MHS Update 21-5-2021

MHS Update 21-5-2021

Today’s blog covers two areas – Covid precautions and Year 11.

Covid Precautions

As you will no doubt be aware, the coming of the ‘Indian variant’ and a slight increase in the rate of transmission both nationally and in parts of the North West is threatening to slow down the much anticipated roadmap out of lockdown. I understand the need for caution but I very much hope we don’t end up going backwards!

Yesterday I attended a local briefing session which included more good news than bad – namely that Stockport is seeing only a very slight rise in cases, that the vaccination programme is having a clear impact in preventing infection amongst the older year groups and that as of yet, the Indian variant has not spread here as rapidly as elsewhere. These are all good signs and it is not inevitable that we will see a spike. However, the clear message from the briefing was that in order to keep moving forwards we have to remember the now ‘standard’ precautions that we have in place. 

The key points to remember are:

1) Year group ‘bubbles’: Although we have seen some great unexpected benefits of splitting the year groups up, the separation of year groups is not universally popular as some students wish to socialise with older/younger students. However the evidence suggests that our approach is helping/has helped to restrict transmission. In the 26 cases we had between September and December 2020 there was no evidence of transmission from one year group to another. The bubbles mean that sadly Year 7 still have to have slightly shorter lessons before break and lunch, but there is no way around that at present. 

2) Face masks in communal areas: The expert in the meeting completely agreed with our expectation that students and adults continue to wear masks in our corridors and canteens…hinting that this may well become a request of all secondary schools in Greater Manchester at some point if required.

3) Ventilation: Windows and doors will remain open in classrooms no matter the weather outside. I had hoped that May would be warmer than December but so far I’m not sure.

4) Social distancing for adults: Readers of the blog may well not be aware of this, but the message I have repeated more often than anything else this year has been to my colleagues instructing them to stay distant from each other and students. We have well and truly ‘hammered it home’, and I would like to think that the incredibly low instances of staff having to self-isolate is at least in part down to this expectation. The benefits of this in terms of the education we have provided/can provide cannot be over-estimated. 

5) Restricted extra-curricular activities: These are no longer banned, but they are single year groups only. Like the bubbles point mentioned above this seems very sensible. 

6) Hand sanitiser: Although now perhaps less important than it once was, based on how scientists believe the virus is transmitted, this remains an expectation and is no doubt helping to keep other bugs at bay as well. 

Of course the million dollar question is how long will these 6 points (and other precautions) remain in place. Unsurprisingly the expert I listened to on Wednesday couldn’t say. I remain hopeful that September will see us back to full year group assemblies in the hall!


Year 11

Every now and then I like to give the wonderful class of 2021 a mention. The ‘Teacher Assessed Grades’ process is now into its 8th week with one more full week to go, and never has a year group been assessed as often. Teachers are gathering as much high quality evidence as possible in order to award the most accurate and fair grades they can, and over the next three weeks (including the two after half term when Year 11 won’t be in school) we will be converting this information into grades. Subject teams are working hard to make sure the grades are fair and consistent, a job that everyone is taking very seriously indeed. To give you a tiny flavour of the task at hand, from my small class of twenty Year 11 historians I today marked my 250th mini assessment. This work has been replicated across every subject in school and I’d like to once again thank the students for their determination in creating the work and of course my colleagues for their dedication in marking it!

Yesterday was Year 11 Photograph day, where we position the year group on a massive outdoor tiered staging thing and then try to get everyone to stay still long enough to take the picture. I’ll be honest with you and say that 10 years ago both I and the whole senior team used to dread this day. It would take an age to get everyone to the right place and the experience was all very shouty. Over the past few years though Photograph day has been one of the ways in which I measure how far our school has come. I thoroughly enjoyed today. The students were fantastic – smarter than they have ever looked and a credit to every parent, carer and the school. The photographer chap caught me at the end and thanked me for how wonderful the students were. Telling me about a school in Luton where he vowed never to return, he looked me straight in the eye and said ‘You’re a very lucky man’. He’s dead right. I am. 

