Reconnection, Recovery and Resilience
We are delighted that very soon we will be able to welcome back your son/daughter and all our students. This week’s blog starts with a follow up to my letter which I sent home earlier this week, regarding lateral flow tests and face-masks/coverings.
We are really keen to get students back to school and enjoying face to face learning without disruption as quickly as possible while also recognising that some will feel anxious.
Our priorities for our students on their return are:
- to have the very best educational experience possible, in an environment that will be as close to normal and as familiar as possible, but one in which safety of us all is of the utmost importance,
- that the physical and emotional well-being of students informs a careful and considered process without creating additional and unnecessary stress and anxiety,
- to have the “Highest aspirations and expectations for all our children irrespective of their starting point, background and barriers to learning”.
Finally, I wanted to pay tribute to the team of staff who have set up our testing facility at Plymstock School.
I have included some pictures below, this includes a copy of our new guide in which Miss Evans very kindly agreed to play the role of someone having a test in our centre.
Return to Learning in the Classroom
Will all students return on Monday 8 March?
The Department of Education has instructed that all students should be offered a voluntary Lateral Flow Test (LFT) and that schools must facilitate this. For Plymstock School this is potentially 1800 people who will be required to be offered two tests a week in the first instance.
This test needs to be negative before students are allowed to return to the classroom.
Due to the number of tests which need to be carried out at the school, we will need a staggered return of all pupils to accommodate this. All students will be notified individually of their return date.
This means that all pupils will be on a phased return throughout the week beginning Monday 8 March.
If my son/daughter doesn’t return on Monday 8 March, what will they be expected to do until the date of their return?
Remote Education and on-site provision will continue until the date of return.
What should I do if I have questions?
If your question is about your child’s well-being then please continue to contact their Tutor, Assistant Head of Year or Head of Year.
Communicating with Plymstock School:
You can use the following guide to help support additional enquiries for contacting staff.
If you have other questions, please email using: firstname.lastname@example.org and these will be directed to a member of staff to answer.
When students return to schools will face masks still be required?
Yes, as in the autumn term, staff and students will continue to be expected to wear face masks in corridors and all communal areas “where social distancing between adults is not possible”. In addition, students will still be required to wear a face covering when travelling on public transport.
What about in the classroom?
The new February 2021 DfE guidance makes the following statement:
We recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults and students when moving around the premises, in corridors and communal areas and in classrooms or workshops where social distancing cannot easily be maintained, except where exemptions apply.
What is the position of Plymstock School and WestCountry Schools Trust (WeST)?
Face coverings in class are now recommended, but not mandatory, except where exemptions apply – we can strongly recommend, but cannot force pupils and staff to wear them.
Our priority remains keeping all pupils and staff as safe as possible in these challenging circumstances
Frequently asked questions for Covid-19 Testing – known as Lateral Flow Tests (LFT)
Will testing be offered in all schools or just Plymstock School?
Yes, Covid testing will be offered in all secondary schools nationally.
Do students, parents and carers need to give consent?
Yes. A test cannot be undertaken without written consent from a parent/carer and will only be offered to those who give consent.
How do I give consent?
Thank you so much to those of you who have already completed the consent form for your child/children to have their Lateral Flow device tests at school.
As we need to schedule the tests and organise the staggered return of students from Monday 8th March, can we please ask that you complete the consent form by 3pm on Monday 1st March – if you want to give your consent. We cannot test your child without your consent.
The link to the form is HERE
How is testing being undertaken?
The current plan from the government is that testing will initially be on-site and then carried out at home by parents or carers.
Students whose parents/carers give consent will be offered three Covid tests in school when they return. This will enable the identification of asymptomatic cases; it will also help to show them how to test themselves.
Currently the government is encouraging students to be tested twice weekly at home and to report results to schools for submission to NHS track and trace.
What happens if we don’t feel confident undertaking home testing?
Schools have currently been asked to continue to provide a limited number of testing opportunities for those children whose parents might not be able to carry out testing.
Where will students at Plymstock School be tested?
Plymstock School now operates an on-site clinical testing facility which has been set up in the Dance Studio for staff and students.
