Our Community - Our Future

MHS Update 18-12-2020 ‘TWO’

MHS Update 18-12-2020 'TWO'

Two blogs for the price of one today:

ONE: The end of term and Merry Christmas (click here)

TWO: Last minute changes to the start of term, and ‘mass testing’ from January


TWO: Last minute changes to the start of term, and ‘mass testing’ from January

I can scarcely believe that I am writing this blog so near to the end of term. I can only apologise for any disruption caused to families in the first week of January 2021, but felt that it was important to react quickly to announcements from the Department for Education both yesterday and also this very afternoon.

I’ll deal with the bigger, longer term news first. As you can read here, and initially announced yesterday, the Government is planning to enable schools to offer rapid and regular testing of staff and students in school from January 2021. The idea is to enable the close contacts of positive cases to stay in education for longer, whether they are adults or students. A very big part of me is excited by this! Although numbers have dropped a great deal recently, in October and November in particular we had many students out of school due to being identified as close contacts, and if there is a way to enable most of these students to be in school every day then that is a big win. I guess the smart money is on a spike in cases in January and February, and so ‘mass testing’ in school may well be a game changer.

However, on the other hand I don’t mind saying that I am worried about the logistics of managing the testing process. I may well be proved wrong but from what I read last night, the burden of organising and administering the weekly/twice weekly/daily tests will be carried by schools themselves. We will need to provide venues, staffing and communication of results for parents and carers who give permission (the tests are voluntary) for their children to be tested in school…a very big job in a big school like ours. I hope that the disruption caused by the tests isn't larger than the disrpution caused by isolations. So, at this stage, I have decided to put this challenge to one side, partly as we have other more urgent matters to deal with as you'll see below. Whatever happens I am confident in our ability to come up with a solution! We’ve overcome every challenge so far and I don’t see why this will be any different.

However, more pressing is the other news just announced this afternoon that secondary schools will have to provide a staggered start for students in January. A formal letter explaining this can be seen here.

The requirement for a staggered start means the following for MHS:

  1. Only Year 11 will be in school on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th January. Their RED WEEK lessons will take place as normal.
  2. All year groups will be back to full time face to face teaching on the 11th January.
  3. Vulnerable students, and the children of Key Worker parents/carers, can also access school on the 7th and 8th. A survey has already gone out should a place be needed, and should be completed by those who need a place only.
  4. Live RED WEEK form time and lessons will take place over Teams for students in Years 7-10 on the 7th and 8th January. Students can access the lessons in the same way as they did for hybrid sessions, and attendance will be monitored. Guidance on how to access lessons, plus technical help, is available here.
  5. Live lessons will start at the usual time but will end 10 minutes early to enable staff to set up the next session.
  6. Vulnerable and Key worker students who attend school will be able to access the same lessons via a computer in one of the school’s computer rooms. They will not experience face to face teaching on those days.
  7. All of the above will be explained to students in a whole-school live video assembly on Friday 18th December.

As you can imagine this is all being organised at great speed, and so it may be that some live lessons experience technical issues or do not take place should there be any staff absences/isolations. I am sure parents will understand if this is the case, but I’m confident that the vast majority of lessons will go ahead as planned.

I’ll end by again apologising for the last minute notice of changes to the start of the term for Years 7-10. I hope you’ll agree when I claim it’s not how we normally operate, but we can only play the hand we are dealt!

With best wishes,

Joe Barker



Our Community - Our Future
Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker
Tel: 0161 427 7966
Fax: 0161 426 0931
Email: info@marplehall.stockport.sch.uk
Safeguarding: safeguarding@marplehall.stockport.sch.uk