Best wishes

Joe Barker

MHS Update 14-5-2021

MHS Update 14-5-2021

It’s been a few weeks since we had a Covid update rather than a ‘blog’ as such, but this week I’m back to focussing on our pandemic response. As you know the nation is now well into the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. A lot has happened since mid-March: schools reopened, lateral flow tests began, non-essential retail opened, hospitality has restarted in perfect conjunction with a spell of cold, rainy weather. 

Up until now the easing of restrictions hasn’t meant anything in terms of day to day school life, and right now we remain under the strictest set of controls we’ve had all year. However, some of this is set to change from Monday 17th May. If you’re interested then the full guidance can be seen here: Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak – GOV.UK (

Perhaps the most high profile change is that from Monday the government is no longer requiring students to wear masks in lesson, nor indeed in other parts of school either. However, as I will explain below, we are taking a slightly different approach. Having reviewed our Covid risk assessment we are keen to release some restrictions whilst ensuring that we protect the continuity of education for all. 

Key Risk assessment points from Monday 17th May onwards

1) Masks will no longer be required by students in lessons. They WILL be required in corridors and in the canteen when not eating/sitting down. Adults will also wear masks in communal areas and where social distancing cannot be maintained.
2) All other covid related protocols involving students will remain the same. One-way system, student zones, separate canteens, different lesson times for Yr 7 etc. 
3) Staff will be required to remain at the front of their classroom and socially distant from students.
4) Additional ‘touch point’ cleaning, currently taking place approximately 8 times a day, will cease from Monday 24th May. The standard daily/twice daily cleans of all areas will continue.

Why are we being cautious on mask?

We were proud of our efforts to keep cases down before Christmas 2020, and equally proud that we have only had one case since 8th March and none at all in the last seven school weeks. This has not been the case elsewhere and I do not want to take unnecessary risks, whilst at the same time accepting that further relaxation of the rules is on the cards and will be considered by us soon.  I am aware that our expectations for mask wearing represents a more cautious approach than many schools…but I am sure it is the right thing to do and stand by it. A reminder that parents can request exemptions for individual children on medical grounds if they wish; if this is the case please contact

Let’s hope that the roadmap continues to unfold successfully and we can all continue our journey of getting back to normal.

Best wishes,

Joe Barker

The Marple Hall Spirit

The Marple Hall Spirit

I’m not naïve enough to think that the Covid pandemic is over, or that there won’t be some additional challenges for us to face as a school, community or nation in the months to come. However, I am also not prepared to wait indefinitely before cracking on with the job of making our school as good as it can possibly be. To be honest we’ve been planning for the ‘post-covid’ world for a while now, since September 2020 in actual fact, and we believe we are well set to emerge from the crisis stronger than how we went in.

There are though some aspects of school life that we haven’t been able to replicate fully, and one of the things we have lost since last March is the opportunity to gather whole year groups together in assemblies. Regular assemblies can be very powerful in many ways – they help students to feel a sense of community, are a great way to share messages and most of all are the best method of instilling our school’s values and ethos.

Today I am delivering/delivered a virtual assembly to Years 7, 8 and 9. A similar but adapted assembly will be given to Year 10 next week. Although not as good as the real thing, I wanted to deliver an assembly on the ethos of our school, the Marple Hall Spirit. As many parents and carers will know from Open Evening, the Marple Hall Spirit defines the five key characteristics we want to see in school. The five qualities apply equally to adults as they do to children, and we want them to guide everyone in all that they do each day. Covid most definitely robbed us of many opportunities to impress the ‘Spirit’ into the minds of our younger students, just as it hampered chances to give timely reminders to our older ones when needed.

