjoy a well-earned break. I will not speculate at this stage about what decisions we will take in the new year, but will wait to see what unfolds in the coming weeks.

May I take this opportunity to thank all our families for their continued support of your children and the school. I hope you have a peaceful, safe and joyful Christmas.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


29th November 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

Late yesterday afternoon, we received an email from the Department for Education (DfE) regarding some new guidance for schools in response to the new Omicron Covid variant.

Face coverings

The DfE email states: "Face coverings should be worn in communal areas in all settings by staff, visitors and pupils or students in Year 7 and above, unless they are exempt. Pupils or students (in Year 7 or above) should wear face coverings on public and dedicated school transport, unless they are exempt. "

For us at Marlborough, this means that we will revert to our former practice of all pupils and staff wearing face coverings in corridors and as we move between lessons. Face coverings may also be worn during lessons if pupils and staff feel safer and more comfortable keeping their face covered.

All pupils are required to wear masks on all buses and transport to and from school.

Therefore, please make sure you provide your child with a mask to wear to school from tomorrow (Tuesday 30th November).

Testing

The DfE continues to encourage regular testing at home. The email states: “All educational and childcare settings should continue to encourage staff and students to test twice weekly using lateral flow device (LFD) tests.” We have test kits available from Reception. We have also been asked to test all pupils on their return to school in January. We will share more specific information about this with you as and when we have it.

Contact tracing and isolation

Anyone who comes into contact with the new variant will have to isolate, regardless of vaccination statues or age. This will be managed by the Track and Trace system. The email states: “The current guidance on contact tracing and isolation remains in place. In addition to these, any suspected or confirmed close contacts of the Omicron variant will be asked to isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status or age. You will be contacted directly and told to isolate.”

Vaccinations

The DfE has also asked schools to remind parents about the vaccination programme for young people. It says: “All eligible staff and students aged 12 and over are encouraged to take up the offer of the vaccine, including boosters. Vaccines are our best defence against COVID-19. They help protect young people and adults, and benefit those around them. Vaccination makes people less likely to catch the virus and less likely to pass it on. To book a vaccination, please visit: Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination – NHS (www.nhs.uk)”

Further measures

We are not sure how long these arrangements will last and so will continue to keep the situation under review here at school. We will continue with our current measures of well-ventilated rooms, social distancing where possible, separate social spaces and regular hand hygiene.

We are not undertaking any ‘live’ assemblies before Christmas, and will risk assess events such as the Christmas Music Concert in the coming days.

As soon as we have more information and a clearer picture of the situation here at school and in the community, we will be in touch with you.

In the meantime, please keep safe and take care.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


12th November 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to you with an update on some of the current issues here at school. We have made a really positive start to term and life at school certainly feels a bit ‘normal’ than it has over the previous couple of months.

Covid and attendance

The number of cases amongst our pupils continue to be very low (with no positive cases for the last five days of school). This is in the national context of 248,000 pupils absent from school two weeks ago a national average attendance of 88%, with secondary schools around 86% - on average our attendance last week was 93%. I would like to thank you all for your continuing care and sensitive approach to keeping your children as safe as possible. Our decision to limit the mixing of pupils as far as possible and to continue with virtual assemblies appears to be effective in limiting the spread of the virus in school. This is in addition to our approach of continuing to keep classrooms well ventilated and maintaining our distance where possible and appropriate.

We are also continuing our practice of sharing letters and information with you from the NHS and the School Health Nursing Team.

Parents’ Evening

We are also continuing to manage our Parents’ Evenings virtually using the School Cloud system, beginning yesterday with Year 10. The feedback that we received from parents and pupils was overwhelmingly positive regarding the experience of virtual Parents’ Evening, so we are keen to continue with this, but also to adapt our practice where necessary. As always, if you have any feedback or want to share your experiences, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Governor Vacancy

I am delighted to share with you the exciting opportunity of becoming a governor at The Marlborough School. A vacancy has arisen for a committed, passionate and positive member of the community to join our team of governors. More information on the role is available on the school website: https://www.marlborough.oxon.sch.uk/171/governors

Remembrance

It was wonderful to experience our Remembrance Assembly as a community this week and I am grateful to both staff and pupils who contributed to make the assembly such as a moving and memorable event. It was another reminder of our return to something like normality, as are the many rehearsals for music and drama taking place after school, the clubs and sports fixtures that are also taking place along with the increase in visitors coming to school to support our young people, quality assure our provision or to visit us as a centre of excellence.

We continue to be grateful for all the support provided by our families as we enter an important stage in the academic year with Year 13 Pre-Public Exams (PPEs) this week, and Year 11 PPEs to come. We wish all our pupils the very best.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


7th September 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to provide a brief update on the successful start to the school year.

Testing

This morning we completed the first round of testing all pupils in school. The entire process has returned one single positive result, which equates to a tiny percentage of the pupil population. This means that all adults and pupils now in school have been tested and returned negative results. I hope you find this reassuring and please be in no doubt that we will continue to maintain our covid-safe practices, whilst enjoying the greater movement around site we have seen over the past couple of days.

Testing at home

We are extremely grateful that large numbers of you have been testing at home, either the night before or in the morning before school. Please continue to do this for the rest of the week.

As a reminder, Years 7, 12 and 13 will test again on Wednesday, Years 10 and 11 on Thursday and Years 8 and 9 on Friday.

Start of the year

A special mention must go to our new Year 7 pupils who had their lateral flow tests on the first day of secondary school! I was delighted and relieved that no-one tested positive. Our new Year 12s have also adapted quickly and maturely into Sixth Form life. The behaviour, attitude and approach of all our pupils on their return has been exemplary. Our pupils should be really proud of themselves.

Access issues

We received no advance warning nor information regarding the road closure at the start of term. It seems remarkable that this work should begin on the very day our pupils return to school. We are being understanding of pupils and parents who are finding the traffic difficult in the mornings. Hopefully the work will be completed in a timely manner.

Many thanks, as always, for your support of the school at the start of this academic year. It is greatly appreciated.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal 


23rd August 2021

Dear Parents and Carers of Year 7 pupils,

Welcome

Firstly, I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all as new members of the Marlborough family. We are looking forward to welcoming your children to our school in September and are really excited about the opportunities and experiences that lie ahead. Before term begins, I would like to let you know about the arrangements for September.

Contact Tracing

As you will be aware, over the summer holidays, the country has moved to Step 4 of the government’s ‘roadmap’ for ending coronavirus restrictions. This has slightly different implications for pupils at secondary school than it does for those at primary.

From the 16th August, pupils are no longer required to self-isolate, even if they are in close contact with someone who tests positive. This means that schools are no longer responsible for tracing ‘close contacts’ – the process which led to pupils having to self-isolate and the closure of school ‘bubbles’. Instead, the new guidance states that testing will be available to all secondary pupils on their return to school and that any close contacts of a positive case will be advised to take a PCR test. Of course, no pupils should attend school if they are displaying any symptoms of coronavirus.   

September arrangements

To this end, the DfE has instructed schools to prepare a full testing programme in September. This is the same process that we successfully implemented in March of this year, when we completed around 3000 pupil tests. The guidance states: 

As pupils will potentially mix with lots of other people during the summer holidays, all secondary school pupils should receive 2 on-site lateral flow device tests, 3 to 5 days apart, on their return in the autumn term. Settings can stagger the return of pupils across the first week to manage this. Pupils should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when this will be reviewed.

When planning our testing programme, we have, as before, tried to balance our desire to get pupils back into school as quickly as we can, with our over-riding priority to do this as safely as we can.  We have also had to be mindful of our particular context in terms of transport. The majority of our pupils come to school by bus, and so the logistical challenge of having to test every pupil twice within a three to five-day time period is made more complex if pupils have to return home to receive the result, to then come back into school if/when the test result is negative.

The arrangements for pupils return to school are:

Date

 

Year Group

 

Friday 3rd September 

Years 7; 12 and 13

Return for lessons and for test number 1.

Wednesday 8th September

Years 7; 12 and 13

Test number 2.

 

We completely recognise that asking pupils to take a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) on their first day of secondary school is not ideal. However, we are confident that we can mange the process in a sensitive and supportive way, and that by doing this we will be able to have as safe a start to the year as we can.

In order to carry out the two tests, we need parental consent. Please access the parental consent form via this link 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfKFM-PEotj16bz_xt1RTgMvOqDC6COdyufzcr4gRuuijOrRA/viewform

We would request that all completed consent forms are returned by Wednesday 1st September in order to allow us the necessary time to upload all pupils’ details in advance of the testing process

We would request that all completed consent forms are returned by Wednesday 1st September in order to allow us the necessary time to upload all pupils’ details in advance of the testing process.  

Pre-return testing      

As an additional safety measure, and to prepare your children for the experience of undertaking a LFT, we are requesting that parents help their children to test themselves either the night before, or on the morning they are due to return to school. In this way, we can avoid any pupils who test positive returning to school and then having to be isolated and collected. Whilst it won’t remove the possibility of returning a positive result on the in-school test completely, it will help us to manage the process, reduce the risk to others and hopefully allow the start of term to be as smooth as possible.

To help with this process, all Year 7 pupils who are attending summer school will be given a testing kit on the final day (Friday 27th August). For all other pupils, self-test kits will be made available from school Reception on Wednesday 1st September and Thursday 2nd. Parents will be able to simply call in to Reception to collect a home testing kit.

Safe and happy 

The past eighteen months have been incredibly challenging for everyone in so many ways. Here at Marlborough, we have coped brilliantly with the challenges posed by the pandemic. For over sixteen months we didn’t record a single case of coronavirus in our school community and it was only in the very last fortnight of the ‘track and trace’ period that groups of pupils were required to self-isolate. We had a highly successful home learning provision that 96% of our current parents rated as ‘good or better’. We have a proven system of pastoral contact and our communication with parents and families is stronger than it has ever been.

For September, we are retaining certain elements of our covid-secure protocols as these have worked so successfully and have meant that our whole school community continues to be a safe and happy place to learn and thrive. If you have any questions about the testing process, please contact our HR Manager Lisa Cox on COXL@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk If you have any questions or queries in general about your child’s start to Marlborough, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Ms Bromley, who oversees the transition process. Her direct email is:  bromleye@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

We are excited to welcome all our pupils to Marlborough in September. I look forward to meeting you all in person very soon!    

Yours faithfully,  

Mr A Hanlon, Principal

 The Marlborough C of E School – COVID-19  Privacy Statement


16th July 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

As we finally approach the end of term, I am writing to you with information about how we will manage our final three and a half days next week.

There are a number of changes to the guidance that will impact on school next week, and more that will affect how we organise school in September. I will write to you towards the end of term regarding our arrangements for the next academic year.

The major change from next week involves the contact tracing of positive cases. I have attached the official template letter from Public Health England, along with the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). I will not repeat the content of these formal communications, but, in essence, from next week schools will no longer track and trace close contacts of positive cases, so we will not be requesting any pupils to self-isolate from Monday. All communication in this area is now the responsibility of public health services. You should report any positive test (Lateral Flow or PCR) to school as you would any usual absence. Any pupil or person who tests positive is still required to self-isolate for ten days.

Of course, you should keep your child at home if they are poorly or displaying covid symptoms.

The revised guidance from Monday 19th July also makes recommendations regarding face coverings and other arrangements in school. During the last two weeks we have seen more positive cases in school than we have seen over the last sixteen months (although these cases still equate to around 1% of the school population). We have advised just under two hundred pupils to self-isolate at different times during this period. There are currently three members of staff who are self-isolating. None of these has tested positive for covid. We know that there are millions of people being advised to self-isolate across the country and hundreds of thousands of pupils not in school. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive to relax our systems and procedures that have worked so well, for so long, to limit these numbers at this late stage in the academic year.

Our first priority is, and always will be, the safety and well-being of our pupils. I am also acutely aware that our families are desperate to enjoy the summer break – to have a holiday and see friends and family.

To this end, we are asking pupil and teachers to continue to wear facial coverings until the end of term. This will be on school transport and when indoors/in corridors and so on. We will also continue to group our pupils in their ‘bubbles’; continue with our hand hygiene regime; and continue with our well-ventilated classroom and use of outside space. It seems sensible and practical to continue with these measures for the three and a half days left of term.

I hope this feels clear and reasonable. We have planned for a number of different scenarios from September, when we are hoping that we will be in a position to maintain some elements of school organisation that worked really well this year, and combine these with pupils being able to access specialist classrooms and enjoy communal activities and shared spaces.

Our plans for September also include arrangements for the on-site Lateral Flow testing of all pupils (twice). I will confirm arrangements with you next week. Out last day of term is Thursday 22nd July. We finish at 12.30pm. All buses will depart from site at around 12.35pm.

Thank you again for all your patience, support and co-operation in what have been a challenging couple of weeks for us here at school. Working together, we can make sure the end of this year is a happy, safe and enjoyable one for everyone.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


1st July 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to provide you with an update on the latest guidance issued to schools from the DfE. I will also give you a sense of where we are at the moment and the preparation and planning that we are undertaking for September 2021.

You may have seen the reports in the media over the past couple of days about the rising cases of coronavirus in schools. The over-whelming majority of cases is the ‘Delta variant’ of the virus, which is more transmissible than previous variants. The figures of the recent rise are startling: one child in twenty across the country was out of school last week; with a 66% increase in the numbers of pupils with confirmed cases of coronavirus. This equates to nearly 400,000 pupils out of school last week for covid-related reasons. This includes those who have tested positive for the virus, those waiting to be PCR tested following reporting symptoms, and the rest of the pupils self-isolating due to being in close contact with a positive case or being impacted by the closure of whole schools and/or their ‘bubble’ group.

We are acutely aware that cases are rising rapidly in Oxfordshire. We have seen cases in the last week at our partner schools within River Learning Trust, our feeder primary schools and our geographically closest schools – in Burford, Witney, Eynsham, Bicester and Oxford City. We recognise the disruption and inconvenience that any period of mandatory self-isolation has on families and those with working parents, and are grateful that we have managed to avoid this so far. In fact, and in strong contrast to many schools across the country, we have experienced only a tiny proportion of pupils miss any days of school over the past sixteen months. We will maintain all our covid secure measures until the end of term, even though this is challenging. We remain hopeful that we will get through the final three weeks of the academic year without further need to isolate. However, we have robust plans in place to deal with any confirmed cases in the community, and will make sure that any pupils not in school will be supported, both pastorally and academically.

The challenges of retaining the sense of ‘normality’ in school have been exacerbated by an increase in short-term staff absence. Some staff themselves are parents whose children attend other schools where they have had to self-isolate; whereas others have been contacted by the ‘Track and Trace’ App and advised to self-isolate. This remains a legal requirement and we have been insisting that all staff alerted in this way comply with their legal obligations. I am pleased to report that all members of staff who are currently self-isolating have returned negative PCR results. They are continuing to provide relevant and challenging work for their classes and we have an experienced team of staff to cover all their lessons.

The unusual nature of the school year continues this term as we approach a period that would usually involve end of year concerts, performances, exams, Sports Day and leaving events – only some of which we have been able to do in our usual way this term. Such events and rituals are really important to our sense of community, and inform our sense of where we are in the academic year. We are planning to hold year-specific Sports Days, following on from our virtual Sports Award Evening last week. Even in these circumstances, we will continue to celebrate and recognise success, as well as providing opportunities for children to enjoy themselves and come together as much as we can – whilst keeping everyone safe.

Looking ahead, we are planning for multiple scenarios for September. As far as I am aware, no definite decision has been made on whether schools will be advised to operate in ‘bubbles’ from the start of next year. The DfE have stated that they plan to publish updated guidance ‘’before the end of term’’ which will provide more information. They have not specified when this will be – so detailed planning may have to take place over the summer holidays.

As things stand at the moment, we are keen to return to lessons being taught in specialist rooms and pupils moving around the school site. However, we have detailed and flexible plans to manage whatever situation arises. Earlier this week, the DfE outlined proposals for Testing Centres to be set up again in schools in September – which they published in line with a report of trials into Daily Contact Testing (DCT) which will involve those pupils in contact with a positive case taking daily Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) in school, rather than having to self-isolate. Again, we have been promised an interim report on this ‘’before the end of term’’. What we can say with some certainty is that this will have an impact on how our pupils start the new term in September, with the testing schedule taking place over a period of days at the start of the next academic year: “Schools and colleges may stagger the return of pupils during the first week of term if they would like to do so.” This is all the information we have as yet.

I hope this letter has provided you with some idea of where we are as a school with our thinking and planning. I know that this has been a challenging, difficult and sometimes unsettling time for lots of families. As a school, we have valued hugely the support, positivity and optimism of you as parents, and of your children. We have yet to fully understand the impact of this whole period on the mental and emotional health of our young people – and indeed, on our parents and staff – but we will continue to be patient, empathic, compassionate and to persevere. We have come so far and done so well by working together as a whole community – we need one final push now to get through the coming weeks.

Please continue to be vigilant, to keep yourselves, your children and your families safe.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


28th June 2021

Dear Year 13 students,

I hope this letter finds you well and you are making the most of your time now you have finished your A Level studies.

You will be aware that the government recently delayed the easing of lockdown restrictions until at least Monday 19th July, when they will review the situation (this is the last week of our school term).

