19 Jun 2020

WEEKLY MAILING

This week’s mailing is:

Letters:

Notices:

From the Headmaster to all parents: 

Dear Parents,

This week has seen the end of an era for the Upper Sixth and the end of the school year for the Fifth Form, both milestones in a boy’s career at Abingdon. As the year began back in September, I can say with confidence that never once did this situation appear as a possible scenario to the end of the Upper Sixth’s time here! But we cannot change what has happened; the pandemic has led to disappointments for many but far worse has been the loss of life and livelihoods. I urge the boys to look for positives in this situation; the 2020 Leavers will always have a special place in the School’s history and I look forward to saying farewell to them at our online Prize Giving tomorrow.

We have had nine weeks of remote learning and have been delighted with the way that the boys have engaged with their lessons and the opportunities in the Other Half, while staying in touch with one another in their tutor groups and houses. You will not be surprised to hear though that we have also  been thinking ahead to September and what form school will take in the new academic year.

The School’s Senior Leadership Team has been planning for the possible options that may be available to us in September. We will continue to be led by the government guidance regarding the reopening of schools but this guidance has, as yet, been limited so we are looking at three possible options and their implications.

The three options we are considering for the return to school in September are:

  • Option 1: The School reopens with all pupils in every day.

The preferred option. However, if this were the case, we do not foresee that we would be able to have sports fixtures or large gatherings such as chapel, assemblies, school concerts and productions or social events. Parents’ evenings would be held online. How we would manage school in September will be dependent on the social distancing and health and hygiene advice that is current at the time. It is difficult to plan for this two months in advance as it is likely to change.

The reopening of school presents many practical challenges not only for academic timetables but also the organisation of the Other Half. We are evaluating the health and hygiene implications for all aspects of school life from the Joint Bus Service and lunch provision, to Health Centre protocols, uniform, changing rooms and cleaning. We are confident that we can open the school safely to all pupils, if government guidelines permit.

I appreciate that for the boarding community there are additional concerns and we have recently written to parents of boarders to advise on the UK’s quarantine policy should this still be a requirement in September; we expect the Government to undertake a review of this policy on 29 June. We are following the guidance of the Boarding Schools Association, BSA, and we will comply with the BSA Covid-Safety standard. We will also continue to communicate with parents of boarders over the summer.

Our overriding concern is the safety of our pupils and staff. We are finalising a very comprehensive risk assessment for the reopening of the school and a separate risk assessment for the boarding houses. These will be available to parents prior to the start of term. We have also learnt from the planning and processes we put in place in order for the successful reopening of the Prep School at the beginning of June.

  • Option 2: We continue with our remote learning provision.

Our provision has been very well received and we would continue to teach to the high standard expected and fulfill the academic curriculum. However, it is preferable to be back in school if we can, with all the social and Other Half advantages that a return to school life would bring, and we view this very much as a worst case scenario.

  • Option 3: We provide a combination of remote learning and lessons in school for pupils.

The logistics for this option are complicated. We are looking at how we could organise a rota of who would be in school and when, as well as how best to include those boys working at home in the lessons going on in school. Although this would be a challenging scenario, we are confident that we can find a solution that will allow the boys to sustain momentum in their studies, while providing for involvement in the Other Half and provision of pastoral care.

I am sorry that we cannot provide more clarity about the arrangements for September as yet. We will of course be monitoring the situation throughout the summer and we will continue to communicate to parents when we have information to share, in particular as and when further government guidance has been digested, so do please keep an eye on your emails during July and August.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support. The many kind messages that we have received have been passed on to staff and I know that they are very much appreciated.

Best wishes, Mike Windsor

Headmaster’s assembly – w/c Monday 15 June 2020 

This week’s assembly from Michael Windsor talked about the importance of the Arts in education and encouraged the boys to view the School’s online Arts Festival which is on the website this week. View the assembly and view the Celebration of the Arts.

History Reading Lists

ASPA – Events during Michaelmas Term 2020

Due to continuing uncertainty surrounding social distancing and related issues, the ASPA committee have decided not to run any face to face events during the first term of the next school year. This decision will be reviewed next term as the situation changes.

In the meantime will are exploring the possibility of holding remote events (such as the Lower School Quiz held last Friday evening which was attended by 65 families and was a great success!) and we will be in touch in due course as plans develop.

Our priority remains to ensure ClassList is up to date and running efficiently and which allows all parents (who have signed up to ClassList) the ability to contact other parents and arrange gatherings in small groups in addition to events ASPA may arrange.

Finally a plea for committee volunteers! Due to a number of our members leaving our committee at the end of this term we are seeking volunteers. The following positions will be vacant although we would welcome members who just want to be part of the committee without a specific role too. We hold one committee meeting per term (to be held remotely for this coming school year) Please contact us on aspa@abingdon.org.uk if you wish to discuss further:

  • Vice Chairman
  • Communications
  • Year reps – all year groups but especially 2020/2021 Third Year

Many thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.  Karen Hope, Chair – ASPA Committee

News from the Week:

School Calendar

Given the number of calendar changes, owing to the impact of Covid-19, please continue to consult the School Calendar.

Here is the link to previous weekly mailings.