I have made no secret of the fact that I was incredibly proud of the way that students responded to lockdowns. Amazing attendance, fantastic engagement in lessons and wonderful examples of students helping others and themselves. As we settle back into what feels like normal routines, I don’t mind saying that a small number of students in each year group seem to have lost sight of our core values, which is of course disappointing. I’d say that 98% of the cohort know what is expected of them, live the values of the Marple Hall Spirit every day and present a fantastic role model to others. They do you, the school and me proud every day – and visitors to the school regularly heap praise upon them. It is to these people then that my assembly was addressed, as by challenging and standing up to the less positive actions of the 2% we will help to stop it. In my assembly I focussed in particular on the attributes of Honesty and Respect, and I will be very interested to see how the year groups respond to my words in future days. But of course no school can hope to succeed without support from home, and so any help that parents and carers can give in promoting the Marple Hall Spirit, and especially Respect and Honesty, with their children would be gratefully received.

Best wishes,

Joe Barker

Hats off to Year 11

Hats off to Year 11

School continues to feel increasingly normal as every week goes by – attendance is improving, lessons are purposeful, extra-curricular is returning and we’re praying that the potential for Covid disruption keeps fading further away. We’ve even started to see a little more of the pre-covid misdemeanours of lateness to lesson from a few younger students, a sign that things must indeed be ‘normal’ again.

However one thing that is far, far from normal is the experience of Year 11. If this were a standard school year then we would be just two weeks from the first formal exam. Students and staff would be working flat out to prepare. Parents, siblings and family pets would be fully aware of the stresses that the students were under. The culmination of the past two years’ work would be just around the corner, and I personally would be looking forward to the first exam. I always get excited by the start of the exam season; it’s the time when the students show themselves at their best and the whole school comes together to support Year 11. The atmosphere changes a bit as the massive exam machine kicks into gear.

But not this year. This year we are heading towards TAGs – Teacher Assessed Grades – based on a growing base of evidence produced every day in lessons. Across the whole curriculum students are completing assessments based on what they have been taught over the past two years, supported by learning support assistants and teachers. The process is pretty relentless and I am full of admiration for how well the Year 11s have settled to the task. We’re about half way through now and I am sure that much good work is yet to be created over the final four weeks. The marking load for teachers is pretty high, but speaking as a Yr11 teacher myself I am happy to say it’s worth it. I have always had a great deal of respect for the class of 2021 and it’s a privilege to be able to pitch in and work hard alongside them in these totally unpredictable circumstances.

A lot of information is going to Year 11 students and parents/carers today as we guide them through the complexities of the TAG process. I therefore just wanted to reaffirm that looking past all the paperwork and procedures, we are very proud of you, the Class of 2021, and are determined to help you get grades you deserve.

Best wishes,

Joe Barker

Ps Thanks to everyone involved in Year 10 parents evening yesterday – another successful virtual event with around 95% attendance!

Student leaders, charity work and lateral flow tests

Student leaders, charity work and lateral flow tests

Last week I bravely/foolishly took the step of saying that I expected things to start turning back to normal this term. Happily, nothing has happened since then to change this opinion, quite the opposite in fact. Apart from the obvious difference for Year 11 students who are not preparing for a full set of final exams, the summer term feels like the summer term…with such momentous milestones as the day that the field opens for Years 8-11 at lunchtime finally upon us. Exciting times.

Another sign that the usual cycle of school life is returning is the start of a new round of elections for student leaders. Our MHSL (Marple Hall Student Leaders) team has been going strong for a while now, and this week Mrs Wilson launched the search for a new team to lead the student body. Over the years the team has done great work whether collaborating with other students across Stockport, sorting out litter in school or raising a huge amount of money for charity. The details on how students can apply are on Satchel One, as mentioned on the website here.

Speaking of charity work, last year MHSL played a major role alongside many other students in raising funds for the Kamla Foundation. This locally based charity does incredible work for disadvantaged people in India, and the way that the student body took to fund-raising was spectacular. Covid did its best to hinder fundraising efforts this last year and more, but despite this the charity has been able to benefit to the tune of £8721.98 (including gift aid) from MHS activities. This is a remarkable achievement by the students and their efforts will make a huge difference to people who need it the most.