This guidance, as it stands, makes it impossible for us to run our proposed summer event for Year 13. We have consulted other schools within our Trust and conducted a full Risk Assessment of our plans, along with other scenarios that we could envisage. Unfortunately, we have come to the inevitable conclusion that we simply cannot adhere to the published legal guidance and keep everyone safe.

We are very disappointed by this, but feel that it is the right decision. The last thing we would want to do is to put staff and pupils in a vulnerable position and risk the health and well-being of the wider community. We know that the Delta variant of the virus is more transmissible than previous variants, and that there have been multiple reported cases in schools across Oxfordshire, including some our partner schools in RLT.

Our desire to see you all and be together once more to celebrate your time at The Marlborough remains strong and we will look to see what we might be able to arrange in the autumn once lockdown restrictions ease.

In the meantime, we wish you all well. We are very thankful for our time together and for our amazing final day. You are and always will be very special to us and the rest of the staff at The Marlborough School.

Take care & best wishes,

Mr Tony Buckmaster,  Mrs J Jones

Head of Sixth Form,   Deputy Head of Sixth Form


28th June 2021

Dear Year 11 students,

I hope that you are all well and you have been able to take some time to relax in recent weeks since the end of the Internal Assessments. You showed the absolute best of yourselves throughout that period and I will always reflect so positively on that time.

You will be aware that the government recently delayed the easing of lockdown restrictions until at least Monday 19th July, when they will review the situation (this is the last week of our school term).

This guidance, as it stands, makes it impossible for us to run our proposed summer event for Year 11. We have consulted other schools within our Trust and conducted a full Risk Assessment of our plans, along with other scenarios that we could envisage. Unfortunately, we have come to the inevitable conclusion that we simply cannot adhere to the published legal guidance and keep everyone safe.

We are very disappointed by this, but feel that it is the right decision. The last thing we would want to do is to put staff and pupils in a vulnerable position and risk the health and well-being of the wider community. We know that the Delta variant of the virus is more transmissible than previous variants, and that there have been multiple reported cases in schools across Oxfordshire, including some our partner schools in RLT.

All of us here at school are incredibly thankful for our time together. Your final day illustrated the strength of your connection with the staff at this school. For me personally, it was such a genuine privilege to be your Head of Year and I will be always grateful for the opportunity.

Take care & best wishes

Mr Paul Marriott

Head of Year 11


18th June 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

Revised Guidance for schools

Earlier this week, the government announced a 4-week pause in the easing of covid-restrictions. In terms of schools and education, the revised guidance included the following:

At a time when further easing of restrictions has been paused, the current system of controls should continue to be implemented in education and childcare settings. This means settings should encourage staff, and students, where applicable, to continue to test twice weekly and student bubbles, where they exist, should stay in place. 

Currently, you should avoid hosting large group gatherings indoors for more than one bubble, such as assemblies or worship. The schools COVID-19 operational guidance states that children should continue to be kept in separate, independent groups (for example, their bubbles). The guidance also states you should minimise contact between groups within settings.”

This means that here at Marlborough we will be maintaining our existing covid-secure practices. These include maintaining year group bubbles, restricting movement around the site and maintaining strong routines of hand hygiene. It also means that we will continue to set up our classrooms with a distance of 2m between pupils and the teacher, as well as keeping all spaces well-ventilated.  

Summer term and some reminders

The new guidance also has implications for a number of events we had provisionally planned for the summer term: Sports Day; transition days for our new Year 7 and new Year 12 pupils; leavers’ events and school visits. We are consulting with our partner schools in RLT to determine how best to proceed in these areas, given the revised guidance. We will be in contact with those families impacted by these decisions in the coming days.

In the meantime, could I remind all families to make sure that:

  • They are testing regularly as per previous routines – test kits are available from school if needed;
  • They do not send their children into school of they are displaying any signs of the virus – high temperature; cough; loss of taste and smell;
  • Pupils come to school with a mask so that they can wear it when social distancing is difficult – and always on the school and public buses.

We are aware that the more transmissible ‘Delta variant’ has been identified in schools in Oxfordshire and has led to multiple cases, and instances where staff and pupils have had to self-isolate. Whilst we recognise the progress we have made in the last few weeks, as a community we will not become complacent and will do all we can, as we have throughout this last year, to make sure everyone is as safe as they possibly can be.  

Thank a teacher day

I have attached a short letter from Paul James, the CEO of our trust, the River Learning Trust. He draws your attention to the national ‘thank a teacher day’ that you might wish to take part in. Thank a teacher day to parents and carers

As the Headteacher here at Marlborough, I see on a day to day basis the extraordinary efforts that our teachers put in to do their very best for all our pupils. We are lucky to have such a dedicated, professional, expert and caring team of teachers – the best I have ever worked with in nearly 30 years. I am proud of them; and us.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal 


28th May 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

Year 11 and Year 13

Congratulations to all of Year 13 and Year 11 pupils. They have completed all of their Internal Standardised Assessments and will, hopefully, enjoy a happy end to their time in school today. They have been two fantastic year groups and we are so proud of how they have conducted themselves over the past two years in such challenging circumstances. We are looking forward to our summer events and are so grateful that we have been able to mark their final day in such a special way today. These ‘rites of passage’ are so important to us as a school, and to our young people.

Covid monitoring

The spectre of coronavirus has not yet been fully lifted from our community, however. We know of a number of Oxfordshire schools that have recorded positive cases in the last couple of weeks which has meant pupils having to self-isolate. We would ask please that parents follow our usual protocols for reporting any positive cases. In this instance, this means that if you child tests positive, and if they potentially developed their symptoms within 48 hours of having been in school, you will need to notify us.

For our school, this means that if pupils develop symptoms during the period up to and including Monday 31st May, then please contact us. You can do this by leaving a message on our absence line: 01993 811431 (select Option 1) or emailing: admin.4560@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

Next term

Pupils return to school on Tuesday 8th June. All pupils will be moving to a different area of school as we take the opportunity to re-set our expectations and provide pupils with an opportunity to experience different classrooms and social areas. All pupils will remain in Year Group ‘bubbles’ as this is still complicit with DfE guidance. We are expecting the latest up-dated guidance to be published on 14th June. This will help to inform our decisions surrounding important school events such as Sports Day, but also, hopefully, provide some clarity around how we organise school in September.

Thank you for all your support this term. We have seen another generation of Marlborough pupils grow up and head into the world to pastures new. We wish them every success for the future. We look forward to next term and continuing the exciting journey for those of us returning to school. In the meantime, have a lovely break.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


14th May 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

You will be aware that earlier this week the Government up-dated guidance for schools in line with their published ‘roadmap’ of easing covid restrictions. One of the headlines was the advice given to schools regarding the wearing of face coverings. The full extract from the guidance is here:

Schools coronavirus (COVID-19) operational guidance May 2021:

‘’From 17 May, in line with Step 3 of the roadmap, face coverings will no longer be recommended for pupils in classrooms or communal areas in all schools. Face coverings will also no longer be recommended for staff in classrooms. In all schools we continue to recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and visitors in situations outside of classrooms where social distancing is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas).

Children and young people aged 11 and over must still wear a face covering on public transport. In accordance with advice from PHE, they must also wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated transport to secondary school or college’’.

The language used here is important. The use of the word ‘’recommended’’ means that there is some ambiguity and the possibility for some localised interpretation of the guidance here. At Marlborough, we will continue to adhere to the spirit of the guidance as clearly as we can. We are also aware that many teaching organisations, and indeed the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), urged the Government to maintain the current mitigation measures currently in place in schools. To this end, from Monday 17th May:

· Pupils must continue to wear face coverings on public transport (private buses) and on all school buses;

· Pupils should continue to wear face coverings on arrival and departure from school i.e. when they are potentially mixing at the front of school and walking through corridors inside school buildings;

· Pupils should continue to wear face coverings when moving between lessons inside buildings – particularly along corridors;

· Pupils can continue to wear face coverings in lessons should they choose to do so. They can also now choose not to wear them during lessons.

It seems sensible to maintain the practices detailed above for the last two weeks of this term. We imagine that, in line with other secondary schools across the country and across River Learning Trust, that the wearing of face coverings be reviewed again before the start of next term.

Importantly, the rest of the guidance for schools remains unchanged. This means we will continue with:

· Not attending school if you have any covid symptoms – self-isolate and book a PCR test;

· Home testing with the Lateral Flow Test kits;

· Maintaining high levels of hand hygiene, including using hand sanitiser and washing hands frequently;

· Following the ‘catch it; bin it; kill it’ approach;

· Minimising contact between different groups of pupils around site – i.e. maintaining Year Group ‘bubbles’;

· Maintaining social distance where possible, including keeping two metres away from pupils and other adults;

· Working in well-ventilated spaces.

Many thanks to all of you for your continued support of the school. Year 11 and 13 have made an excellent start to their Internal Standardised Assessments (ISAs) and we are looking forward to the next exciting chapter of school as we begin, slowly but surely, to emerge into the ‘post-covid’ era.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


7th May 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

It seems like some time since I have written to you – I am taking this as a good sign in that school has been continuing with the business of educating children, rather than reacting to a national crisis.

Covid arrangements

We are acutely aware in school that, although lockdown across the country is certainly easing, we remain as mindful as ever regarding our Covid-safe arrangements and protocols in school. There has been no change to the DfE guidance relating to how schools operate. We have been working closely with our colleagues in River Learning Trust and we will continue with our current school arrangements until the actual guidance changes. Until then, nothing will change in school. I would therefore ask all parents and carers to continue to self-test at home, making sure all pupils are bringing their masks into school and, of course, staying at home if they display any symptoms of Coronavirus. On this note, I have been asked to remind all parents and carers that access to School Reception continues to be restricted and carefully controlled at this time. If we could, where possible, contact school in advance of arriving at Reception that would be much appreciated.

Looking ahead to 2021-22

That is not to say that we are not thinking really carefully about how we will organise school in the future when the guidance does eventually change. One area we will be keen to address from September 2021 is that of school uniform. The long, covid winter meant that we were, understandably, much more flexible with our uniform expectations than we might have been under normal circumstances. We expect this to change in the future. Ms Bromley will be writing to all parents and families next week to outline our uniform expectations for the new academic year in September. I am aware that families appreciate the opportunity to plan ahead with regard to uniform, so will aim to be as clear as we possibly can be in this area.

End of term/start of term

A reminder that the final day of term for our Year 11 and 13 pupils will be Friday 28th May. It is wonderful that we will have the opportunity to mark this important milestone in their school careers in some of the traditional ‘Marlborough’ ways – with staff and pupils being able to be together. Our own Internal Standardised Assessments begin next week. We wish all our Year 11 and 13 pupils all the very best for these important assessments.

Term starts again for all pupils on Tuesday 8th June. Monday 7th June is a Teacher INSET Day that will be used to moderate and finalise our Centre Moderated Grades (CMGs). This is an enormous under-taking and a dedicated day to start the process is crucial. In some versions of the school calendar, July 2nd is designated as a ‘National Teacher Training Day’. The Marlborough School will not be participating in this and so Friday 2nd July will be a normal, full day for all pupils.

Summer term

Thank you once again for all your support this term. We are thinking carefully about how we retain our Covid-secure school whilst re-instating some of the things we have missed so much from the life of school; leavers’ events; concerts and performances; sports competitions to name but a few. As I have said on numerous occasions this past year – as soon as we know what is happening, we will let you know.

In the meantime, take care and keep safe.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


18th March 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

All pupils at The Marlborough C of E School have completed their in-school testing programme. We now move to the next stage of the government’s return to school plan, which is the regular home/self-testing of all secondary school pupils.

All pupils will receive their testing kits during tutor time over the next two days. To ensure we are operating within the 3-4 day time-frame, we advise:

  • Year 11 to begin testing from Thursday 18th March
  • Years 10, 12 and 13 from Friday 19th March
  • Year 9 from Saturday 20th March
  • Years 7 and 8 from Sunday 21st March

What follows is a template letter from the DfE which contains important information. Please make sure that you take some time to read it carefully.

There is a lot of information here, but perhaps the most important part is what to do with the result of the test.

If any pupil returns a positive test at home, you should tell us immediately. Parents can contact our Attendance Officer, Mrs K Simpson directly on 01993 811431 Extension 233. Alternatively, you can email attendance@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk The guidance states:

If anyone tests positive you, your household, any support bubbles you are part of should self-isolate immediately in line with NHS Test and Trace guidance for 10 days.

You need to report your result to both NHS Test and Trace and your School.

You should order a confirmatory PCR test if you are testing at home (confirmatory PCR tests are not needed if the test was conducted at the Asymptomatic Test Site at School/college).

If the result of the test is unclear (void) you should do another test.

Negative and void results should be reported to NHS Test & Trace 

A negative result does not guarantee that you are not carrying the virus. So, you should continue to follow social distancing, and other measures to reduce transmission such as wearing a face mask and regularly washing your hands and observing social distancing.

If you or anyone in your household gets symptoms of the virus you should follow national guidelines on self-isolation and testing.

If there are any questions or concerns around home testing, please do not hesitate to be in touch. You can contact our Covid-testing Co-ordinator, Mrs N Ward at N.WARD@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal

The Government has recently announced that all secondary aged students will be offered regular asymptomatic COVID-19 tests to take at home. All secondary aged students will be offered tests to take at home twice a week, so that we can reduce the spread of the virus. 

Up to one in three people who have COVID-19 can spread the virus without knowing. This is because they have no symptoms. To reduce the spread of the virus, we need to identify those individuals. We can do this in schools by carrying out tests at home twice every week, every 3-4 days apart.

This does not replace symptomatic testing. If you have symptoms you should self-isolate immediately, book a PCR test and follow national guidance.  

Taking part

Taking part in testing is voluntary and all pupils will be able to attend school whether they take part in testing or not.

Testing pupils/students at home

We understand that each child has individual needs. Many children will adapt to testing becoming part of their routine, others will find it more challenging. We hope that the option to take the test in the morning or the evening will support families to test at home. 

Test kits will be given out this week in school. Tests are free of charge. Pupils will receive a pack of 3 tests in a box with a separate leaflet on how to take the test and report the results.

The result of each test needs to be reported using the NHS Test & Trace self-report website: https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result.

If a pupil has a positive test result, they will need to stay home and self-isolate. If the result of the test is unclear (void) they will need to do another one. Pupils have the option to take the test and report the evening before school, but no earlier.


18th March 2021  

Dear Parents and Carers of Year 7 and 8,

I am writing to inform you of the current situation regarding the mass testing of Year 7 and 8 pupils. As of today, both year groups have completed their third round of testing in school.

I am pleased to tell you that all results, across all three tests and both year groups, have returned as negative. This means that Year 7 and 8 pupils at The Marlborough School haven’t recorded a single positive result in the whole year since the first school closure last March.  

The behaviour and attitude of our pupils has been exemplary throughout the testing period. They have been incredibly mature, sensible and unfailingly polite. They are a credit to the school.     

This means that Year 7 and 8 pupils have now completed their three tests in school and will move to home testing by the end of this week. We will provide more detailed information later today, and all pupils will be given their home testing kits by the end of this week.    

Despite these results, we need to continue to follow all the systems and protocols in place to maintain our high levels of safety in school. We must not become complacent in any way. What follows is a template letter from Public Health England that we have been asked to send out to parents.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal

What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19

  • 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-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.  

A reminder of the most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are the recent onset of:

  • A new continuous cough and/or;
  • A high temperature;
  • A loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

If your child or anyone in the household does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from NHS 111, follow this link or copy this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms 

How to stop COVID-19 spreading

There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with coronavirus:

  • 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;
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze;
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.

Further information is available by following this link or copying this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ 


17th March 2021

Dear Parents and Carers of Year 9,

I am writing to inform you of the current situation regarding the mass testing of Year 9 pupils. As of today, the year group has completed their third round of testing in school.

I am pleased to inform you that all results, across all three tests, have returned as negative. This means that Year 9 pupils at The Marlborough School haven’t recorded a single positive result in the whole year since the first school closure last March.

The behaviour of our Year 9 pupil has been excellent. They have been sensible, mature and unfailingly polite throughout the whole testing process.

Following the completion of their three tests in school, Year 9 will move to home testing by the end of this week. We will provide more detailed information, as well as the home testing kits, later this week.

Despite these results, we need to continue to follow all the systems and protocols in place to maintain our high levels of safety in school. We must not become complacent in any way. What follows is a template letter from Public Health England that we have been asked to send out to parents.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal

What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19

· 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-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.

A reminder of the most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are the recent onset of:

· A new continuous cough and/or;

· A high temperature;

· A loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

If your child or anyone in the household does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from NHS 111, follow this link or copy this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms

How to stop COVID-19 spreading

There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with coronavirus:

· 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;

· Wash your hands as soon as you get home;

· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze;

· Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.

Further information is available by following this link or copying this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

 


16th March 2021  

Dear Parents and Carers of Year 10,

I am writing to inform you of the current situation regarding the mass testing of Year 10 pupils. As a result of our staffing capacity and the efficient running of our systems, we were able to test all of Year 10 in school for the third time today. I am pleased to inform you that all tests returned were negative. This was the third and final test of the in-school arrangements.  

Following the completion of the third round of tests, Year 10 will move to home testing by the end of this week. We will provide more detailed information on this, as well as the home testing kits, later in the week.   

The behaviour of our Year 10 pupils have been exemplary during the testing period. They have been sensible and mature throughout and have been a credit to themselves and the school.

