End-of-(Half) Term Newsletter February 2021

We’d like to thank parents and carers for their continued support and patience.

Dear parents and carers,

We don’t normally write at the end of each half term but we felt that parents like to be kept up-to-date more frequently, especially at the moment. We’d like to thank parents and carers for their continued support and patience. We feel that, in the main, there are some excellent learning routines going on and our young people have done us proud. We’ve tried our best to get on top of any IT queries and problems and feel like we’ve made significant progress here too.

Remote learning will continue after half term and we are open for critical workers and vulnerable children - the booking form is here: https://bit.ly/2MU8AlS

We are waiting for DfE/Government guidance regarding a return or any changes and we will write when we hear anything.

OPTIONS (YEAR 8)
Over the following weeks, your son/daughter will be selecting the courses that they wish to continue to study throughout Key Stage 4. During this time, they will receive information and guidance from their progress tutor, their teachers and hopefully from you.
You can find our letter here which links to the page with the options booklet, form and video on it: https://bit.ly/3a0ZRYk

FREE SCHOOL MEALS
Sandwell Council has made arrangements for you to receive food vouchers via a partnership with Wonde.com. Details of this scheme can be found here: https://bit.ly/3oEJ2qn. This scheme will be replacing the Edenred vouchers during the week of half term, Edenred will resume after half term. The next time we can place an order with Edenred will be Monday 22nd February and so the earliest these will be delivered to parents is Tuesday 23rd February.
It is also worth noting that Farmfoods have now joined the EdenRed FSM scheme.

SITE CLOSURE
The site will be closed for the duration of half-term week. We are doing this to ensure that all of our staff get a break. Our Facebook Messenger will be picked up every 48 hours and we will be monitoring [email protected] once a day.

PARENTS’ EVENING (YEAR 8)
Next half term should have seen us host our year 8 Parents’ Evening. Unfortunately, the situation with Covid-19 means that for the safety of all concerned it is not possible for us to have parents on the Academy site in the way that we usually would. We are therefore working hard to ensure we can run a parents’ evening and provide you with updates on your child’s progress. In lieu of a physical parents’ evening, we will instead be running two parental consultation days on Wednesday 3rd March and Wednesday 10th March. We will be writing after half term to let you know arrangements and how to book.

SANDWELL ADULT AND FAMILY LEARNING SERVICES (SAFL)
SAFL is getting lots of requests from parents for a course to give them the basic tools and an insight into what is required to support their children’s learning at home. Some are now considering volunteering or becoming a Teaching Assistant as a career move.
The Level 1 Preparing to Work in Schools course is aimed at a range of learners who are thinking of working in a school setting or are looking for a career change into education. It may also be beneficial for people who are supporting homeschooling. This is an opportunity for anyone with or without experience in the education sector. The course is aimed to give you an understanding of working with children in a school environment to support their learning and wellbeing.
To join please email: [email protected]

STUDENT/STAFF TESTING UPDATE
When the Government asked us to conduct Covid testing for students and staff who were in school during lockdown to see whether they were asymptomatic carriers of COVID, it raised a flutter of worry. How would school staff who have trained hard on ensuring the education of students is as good as they can make it, adapt to this new reality?
We needn't have worried; we set to the task of putting together an asymptomatic testing station, learned new roles and techniques and asked our community for volunteers to help us make it work and it has worked well.
We have now completed well over 350 tests of staff and students in school, the process has been described as calm, professional and effective and the response of students, staff and our community has been exceptional.
When the school fully re-opens, it is expected that we will be writing to all families regarding testing and seeking consent. Whilst we have a number of volunteers trained and ready to work with us in this mammoth task, we could still do with some more help. If you have half a day a week or more and are prepared to do some straightforward training and help out our school we would be really pleased to hear from you on [email protected]

COVID ARRANGEMENTS (for students who have been on site)
We need to be aware of the following information regarding positive cases:

  • Where a student or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in school, the school should not be contacted. Parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.
  • If a student or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms within 48 hours of being in school, we will assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation, as the individual may have been infectious whilst at Forge. In this instance, please email [email protected]

Please take care over this short break, don’t take any unnecessary risks and follow the Government guidance. We very much look forward to welcoming everyone back to live learning on 22nd February 2021 and hope that we start to see more positive updates before Easter.

Again, thank you for your support, we continue to be stronger together.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Lisa Mason
Principal
Ormiston Forge Academy