As you can probably tell I am trying hard to make sure that Covid no longer dominates my blogs. However sometimes need must and today is one of those times. I have two specific points to make;

1) Coats will no longer be allowed in lessons from Tuesday 27th April. As you may know, we have allowed coats to be worn due to the fact that windows are always open in classrooms to aid ventilation. The ventilation will stay, but as the weather picks up we see no reason why shirt/blouse, blazer and if needed school jumper won’t keep students warm enough. I’d therefore appreciate it if parents and carers would make sure that students have the correct uniform, including blazers, from next week.

2) Lateral flow tests. Today the Department for Education asked headteachers to remind parents and carers of the need to keep up the regular use of lateral flow tests at home. This is a key strand of keeping infections down, as a positive lateral flow test means that the person should isolate while going for a PCR test to confirm the outcome. It is true that LFTs can give false positives (we had a couple early this week, but thankfully the negative PCRs came back quickly so isolation periods were just for a day or so), but I recommend that families continue to use them as planned. We believe that a new delivery of supplies will be in school next week, but they can also be collected from a number of locations in the area.


That’s it for today. Not quite Covid-free but not far off either.

Best wishes

Joe Barker

Welcome back – summer term 2021

Welcome back – summer term 2021

This week the news has featured stories of people full of hope. Shops reopening, hospitality reopening, more options for visiting friends and family. Whilst remembering that not all is good news – people are still catching and suffering from Covid and some people are anxious about the ‘unlocking’ – there is a general sense of hope that we may finally be getting back to some kind of normal.

To be honest, I feel the same here in school. There is no doubt that Covid is still having a major impact on what we can/can’t do as a school, but this is the first ‘start of term’ since March last year where school feels more normal than not, if that makes any sense!

This is probably a combination of several factors; firstly we’re all used to the unusual features of face coverings, one way systems, year group bubbles etc. Secondly, the number of self-isolations that blighted the October-December period have not reoccurred and so we have more consistency in terms of student attendance. Thirdly, we’re making tentative steps to bring back previously paused aspects of school life such as extra-curricular activities. Finally, teachers and students are able to focus more on learning than on Covid precautions or hybrid teaching, and there is of course a great sense of purpose amongst those working towards final grades this summer.

Throughout the pandemic my team and I have had half an eye on what school will be like when all this is over, making sure we learn from the positives that have come out of the situation we found ourselves in. I suppose that at the moment we’re in a bit of a half way house – it’s not ‘normal’ yet, but equally it’s not a crisis either – and I look forward with hope to a successful summer term for all.

Best wishes

Joe Barker

Marple Hall School End of Term Update 26-3-2021

Marple Hall School End of Term Update 26-3-2021

At the end of a completely unexpected 12 months, this has been a term that has had it all. A full lockdown, 100% remote learning, cancelled exams, mass testing, a full return to the classroom and a positive case since we’ve been back. As a school, just like everyone in the community, we’ve had to adapt and adjust to the different challenges that have come our way.

As you know I make no secret of the fact that I’ve been incredibly proud of the school all the way through the pandemic, and especially this last term. I have been awed by the flexibility and dedication of my colleagues, humbled by the support of parents, carers and Governors and inspired by the resilience, attitude and can-do approach of the students. We may not be out of the woods yet and I am sure there are challenges to come, but one thing we can rely on is that we’ll get through it together.

A quick word on lateral flow testing. We've been asked to encourage families to carry on with the testing twice a week throughout the holiday, hence the distribution of more kits yesterday. As ever please report positive cases directly to us. 