What follows is a template letter from Public Health England that we are asked to send out to parents.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal

What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19

  • 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-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.  

A reminder of the most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are the recent onset of:

  • A new continuous cough and/or;
  • A high temperature;
  • A loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

If your child or anyone in the household does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from NHS 111, follow this link or copy this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms 

How to stop COVID-19 spreading

There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with coronavirus:

  • 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;
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze;
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.

 

Further information is available by following this link or copying this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ 


16th March 2021  

Dear Parents and Carers of Year 11,

I am writing to inform you of the current situation regarding the mass testing of Year 11 pupils. Last week, Year 11 pupils were tested twice as part of the planned testing arrangements in school. All tests, in both rounds, were returned as negative.

Over the weekend (on Sunday 14th March) it was reported to us that a Year 11 pupil had tested positive on a test completed out of school. We immediately followed all the protocols we have in place and contacted all the potential close contacts of this pupil. The small number of children who have been in close contact with the individual who tested positive for coronavirus have already been notified and their parents informed that their child must stay at home for 10 days. None of the pupils concerned attended school today (Monday 15th March).
 
As a result of our staffing capacity and the efficient running of our systems, we were able to test all of Year 11 in school for the third time today. I am pleased to inform you that all tests returned were, for the third time, all negative.

This means that Year 11 pupils have now completed their three tests in school and will move to home testing by the end of this week. We will provide more detailed information on this, as well as the home testing kits, later this week.   

We would politely request that you respect the confidentiality of the Year 11 pupil and their family by not discussing or engaging in any speculation on social media with other parents or other pupils about this matter.  

Year 11 have behaved exceptionally well during this period of testing and their attitude and maturity has been a credit to them and the school.  

What follows is a template letter from Public Health England that we are asked to send out to parents.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal

What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19

  • 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-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.  
  • All other household members who remain well, must stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days. This includes anyone in your ‘Support Bubble’. Further information is available a by following this link.
  • The 10-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
  • Household members should not go to work, school or public areas and exercise should be taken within the home. 
  • If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you should ask friends or family. Alternatively, you can order your shopping online and medication by phone or online.
  • Household members staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • If you are able, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.

A reminder of the most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are the recent onset of:

  • A new continuous cough and/or;
  • A high temperature;
  • A loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. If your child or anyone in the household does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from NHS 111, follow this link or copy this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms 

How to stop COVID-19 spreading

There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with coronavirus:

  • 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;
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze;
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.

Further information is available by following this link or copying this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ 


16th March 2021  

Dear Parents and Carers of Year 12 and 13,

I am writing to inform you of the current situation regarding the mass testing of Year 12 and 13 pupils. As of today, both year groups have completed their third round of testing in school.

I am pleased to tell you that all results, across both year groups and all three tests, have returned as negative. This means that The Marlborough School Sixth Form hasn’t recorded a single positive result in the whole year since the first school closure last March. I would like to thank all our students for behaving so responsibly and with such maturity over this period – and thank parents and carers as well for their patience and unfailing support. 

The Sixth Form have behaved impeccably throughout the whole in-school testing period and have conducted themselves with their usual positivity and good humour. They are a fantastic group of young people and we are very proud of them.    

The completion of the third round of testing means that Year 12 and 13 pupils will now move to home testing by the end of this week. We will provide more detailed information on this, as well as the home testing kits, later this week.   

Despite these results, we need to continue to follow all the systems and protocols in place to maintain our high levels of safety in school. We must not become complacent in any way. What follows is a template letter from Public Health England that we have been asked to send out to parents.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal

 

What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19

  • 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-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.  

A reminder of the most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are the recent onset of:

  • A new continuous cough and/or;
  • A high temperature;
  • A loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

If your child or anyone in the household does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from NHS 111, follow this link or copy this address into your browser:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms 

How to stop COVID-19 spreading

There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with coronavirus:

  • 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;
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze;
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.

Further information is available by following this link or copying this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ 

 


12th March 2021

Dear Parents and Carers

As you know, we have been conducting mass testing of pupils in school this week. We have completed nearly 1500 Lateral Flow Tests on all of our pupils at least once. Out of all the tests undertaken this week, one pupil in Year 10 has returned a positive test earlier today.

We know that you may find this concerning, but we are continuing to monitor the situation and following closely all government guidelines. This letter is to inform you of the current situation and provide advice on how to support your child. Please be reassured that for most people, coronavirus will be a mild illness.

The small number of children who have been in close contact with the individual who has tested positive for coronavirus have already been notified and informed that their child must stay at home for 10 days.

Meanwhile, the school remains open for all other pupils and your child should continue to attend as normal. We will continue with the safety protocols and systems that have been in place successfully since September including separate year group bubbles. We will also continue with our mass testing programme next week, before moving to home testing from next Friday.

We would politely request that you respect the confidentiality of this pupil and their family by not discussing this or engaging in any speculation on social media with other parents or other pupils.

What follows is a template letter from Public Health England:

What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19

· 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-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.

· All other household members who remain well, must stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days. This includes anyone in your ‘Support Bubble’. Further information is available a by following this link.

· The 10-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

· Household members should not go to work, school or public areas and exercise should be taken within the home.

· If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you should ask friends or family. Alternatively, you can order your shopping online and medication by phone or online.

· Household members staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community

· If you are able, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.

A reminder of the most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are the recent onset of:

· A new continuous cough and/or;

· A high temperature;

· A loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

If your child or anyone in the household does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from NHS 111, follow this link or copy this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms

How to stop COVID-19 spreading

There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with coronavirus:

· 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;

· Wash your hands as soon as you get home;

· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze;

· Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.

Further information is available by following this link or copying this address into your browser: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


3rd March 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope you are continuing to cope well with what we all hope is our final days of remote learning. I would like to acknowledge the fantastic support that you have shown during this period, both to the school as a whole and to your children. The levels of work and engagement have been incredible, and your work and the work of your children has put us in a really strong position as we return to school. To bring an end to this period, you can view the school’s responses to the parental survey we completed recently. I am genuinely proud of the headline figure of 94% of parents and carers judging our provision to be ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. It has felt like a genuine team effort. The full results and responses can be found here:

Our thoughts are now very much on next week and the return to school. You will be aware of the arrangements for the first three days and how we will manage the safe return of all our pupils to face to face teaching, whilst completing a mass testing programme which comprises of three tests over a two-week period, 3-5 days apart. The full time-table of testing is as follows:

Date Year Groups to be tested Year Groups to be tested
Monday 8th March Years 11, 12 and 13 – Test 1
Tuesday 9th March Years 9 and 10 – Test 1
Wednesday 10th March Years 7 and 8 – Test 1
Thursday 11th March Years 11,12 and 13 – Test 2
Friday 12th March Years 9 and 10 – Test 2
Monday 15th March Years 7 and 8 – Test 2
Tuesday 16th March Years 11, 12 and 13 – Test 3
Wednesday 17th March Years 9 and 10 – Test 3
Thursday 18th March Years 7 and 8 – Test 3

As you can imagine, we have had to do some significant planning to execute what has proven to be a complex logistical challenge. We have secured an army of staff and volunteers who have undergone training this week so that we are prepared to start first thing on Monday morning. Statistically, if we are going to be processing thousands of tests in the coming days, we might expect some positive cases. Rest assured that we have put the health, safety and well-being of all pupils at the heart of our planning and we will make sure everyone is really well looked after. If I can remind you that this testing, according to the guidance is “voluntary, but strongly encouraged’’. If you wish for your child to participate part you must provide us with your consent form by Thursday 4th March. The consent form can be found here and takes only a few minutes to complete.

Of course, testing is just one of a range of measures we are implementing to ensure all our pupils are safe. We have updated our comprehensive, whole-school Risk Assessment and reviewed our previous arrangements. We are taking significant action to reduce the risk of spreading the infection by employing all of the comprehensive safety measures we had in place from September, which proved so effective in the first two terms of the school year. I will make sure that all pupils, without exception, are made aware of these measures and our expectations around compliance that remain as high as ever. Some of the key measures are:

· Minimizing contact across the site by retaining year group ‘Bubbles’ – including separate social spaces, toilets and catering facilities;

· wearing facial coverings where appropriate (see later);

· observing strict hand hygiene routines;

· following the ‘catch-it; bin it; kill it’ approach in all classrooms;

· implementing an enhanced cleaning programme;

· maintaining social distancing between pupils and adults where possible;

· keep all spaces well-ventilated.

These are just some of the measures highlighted in the guidance that we are implementing. My full briefing to all pupils upon their return to school will be available on the school website from Monday morning (8th March).

You may be aware that there continues to be a national debate about the wearing of masks in secondary school settings. The guidance is ambiguous, and does allow for interpretation. Our approach during the last re-opening was to follow the guidance in a way that felt most appropriate to our context. The latest guidance says:

“We recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils when outdoors on the premises.

In addition, we now also recommend that face coverings should be worn in classrooms or during activities unless social distancing can be maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons, or for those who are exempt from wearing a face covering as set out in Government guidance.’’

The nature of our school means that there are a significant number of pupils who are exempt from wearing face coverings. I am also aware that wearing a face covering in lessons for five hours of the day is challenging for everyone. Therefore, our practical approach is consistent with our previous agreed approach: face coverings should be worn by everyone, adults and pupils, on arrival and departure from school, as well as on school and public transport. All pupils should wear face coverings when transitioning from room to room along school corridors, or when they are inside school buildings. In lessons, pupils will be

encouraged to wear face coverings as a way of helping to limit the transmission of the virus, but we will not make this mandatory. Teachers and staff are able to maintain social distancing of at least two metres from pupils in our classrooms. The wearing of face coverings in lessons is a temporary measure that will be reviewed after Easter. We will agree the best approach in our context at that stage. If any parent feels that their child is exempt from wearing a facial covering please contact Ms Beckie Harrison, Assistant Headteacher: Inclusion, directly on: r.harrison@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

We are ready as a school to welcome back all our pupils. This is a really exciting time for all of us. We have given considerable thought to the support we will offer our young people as they make the transition back into full-time school. We will be delivering our usual broad and rich curriculum to all pupils, including PE and sport, Art, Drama, Music and D&T. We want to get all our pupils back quickly into the habits of thinking, moving, being creative and working really hard. We will be providing additional pastoral support for those that need it, including retaining the Support Bases for all our individual year groups.

In the meantime, please continue to engage with school by watching our Year Briefings and Whole School Assemblies. This week’s Assembly on the power of reading is really important and I would encourage every member of our school community to watch it.

I look forward to the coming of spring, to productive and positive days ahead, and to the safe return of all our pupils next week.

Yours sincerely,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


26th February 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to you to explain how we going to manage the safe return of pupils to The Marlborough School in the week beginning 8th March.  You will no doubt have seen the headlines about school return and the plan to carry out the mass testing of the entire pupil population of England. The mass testing in schools is ‘’voluntary but strongly encouraged’’ and is part of the broader national strategy to assess the impact of the return of schools on the transmission of the virus and, as such, is part of the government effort to reduce the spread of infection by asymptomatic testing. The guidance states:

All secondary school and college students will take coronavirus (COVID-19) tests as they return to the classroom from Monday 8 March. Schools and colleges will have discretion on how to phase the return of their students over the week beginning 8 March to allow them to be tested on return. After an initial programme of 3 tests in school or college, students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home.

It is important to remember therefore, that if any pupils are feeling unwell or are displaying any of the signs of covid-19, they must not come into school for a test, but must self-isolate immediately and arrange a test in the usual way.  It is really important for us to remain as covid-secure as we have been since September, so please bear this in mind in the coming days and weeks.

When planning our testing programme, we have tried to balance our desire to get pupils back into school as quickly as we can, with our over-riding priority to do this as safely as we can.  We have also had to be mindful of our particular circumstances in terms of transport.  The majority of our pupils come to school by bus, with this provision only being available from 8th March. The logistical challenge of having to test every pupil three times within a three to five-day time period is made more complex if pupils have to return home to receive the result, to then come back into school if/when the test result is negative. We have recruited a large team volunteers from our existing staff and are really confident that we have the capacity to do an excellent job. 

The arrangements for our return are:

Date

 

Year Group

 

Monday 8th March

Years 11; 12 and 13

Return for lessons and for testing.

Tuesday 9th March

Years 9 and 10

Return for lessons and for testing.

Wednesday 10th March

Years 7 and 8

Return for lessons and for testing.

This means that all pupils will return to school by Wednesday 10th March, and we will have tested the entire pupil community once by the end of that day. 

We have worked with other River Learning Trust schools of similar size and context to ours and are confident that this is the safest, most practical, and most manageable option.

Remote learning will continue for Years 7; 8; 9 and 10 on Monday 8th March, and for Years 7 and 8 on Tuesday 9th March.  All pupils will then return to their usual lessons in school on Wednesday 10th March. Clearly, there will be some disruption to learning on these first days whilst pupils will be back in school, but will be required to visit the Testing Centre at some point during the day.   

In the event of a positive test result, we will be following our already published protocols for isolating the pupil concerned within school, and contacting parents and close contacts.  Our school will be operating the same covid-secure measures as we did during the previous re-opening. These measures have proved effective in managing the health and safety of both staff and pupils, whilst providing the best level of teaching and learning that we can in the current circumstances.  I will remind all members of the school community of these measures in the coming days.

In order to take part in the testing process, parents must provide their consent. We are therefore requesting parental consent for three tests in school.  These tests will allow our young people to become familiar with the process and practice of testing, before undertaking the transition to self-test at home.  The guidance states that pupils will not be allowed to self-test until they have completed three supervised tests in school. 

The consent form can be found here

Please note that the Privacy Notice pertaining to collection of the required testing data can be located on the Covid-19 section of the school website. We would be really grateful for your co-operation with what is a complex and challenging operation and request that consent forms are returned by Thursday 4th March. 

I appreciate this letter contains a lot of information. We have been inundated with guidance and information over the past four days.  However, I thought that parents and carers would want to know the dates for our return to allow time in the coming week to organise both work and family commitments. I will need to contact you again with information regarding the following:

  1. Further details of our testing arrangements;
  2. Details about our covid-secure systems and how school will operate, including ‘bubble’ arrangements and wearing of masks/facial coverings;
  3. Information for Year 11 and 13 parents regarding the process by which we will determine GCSE and A Level grades for summer 2021. 

Amidst all the planning and arrangements, I would like to say how pleased and excited we are to be welcoming pupils back to school.  This is a huge step forward for us all and we know we can very quickly re-establish our excellent routines, and high standards of behaviour, teaching and learning and the fantastic sense of community here at Marlborough.

Yours sincerely,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal  


26th February

Privacy Notice - COVID-19 Testing Privacy Statement


28th January

Dear Parents and Carers,

We are contacting you to seek your feedback on our remote learning approach. Please can you take a few minutes to watch the short video and fill in the parent survey below. 

Click here to complete the parent survey.

We would appreciate it if this could be completed by 15:00 on Monday 1st February.

Thank you,

Jake Jones


22nd January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

Remote Learning

Firstly, I wanted to thank you all for your continued support of the school and of your children. We are extremely grateful for all you are doing at home. The model of remote learning that we know to work best is one that requires our pupils to actually engage with their learning, rather than just be ‘kept busy’ doing things. As a consequence, this obligates many of you to also be engaged as you support your children with this challenge. It certainly feels like a real ‘team effort’. We have tried to find a balance between providing a framework and structure for the day and the week, whilst allowing some autonomy and flexibility for those who need it. Our teacher/pupil interactions continue to be hugely positive and we aim to have no question go unanswered or query unaddressed.

We have made a considerable investment of both time and money in securing over 100 new Chromebooks, which we have been distributing to families. The coronavirus situation has meant that we are accelerating our digital strategy, and our aim is to ensure that 100% of pupils in our school have access to the IT equipment and resources they need. If you are still struggling or having problems, please let us know. If you are accessing work via a phone, or having to share devices with a sibling – we can help with this. We are genuinely committed to equity of access for all. We have been impressed and gratified by the extremely high levels of engagement we are seeing from pupils across all year groups. Our message to them – and to you – remains the same: keep going, you are doing really well. If there are any concerns at all, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Jones directly on: Ja.Jones@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

GCSE and A Level consultation

You may have seen that the Government has published a consultation document regarding the arrangements for this year’s GCSE and A Level examinations. The consultation closes at 11.45pm on 29th January and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultationon-how-gcse-as-and-a-level-grades-should-be-awarded-in-summer-2021

We will be responding as a school and would urge parents and carers, particularly those of Year 11 and Year 13 pupils, to share their views. What is clear is that the DfE will be taking an evidencebased approach, so it is crucial that Year and 13 pupils continue their learning and keep working to the best of their ability. Engagement levels in these year groups is very close to 100%, so well done to all of you.

School life

We are continuing to welcome a small group of pupils into school on a daily basis, including some of our Ormerod pupils. We have started the regular voluntary testing of staff who are in school, whilst you may be aware that the government has ordered a ‘pause’ in the proposed testing of pupils. We will wait to see what further guidance comes out before moving forward with our full testing programme.

Our Sixth Form Virtual Open Evening took place last week and all the information and resources will remain on our website. I hope all families are enjoying the Year Group Assemblies (Monday mornings) and Whole School Assemblies (Wednesday morning). We are continuing to refine our remote learning offer, whilst at the same time being ready for when pupils return to school. The Secretary of state for Education has said: “We are keeping plans for the return to school and college under continuous review and will ensure that children and young people return to face to face education as soon as it is possible. We will inform schools, colleges and parents ahead of the February half term.” As I have said a few times before in recent months, as soon as we know, I will let you know.

