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School update 10/09/2020

Re: School Update   

Dear Parent/Guardians,   
 
I hope you are all well and staying safe. First and foremost I would like to share with you how incredibly proud I am of our pupils. The level of maturity since we opened the school last week has been extremely impressive and they have been a credit to you and to the school. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the parents/guardians who have expressed their support for the school and the systems that we have in place to mitigate the virus.   
 
I would like to share and remind you of a number of key expectations as follows:   
 
Mobile Phone Use:
The Duston School is a mobile phone free environment. Whilst pupils are permitted to bring a phone to school they are not allowed to use the phone in the school building at any time, be it before, during or after school. Pupils should not take their phone out and call/text until they have vacated the main school building at the end of the school day. Should a pupil be seen with their phone out in the school building at any time then it will be confiscated.  The device will then be locked away in the school safe, and will only be returned on a Monday each week. If however, a device is confiscated on a Monday, it will be a further week before it is returned.   
 
Knowledge Organisers:
Knowledge Organisers and the Knowledge Organiser cases (book bags) that all pupils have been issued with by the school form part of our overall expectation of being prepared for school. This expectation has been made explicitly clear to all pupils and as of Monday we will sanction pupils who do not bring these to school. If your child requires a new book bag this can be purchased vis ParentPay. I would like to remind parents that your son/daughter does not need to bring a big bag to school, the book bag will suffice. On days where pupils have PE then they should bring their PE kit in a bag. As a school, to reduce expense for you, we have suggested a drawstring bag.   
 
I have been highly impressed so far by the number of pupils that have these book bags on their person.   
 
I would also like to remind all parents that the school’s knowledge organisers can be found via the following link:  
 
Punctuality to School:
I would like to remind all parents/guardians that students need to arrive to school on time, adhering to the following times:   
08.15 – Post 16 
08.20 – Year 11 
08.25 – Year 10 
08.30 – Year 7 
08.35 – Year 8 
08.40 – Year 9   
 
I have been hugely impressed by pupil punctuality so far.
 
Same Day Detentions and the Classroom Code of Conduct:
Please be reminded that the school operates a same day detention approach. The school has a very simple classroom code of conduct, which is displayed in every single classroom and referred to regularly in year group assemblies. The three core rules within this code of conduct are:
 
Respect the member of staff and other students, following all instructions without question or answering back.
Complete all work to the best of your ability, not distracting others.
Arrive on time to all lessons, with the correct equipment, homework and uniform. 

Since the start of the new academic year I have been delighted by the serious and studious manner of our pupils to engage with their learning.    
 
Lines of Communication:
I fully appreciate that people are extremely anxious and worried about the national situation that we all find ourselves in. As a school we will endeavour to communicate with you as quickly as we can should any changes need to be made to the overall running of the school in light of the Covid-19 situation. I would also like to reassure you that on a daily basis I personally walk the school site multiple times to check on the staff and pupils to ensure that everything is operating smoothly. I also meet daily with the school’s senior leadership team in the guise of a daily debrief to assess and review each school day.   
 
I would like to remind you of the channels of communication within the school. In the first instance all issues should be directed to your child’s form tutor, who is their primary advocate within the school. Should you need to elevate a concern then the next port of call is the relevant Director of Year. Should you then need to direct a concern to a member of the Senior Team your next port of call is Mrs Jones, Assistant Principal for Key Stage 3 or Mr Wade/Mr Dewes, Assistant Principals for Key Stage 4. If you then wish to elevate your concern further still it should be directed to either Mr T Wise, Vice Principal in Charge of Key Stage 3 or Mrs Whiles, Vice Principal in Charge of Key Stage 4. Post 16 issues should be directed to Mr Clarke or Mrs Montagu, Vice Principal/Director of Sixth Form.
 
Graphically this looks as follows:
 
Years 7-11
Stage 1: Form Tutor  
Stage 2: Director of Year  
Stage 3: Assistant Principal Key Stage 3/4 
Stage 4: Vice Principal Key Stage 3/4  
Stage 5: Mr Strickland, Principal   
 
Post 16
Stage 1: Form Tutor 
Stage 2: Head of Year 12/13 
Stage 3: Mrs Montagu, Vice Principal: Director of Sixth Form 
Stage 4: Mr Strickland, Principal   
 
Can I please ask that you carefully consider your concern/complaint before fielding it to the school. Currently the school is operating in a very new and very different manner, adhering to clear and explicit guidance from the Department for Education. Primarily my first priority is to mitigate risk against the virus and to keep the school safe, open and a place of learning. I appreciate some parents have questioned some of the approach but, as per my communications in July, the measures in place are essential and designed to keep the school as risk free as possible. Any decision to change or alter the approaches in place will be given extremely careful consideration and at all times I will adhere to the guidance issued to schools by the Department for Education. Please note that as a school we will endeavour to respond to all parental communications within two working days (this does not include the weekend).   
 
No Notice Meetings:
Due to the current pandemic we will not be hosting personalised face-to-face meetings with parents in the school. I politely ask that you do not arrive at the school and expect a meeting.   
 
School Car Park:
Please be reminded that the school car park is closed to parental vehicles until further notice. The rationale for this was communicated to all parents in July. I would like to remind all parents to drive and park sensibly within the locality and to avoid blocking roads. Please also adhere to the speed limits that are in place within the local vicinity.   
 
Face Masks:
Please be advised that the Local Authority wrote to all schools yesterday informing them that Northampton Borough, of which Duston is part of, is no longer a high intervention area. With this in mind the wearing of face masks in corridors and communal areas is no longer compulsory.   
 
Attendance and Remote Learning:
Should any pupil be absent from school then we will provide that pupil with work to complete whilst they are at home. Currently we are issuing hard copy packs of materials for pupils to work from whilst at home. Moving forwards we will be placing work onto Microsoft Teams. Further information will come out regarding this in due course and the approach will be explained to our pupils. Should there be a local or national change (i.e. a local or national lockdown) then the school already has a comprehensive plan in place to support pupils with remote learning from home. 
 
Sickness:
If your son or daughter takes ill please do not send them into school. If they are displaying any Covid-19 related symptoms please do take them for a test and then please adhere to all of the guidance that Public Health and the DFE have released, which we have shared with you. If you are in any doubt regarding what to do then please do contact the school.   
 
I would like to thank all parents/guardians for your continued support.    
 
Please stay safe.   
 
Yours faithfully,   
Mr S Strickland 
Principal