We’ve only had 6 days back in the new-normal routines, counting from the end of the mass testing regime, and already students and staff are setting into familiar routines. As students will know we paused the sitting of sanctions for the first two weeks for anything but ‘respect’ issues, and that the pause ended at the start of this week. It’s a part of a deliberate plan to keep raising our expectations to get the students back to where we know they can be, and is something that we’ll continue with after the break. I make no apology for having high standards and have every faith that students will rise to meet them. If parents or carers want to mention one thing to their children then it would be to remind term to ‘walk with purpose’ between lessons. The one-way system means we do lose some learning time, which is even more reason why our tolerance for dawdlers will shrink next term!

One of the more regrettable ‘school-experience’ losses during the pandemic has been the cancelling of all extra-curricular activities. Therefore I was overjoyed this week to see the return of after school competitive sport, courtesy of Mr Stretton and the PE and Dance faculty. On consecutive days we’ve had football and netball tournaments for forms in years 7-9, attracting enthusiastic participants and even some form tutors coming down to watch. The lack of opportunities to watch live sport must have really got to some people! Sitting in my office yesterday and hearing the cheers from the netball courts was lovely and a great symbol of hope for the future.

I’ll sign off by congratulating Year 11 and Year 9 MFL/Health and Fitness students for the calm, deliberate and unflustered way that they are handling the new approach to assessments. As a group of students and staff we have a crucial job to do to ensure students get the grades they are capable of, and we are approaching the task with a considered determination that I am sure will pay dividends. Students – do some revision over the break and come back ready to show what you can do.

Huge thanks for your ongoing support,

Happy Easter,

Joe Barker

MHS update 19-3-2021

MHS update 19-3-2021

First ‘full’ week back – done!

Just as in all walks of life not everything is perfect at MHS. There are always things we can do better, systems that could improve, individuals who could make wiser choices…but weighing up all the evidence I’ve been over the moon with the way in which the school has come back together these last nine days.

1) The students have been fantastic. In many ways it’s like they had never been away, settling back into routines instantly and going about their business without fuss. Most teenagers are way too ‘cool’ (is that even a word now?) to admit it in public, but it’s clear that the vast majority of them have missed school and are glad to be back. This says a great deal about them, the support from their families/carers and the school itself.

2) Attendance has been really good. Remembering that ‘normal’ illness is still out there, and some students are having to isolate, attendance on Tuesday was over 96%. That would be a good figure any day and a great one when we factor in the pandemic and all the barriers to attendance that this has brought.

3) The in-school testing programme has been a great success. Testing officially ended yesterday with a grand total of 3427 tests completed in nine days, with 3427 negative results. More importantly, we believe we managed to complete this job with the minimum disruption to lessons. If you were to visit the testing site in operation you would be struck by how simple and easy the whole process looks, but that of course masks the enormous task that went into setting up and running the testing programme. A team of 40 of colleagues made this happen I am hugely grateful for their creativity, energy and ‘can-do’ attitude. Having said that I am very glad that this is now over! Students are encouraged to keep testing twice a week at home, and please remember that any positive lateral flow test done at home means that the student must self-isolate, inform school and get a PCR test asap to confirm whether positive or negative. It is the PCR result that will then determine if the student can return straight away or not.

4) Like the students, I have been equally impressed with my colleagues’ hard work and positivity as school re-opens. We have asked a lot of them recently in many ways, not least asking for their support in giving time over to the testing site, doing extra duties before school, break and lunchtime, being visible on corridors between lessons – basically making sure that school is calm and running smoothly every day. The response from colleagues was fantastic and went a long way to ensuring we hit the ground running.

However like I say, not everything is perfect, and one thing that took the gloss off the week was of course the news of a positive covid case in Year 11 on Wednesday. As you’ll probably have seen in the local news we’re not alone, and it’s inevitable that the virus will keep spreading amongst the unvaccinated youth and younger adults. I had though hoped for a longer period of grace, but never mind! As with before Christmas we will ensure that students at home have access to good quality education, and we are thankful that the students currently isolating are not out for too long.

Looking ahead have a week to go until the Easter break. In many ways the break is coming at the wrong time as a big part of me would like us to keep building the momentum we’ve built up over the past two weeks. But, that can’t be helped and we’ll come back stronger on April 12th!