Please continue to keep safe.

Yours sincerely,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


5th January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

Another day inevitably means another letter from me with an up-date on the situation here at Marlborough, following the Government announcement last night.

Remote Learning

We have finalised our arrangements for those pupils attending school this week, whilst we are ready to begin remote learning for all other pupils from tomorrow morning. Our term will start, as it always does, with Whole School Assembly. Pupils should follow their usual school time-table. Teachers will post the work on Show My Homework (SMHW) each morning for the lessons taking place that day. If you have any questions or queries, please read our guide to remote, or ‘Home’ Learning, on the school website. For other questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact Doctor Jones, Deputy Headteacher, directly here at school on: Ja.Jones@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

GCSE and A Level Exams

There remains some ambiguity around what action will be taken with regard to this summer’s examinations. The media headlines might suggest that every exam has been ‘cancelled’, but we are minded to wait for the actual details to be published before we begin to make any decisions. You may notice that in his original statement, Boris Johnson said: “We recognise that this will mean it is not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal. The Education Secretary will work with Ofqual to put in place alternative arrangements.” The subsequent email received last night from the Department for Education, sent to all schools, said: “In these circumstances, we do not think it is possible for exams to go ahead fairly this summer. The Secretary of State for Education will be asking Ofqual to consult rapidly on an approach for alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.”

Whilst the first statement may suggest that not all, but perhaps some exams may go ahead (which has been mentioned by ministers), the second implies that there may be an Ofqual consultation period with schools. Whatever we might try to infer from each statement, there is no definitive decision on how exams and/or grades will be awarded next year. In this context, we have decided:

  • Year 11 and Year 13 pupils should continue with all their school work as usual. This is also the case for other pupils on examination courses, namely Year 10 and Year 12. Teachers will continue to set work and give feedback as planned;

 

  • The Year 11 virtual Parents’ Evening scheduled for this week will be re-arranged. The meetings between parents and teachers should focus on individual progress and potential destinations. We will re-arrange this important event when we have some clarity on the system that the government is proposing. This way we can focus on our young people, rather than the uncertainty of the process. Ms Harris, Assistant Headteacher, and Mr Marriott, Head of Year 11, will record a message for all Year 11 pupils and parents which will be on the website on Thursday afternoon. Please watch this message with your children. We will be in touch to rearrange this important Parents’ Evening and with any further details as soon as possible.

Deep Clean

We will be using the opportunity of having reduced numbers of staff and pupils in school to commit to whole school deep clean in the coming weeks. We will be meticulous in going through all rooms and areas of the school to make sure we are ready to welcome back pupils as soon as we are allowed. 

This is a challenging time for us all but I am confident that we, as always, will work together in the best interests of our pupils. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at school, either by phone or email – there is always someone here to respond to your questions or queries. 

In the meantime, I hope all our families are keeping safe and well.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal         


2nd January 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

Happy New Year

Firstly, can I wish all families of The Marlborough School a happy and healthy new year.

You will be aware that there have been some significant changes to schools re-opening and that the plans for this have been subject to a number of changes over the holiday period. I had hoped to be able to write to you with some degree of clarity over a number of issues that we have been working through. However, there remains some significant ambiguity in terms of the Government’s plans for mass and serial testing in secondary schools. We have designed a plan for this and are confident that we will make it work. We are continuing to work with River Learning Trust and national teaching organisations to urgently seek clarification on some key issues. I will only share our arrangements for mass testing with you when I am certain of the arrangements. It will, by necessity, obligate a fairly rapid turn-around of information, including parental consent. I hope you will be understanding of this.  

Arrangements for the return to school: overview

In the meantime, I am able to share with you the revised arrangements for our return to school.  You will be aware that the proposed arrangements for the return of schools and the roll out of mass testing have changed over the holiday period, meaning that the information in the letter I sent before the holidays in now out of date. The announcements from the DfE were also leaked to various media outlets before becoming public, so you may have seen news headlines that mention 'delayed starts', 'additional funding' and the support of 'military personnel'. These are both unhelpful and misleading. It is also the case that the statements read out by the Secretary of State are in some part contradicted by the actual written guidance. I have agreed our approach with River Learning Trust, based on our interpretation of the guidance and what is best for the pupils, staff, and families of The Marlborough School.  

We have got clear plans in place for the first three weeks of term. In summary, the plans are as follows: 

  • Remote learning for all pupils from Wednesday 6th January.
  • 'Face to face' teaching in school for Years 11 and 13 from Monday 11th January. Remote learning continues for all other year groups.
  • All pupils back in school and normal lessons from 18th January.

Arrangements for the return to school: detail

It is useful to think about our return to school in a 3-week block. I will go through each week in more detail and explain the thinking behind our arrangements:

Week 1: the week beginning 4th January

The official guidance states that schools should provide "face-to-face education for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers and prioritise resources for remote education for exam year groups in line with what they would receive in class and to all other years as resources permit." This means that the only pupils in school will be our identified vulnerable pupils and those of critical workers. We have been in contact with most of these families and will make sure we have finalised these arrangements by early next week. All other pupils will be at home. This means that all pupils in all year groups will begin remote learning on Wednesday 5th January.

The two days at the start of the week will allow us as a school to prepare and finalise our mass testing plans and organise the logistical protocols, as well as making sure that all our pupils have the IT equipment and access arrangements necessary to be able to have full engagement in our remote learning provision. Our approach to this can be found in the ‘Home Learning’ section of the school website. This includes the thinking behind our approach based on the best research evidence and our own experiences of previous home learning, as well as parental feedback.    

Week 2: the week beginning 11th January

The official guidance states that "during the second week of term, secondary schools will be able to bring students back to face-to-face tuition" and should prioritise their exam classes. For all other pupils, "remote education will be provided this week". In line with this, we will welcome Year 11 and Year 13 pupils back to school for all of their lessons. All other year groups will continue to have remote learning for this week.

Week 3: the week beginning 18th January

The official guidance states that "all students will return to secondary schools for face-to-face education by 18 January". In line with this we will be open for all staff and pupils and teach lessons as 'normal'. 

Year 11 Subject Teacher Evening  

We are planning to go ahead with Year 11 Parents’ Evening as planned on Thursday 7th January. We successfully trialled our new virtual system last term with Year 13 and are keen to make sure this important event takes place.   

Changing picture

You will all be aware that these arrangements, in the current context, are subject to change. We are being careful not to plan in too much detail too far beyond these early weeks of term, particularly as school opening and national decisions around Tiers remain officially 'under review'. As I have said previously, as soon as we have clarity about what happens next, I will let all parents and carers know.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal  


18th December 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

You will have seen on the news that, as well as announcing a mass testing programme for secondary schools, the Government last night released a statement concerning the staggered start to the school term in January.

I received an email at 6.30pm last night (17th December) from the Department for Education, stating the following:

· In the week commencing 4th January, secondary schools and colleges will provide remote education to most pupils, only opening for face-to-face education for vulnerable children, children of critical workers and those in exam years, with face-to-face education for all starting on 11 January.

· Lateral flow testing is offered by schools to as many secondary school-age pupils as possible, starting in the week commencing 4th January.

· Testing will not be mandated and all students will be expected to attend school or colleges from 11th January, regardless of whether a test has been undertaken.

· Those children expected to attend in the week commencing 4th January, and the workforce, are prioritised for testing first.

· Guidance will be shortly be provided to schools and colleges on how to set up and staff the testing sites.

The Guidance provided is reasonably long and there are a significant number of issues that this raises for us as a secondary school. Usually, to implement such a major project would take weeks of careful thought and planning, exploring different feasibility models and working through possible expenditure, logistics, training needs, physical capacity, staffing, safeguarding issues, consent processes and so on.

However, as we have done throughout this period, we will read the guidance carefully and place the health and safety of our pupils and staff at the heart of all our planning.

For parents and carers, the main headline and immediate implications for Marlborough are: school will resume as planned for all Year 11 and Year 13 pupils on Tuesday 5th January, where they will have their face-to-face lessons as usual. School will be open during this week for children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils i.e. similar arrangements to school closure earlier this year. We will contact these families on January 4th. The Ormerod Resource Base will also be open for pupils during this week.

All other pupils will access our remote learning provision from Tuesday 5th January until Friday 8th January. All pupils in all years will then return to school on Monday 11th January.

I thought it best to contact you this side of the holidays so that you were aware of these announcements and can prepare accordingly over the break. I will not contact you again until the new year, when we will remind parents and carers of our remote learning offer and up-date you on our planning around implementing the testing programme.

Have a restful and joyful Christmas.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


December 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

My final letter of 2020 draws to a close what will be remembered as a historic year in all our lives, none more so than here at Marlborough. It has been a very different run-up to Christmas this year, but we have still enjoyed our traditional Christmas Whole School Assembly as well as our Virtual Christmas concert. Thank you to all our young people and staff who took part – it encapsulated so much of what is good about our school – inclusive, ambitious, and, most of all, joyful.

Health and Safety Review

To have completed the last fifteen weeks of school without any closures, significant staff absence or a single positive case within our student community is nothing short of miraculous. Of course, miracles are helped by clear structures and systems. You may be interested to know that we had an external Health and Safety Review completed last week by an independent company that visits hundreds of schools across the country. Our final report stated that The Marlborough school was rated as “exceptional” in the measures we have taken to keep pupils and staff safe. The Lead Officer wrote that we should be “so proud of what we have achieved”.

Notification of positive Covid test during the Christmas holidays

Unfortunately, our monitoring of coronavirus does not finish with the end of the school term. The Department for Education have specified that parents will need to contact school if their child tests positive, and if they potentially developed their symptoms within 48 hours of having been in school. For our school, this means that if pupils develop symptoms during the period up to and including Saturday 19 December and are tested and receive a positive result by Wednesday 23 December, then please notify us. You can do this by leaving a message on our absence line: 01993 811431 (select Option 1). We do not need to be informed if symptoms develop after Sunday 20th December, even if a positive test result is received (i.e. where a pupil tests positive for the coronavirus, having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in school). In this instance, parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.

‘Mass testing’ in Secondary schools

You may have seen reports in the media that mention the roll out of ‘mass’ and ‘serial’ testing across all secondary schools in January. I have today, the last day of term, received the ‘operational guidance and training materials’ from the DfE. This looks to be a significant under-taking, requiring a considerable amount of planning and organisation. We will take some time over the holidays to look carefully at all this information and work in collaboration with both Oxfordshire County Council and River Learning Trust (RLT) to ensure that we are getting everything in place as soon as is humanly possible. I will provide you with more information on this in the new year.  

Final message

Finally, I have attached a letter from the CEO of RLT, Paul James. It only leaves me to wish all our families a really happy and peaceful Christmas. Please take care of yourselves and each other, and stay safe.

With all warmest wishes,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


Wednesday 16th December 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

Having recently written to all colleagues working in RLT schools to express my heart-felt thanks for all of their hard-work and commitment through what remains a challenging time, I also wanted to thank you for the support you provide to our schools. I know that many of you have been in touch with schools to let them know that you value what they are doing; this is always hugely appreciated so thank you for this in particular.

Our schools have managed complex requirements due to the context of the Covid pandemic and I would like to make a particular reference to our Headteachers. The additional pressures of Covid risk assessments and associated decision making, ongoing daily Government guidance (a daily email every day in term-time since March) has generated an unprecedented amount of information and leadership challenges to deal with, adding an additional layer to their roles which they have managed with a huge amount of professionalism and skill. It is work that has needed doing in these times - and they, alongside their colleagues, have completed it with great resilience, keeping the best interests of their school communities at the centre of everything.

I also write to share with you our annual stakeholders report available via this link:

RLT Report to Stakeholders: December 2020

It is a shorter read than last year and I hope it provides an interesting overview from a Trust-wide perspective.

The difficult and challenging times continue and I would ask again for your understanding and support as our schools seek to provide the best education they can for your children. And of course, may I wish you all the very best for what I hope is a restful and enjoyable Christmas and New Year holiday.

Yours sincerely

Paul James

Chief Executive 


8th December 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to you again to give you an up-date as we approach the final weeks of what has been a momentous term here at Marlborough. Attendance levels of both staff and pupils reman incredibly high and the level of commitment from all members of our community is truly astonishing. Thank you, once again, for all that you are doing to keep your children and yourselves going. It really is remarkable that in these most challenging of times our community is not just surviving, but thriving. I am sure that at some point in the future we will look back on this period and ask ourselves – ‘how did we do it?’

Virtual Parents’ Evening

Thank you to all Year 13 parents who trialled our new on-line system for organising and attending Parents’ Evening last week. The feedback has been extremely positive and so we will look to roll SchoolCloud out to the rest of the school in the new year.

Exam arrangements and DfE announcements 20-21

You may have already seen the announcements from the Education Secretary last week regarding examinations next year. The main headline for us as a school is that “students will receive advance notice of some topic areas covered in GCSE, AS and A levels”. We should expect the details of what this is by the end of January. The idea behind this arrangement is that it gives teachers an opportunity to focus their attention on the key parts of the curriculum that pupils will definitely need to cover for the exam. It will mean that pupils will worry less, and that we can do all we can to make sure that they are as prepared for their exams as they can be. I was already confident that Year 11 and 13 pupils were in a good place; this announcement can only help our pupils further.

The DfE also announced, alongside the three-week delay to exams starting in summer, other new measures, including providing formula sheets and scheduling additional exams in the event of pupil absence due to illness of self-isolation. We also welcomed the idea that schools will be reporting on attendance and destinations – two really strong areas of our school in recent years and ones that reflect our vision statement and fundamental belief that all pupils can achieve their ambitions here at Marlborough.

End of Term arrangements

Term will finish for all pupils on Thursday 17th December at our usual time of 3.05pm. This is half a day earlier than originally calendared. Having the half day on the 18th will allow teachers to begin to organise and up-load all the on-line work for the January term that may be required by any pupils who are absent or who need to self-isolate. It also means that our fantastic cleaning team can deep clean the school and then have a well-earned break – they have been cleaning the whole site at least twice a day for months now and I am keen to give them some time at home with their families.    

Charity Week

Thank you for all your donations for the Food Bank. We are receiving numerous donations of food and essential items which will make a significant difference to our local community. For those completing the virtual mountain climbing challenge, please continue to scale those heights!

Finally, on a personal note, I have been in close contact through my family with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. This means I have begun a period of self-isolation at home with my children. I am fine and have no symptoms. Apart from two weeks in the summer, this is the first time I have not been in school since the very start of the pandemic back in the spring. Like many of you, I am adjusting to a new way of working remotely – staying in touch by phone, emails and holding all my meetings virtually. I am in constant communication with my colleagues in school and it is very much a case of ‘business as usual’. Rest assured that the day-to-day operational running of the school is in very good hands.

Please continue to take care and stay safe.

Yours sincerely,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


20th November 2020

Dear Parents and Carers, I am writing to give you an up-date on school and to provide some information about future events. At the time of writing, we have been back for eleven weeks since returning in September. In this time, we have yet to record a single positive case of Coronavirus amongst either pupils or staff. As you know, this is highly unusual amongst secondary school settings, with virtually all schools across the county having to deal with this scenario in different ways. I wrote to you earlier in the term and said that we are ready every day for our first case and have detailed and clear systems for how we will respond. I cannot conceive that we will go much longer without a case, but in the meantime, I am delighted to share with you some news that isn’t necessarily Covid-related!

Year 7 and Year 10 Social Spaces

The excessive autumn rain has meant that the Year 7 area of the field has become increasingly muddy and slippy in recent weeks. After a review of our Risk Assessment and a Health and Safety check, we have decided to move the Year 7 social area onto the Hardcourt. This will, in turn, mean that Year 10 will move to the area outside Science and the MEC. We feel that this will be safer for everyone and we are fortunate enough to have the space to ensure that all pupils will remain securely in their Year Group ‘bubbles’.

Year 11 and Year 13 PPEs (Pre-Public Examinations)

The last two weeks have seen our Year 13 and Year 11 pupils sitting their PPEs (or ‘mock’ exams). Their approach has been extremely mature and impressive, with attendance close to 100% for every single exam. This has put all our pupils in a really strong position. The follow-up to these exams will include a report home in the coming weeks, detailed responses in lessons and Parents’ Evening. You will know that we have explored the question of ‘how to stage meaningful Parents’ Evenings in the time of a global pandemic?’ and will be investing in our on-line system to make sure we do this really well.

Charity Week

This week would, under normal circumstances, have been one of the highlights of the school calendar with our Charity Week – the Fun Run; non-uniform Day; special assemblies; numerous fund-raising activities, culminating in today’s ‘Marlborough’s Got Talent’ and the Senior Citizens’ Christmas Lunches later this term. We promise to make sure next year’s events are bigger and better than before, as they will be a real celebration of our community. We remain completely committed to our concept of ‘charity’ – not as something we do once a year, but as a principle that informs everything we do as active participants in our local, national and international community. To this end, we will be launching ‘Charity in Action’ next week as we look to support local charities such as Foodbanks, those in our community who help and support the elderly, lonely and vulnerable, as well as working with our new international partner school in the Western Cape, South Africa.  