This is currently working with a maximum of four testing booths but we have the capacity to extend this to seven for when we are fully open again and the testing of students commences.
What is the purpose of Lateral Flow Tests?
The use of rapid lateral flow tests allow us to identify individuals with coronavirus (COVID-19) who do not have symptoms, which make up around a third of all cases.
Finding asymptomatic cases, along with other infection prevention and control measures such as social distancing, can help us manage the transmission of the virus.
How will I know when my son/daughter is being tested?
Once we have received all consent forms at the end of Monday 1 March, we will then inform students, parents and carers confirming the date and time of the test.
Once the testing procedure has been scheduled we will inform you of the return date of your son/daughter’s year group to school. It is anticipated that this will between Monday 8 and Friday 13 March.
Wherever there is change, and wherever there is uncertainty, there is opportunity! – Mark Cuban
We all aware that with change comes a whole range of feelings and emotions, from worry to excitement and from anxiety to fear. As we move through life, there is one thing that we can guarantee and that is that changes will happen. Usually we are able to manage this process by being in control and seeking the support needed. However, the COVID-19 global pandemic has caused significant, unexpected and often sudden changes to our lives, in which we have had no control over which has led to high level of stress, worry and fear.
At Plymstock School we recognise that our community is starting to prepare for another significant change, which is the return of children and young people to school. We cannot wait to see the students walk back through the school gates but at the same time we acknowledge that many of us will be going through a wide range of feelings and emotions about the return. We have also taken on board recent feedback from students and parents about their concerns of the long term impact on the mental health and wellbeing that the last year has had on individuals, groups and communities. That is why this half term our focus is on ensuring that we continue to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide as many opportunities for children, young people and their families to share their worries and anxieties. We also want to share with you practical information about things that can be done to manage these worries.
This week’s assembly focused on conquering our fears, and again the Heads of Year delivered key messages with their usual passion and professionalism. Additional topics during the next few weeks will provide children and young people with the opportunity to discuss key mental health and wellbeing issues such as sleep, building connections, social media, dealing with change, unhelpful thoughts and forming positive relationships. In addition, we are planning on providing opportunities for parents/carers to join us in some drop in sessions over the next few weeks to be able to hear from colleagues about how to best support your child at home as they try to manage these changes. In the meantime, I would like to signpost you to our school website, which has a dedicated area for mental health and wellbeing, where additional information can be found but also contact details for external organisations that can offer further support.
As always, if you have any worries or fears about returning to school or whilst at school please reach out and contact a member of the pastoral team, who will provide all the reassurance and help that is needed.
Acts of Charity
Mind – 27 miles in 27 days
First of all we hear from Harriet one of our sixth form students on a personal challenge.
“I am going to be running 27 miles in 27 days for a mental health charity called Mind. I have created a fundraiser page and I have already shared this on all my social media accounts. My original target was to reach £150. Little did I know that my post would reach companies in Teignmouth and Dawlish and I would get a £200 donation from a Taxi company!!
We are incredibly proud of her efforts and if you wish to support Harriet please follow the link here.
2800 Squat challenge
Then Mrs Hughes has been busy with another personal challenge
This month Mrs Hughes and the Ivybridge Ladies Cricket Team have been taking part in the 2800 Squats in February challenge to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Every day she has been completing her 100 squats in order to raise money.
The students on site have been helping her along the way by taking part in squat challenges during their PE lesson.
If you would like to show your support and make a donation to The Teenage Cancer Trust please click here.
My Story: ‘In Their Image’ by Elani Evangelou
This week Mrs Harris heard about one of our former students Elani who has been commissioned by the Box Plymouth to create an online zine as part of LGBTQ+ month.
“Throughout lockdown, I have been working on my craft of poetry & lyric writing. I feel that creating this zine would be a great way to showcase not only my personal story, but the creative journey I’ve been on this year. I hope that this will be the same for the artists which I will be showcasing, and I feel that the format of an online zine is a diverse & accessible way for myself and other LGBTQ+ people to share our stories of being queer in Plymouth.” Elani Evangelou
We always like hearing about the next steps of our former students and are incredibly proud that Elani’s work has been celebrated by The Box.