Best wishes

Joe Barker

MHS Update 12-3-2021

MHS Update 12-3-2021


We’re back – and it’s great. Great to see the students in school, great to see staff doing what they do best and great to watch the amazing organisation of the testing centre in action. Students have come back and are in the swing of things already, as to be honest we thought they would be. No fuss, just 1550 young people getting back to as close to normal as possible. The only real challenge for them has been having to cope with slightly over-excited teachers at the front of the class who are overjoyed at no longer teaching into the abyss!

Next week I’ll be able to share more with you on how students have settled back into school life, as well as giving the full picture on the enormous lateral flow testing operation.

However, today I would like to use the opportunity of this blog to remind everyone of exactly what to do if someone might have/does have Covid, and how by doing the right thing we can all help to keep the school fully open for as long as possible. By following this guidance we can hopefully keep instances of sending close-contacts home to a minimum.

If anyone is in any doubt over what to do in any case then please email


Symptomatic students

If a student develops symptoms of Covid – a new cough, fever or loss of sense of taste/smell – then they must isolate and get a PCR test, even if they have had Covid before. These PCR tests are the original tests conducted at test centres or through the post, NOT the Lateral flow tests that look like a pregnancy test and that give a result in 30 minutes.

  • If the test is negative then the student can return to school
  • If the test is positive then the student must isolate for 10 days and school needs to be informed immediately via

To clarify, if a student has symptoms and then takes a Lateral flow test at home, and that result is negative, they must still not return to school until a PCR test comes back negative or the isolation period is over. Lateral flow tests cannot be used for this purpose.


Symptomatic household members

If someone in the students household develops symptoms of Covid – a new cough, fever or loss of sense of taste/smell – then the whole household must isolate whilst the symptomatic person does a PCR test. Again, these are NOT the Lateral flow tests that give a result in 30 minutes.

  • If the test is negative then the student can return to school and the rest of the household can leave isolation
  • If the test is positive then the student and rest of the household must isolate for 10 days and school needs to be informed immediately via

To clarify, if a person in a student’s household has symptoms and then takes a Lateral flow test at home, and that result is negative, this does not mean that the isolation period is over. Only when a PCR test comes back negative or the isolation period is over can the household leave isolation.


Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs)

These are the tests that we are doing in school at the moment and that, from next week, can be done at home twice a week. The most important thing to remember about these tests is that they are ONLY to be used to try to find people who are infected without showing any symptoms. People with symptoms should not use the Lateral flow tests but should instead book a PCR test (see above)

  • If a LFT that is done in school is positive: According to current rules, this counts as a confirmed positive case and the student and their household must isolate for 10 days.
  • If a LFT that is done at home is positive: According to current rules, this is not a confirmed positive until a follow up PCR test is also positive. The student and their family should isolate while awaiting a PCR test, and then if the PCR test is negative the isolation can end immediately. If it is positive then isolation must take place as above and the and school needs to be informed immediately via


What about people who have had Covid in the last 90 days?

People who have had a confirmed case of Covid within the last 90 days should not take part in Lateral flow tests. This is because LFTs are only being used to find asymptomatic cases, and people who have had Covid recently may well be carrying remnants of the virus that would trigger a ‘positive’ LFT result in error. Given that a positive LFT will lead to at least some time in isolation (see above), it is therefore strongly advised that people who have had Covid within the past three months do not take the Lateral flow tests.


Close Contacts

Where students or staff are identified as close contacts, they will have to isolate for 10 days or until 10 days has passed since they were in contact with the infected person. No test result can alter this – not a negative Lateral flow test nor a negative PCR test. This is because symptoms can develop some time after being in contact with the virus and a test may not pick up the virus.


Is all this confusing – YES!

It is ok if you’re not sure what to do in each situation, but the key messages from school are:


1) If you’re not sure then ask us via the Covid email address which is

2) If a student is symptomatic then please please please do not send them to school. Isolate and book a PCR test instead.