INSET Day 24th November 2020

A reminder that next Tuesday is our INSET Day. Teaching staff will be in school continuing their work on improving the curriculum. I am grateful for parents and carers’ co-operation with this. Finally, I just wanted to thank you all once again for your messages of support and concern for us as a school and for our teachers and staff as people. I know that lots of us in the community are dealing with challenges and difficulties at the moment. These are really tough times for lots of families, including those of us who work at school. The fact that our attendance for all pupils is over 96%, which is higher than the recorded figure from last year is an incredible testament to the resilience and determination of all of our young people and their parents and carers. Thank you for being so sensible and thoughtful. We are proud of what we are achieving as a school. Take care and stay safe.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon Principal


6th November 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

Apologies for writing again so soon. I received notification of the new guidance via email on Wednesday evening after school had finished. I had already written my letter and arranged for it to be sent by our automated delivery service at 8.30am on Thursday morning. I will therefore try to be as succinct as I can in explaining the actions we are taking in response to the newly released guidelines.

The key message around keeping schools open in the context of a national lockdown is clear: “It remains very important for children and young people to attend, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians. Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school. Schools have implemented a range of protective measures to make them safe. If schools follow the guidance and maximise control measures, they can be confident they are managing risk effectively.”

Face Coverings

The main area of difference from previous guidance is in the area of face coverings. It states: “In schools where pupils in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.” For us here at Marlborough, this means that from Monday 9th November we expect:

· Every pupil to wear a mask or facial covering when they arrive on the school grounds;

· Every pupil to wear that mask or facial covering as they enter school and walk down the corridors to their form rooms;

· Every pupil to wear a mask or facial covering when they are moving from room to room, or to go outside i.e. in all corridors.

Once in their classrooms, pupils are allowed to remove their masks or facial coverings and to keep them off during lessons – if they choose to. Pupils will not have to wear masks or facial coverings once outside in their social spaces, but can if they choose to. If they do remove them outside, all pupils will need to put their masks or facial coverings on again when the bell goes and they re-enter the buildings after break and lunch.

All teachers and adults will be following the same expectations and we will make this extremely clear to pupils. We would expect everyone to bring their own masks and facial coverings in with them and ensure that they can keep them separate and secure all day. We will, of course, have some spares for those children who lose, misplace or forget their masks.

Any adult entering the school site, including the front of school and parking areas, must wear a facial covering or mask at all times. Please remember that visitors to the school are being kept to an absolute minimum during the period of national lockdown.

The guidance on the use of facial coverings on transport remains the same for us here at Marlborough. Every pupil who is travelling on a bus, be it dedicated school transport, or the public bus, must wear a face covering. We have been implementing this successfully since September.

It is important to note that some individuals are exempt from wearing any form of facial coverings. We will be sensitive to those needs and I would ask any parent or carer to please let us know if you consider your child to be exempt from wearing a facial covering. If you could contact Rebecca Harrison, Assistant Headteacher: Inclusion, directly at r.harrison@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

No Physical contact

We are also implementing a ‘no physical contact’ rule from Monday 9th November for all of our pupils. This is not just to increase outdoor social distancing (all pupils will remain in their year group bubbles) but the nature of our social spaces means that we want the pupils to be calm and sensible at all times – playing ‘tag’ and other games that involve overt physical contact have the potential to undermine this. PE lessons, along with music, and drama, will continue to be taught in the specially adapted ways we have been doing successfully since September. These lessons allow for the much-needed release of physical and creative energy for pupils.

Everything else will continue much as it has been since September. Our Ormerod staff are in contact with the families of Base pupils and we are making sure all our staff are clear about what their roles are in keeping everyone as safe as we can.

As always, if there are any questions or clarifications, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at school. For your information, the full guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020?utm_source=4%20November%202020%20C19&utm_medium=Daily%20Email%20C19&utm_campaign=DfE%20C19

I hope all of you are taking care and keeping safe.

With all best wishes

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


5th November 2020

Dear Parents and Carers, I am writing to you to keep you up to date with how we are managing things here in school as we begin the new term. The four-week national lockdown period begins today, 5th November. I had hoped to be able to share with you some up-dated guidance for schools which the Department of Education said would be published earlier this week, but unfortunately schools have yet to receive any new guidance at the time of writing. The DfE said in an email last night that they will be ‘’publishing information on what these new national restrictions mean for education and childcare settings. This guidance will cover… clinically extremely vulnerable children, young people and staff, advice on the use of face coverings in educational settings and educational trips’’. As soon as we have received our new directives, we will review them closely and inform you of any implications for you as parents and carers.

In the meantime, we are delighted that our young people continue to attend school in such high numbers – our attendance last term and at the start of this term was as high as the comparative term last year. We are continuing with our existing systems and protocols and maintaining our approach of ‘the safest school possible with the least disruption possible’. There are some areas we are currently reviewing, such as how we manage our remote Parents’ Evenings in the most effective way. We will be in touch later in the term to share our plans.

In my Whole School Assembly, I reminded all of our pupils of our expectations. I also thanked them all for their fantastic behaviour, overwhelmingly positive attitude and their optimistic approach to school since September. We have asked a lot of them since the start of the ‘new’ arrangements, and they have responded brilliantly. I told them that I was proud of them – and you can be proud of them too. Our pupils are a credit to their families and their parents.

We know that here at Marlborough we have been lucky to escape the outbreaks and positive tests that we have seen in other schools – particularly secondary schools – around the county and the country. Statistically, we would expect some positive cases amongst staff and pupils in the coming six weeks of term before Christmas. We are prepared for this, but will ask for patience and understanding from you as parents and carers should we be in a position where a number of staff members are absent due to the need to self-isolate. We will do all we can to maintain the really high level of quality teaching that your children currently experience, whilst never compromising the safety and well-being of the young people in our care. We are listening carefully to the national picture and the Teaching Unions that are suggesting potential rota systems in secondary school attendance (as suggested in the Governments’ own contingency planning). We will wait to see what the next few weeks bring.

We do know that the Government advice on travel to and from school remains the same - that you should limit the amount of household mixing where possible and try to walk or cycle to school where possible. The most recent guidance around car sharing can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#privatecars-and-other-vehicles

You may be interested to know that we have installed bike racks in each Year Group bubble over the half-term break. All bikes are now able to be kept locked and secure throughout the school day.  

We would also ask that groups of pupils who have a doctor or dentist appointment during this next period of lockdown let either their Form Tutor or the member of staff in their Support Base know about this at the start of the day, so we are able to manage their safe movement across the site. We can do this safely, but have to plan any movements across school in advance so as not to break the integrity of any Year Group bubbles.

I wish I could present you with a clearer picture of the coming weeks as we all enter what I know will be a challenging period for all of us. We will try our best to continue to be a place of safety, support and optimism for all your children. For their sake, we will keep going and keep smiling.

Please take care and I will write again shortly if and when I have some news to share.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


22nd October 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to you at the end of our first full term of the new academic year here at Marlborough.  It certainly feels like a long time ago that we implemented our new arrangements in September and adjusted to new ways of working.  Once again, our community has proven to be remarkably adaptable and we have all got used to the significant changes in systems and routines extremely quickly. When walking around school and visiting lessons, things feel very much as they always do – excellent behaviour, high expectations of learning, challenging and stimulating lessons and a real sense of purpose and warmth in our classrooms.

It certainly appears as though the arrangements we put in place in September will be with us for some time – even into the spring term.  We have responded to this by investing further in our facilities – buying more outdoor seating and protective flooring for the back field to keep social spaces open for Years 7, 11 and the Sixth Form. We have also put significant investment into the front field, with a new ‘road’ to protect the condition of the ground and enable the safe drop-off and pick-up of pupils at school, whilst keeping the social space area available for our Year 9s.

I remain extremely grateful to all parents and carers for the sensible and pragmatic approach taken this term.  All our contact with home has been measured, sensible and balanced, whilst always erring on the side of caution and safety. So far, we have been fortunate enough to avoid any positive Covid cases in school of either pupils or staff. As I confirmed in my letter earlier in the term, we are ready and fully prepared for a partial or even full closure, and will continue in our state of preparedness next term.  

Our systems will be tested by the colder, wetter and darker November days, but even the on-coming winter will not weaken our optimism and determination to keep providing the best education we possibly can for our young people. As ever, we have well thought out and detailed plans in place to cope with any eventuality. We feel very fortunate to have been able to continue teaching and learning throughout this first term.  Many schools, both nationally and locally, have not been afforded this privilege.  Without exception, our young people have responded magnificently to every challenge they have faced.  We will continue to do all we can to keep everyone in school safe and happy.    

I hope all our families have a restful and enjoyable half-term.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal        

 


30th September 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

Following our reflections on the opening weeks of the new school year, I am writing to update you on the plans that we have put in place here at school as we prepare for the weeks and months ahead.

The return to school has been an incredibly positive one for everyone in the Marlborough community. Attendance remains incredibly high, lessons continue to be purposeful and productive, whilst the exceptionally high expectations of teachers and staff has meant that there has been outstanding behaviour across the school. The entire community has responded with patience, maturity and good humour to our new arrangements – which has worked better than we could ever have imagined. We are already thinking about what aspects of the way we have organised our pupils and structured our learning we can develop or retain once restrictions are over. It seems a great opportunity to explore what we would want as our ‘new future normal’ and what lessons we can learn from our current situation.

In the meantime, we are preparing for every eventuality. We are acutely aware that across the education sector as a whole, many schools are experiencing the impact of rising case of Coronavirus. This is impacting schools in three ways:

· Firstly, where growing numbers of teachers either become ill or are not attending school due to waiting for tests results and having to self-isolate. This means that, in some schools, more lessons are being covered by supply teachers or classes need to be combined as schools are unable to secure enough staff to cover all lessons.

· Secondly, where a pupil, or someone in their household (be it an adult or sibling) are displaying covid symptoms and take a period of time off school in order to be tested. This often involves spending a short period of time, between two and three days, out of school.

· Thirdly, some schools across the country and Oxfordshire have reported a positive test result for the virus amongst the pupil population. This has resulted in a tutor or class group, or a whole year group needing to self-isolate for two weeks.

As a school, we have yet to encounter these scenarios. Teacher attendance has been very high, with no corona-based absence so far. Of course, we have yet to have a confirmed case of Coronavirus anywhere within our community - so far. If and when we do, I will, of course, let everyone know and be clear about what action we will take in these circumstances. We have really clear protocols for this and are confident we have the systems in place to deal with this situation quickly and effectively.

However, we are not being complacent about any of the scenarios outlined above. To this end, I thought it useful to set out for you what action we would take in the event of either short-term absence of pupils, or should a large group of pupils be required to self-isolate for the recommended two-week period.

We have spent some considerable time reflecting on the home learning experience of our pupils, parents and teachers, and have again considered what we can learn from this period that we can build into our approach moving forward. We were grateful for the feedback we received from pupils and parents throughout lockdown, and have taken this on-board as we plan for every eventuality. Our core principles remain the same:

· deliver the highest quality learning experience for all pupils whilst they are

learning at home;

· ensure all pupils are clear about their tasks; that they know what they have to do; and know how they have to do it;

· make sure all pupils are supported with high-quality resources, and have any questions or queries answered as quickly as possible;

· maintain the close connection and relationship between pupils and their teachers, and with school as a whole.

In this context, we have devised clear plans for what we call our ‘blended learning’ model. This combines what worked really well for us over the lockdown period and incorporates the strongest evidence from the national lockdown about the most effective ways to ensure high quality learning. This model combines the best of planned activities and resources, with the responsiveness that technology can bring. We have also studied the merits of an entirely ‘live’ offer, and remain unconvinced that this provides an equitable, high quality experience for all our pupils. Although this may appear to be the ‘easiest’ and most obvious approach, the evidence and experience of other schools would suggest that a more intentioned and carefully planned approach can have a greater impact on the quality of pupil learning.

In terms of provision for individual pupils who may be self-isolating (scenario two), we are aware that the vast majority of these cases return to school within two to three days. The setting of work for multiple individual pupils is extremely time-consuming for teachers and can impact negatively on planning, preparing, teaching and assessing those large numbers of pupils who remain in school. However, those pupils at home require high quality activities and the opportunity to continue working and learning whilst away from school. To achieve this, parents and pupils will be directed to work produced by the Oak National Academy (ONA).

The ONA was set up by a group of teachers, schools and educational organisations in response to the school closure earlier this year. It provides teachers, parents and pupils with high quality lessons and resources and is backed by the Department for Education. Over two million of its lessons are used by teachers and pupils each week across the country. Every lesson is an hour long, follows the national curriculum, and includes a video explanation, a short test and a worksheet with various activities to complete.

Teachers and Curriculum Leaders will make sure that all tasks set are in line with the planned curriculum here in school. We will be judicious in our selection of the right lessons to ensure any pupil absent for even one or two days will be making progress in their leaning and in covering the curriculum.

In the event of a larger group needing to self-isolate (scenario three), we have adapted and developed our planning since the previous lockdown period. In summary, we will:

1. Follow the structure of the time-table for each day – pupils will be set work for each lesson of the day on Show My Home Work (SMHW). This means they will be able to structure their day as they usually would in school, and experience the full range of subjects.

2. Provide high-quality resources, worksheets, and assignments - these will be up-loaded for every lesson of the day and will provide help, structure and support. We will continue to use SMHW quizzes, or other appropriate tasks, to monitor engagement and understanding.

3. Conduct ‘Remote Tutorials’ (RTs) – these are live, on-line interactions with pupils, which are used at specific times during the week to provide instructions, explanations, or modelled examples and to check understanding of these. These can also be opportunities to address pupils’ questions or misconceptions. This approach was extremely successful with Year 12 during our lockdown period and welcomed by pupils, parents and teachers.

4. Complement these live RTs with a full range of pre-recorded explanations,

instructions and models. These proved to be particularly effective during our partial closure and were highly valued by both pupils and parents. This approach allows our most experienced and skilled teachers, often Curriculum Leaders, to produce these pre-recorded videos or presentations centrally, meaning all pupils have an equity of experience and ensures a clarity of explanation that enhances the learning experience for everyone. It also means that pupils can listen to/watch again teacher explanations and instructions – something not always possible in a live situation.

5. Teachers available on-line during lessons to answer questions and give feedback. The class teacher for each subject will be available during the lesson time to respond to specific questions or queries immediately on SMHW or via online drop ins/Google Hangouts. This will provide the instant and specific feedback that will support all lessons and maintain the crucial link between teacher and pupil. Our experience has shown that pupils often ask more specific questions than they might in a live situation – and the capacity to write this, rather than speak in front of the class, has proved successful for a lot of our pupils.

Using this combination of ‘as live’ and ‘pre-prepared’ approaches, allows us to be really intentional, clear and responsive with our teaching. By combining pre-recorded materials, along with carefully selected resources and the ability to provide instant feedback, we are confident that we are delivering a really high-quality experience for all our pupils.

We are also really keen to maintain our pastoral links, as well as our academic provision. To this end, any year group or group of pupils who will be out of school for two weeks will be able to share a Year group assembly during registration on Mondays, a Whole School Assembly on Wednesdays, and will be invited to attend an on-line registration session with their tutor either on Thursday or Friday – ensuring we are keeping in touch and checking on pupils’ well-being.

We hope that you are reassured by these plans. As always, we would welcome any feedback. Please feel free to contact us if you require further information or would like to discuss these proposals further. Please contact our Deputy Headteacher, Dr. J. Jones on Ja.Jones@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

I would like to take this opportunity to remind all parents and carers that this Friday, 2nd October is an INSET Day in school. All teachers will spend the day planning to ensure that we are fully prepared for any partial closure of school. We are determined to maintain our really high standards and will make sure we are doing all we can to provide a really good experience for those who may be at home, whilst not compromising on the provision for pupils in school. To this end, we are proposing to hold an additional INSET Day on the final day of term, Friday 23rd October.

Thank you for all your positive messages and empathy during this challenging period in the life of our school and education as a whole. We feel in a very strong place as a community of learners and will do all we can to maintain this position. We are grateful for all your support, both of the school and your children.

Yours sincerely,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


14th September 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I would like to begin by once again thanking you all for your support, patience and co-operation which have helped to make our return to school run so smoothly. Our systems and new arrangements have been really successful and the site has felt calm and controlled.

The start and end of the day, breaks and lunch-times have been genuinely pleasant and lessons have been brilliant. Pupils have taken to the new arrangements without complaint and their enthusiasm and positivity is quite simply overwhelming. A special mention must go to Year 7 for bringing such energy and commitment to their first full week of secondary school. They have made a brilliant start.

All members of the Marlborough community, staff and pupils, have really pulled together and it has been absolutely fantastic and indeed, joyful, to see all the pupils returning – our attendance this week across all the year groups, including our new Sixth Form intake, has been 98%! That is higher than last year’s overall average and a remarkable figure. The overall Guidance for schools remains the same and we are confident we have everything in place and that our systems are working. I spoke to all pupils last week and asked them to now focus on working hard in all their lessons and making the most of their time in school.

School Leaders have been asked by the Government and Public Health England to share some key messages around the ‘Test and Trace’ system they have in place. The full messages to school leaders is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-from-phe-and-nhs-test-and-trace-to-school-and-college-leaders/letter-from-phe-and-nhs-test-and-trace-to-school-and-college-leaders?utm_source=3%20September%202020%20C19&utm_medium=Daily%20Email%20C19&utm_campaign=DfE%20C19

Essentially, they are asking parents only to book a test if they have symptoms of the virus, rather than just general symptoms. The letter says:

Crucial to our overall support for schools and colleges is ensuring that everyone with coronavirus symptoms has access to a test as soon as they develop those symptoms.