You can find out more here
Positively Mad Session Wednesday 24th February 2021
On Wednesday 24th Feb we had our second session with Dave from the company Positively Mad. Dave again joined us virtually to run sessions with years 10, 11, 12 and 13. The session was based on ‘Resilience’: An interactive and reflective personal development workshop focusing on upskilling students to become resilient to setbacks.
Students again found the session useful, with ideas to help them both personally and academically. Many staff who attended the session also agreed there were lots of useful hints and tips to help them in their own lives! The chat box was full of positive comments and thanks to Dave for the session.
Musical Theatre Group
Students from across the school have been joining Mrs. Hawker on a Tuesday afternoon, from 3-4pm, for a virtual Musical Theatre Group.
The group have participated in some high energy physical and vocal warm ups, learning songs and dances from Mamma Mia! and Matilda and will be learning some of the routines from Six and Footloose over the coming weeks.
It’s the perfect pick me up after sitting in front of the computer all day, and the students have loved connecting with each other through their love of Musical Theatre.
“It’s been so nice to work with other people rather than singing into my hairbrush alone in my room!” S. Yr 8 student.
“I love this, I was in my element.” M. Yr 7 student.
If you’d like to join then email Mrs. Hawker to be added to the MTG Team. email@example.com
Rewards and Golden Tickets
Golden Tickets are given to those students who consistently do their best and uphold the standards and expectations of Plymstock School.
This week’s Golden Ticket Prize Drawer Winners were:
- Yr 7 – Jessica P
- Yr 8 – Joseph T
- Yr 9 – Ben W
- Yr 10 – Patience P
- Yr 11 – Briony D
- 6th form – Alex E
Keep an eye on your school email inbox for your reward J
This week’s students with the most Golden Tickets were:
- Yr 7 – Aiden P
- Yr 8 – Ella K
- Yr 9 – Cyrena W
- Yr10 – Maddy S, Patience P, Michael A, Taneisha A, Thomas E, Dulcie H, Charlie H, Dominick O’C
- Yr 11 – Daisy S, Marley T, Colby W and Louis W
- 6th form – Joy O and Louis P
We have had some brilliant work being produced during on-site provision this week, showing great independent learning skills and high levels of resilience. These students were chosen by their Heads of Year, Assistant Heads of Year and their teachers to receive a treat Friday breaktime.
- Year 7: Seth C, Kaydee Y, Cameron C, Alice D, Isobel F
- Year 8: Charlie M, Timas J, Freya B, Alfie B, Brody M
- Year 9: Alfie S, Ellie A, Julianna J, Cohen G, Mimi B
- Year 10: Jess L, Rebecca D, Brooke B, Kyle T, Isaac Q
- Year 11: Abhishek G, Jake A, Emily D, Millie W, Finley H, Colby W
- 6th form : Beau B, Gaia BB, Alex L, Leah C, Katie G, Kyran M, Summer D, Freya M
Students of the week
All our nominees have demonstrated Endeavour, Resilience and Empathy; Plymstock School students striving to “Be the best you can be”.
This week’s winners
In Year 7
- Sophia M nominated by Mr Gerry as her attitude to home learning has been excellent and has worked through tough times especially in maths as well. She has also promised a great World Book Day character which I am looking forward to seeing!
In Year 8
- Megan C nominated by Mrs Withey for her amazing IaCT response today (following a History GCSE style assessed question submitted last lesson). Her colour-coded response made improvements visible, and this has provided me with a model IaCT example that can be shared with other students. Additionally, her positive and well-mannered messages on Satchel One reinforce why she is such a successful learner and valued student.
In Year 9:
- Gracie F nominated by Mrs Marshall for her engagement in the consolidation week and her consistently positive attitude to her learning.
In Year 10
- Zack B nominated by Miss Pring as he has worked tirelessly on every piece of work for this half term and produced some outstanding house designs and drawings. Giving 110%
In Year 11:
- Charleigh H nominated by Mrs Tendell for excellent commitment to learning.
In Year 12:
- Charlotte W nominated in Applied Science: for her excellent attitude and resilience. This has allowed her to produce some quality work in chemistry Btec applied science.