3) If a student is symptomatic then under no circumstances can a Lateral flow test be used to then prove a ‘negative’ and send the student to school

4) If a Lateral flow test done at home is positive then please inform school immediately, keep the student at home and book a PCR test

5) Keep smiling!

I appreciate that there’s a lot here but as I am sure you agree, it’s important that everyone knows what to do. We are of course trying as hard as we can to keep everyone safe and to keep school open for as many students as possible every day. I know there are a lot of conflicting messages ‘out there’ about what can and cannot be done with testing etc, but if in doubt please speak to us directly and we’ll advise as best we can.

Welcome back!

Joe Barker

MHS update 4-3-2021

MHS update 4-3-2021

A big feature of the nation’s response to the pandemic has been ‘change’ – changing from one normal to another, and then to another, and hopefully at some point to a normal that we recognise as being exactly that.

I write to you today on the cusp of another big change, this time moving towards a more normal situation for the school albeit with some small humps to navigate on the way. The important bit is that next week we will start putting our school back together. By Thursday 11th we’ll have all year groups back into school, and by Thursday 18th the three rounds of in-school lateral flow testing will be done and we’ll be back to being where we were in September, which is the closest to normal we’ve been for a year.

I’m very aware that a LOT of information has been sent out over the past week and so I’ll try to keep this blog to the point with three key messages:

1) I have pre-recorded an assembly that all students should watch tomorrow (Friday) morning. Their heads of year/form tutors will be sharing how to access this. It outlines the plans for next week and reminds students of the expectations in school. Students should still log on to forms as usual in the morning.

There is one addition to the assembly that I want to make clear. Students who have PE lessons must attend school in uniform – we allowed attendance in PE kit for the fortnight prior to Christmas only to safeguard family plans for the festivities. However that no longer applies so uniform must be worn with PE kits being brought in bags as per usual.

2) ‘Day 1’ Lateral flow testing

See the end of the blog for a visual reminder of when each year group is invited in for testing. Please can students be reminded of the following prior to their first test:

a) Students should arrive at the time that has been sent home to them. If you were expecting a time but have not received one, please email

b) Uniform does not need to be worn for ‘Day 1’ testing unless the student is in school for the whole day as part of the usual VKW cohort.

c) Students should make sure they have the following with them to enable the test to take place: School lunch card (used for our check-in system at the test centre), the covid testing registration card, a set of three matching barcodes (all three are needed for one test) and a face covering.

d) On arrival students should report to the car park outside the sports hall.

e) As we are aiming to process 100 tests an hour it is essential that students register online for the test before arriving in school. If students are yet to register for the test then the mobile phone number used should be that of a parent, not the student themselves.

3) Home lateral flow testing

The Government announced that following the three in-school tests families will be asked to test students twice weekly. It has now been confirmed that schools will not be asked to distribute tests, and nor will they be posted home. Instead families can order tests online or collect them from nominated test sites. The nearest test site to school is a car park in the centre of Marple (Chadwick Street car park). Further information can be found here

I would strongly recommend that students are tested regularly and of course that any positive test results are reported to the school. All results have to be reported to Test and Trace, but we will only need to know about positive cases.


Next week therefore sees the end of ‘lockdown three’ from a school point of view. Based on the expectations of our school community I couldn’t be more proud of what we have achieved. By the end of this week we’ll have delivered around 13,000 live lessons and form times with an incredible attendance rate of around 95%. That is a lot of online engagement!

On top of that we’ve supported around 80 students in school each day, made thousands of welfare calls home and kept on top of key milestones such as the Year 9 options and several parents’ evenings. It’s been a remarkable effort from all concerned – staff, students, parents and governors – but the time is right to get back to what we love most and see the school full again.

Many thanks for your ongoing support,

Joe Barker

Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker
Tel: 0161 427 7966
Fax: 0161 426 0931