To ensure we identify those with coronavirus while avoiding a huge increase in demand for tests from people without coronavirus symptoms, we ask that you recommend to your pupils, students and staff who feel unwell, that they get tested if:

· they develop one or more of the main coronavirus symptoms:

· a high temperature;

· a new, continuous cough;

· the loss or change of their sense of taste or smell;/, or

· they are recommended to get tested by a healthcare provider (e.g. GP or nurse).

If a pupil, student or staff member develops one or more of the main coronavirus symptoms described above, only they should be tested. There is no need for their households to have a test, unless they are also symptomatic. Unless a pupil, student or staff member has one of the three main coronavirus symptoms, they should only be tested if instructed otherwise by the local authority, health protection team or their GP.

We are all aware of the crucial role of the NHS Test and Trace system in managing instances where there are positive Covid cases, and, ultimately, in deciding whether schools should stay open. We have worked really hard over many weeks to make Marlborough as safe as possible and put in place all the safety measures required in order to welcome back our pupils. I am sure that many of you will have heard first hand, or seen in the media, that there are reports of significant difficulties in staff or pupils being able to access tests, with worrying incidents in which individuals have been advised to travel long distances to testing stations.

I want to reassure you that we will keep you informed of any confirmed cases here at school and will do all we can to support families who may be struggling. We are fortunate to have the support of The River Learning Trust and have clear protocols in place to deal with any confirmed cases of Covid and/or potential partial closures. We hope we will not need to enact these, but will be ready to do so if required.

Please do not hesitate to contact us here at school for any advice, guidance, or questions you might have. In the meantime, we will keep doing what we are doing until we are informed or advised otherwise.

Keep safe and take care.

Yours sincerely,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


1st September 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to you with more information about how we will safely re-open school for all pupils in September. Inevitably, preparing for this has been quite a lengthy and complicated process. I would refer you to the letter I sent in July which outlined the headline arrangements that will directly impact you as parents and carers. We have written a ‘First Principles’ document that outlines our school priorities for this year and informs the thinking behind our detailed and comprehensive ‘Re-opening Plan’. We have also, working alongside our colleagues in The River Learning Trust, completed a comprehensive whole-school Risk Assessment. Up-dated versions of these documents are available to read on our website.  The DfE Guidance for schools is also available for you to read and there is a guide for parents, both of which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools- -the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools

How school will be organised

The DfE Guidance recommends that each year group be kept separate from each other: ‘Consistent groups reduce the transmission by limiting the number of pupils and staff in contact with each other to only those within the group.  In secondary schools, the groups are likely to need to be the size of a year group to enable schools to deliver the full range of curriculum subjects and students to receive specialist teaching.

(Schools should) look to implement year group sized ‘bubbles’…and limit interaction, sharing of rooms and social spaces between groups as much as possible’’.

Therefore, to comply with Government guidance, and ensure that all pupils are as safe as possible, school has been split into 7 entirely separate areas or ‘zones’ (see Maps 1). These are: 

  • Year 7: Maths Block + M6 and E6;
  • Year 8: History and RE side of the main block + DS1 + DS2 + Dining Hall;
  • Year 9: Geography side of Main Block + G6 + A2 + A4;
  • Year 10: Science Block;
  • Year 11: English Block and Sixth Form areas;
  • Year 12 + 13: IT Block + MFL Block;
  • Ormerod Pupils: Ormerod Resource Base.

Each of these areas has its own set of toilets with hand-washing facilities, its own extensive social space, additional seating, a food servery area, bicycle parking area and safety barriers. Achieving this has meant a significant financial investment in new facilities, additional equipment and re-furbishment of existing areas.  

Maintaining the integrity of these separate areas in absolutely crucial in keeping all pupils safe.  There will be controlled, restricted movement around the whole school site, which will include:

  • A one-way system around the internal buildings to avoid grouping/meeting other pupils;
  • Pupils and adults can only walk two abreast (maximum) whilst outside;
  • A one-way system will exist inside buildings, where possible;
  • Where a one-way system is not possible e.g. the History/RE corridor; Maths entrance; pupils and adults will walk on the left-hand side;
  • All people in school will walk in single-file in the corridors;
  • All Blocks in use have clearly identified entrances and exits;
  • There is a new drop off and pick up system for buses and cars.

The pupils will therefore remain in one separate year group area. The DfE guidance makes it clear that staff are able to move around school in order to maintain the full range of curriculum subjects: “All teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year groups in order to facilitate the delivery of the school timetable. This will be particularly important for secondary schools. Where staff need to move between classes and year groups, they should try and keep their distance from pupils and other staff as much as they can, ideally 2 metres from other adults.”

The wellbeing of our pupils and staff has informed every stage of our planning process. Our guiding principle is to have ‘the safest school possible, with the least disruption possible’. To this end, we have made sure we are following all DfE guidelines and in doing so we have made the environment in school as safe as it can possibly be by reducing risk as much as we can.

Arrival and Departure

We have introduced new car parking arrangements for all staff. The Staff car park will be closed as it will be used for a safe and secure Year 9 social space. We are also removing staff parking across the front of school. This is to help the flow of traffic at the front of school and allow for the safe movement of people, cars and coaches.

In accordance with the DfE guidance, we would encourage everyone who can to either walk or cycle to school. We have additional cycle areas and will invest in more if the demand is there from pupils.  Staff are being encouraged to car share and if driving to school, you may consider dropping your children off away from the school site and letting them walk in on foot – the Fire Station area/old Library car park area are good places for this. 

When pupils arrive at the start of the day they will go straight to their designated year group area and into their form rooms. This includes on their first day back at school. There will be plenty of staff around in the morning to direct them where to go and to reassure them.  All entrances are marked with coloured lines on the ground (see Maps 2).

We will control the release of pupils at the end of the school day. Pupils will go straight to their coach or car, or if walking, they will leave the site immediately after exiting school. There will be no congregation of pupils outside of school. Coaches will depart at their usual time.

Lessons

Arranging all year groups into separate areas allows us to continue to deliver a ‘’broad and ambitious’’ curriculum. We will be delivering all GCSE and A Level courses. All pupils continue to be being taught by subject specialists and have their own designated class teacher.

To help with teacher transitions between lessons, all Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9) will begin with silent reading. This will mean that pupils in these year groups will be expected to bring a reading book in from home every day. We will also have some additional books in school from the school library available in each classroom. Key Stage 4 pupils will review key knowledge from their books and begin their lessons reading through their subject-specific ‘Knowledge Organisers’.

Each year group area will have a designated ‘Support Base’ that will be fully-staffed at all times. This will be available for pupils who require some ‘time out’ of lessons for either academic or pastoral support.

Uniform

School uniform should be worn as per our usual expectations. There is no longer a requirement for pupils or staff to wear or wash clothes any differently from our usual routines. However, we are aware that some parents have been struggling to purchase new uniform and that lots of the pupils have grown over the summer! We will be flexible with this – our strong desire is for all pupils to return to school.

The only exception to this is for PE. On the days where PE lessons are timetabled, pupils should come to school already in their PE kit to avoid using the changing rooms. They can wear a school jumper or Marlborough training top, as well tracksuit trousers. Our expectations around uniform, including PE kit, will be clearly communicated to all pupils.

Classrooms

All classrooms have been arranged so that all desks are facing forward - and pupils are sitting side by side, not face to face.  All classrooms have been set out in the same way, with a marked area at the front to indicate a 2m distance between teacher and pupils.

All rooms have a cleaning station that includes hand sanitiser, tissues, and antiseptic wipes. All rooms have been deep-cleaned, de-cluttered and have clearly marked bins, spare bin bags, and door wedges. These are important as one of the best ways to reduce transmission risk is to use natural ventilation to prevent air being re-cycled.

Equipment

Where possible, pupils should bring their own equipment into school and not share it with others. This includes specialist equipment for subjects such as Art and Mathematics. We will provide equipment for those pupils unable to provide their own. 

Refreshments/food and drink/lunch

Lunch-time will be at the same time for all pupils, who will remain in their group bubble social areas (see Maps 3). We would encourage all parents to provide a packed lunch for your child/children. We will continue to provide support for those families eligible for Free School Meals. 

Food serving areas have been set up in each year group zone and will provide a small selection of pre-packed sandwiches, snacks and drinks. All food waste and packaging should be taken home or left in the bins provided. 

Toilets and hand-washing

Each year group has been allocated their own toilet facilities. Pupils should only use the designated toilets that are within their year group area. All toilets will be cleaned daily and the on-site cleaner is available if additional cleaning is required during the day. 

We will continue with the existing protocols, where all pupils should follow the ‘Catch it; Bin it; Kill it’ approach when sneezing or coughing.

Transport

As stated earlier, all pupils and families are strongly encouraged to walk or cycle to school, or be dropped off by car.  As per the DfE guidance, wherever possible, public transport should be avoided. On school transport, pupils will be asked to sit in year group ‘bubbles’ where possible.  On all transport, face coverings should be worn by all pupils.

On arrival at school, if their face coverings are disposable, they should be placed in a black bin bag and binned immediately after disembarking the coach.  If reusable, all facial coverings should be placed in a sealable plastic carrier bag and put away in the pupils’ bag.

What happens if someone has Covid symptoms?

The DfE guidance states: ‘’If you have symptoms, or you have someone in your household who has symptoms, do not attend school’’.

‘’If anyone in the school becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or has the loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia) they must be sent home and self-isolate for at least 7 days and should arrange a home test.  Other members of the household, including any siblings, should self-isolate for 14 days from when the symptomatic person first has symptoms’’.

In compliance with this, any pupils or staff showing these symptoms will be isolated in the designated ‘safe area’ at the front of school and arrangements made for them to be collected as soon as possible. We encourage all parents to actively engage with the NHS Test and Trace system and in the event of a suspected case we will work with families to ensure our internal protocols are followed swiftly and carefully. Details can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested

What happens if someone is diagnosed with Coronavirus?

If someone tests positive for Coronavirus, the DfE have advised schools to contact ‘the Local Health Practice Team (LHPT).  The guidance states that this LHPT will decide who needs to self-isolate based on tracking the movements of the diagnosed person. Again, we will work closely with the Leadership of our Multi Academy Trust (MAT), the River Learning Trust and have Trust-wide protocols that we will follow should this happen. We have a detailed ‘Plan B’ in the case of partial or full closure, and are ready to deal with any eventuality, including a return to some form of remote learning and ensuring all our pupils have access to IT.     

Facial coverings

In line with its previous guidance, the DfE is keeping its recommendation that face coverings do not need to be worn in school “if all other factors are implemented”. However, in parts of the country in local lockdown, face coverings are compulsory in communal areas such as “the corridor or elsewhere”, though not in classrooms. Headteachers have been given ‘flexibility’ to introduce facial coverings when/if schools are unable to maintain social distancing or have mixed groups in the same areas or if they “believe it to be right in their particular circumstances”. 

Our first priority is for every pupil and member of staff to be safe on their return to school. We want everyone to feel confident in returning and have therefore followed all the guidance to the best of our ability. In the school

arrangements, there are no ‘non-bubble’ communal areas, nor are there any areas that are compromised in terms of social distancing.

Pupils do not need to wear a mask or visor to be safe in school. However, if they feel safer wearing a mask or facial covering, then we will allow them to do so.  Where face coverings are used they should be safely stored (preferably in a sealed plastic bag) by the wearer when not being worn, nor shared or handled by others. Black bin bags and bins will be provided for safe disposal of temporary facial coverings.  

The Ormerod Resource Base

All pupils attending the Ormerod Resource Base have individual plans in place to support their return to school. It will be important that no pupils enter the area of school designated for these pupils. The pupils attending the Ormerod will operate a ‘bubble within a bubble’ arrangement to enable them to attend lessons and take an active part in the life of the school.

Start of the year 

We are grateful for the understanding of parents and carers regarding the staggered start to the school year. We have carefully planned the re-opening of our school and introducing one year group at a time allows pupils and staff the opportunity to adjust to new ways of working and organising ourselves. We will be explicit in explaining what pupils need to do to keep themselves, and others, safe. 

Communicating with school

Only essential visitors are allowed on site and therefore all visits or meetings will have to be arranged by appointment only. However, our communication with parents and families has been a real strength of the previous months. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us either by email on admin.4560@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk or by ringing school directly.

We are ready for our young people to return to school. We are very much looking forward to the start of new term and welcoming all our pupils back to Marlborough.

With all best wishes,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal

 


GCSE Success at The Marlborough School: 20th August 2020

We are delighted to share with you the fantastic news that pupils at The Marlborough School have achieved exceptional results in their GCSEs. Results Day has certainly been different this year in school, not least because pupils have been awarded their Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) today, following the Government’s decision earlier this week to over-turn their previous approach of having grades generated by the Exam Boards.

The process employed by The Marlborough School to determine the CAGs was one that was robust, fair and equitable for all pupils. We worked with our partner schools across the River Learning Trust to ensure that we achieved a transparent and externally verified system – producing results that were evidence-based and completed with the utmost professional integrity.

It is this context that makes these results so special. The GCSE grades achieved today by our pupils reflect years of hard work and dedication to their studies. These results have been five years in the making – with this year group fulfilling the potential which was clearly evident when they began their Marlborough journey in Year 7. Our message to our young people is really clear: you have earned these results. They have risen to every challenge placed in front of them and met it with such determination and resilience. If ever a year group have exemplified our Marlborough values of ‘perseverance’ and ‘ambition’, it is these Year 11 pupils.

We are incredibly proud of them. They have learnt so much and developed into such lovely young people. We look forward to welcoming them in greater numbers than ever before into our hugely successful Sixth Form. To those leaving us to pursue their lives at College, undertaking an Apprenticeship or in Employment, we wish them every success for the future and our very warmest wishes.


A Level results at The Marlborough School: 13th August 2020

We are delighted to report another fantastic set of A level results here at Marlborough. The hard work, dedication and commitment of our pupils and their teachers has really paid off with destinations being secured at high quality Universities and top Apprenticeships.

Marlborough students will be starting their new lives in Universities across the country such as Exeter, Durham, Swansea, Manchester, Nottingham, London, Cardiff, York, Warwick, Oxford Brookes, Sussex, Aberystwyth, Bournemouth and Portsmouth. Apprenticeships secured include those in Mechanical Engineering, Finance and at international companies such as IBM.

The young people leaving this year are the doctors, scientists, teachers, journalists, accountants, theatre designers, actors, artists and business leaders of the future. We are proud of them and all that they have achieved.

This year, even though our results are the highest in the school’s history, we had predicted them to be even higher. A number of the Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) we submitted to the Exam Boards have been downgraded. The process of producing these CAGs at The Marlborough School was evidence-based, robust, quality assured and conducted with the utmost integrity and professionalism. We know our pupils and what they can achieve.

We therefore believe that some of the grades awarded to do not truly represent what we think our pupils would have achieved. To this end, we will be appealing all of the instances where the pupils’ awarded grades are lower than those we have submitted and where we have evidence that pupils achieved this grade in their PPEs (mock exams). We hope, through this process, to secure all the grades that we are sure our pupils deserve.

We will celebrate the achievement of individual pupils more widely once we have completed the appeals process. No-one should under-estimate how challenging this process over the past few months has been for our pupils. We are so proud of their optimism and resilience and know that they will go into the world as confident and successful young adults.

Mr. Hanlon


16th July 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

You will be aware of the Government guidance for schools regarding re-opening in September. I am writing to you today to share the ‘headlines’ of our arrangements for September with you. To comply with the guidance, reduce risk and therefore ensure that the return to school for staff and pupils is as safe as possible, all pupils will be arranged in year group ‘bubbles’. This approach will provide a safe learning and working environment for all and enable staff to continue to deliver our broad and rich curriculum.

The key principle that underpins our planning is to have ‘the safest possible school with the least possible disruption’. It is complicated and challenging. You are free to read the guidance yourselves to get a sense of the complexity of what this will entail. If you wish to read it you will find it here, along with links to other related documents:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools

We have been working closely with our partner schools within The River Learning Trust (RLT) as well as other national organisations. We have been through the guidance incredibly carefully and have effectively un-picked the systems and processes of how school operates, and then re-constructed six separate schools, one for each year group. The overview is:

  • School will be open for all pupils, all day, every day, from September;
  • All pupils will have the usual full range of subjects, taught by specialist teachers;
  • All pupils will be taught by the teachers they have been assigned all year – therefore pupils will carry on being taught by those teachers even when these current arrangements end; 
  • School will start at the same time as always and where there may be some changes to finishing times, these will be minor;
  • We will still have tutor time, assemblies, break and lunch and an Electives Programme on Wednesdays - although these may be delivered in different ways.

However, there will inevitably be some differences from how school would usually operate. These are:

  • All pupils will be organised into ‘year group bubbles’. These year groups will need to be kept separate from each other at all times;
  • This means each year group will need separate teaching spaces, social spaces, toilet, washing and catering facilities. We also need to accommodate our pupils who attend the Ormerod Resource Base;
  • Teachers are able to move from ‘bubble’ to ‘bubble’ – but need to do so in a way that is safe;
  • Because pupils will have to be taught in designated areas within school, access to specialist teaching rooms may be reduced for some pupils and teachers;
  • Pupil movement around the school will be carefully controlled and supervised;
  • School and public transport will still be available for those pupils who require it, but we are strongly encouraging everyone to travel to school on foot, by bike or in a car where possible;
  • We will have a gradual return to school for all year groups - one year group at a time.