In Year 13:
- Jack S-B nominated for English Literature: for maintaining such a positive and engaged attitude to online learning, meeting deadlines, and demonstrating great resilience in everything he does
Well done to all who were nominated this week:
In Year 9
- Emilia S and Jess G.Nominated by Miss Pring (photos below of their work) who have both produced some excellent quality models and really thoughtful and creative designs for the brief they have been set
In Year 10
- Thomas M nominated by Mrs Sheridan for his good work ethic and effort during remote learning in Science
- Natasha T nominated by Mrs Marshall for her superb work ethic and independent learning skills in maths
- Ashton H, Oliver B and Monika N. Nominated by Miss Pring as they have all work exceedingly hard throughout the whole half term. Oliver has come on leaps and bounds and his work is now even better quality than when he was in school!! Monika has surpassed her target grad with getting the top marks in both tests this week (95% in both).
- Oscar P nominated by Miss Pring as he has worked tirelessly on every piece of work for this half term and produced some outstanding house designs and drawings. Giving 110%
In Year 11
- Madi nominated by Mrs Tendell for her excellent commitment to distance learning and sheer determination to achieve.
- Tommy P, Charlie N and Alex R nominated by Mrs Marshall for their superb efforts in maths. They have worked consistently throughout this remote learning period and I am really proud of them.
- Owen P and Jack S. Nominated by Miss Pring as they have both worked tirelessly on every piece of work for this half term and are working hard on their BTEC assignments which will still need to be submitted to the exam board. They have both given 110%.
- Rhiannon Baker and Louis W. Nominated by Miss Pring as they are simply model students. They both work hard, attend every lesson, produce every task and to an outstanding quality. They also communicate very effectively through all of the digital platforms we are now using. Both students are working well beyond the school day to ensure that everything is completed.
Teacher of the week
- This week Miss Pring has been nominated for being an amazing tutor, going above and beyond to support both students and parents and being incredibly kind and caring.
Careers Insight – This week we have two for the price of one!
One insight focuses on National Careers Week (with fun resources too – everyone should try the 5 minutes of positivity), and the other insight focuses on ‘Working with Books’.
This year National Careers Week and World Book Day have collaborated, encouraging promotion of careers in this industry.
Find out more in this week’s Careers Insight below.
Skills South West 2021 – Virtual Careers Fair
Skills South West gives young people aged 14-24 the opportunity to meet and network with regional and national employers, training providers, colleges, universities and industry specific organisations. This year’s event is taking place virtually on 21 April 2021 via the trusted V Fairs online platform.
Industry Experts – NHS Health Careers, Barratt Homes, Devon & Somerset Fire Rescue, Maritime UK, City College Plymouth, Oxford Brookes University, Babcock International, British Army plus many more
Parents and Students can register for out of School Hours using this link:
unifrog Univeristy Webinars
unifrog are hosting a series of free webinars from 1-11 March with 40+ universities to help students decide where to apply. Perfect for students in Year 12 as they start to think about where they’ll apply and useful for Years 9-11 if they are thinking about going to university.
Each one focuses on a different region in the UK:
Study in the South West
- Monday 1 March @ 16:30
- Monday 8 March @ 18:00
Study in the North West
- Monday 1 March @ 18:00
- Tuesday 4 March @ 18:00
Study in the South East
- Tuesday 2 March @ 16:30
Study in London
- Wednesday 3 March @ 16:30
- Wednesday 10 March @ 18:00
Study in the East of England
- Thursday 4 March @ 16:30
Study in Birmingham
- Monday 8 March @ 16:30
Study in Wales
- Tuesday 9 March @ 16:30
Study in Scotland
- Wednesday 10 March @ 16:30
Study in Yorkshire or the North East
- Thursday 11 March @ 16:30
Study in the Midlands
- Thursday 11 March @ 18:00
Students can access the free webinars by logging on to their unifrog accounts and clicking on the Webinars title or here :
Initial Teacher Training with The Learning Institute South West
If you are interest in a career in teaching and would like to train alongside us at Plymstock School, please contact The Learning Institute South West for more details, or pop into one of their ‘Train to Teach’ virtual open days.