I am aware that this will probably raise more questions in all of our minds as to what the further implications of these actions are. Rest assured we have a detailed plan in place that covers all aspects of school life.

Pupils in whole year group ‘bubbles’ will need specific and detailed guidance on how to behave under the new protocols.  A clear and structured Induction Programme will need to be adhered to.

To this end, we will have a staggered start for each year group at the start of next term. This will be as follows:

Monday 31st August

Bank Holiday

Tuesday 1st September

Staff INSET Day

Wednesday 2nd September

Staff INSET Day

Thursday 3rd September

Year 7 only

Friday 4th September

Year 7 and Year 12 only

Monday 7th September

Years 7; 12 and Year 13

Tuesday 8th September 

Years 7; 12; 13 and Year 11

Wednesday 9th September

Years 7; 12; 13; 11 and Year 10  

Thursday 10th September

Years 7; 12; 13; 11; 10 and Year 9

Friday 11th September

Years 7; 12; 13; 11; 10; 9 and Year 8

All pupils will therefore have returned to school by Friday 11th September.

There is a lot of information here to take in. I am mindful not to bombard you with too many details, but wanted to provide you with the important information you need to start thinking about next year. I will write to you again before the start of term with specific details of how school will operate. This will be in the week beginning Monday 31st August.  

Finally, let me say an enormous thank you to all of you have risen to the challenge of the past few months. Thank you also for your support of both your children and the school. Your messages of good will and encouragement have been sustaining in these difficult circumstances. We are such a strong community when we work together. Thank you for the trust you have placed in us as your child’s school. It is a privilege to lead The Marlborough School and we are so excited about September and the coming academic year and can’t wait to have all the pupils back in school. There is so much to look forward to.

In the meantime, have a wonderful summer holiday.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


Tuesday 30th June 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

It has been an important couple of weeks in school as we have welcomed back more pupils onto site. It was fantastic to see some of our pupils return. They have grown so much and were full of energy and enthusiasm.

Year 10 return

After seeing 100% of our Year 12s in the past two weeks, Year 10 returned last week in ‘bubble groups’ of between 20 and 25. I am delighted to report that we saw over 90% of our pupils in school. The lessons, delivered in the Dining Hall and the MEC, were brilliant and the students worked so hard in the unbelievable heat! They were really pleased to be back and it felt like a big step on the road towards school feeling ‘normal’ again. I am grateful to all the staff who have worked hard to make school safe and to all the teachers who have kept our key worker children in brilliant routines that has allowed us to focus our time and resources on successfully managing the reintegration of pupils into school.

We have also seen the gradual return of our Ormerod pupils back into the Base. Their return has had to be handled really carefully, but chatting (at a safe distance) with them has been a real joy.

Continuing with remote learning and home contact

Even though it was great to see some pupils back in school, we are acutely aware of the massive amount of work that is still going on as we continue with our home learning provision.  We are grateful for all the help and support that you are giving your children. Maintaining routines and motivation levels is challenging, but so many of you are doing an excellent job. Please keep it going for the remainder of the term.  

Planning for September

The focus of a lot of our planning is now on September. The Government’s stated aim is to have “every child back, in every year group, in every school”. Our starting point therefore is to assume we are all back together in school. To this end we are well advanced with the time-table, have finalised staffing, rooming, the school calendar and so on. We are also carefully looking at how we can make our school as safe as we can, and are eagerly waiting for further guidance and details from the DfE. We suspect these will not published until the summer. However, if we are asked to be ready, we will be.

As you can imagine, we are also planning for a number of different scenarios, including partial openings and even potential future shutdowns in response to the regional and/or national context. Rest assured we will contact you in good time to share our plans – once we have some further clarity.   

Transitions

Our important transition work continues. This Friday we have our ‘Virtual Sixth Form Induction Day’ for those Year 11s returning to us in Sixth Form. We are producing lots of materials for our new Year 7s and have dedicated a brand-new area of the website to our primary school transition where you can find more information.

Summer Holidays

The DfE confirmed last week that there is no expectation that schools will remain open for key workers/vulnerable children over the summer holiday. An important part of our transition process is our summer school for our MSS and vulnerable pupils. This will continue as usual. Paul James, the CEO of River Learning Trust has written a letter to all parents and carers regarding the Trust-wide approach to summer provision and some words on September. His letter is sent to you today along with this one.   

End of Term arrangements

You may be aware that This Friday, 3rd July, was designated as an INSET Day at the start of the year. We have now received permission to move this day to Monday 20th July. We have also decided to make the half-day scheduled for July 21st an INSET Day. This means that term will effectively end for pupils on Friday 17th July.  

Looking ahead

Planning for September is really exciting. We are really confident that the values and approaches that have served us so well in past few months and have held us all together will help us to build an even better school when we return. Our resilience, perseverance, compassion and sense of community can only become stronger when we are finally all together again.

I am really excited about the opportunities and possibilities of what we can achieve moving forward. Working together, there is nothing we can’t achieve.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


Monday 8th June 2020: Re-opening letter to Parents and Carers

Dear Parents and Carers,

Over the half term break, the government released more guidance on how secondary schools might re-open more widely for some year groups.  We thought you would be interested in hearing about the plans we have in place for the whole school. Many primary schools have begun to welcome younger pupils back into the classrooms, following all the government guidelines for safely managing Covid-19.

The government is asking secondary schools “to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of Year 10 and Year 12 pupils, which should remain the predominant mode of education during this term for pupils in these year groups”

Based on the latest scientific and medical evidence, the DfE advice is that we need to continue to control the numbers attending school to reduce the risk of increasing transmission of the virus. Therefore, we are limiting the numbers of Year 10 and Year 12 students in school at any one time.  The students in these year groups will continue to learn at home for the majority of the time, or all of the time if they are unable to attend school for any reason.

Provision for Year 7, 8 and 9 Students 

All our Year 7-9 students will continue to learn at home, unless they are children of critical workers or are in one of the vulnerable groups identified in the government’s guidelines.  We are in touch with those families, whose children are already attending school and have been since the full lockdown started.

Provision for Year 10 and 12 Students

We are writing today to update you on the next steps towards opening the school more widely for Years 10 and Year 12.  In planning for greater numbers of students and staff on site, our highest priority remains the health and safety of our staff, students and our wider community.  We also want to ensure that the students attending school have a positive and meaningful educational experience, while ensuring social distancing guidance is adhered to. We have written a document that outlines our ‘First Principles’ around face-to-face contact, based on the DfE guidelines. This can be found in the ‘Home Learning’ section of our website.

Our approach to in-school face-to-face support for Year 10 and 12

We are planning to re-open for students in Year 12 from Monday 15th June and for Year 10 in the week beginning 22nd June.

Bearing in mind the steps we need to take to make our own school environment as safe as we can for the restricted number of students and staff on site, our approach is to offer our Year 10 pupils 3 hours of face-to-face teaching of English, Maths and Science per week for four weeks. The rest of the time the students will continue to learn remotely at home.

Year 12 will be offered pastoral face to face meetings in school with a member of the Sixth Form team. They will also be offered regular online Remote Tutorials (RTs) with subject their subject teachers. The rest of the time the students will continue to learn remotely at home.
 

All the details of the timetables, specific arrangements, study areas, equipment details and safeguarding protocols will be sent to each individual student and parent of Year 10 and Year 12 so that students and families will know exactly what to expect and what will happen on the times they are in school.

Minimising the risk of transmission

We have followed the Government guidance on the preventative measures that we can put in place to ensure that the school is as safe as possible by reducing the risk of transmission of the virus.  It has been necessary to split our Year 10 cohort into 8 groups of between 20/25 pupils, as we can only safely accommodate around 40-50 pupils (in 2 separate groups) safely on site at the same time.  We have assessed the risks of transmission associated with the various aspects of life in our school and have in place a number of controls to reduce those risks, including:

  • Controlling the risk of transmission by limiting who comes to school;
  • Isolating (adults and students) for those with symptoms or having tested positive for Covid-19, or living in a household with Covid-19 or instructed to stay at home through Test and Trace;
  • Shielding (adults and students) for those defined as clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable;
  • Following guidance on journeying to and from school, including public and OCC transport and encouraging cycling and walking;
  • Staggering start and finish times for students coming into school each day;
  • Reducing the number of staff and students on site at any one time;
  • Managing rooms and routes around the site to minimise contact within and between groups;
  • Frequent hand cleaning and good respiratory hygiene practices;
  • Increased ventilation of rooms;
  • Classes in ‘learning spaces’ rather than classrooms with multiple entrances and exits;
  • Larger spaces used to allow for appropriate social distancing;
  • Regular cleaning of all settings;
  • Not allowing unscheduled visitors on site; 
  • Removing the need to borrow or share equipment;
  • Encouraging the washing of clothes and cleaning of equipment on return home.

We have developed Safe Protocols for all staff and clear behaviour expectations for our students that explain in detail what to expect in school. Every student attending school in Year 10 or 12 will need to read and follow the guidelines, which we will share when we communicate the details of wider school re-opening.

Learning at home

The main form of learning for all students, in all years, remains the on-line work set by their teachers. We are continuing to develop the online provision and thank families for the suggestions you have made about ways in which we could improve engagement in learning further. We will continue to follow the government guidance in relation to the safe opening of schools and continue to update parents and carers regularly.

We hope you are all keeping well and staying safe.


Friday 22nd May 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

As another term draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your hard work, encouragement and positivity over the past six weeks.

I know that this a difficult time in so many ways, but your support for your children and our school has been fantastic. Thank you for all that you do. 

I would urge you to have a break from school work over the next week. We will resume setting work and continue to keep you informed regarding any updated government guidelines after half term.

Take care and stay safe.


Tuesday 12th May 2020: Home Learning update

Dear Parents and Carers,

Thank you for the feedback you have offered us about our approach to Home Learning, both through our parent survey and our conversations with you. We are hugely grateful for the efforts you are making to support us and your children in these unprecedented times for school and education.

Your feedback was overwhelmingly positive. You identified the following as some the strengths of our current provision: 

  • The clarity and accessibility of tasks.
  • The quality of communication from teachers through Show my Homework.
  • The encouragement and feedback provided through Show my Homework.
  • The phone calls home from tutors, Heads of Year and other staff.
  • All work appearing on a Monday morning allowing parents and students to organise their week.

We have already developed our approach in a number of ways to address your feedback and have plans in place for further developments. You can find our response to your feedback here.  We hope you find this information useful. Be assured that we are thinking really carefully about how we can support you and your children make the best of this challenging situation. Below you’ll find some key messages relating to students in Years 7, 8 and 9.

Year 7 and Year 8:

  • As of this week, we expect students to complete all Geography, History, Languages and RE activities in addition to their Maths, English and Science tasks. As a result, students can expect more frequent feedback in these subjects. Tasks for other subjects will remain optional.
  • We suggest that students stick to the following schedule:

Time

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9.00 - 9.30

PE

PE

PE

PE

PE

9.35 - 10.00

Maths

Maths

Maths

Maths

Maths

10.05 - 10.30

Science

Science

Science

Science

Science

11.00 - 11.25

English

English

English

English

Reading

11.30 - 11.55

Geography

History

Languages

RE

Optional

12.00 - 12.25

Geography

History

Languages

RE

Optional

1.30 - 1.55

Maths

Maths

Maths

Maths

 

2.00 - 2.25

Reading

Reading

Reading

Reading

 

2.30 - 2.55

Optional

Optional

Optional

Optional

 

 

Year 9:

  • You should have received your confirmed curriculum choices at the end of last week and an updated Home Learning schedule corresponding to these. If you have not received your confirmed choices please email me.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with further questions or suggestions. Please email: ja.jones@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk.


Monday 11th May 2020: Update

Dear Parents and Carers,

You will all have heard the announcement yesterday evening from the Government that made some mention of the proposed re-opening of schools. As things stand, we are all awaiting clarification about what this will mean for us in practical terms. We are continuing to work closely with our partner schools in RLT and taking advice from national organisations such as ASCL. We wait for more details to emerge in the coming days and weeks. When we have more clarity we will, of course, make sure that the health and safety of our pupils is at the forefront of our considerations.

In the meantime, our plans for remote learning remain in place. We have produced a response to the parental survey we issued on 27th May. You will all receive a letter today with information about how we will be setting and monitoring work in the coming weeks.

In addition to this, we have written to all Year 11 parents and pupils regarding Centre Assessed Grades and will be contacting all Year 13 families later this week. We will also begin the process of transition with our primary school colleagues and start welcoming the Year 6 pupils as the latest members of the Marlborough family.


Monday 27th April 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

Welcome to the start of another week. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our parents and carers for continuing to support the school and your children. It is not an easy time for any of us, but your time, effort and commitment are extraordinary.

We begin another week of home learning. As a school, we have put a huge amount of thought into how best to organise this, to ensure what we are doing is manageable, sustainable and impactful. If you would like to get a sense of this, you can read a paper outlining our thinking on this subject on the ‘Home Learning’ section of the school website.

We are aware that a particular issue that all schools – and indeed society – is grappling with is the issue of connectivity or ‘connectedness’. Attempts to replicate the complex daily interactions of the classroom, not to mention the varied social relationships that exist within a community of over 1200 people is certainly a challenge. Here at The Marlborough School, we have always been proud of the quality of our relationships, between teacher and pupil, pupil and pupil, and indeed between teacher and teacher. Maintaining and developing these connections and relationships is something we are focusing on as the time spent away from school increases.

We have taken a number of steps already to address this issue. This includes our commitment to contact every pupil and family over the coming weeks, as well as increasing the frequency of individual teacher responses on SMHW, whist making this process manageable for all parties.

I cannot tell you how much all the staff are missing the children and being in school – working directly with young people is the reason all of us became teachers in the first place! It will be an amazing time when we are all together again soon.

In the meantime, we are interested in gathering feedback from parents on our Home Learning provision. Please find a few minutes to read our paper explaining the underlying thinking on the subject and the complete our on-line survey. It can be found here:

Home Learning Survey

Have a lovely week and enjoy this time together as a family.   


Monday 20th April 2020: Welcome back!

Dear Parents and Carers,

Welcome back to the new term. I thought I would give you all an up-date on what has been happening over the ‘holidays’ and what the plans are for the week and term ahead.

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the staff who have kept the school open over the Easter holiday period. Their professional dedication has enabled us to continue our commitment to provide care for the children of our most critical workers and their siblings.

At the start of this new term, it is important to re-establish the routines of work and study that you implemented before the Easter break. Marking a clear difference between holiday time and learning time will be important for all concerned. Teachers are continuing to set work to help you and your children with remote learning. We have put a huge amount of thought and effort into our provision and we will be writing to you to explain the under-lying thinking and principles that are informing how we are organising this. Our aim is for the work to be purposeful, valuable and stretching, whilst being manageable for staff, parents and pupils. We will be asking for feedback from you on what we are getting right, and what we need to improve.    

We have also spent some significant time thinking through the management of our Year 11 and 13 final grades. I wrote to you at the end of term and will up-date you all later this week with our latest plans. Ofqual are continuing to consult on some of their proposals and rest assured that we have been giving feedback as well as reading all the documentation extremely carefully.  

Finally, a reminder that you are all invited to take part in our Whole School Assembly that will be published at 9am on Wednesday morning.

I hope that all members of the Marlborough community are staying safe and keeping well.


Friday 3rd April 2020: End of Term

Today is officially the end of the school term. Well done for making it to this point and for all the support that you, as parents, have given your children over these past weeks. We have been incredibly impressed and amazed by the work and commitment shown by our pupils in what have been unprecedented circumstances. They should be proud of themselves.

We are aware that pupils’ time on-line and in front of screens has increased significantly since school closure began. Parents may find it helpful to remind themselves of the talk presented by our Designated Safeguarding Lead, Ms Harrison, earlier this year. We have updated this and produced a really straightforward information sheet with some useful links and suggestions for how you can make sure your child is working safely on-line. These can be found on the website under ‘Information – Safeguarding and E-Safety’.

It is important now to have a break from school work and take some time to relax and enjoy life as a family! We will resume work setting and all regular communications after the holidays.

I wish you all a peaceful and joyful Easter.


Friday 27th March 2020: one week done

Dear Parents and Carers,

Congratulations on completing your first week of home schooling! I really hope that is has been a positive and productive experience for your children and for you as well.

School continues to remain partially open for the children of what the Government now term ‘critical’ workers. I am hugely grateful to the dedicated team of staff who are keeping us going even in these most testing of times.

We continue to receive feedback from both parents and pupils and are responding to this as quickly as we can. We will be asking for some formal feedback towards the end of next week as we look to refine and improve our provision for the period after the Easter Holidays. We have robust and detailed plans in place, but want to make sure that we are meeting your needs and giving our pupils the best opportunity to continue learning, rather than just being kept busy. We are actively monitoring the amount of work being done and I can tell you that 99.12% of our pupils are active SMHW users. An amazing statistic! Well done everyone. To the other 0.88% - we know who you are!

We have been made aware that a small number of parents who are accessing SMHW though the App are finding it hard to see the work that has been set. Curriculum Leaders are setting work once per fortnight at KS3 and once per week at KS4. This is to declutter the SMHW feed and make it simple for students and parents. The easiest way to look at your child’s work is to go into SMHW through your web browser and look at the calendar. All the tasks for the week/fortnight are there.  

If you or your child is using the APP, click on ‘see all tasks’ and select ‘upcoming’. 

  • If your child is in KS4, go to Friday of each week and all the tasks are there, as the deadline for most tasks set is Friday
  • If your child is in KS3, go to Friday week A (3rd April, 1st May, 15th May etc) and the current tasks are all there, as the deadline for all tasks is Friday week A. I hope this helps.

Again, if you have any queries, please contact Doctor Jones directly and he will talk you through any technical difficulties you might be experiencing.

We have also been in contact with our friends and colleagues from the Myriad Project at Oxford University for some help and guidance around supporting our young people at a time when anxiety and worry are likely to be high. Working with Reading University, they have put together the following resource:

https://emergingminds.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID19_advice-for-parents-and-carers_20.3_.pdf

There is a lot of good advice here about keeping healthy habits and also useful support for parents on how to frame potentially challenging discussions with their children. There are also lots of links to other resources and information.

I am sure the sunshine and the sense of spring in the air has helped us all this week. Thank you for all your positive messages and for supporting us and your children so well.

Please continue to look after yourselves, stay safe and have a lovely weekend.


Tuesday 24th March 2020: Update

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope you are all keeping safe and well and enjoying time as a family. We have been really impressed with the amount of work being completed – you are clearly organising and motivating your children well. Parents have shared stories of pupils getting dressed in school uniform to come downstairs in the morning and even of some parents organising assembly! Thank you for your continued messages of support - it is clear from your responses that parents appreciate even more the job that our teachers do!

The Marlborough School remains partially open for the children of our brave and inspirational front line NHS workers. As long as they need us, we will be here. However, I have now effectively cleared the school site of all other staff except those absolutely necessary to maintain a safe environment for the children still in our care.

We remain ready and able to respond to any questions or queries, so please do email us. We will be writing to parents and pupils in Years 11 and 13 in the next couple of days and I will update the school website on a regular basis.

Take care and stay safe.     


Monday 23rd March 2020: keeping in touch

Dear Parents and Carers,

Today saw the first day of our partial opening for those pupils whose parents are key workers and other pupils who need additional support. We were overwhelmed with staff offers of help and support, and in the end had more than enough capacity to cope with the very small number of pupils who came to school today.

I cannot express my gratitude to those of who have made the difficult decision to keep your children at home, where you can, to look after them yourselves. I am able to now allow my staff and teachers to work from home and support their own families. I am once again, inspired and humbled by the dedication and commitment of the staff here at Marlborough. It has been another up-lifting day.

It is crucial to us that we are maintaining strong lines of communication with parents and carers. There will be questions and queries around a number of areas and we are monitoring all communications carefully and regularly to ensure that we stay in touch. Some key points of contact are:

For general enquiries about school: admin.4560@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

For the Finance Department: finance@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

For information about pupil learning, please contact Dr J Jones directly: Ja.Jones@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

For information about pupils eligible for FSM or about Marlborough Scholarship Students, please contact Ms E Bromley directly on: e.bromley@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

For the personal attention of Mr Hanlon, Headteacher, please contact Mrs L Cox: lcox3439@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

We will get back to you as soon as we can.

We would remind you that you can ask questions specifically about the work and give feedback via the response function on Show My Homework. We are also planning to keep sending messages out via the school, website, so please keep checking! Enjoy the evening sunshine.


20th March 2020: Home Learning

Dear Parents and Carers,

You should now have all received details of the work that has been provided for your children during this first part of our school closure. You will be able to find all the information in the new Home Learning section on the front page of our website.

Please read it carefully and do get in touch if you have any questions or queries. All instructions are included in your letters.

Rest assured that those school staff who are not self-isolating or have caring responsibilities will be available to answer any questions or clarify any issues you may have. Staff will also be in school next week to provide support for those members of our community that need it.


Friday 20th March: Key Workers

Dear Parents and Carers,

The Government have now released further information about school closures. They have made it clear that parents are being asked to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and that schools are to remain open only for those children who “absolutely need to attend”. The statement says: “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’’.

The statement goes on to say: “Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below (see links). Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be’’.

Please, therefore, follow these key principles:

  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 worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  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.”

The full statements and FAQs can be found via these links below. There are detailed descriptions of ‘key worker’ occupations. Please take some time to read them carefully:

GOV.UK – Coronavirus (COVID-19): maintaining educational provision

GOV.UK – Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers 

Please note that if you fall within the critical categories in the list you should confirm with your employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, your specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

Thank you to those of you how have already contacted us with details about your work and children. Please continue to do so by contacting us directly via The PA to the Principal’s email address: lcox3439@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk 

These are extremely challenging times and we are doing all we can to support those children and families who most need our support. We will be sending details of the work that will be set for all year groups later this morning and are awaiting news of the arrangements that will be put in place for those pupils not sitting their GCSE and A Level Examinations this summer. As always, when we have this information, we will share it with parents.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or queries – if we can answer them, we will. I hope everyone is keeping safe and continuing to look after each other. Everyone at school remains really positive and committed to doing the absolute best we can for all our pupils and their families.


Thursday 19th March 2020: Key Worker Information

Dear Parents and Carers,

Yesterday the government announced that educational settings, including The Marlborough School, “will be closed to everyone except children of key workers and vulnerable children from Monday 23rd March, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus”. The government said: “examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans.”

At present the government has not confirmed a list of ‘key workers’. We are waiting for this to be published but wanted to move ahead with our planning as soon as we can. When we have the definitive list, we will share it with you.

Parents and carers who are able to self-identify now as key workers (working on the current definitions of NHS staff, police, teachers, social workers and supermarket delivery drivers) and who are not able to make other childcare arrangements, and therefore would not be able to go to work unless the school remains open, are able to send their child to school. This is part of the government’s response to slow the spread of the coronavirus and it is expected that, where possible, children should remain at home with suitable care provision.

If you self-identify as a key worker in the context of front-line services to support the national effort with coronavirus and require the school to remain open in order that you can attend work, please contact school directly via The PA to the Principal’s email address: lcox3439@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

It would be really helpful if you could confirm your work role and how many of your children attend our school. This will then help us to plan as best we can for next week. Thank you.

We are currently managing our Year 11 and Year 13 pupils as they experience a huge mixture of emotions. Ms Harris is writing to all those parents today. We will keep in touch with details of what arrangements will be in place for next week, where parents and pupils can access work and what the school’s plan for the foreseeable future will be. We will endeavour to keep you informed without inundating you with different messages.

We have received countless messages of support from parents and governors and there has never been a stronger sense of community in school than there is today. The strength of any organisation is never really seen until truly tested. I am proud to tell you that The Marlborough School is united and strong.

Thank you, as ever, for your patience, understanding and support.


Thursday 19th March 2020: Key Messages to Year 11 and Year 13

Dear Parents and Carers,

We wanted to share with you the messages that we have given to all Year 11 and Year 13 students this morning in light of last night’s announcements. I spoke, with Mr Hanlon, to all of our Year 11 pupils this morning. Mr Buckmaster and Mrs Jones spoke with all our Year 13s. We wanted to let them know that we will support them during this time and to reassure them that we remain fully committed to ensuring they fulfil their potential and are able to go on and achieve their ambitions and hopes for the future.

We realise that the news last night around school closures and particularly around GCSE and A level exams this year will have been very unsettling for them, and yourselves. We realise that they may be feeling anxious and worried and that you may have many questions.

We wanted to reassure them that, while we don’t yet have all the answers to these questions, we will work tirelessly to get these answers. As soon as we have any more details around GCSEs and A levels, our Year 11 and 13 pupils can rest assured we will communicate this to them and you straightaway.

We reassured them that whatever the situation in the country and the world, we will not let this crisis disadvantage them and their futures in any way. We are so proud of all of our young people and of how hard they have worked so far, and we will support each and every one of them in securing their intended destination for September.

We wanted to let them, and you know, that amidst the conflicting messages and uncertainty, our commitment to the well—being and care of our pupils remains our highest priority.

Very best wishes to you and your families at this difficult time,

Emily Harris, Assistant Headteacher & Tony Buckmaster, Head of Sixth Form 


Wednesday 18th March 2020: Update

Dear Parents and Carers,

You will be aware of the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening to close all schools from Friday 20th March “until further notice”.

This will apply to all pupils except those who are children of key workers and our most vulnerable pupils.

The government has also stated that examinations will not take place this summer. However, they have said they will make sure pupils “get the qualifications they need”, but have not as yet provided any details about when and how this will happen.

The Marlborough School will remain open for all pupils on Thursday and Friday this week. We will spend this time gathering more information and will provide this to all parents as soon as we have more detail and clarity about how these announcements will impact our school community.


Wednesday 18th March 2020: Managing Anxiety

Dear Parents and Carers,

We are aware that some of our young people are finding the uncertainty around the current situation is making them anxious and unsettled. We are working hard in school to calm these anxieties and provide sensible, practical ways in which young people (and staff) can develop helpful strategies to cope with stressful situations.

Part of this advice involves pupils not engaging in speculation around the spread of the virus and avoiding social media coverage and posts that are deliberately targeted at raising anxiety amongst young people. We are also making it clear that if family and friends have made the decision to self-isolate for a period of time, this does not mean that they necessarily have the coronavirus.

Parents may find the following websites useful when talking to their children about how to make sense of the current situation:

Mind

Young Minds

There are also more really useful links on these pages.

Please continue to take care of each other.


Wednesday 18th March 2020: Year 9 Parents’ Evening

Dear Parents and Carers,

In light of the postponement of the Year 9 Parents’ Evening scheduled for Thursday evening (19th March), parents are invited to request information about their son or daughter’s progress by emailing school directly. This can be done by emailing Mrs Parker our Senior Administrator: Pastoral on: spar4576@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

Please specify the name of your son and daughter and what subjects and/or teachers you would like feedback on. Please indicate if you would prefer an email response or phone call. You should expect a response within five working days of your enquiry.

Parents who would like advice on curriculum choices for Year 10 should email Dr Jake Jones, Deputy Headteacher, directly on: ja.jones@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk. Dr Jones will respond personally to all questions and queries.

I would like to take this opportunity, once again, to thank you for your support and patience during challenging circumstances.


Tuesday 17th March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

Thank you for your patience as we respond to the current situation to the best of our ability. Things are changing on a daily basis but, since last night, the instructions and guidance are clear in that anyone sharing a house with someone showing symptoms (a new persistent cough and/or a high temperature) now has to self-isolate for 14 days. This is clearly already putting a lot more pressure on our staff resources as many more families make the difficult choice to either not come to school themselves or to keep their children at home. We are all working together as teachers and staff to cover lessons and provide as normal a school experience as we can. As long as we are able to do this, we will carry on.

In order to help with more effective communication, I will now be uploading updates directly onto the website. We have created a bespoke area where you can find all previous letters, messages, links and updates. This has gone live from today and can be found in the home page banner ‘COVID-19 Information’.

The instruction to avoid social contact and non-essential travel means that we are unable to hold Parents’ Evening and no trips or visits, as this would increase social, non-usual school contact. This approach has been agreed by all our schools across River Learning Trust, and we are thankful to have the support and guidance of our professional colleagues. I am in contact on a daily basis with other Heads in the Trust, as well as our Chief Executive Officer and Secondary Advisors. I am also attending a meeting of our Woodstock Partnership Primary Heads tomorrow at William Fletcher School to ensure we are all taking similar action.

This does mean therefore that this week’s Year 9 Parents’ Evening has been postponed. Parents will be offered the opportunity to get feedback on their child’s progress via email or with a telephone call. The details of how we will manage this will be on the new section of the school website. We have also taken swift action to postpone more forthcoming events – The WOLP Apprenticeship Fair (26th March); Battle of the Bands (27th March); Year 7 Parents’ Evening (2nd April) and the Whole School Photograph (2nd April).

We are also having to curtail our Electives Programme this week due to staffing shortages and managing the risk of travelling by buses and coaches. We will make sure that any paid Electives will be reimbursed – although this may not be immediately as we are trying to manage other priorities.

These are unprecedented times. We are trying to manage the message around self-isolation and social distancing whilst remaining open as a school. However we may feel that these instructions are contradictory, we will carry on supporting our community for as long as we are able to do so.

Perseverance is one of The Marlborough’s school key values – so that is what we will do. Please be patient with us: our teachers and staff are also parents, children and carers, so are dealing with all the pressures these roles bring. We are committed to providing the best care we can for all our pupils in these challenging times.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Hanlon

Principal


Friday 13th March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to you with an up-date on the school’s response to the on-going coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. This update is based on the guidance from the government Press Release, Public Health England information and the DfE Guidance for Educational Settings issued on 12/3/2020, which now includes advice on school trips.

The government announced yesterday that we are moving out of the ‘contain’ phase of their plan and into the ‘delay’ phase. The headline for us remains that schools should not close unless they have been specifically advised to do so by Public Health England.

However, the guidance around self-isolation has changed. The advice now is:

“Anyone who shows certain symptoms is to self-isolate for 7 days, regardless of whether they have travelled to affected areas. This means people to stay at home and avoid all but essential contact with others for 7 days from the point of displaying mild symptoms, to slow the spread of infection. The symptoms are: a high temperature (37.8 degrees and above) and/or a new, continuous cough. You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation.”

As per the current advice, the most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves remains washing their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into a tissue, which is then put in the bin. I am pleased to say the school is well-stocked with soap and hand sanitiser gels, as we anticipated the increased demand for these items a couple of weeks ago. Our daily routines for checking levels of soap continue and we are maintaining a clean and hygienic site.

The Department for Education continues to publish daily updates on its website and you can visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus if you have any further concerns. As the situation evolves further new information will be added to this website.

So far, only a very small number of our pupils have self-isolated (less than 0.1%). We have had no confirmed cases from anyone connected to the school, either pupils, parents or staff. We are continuing to monitor the situation really carefully and are seeking advice from all external agencies and our own Multi-Academy Trust, River Learning Trust.

We are also planning what actions we would take in the event of a school closure. We are confident that we have some robust plans already in place but these will be firmed up in the coming days. In terms of our planned school trips, I will write separately about these as there is not quite the level of clarity around this issue at present.

Could I take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of the school and your children. Your sensible, practical, professional approach is much appreciated as we manage what is potentially a challenging situation, not just in our school but across the country.

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


Friday 13th March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to you with an up-date on the school’s response to the on-going coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. This update is based on the guidance from the government Press Release, Public Health England information and the DfE Guidance for Educational Settings issued on 12/3/2020, which now includes advice on school trips.

The advice given is as follows:

“Overseas trips for children under 18 organised by education settings

The government advises against all overseas education trips for children under 18. This is because trip leaders would face significant challenges in making arrangements to ensure children’s welfare, should adult supervisors or children be required to self-isolate.”

The advice makes no reference to time-scales that may be applied to this situation, so we must assume that this situation will continue indefinitely. What this means is that, as it stands at the moment, the planned trip to Berlin in the Easter holidays will not take place.

We will need some time to investigate what this means in terms of our insurance, flights and so on. We will keep you up to date with information as soon as we know it.

There are also therefore some questions about whether we will be able to go ahead with the planned Sports trip to Spain in May half-term and indeed the Music tour which is planned for July. We will seek some further advice and clarification around this in the days and weeks ahead. As the situation is continually evolving, it seems prudent to wait to see what happens over the coming days before making a final decision on what action to take with regard to these future trips.

As a school, we recognise that this is disappointing news. However, we are in the midst of an unprecedented international crisis and, as always, our first priority is the health and welfare of all members of the Marlborough community.

If you have any further questions or queries, please contact our Finance Manager

Kathryn Dalton on: finance@marlborough.oxon.sch.uk

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal


Tuesday 3rd March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Following my earlier communication, I wanted to reassure you that we continue to monitor the coronavirus situation on a daily basis and are carefully following the advice issued by the Department for Education and Public Health England.

Thank you to all the families who have been in touch with an update regarding their recent travels. It has been most useful and allowed for effective, considered management. We are confident that no member of staff nor pupil at The Marlborough School has recently visited any areas classified as Category 1. To support families with best practice, both in school and at home, I am sharing the advice provided by the Public Health England. Their advice around school closures is clear: “No school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless directed to do so by Public Health England.”

The Department for Education has launched a new coronavirus helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687 Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)

Alternatively, parents can get in touch via email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk

As a school we continue to encourage best practice to minimise infection. We advise all staff and pupils to adopt regular handwashing and to catch any coughs and sneezes using a tissue which can then be safely disposed of. We will be providing anti-bacterial gel for all classrooms across the school so that pupils and staff are able to maintain effective hand hygiene throughout the day. We have put A3 posters around the site and in our Reception and communal areas.

Of course, the situation remains changeable. I will inform you if there are any changes at school. In the meantime, please listen to advice being provided by the authorities through appropriate news channels and refer to the website below for further guidance. Here you will find the latest information/updates on COVID-19, as well as information from the NHS, travel advice and links to the latest up-dates from Public Health England’s blog posts about its response to coronavirus:

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Yours faithfully,

Mr A Hanlon

Principal