20 Mar 2020

Alex Hems: Coronavirus Update March 20 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I would like to begin by thanking you all for your support and encouragement through what has been an extraordinary week. I would also like to commend the impressive spirit shown by your daughters who, while no doubt confused and possibly frightened by the situation they see unfolding around them, have been cheerful and wonderfully upbeat at school, given the circumstances.

From Monday 23rd March St George’s will move temporarily to supported home learning. I hope that you all now have information about the ways in which we will continue to deliver teaching and support your daughters, both in their learning and in their emotional journey through the coming days. Please see messages sent by Mr Leask, Miss Benson, Mrs Nettleton and Mr Verrecchia for details. Junior School girls have supported learning activities from their teachers for the next two weeks. Mrs Hay will be in touch after Easter to ensure that we provide continuity of learning for them after that.  Mrs Nettleton will keep in touch with Nursery families through Learning Journals  and the Nursery Instagram page.

For the safety of all our community I would ask that the girls do not return to the school site until we have notified you formally via SchoolPost message from me, that it is possible to do so.

Examination candidates
The Deputy First Minister confirmed yesterday that the SQA examinations will not go ahead this summer. Instead he has indicated that a credible certification model will be put in place, to ensure that grades are awarded; these will be based on a combination of coursework, prior attainment and estimated grades. My colleagues are working hard to ensure that no student at St George’s will be disadvantaged by this situation. We will continue to work with the girls to ensure that we have sufficient, robust evidence to support their estimated grades.

It is envisaged that similar arrangements will be in place for GCSEs, but I shall write to confirm that as soon as JCQ release their statement, which is anticipated later today. We fully recognise how frustrating and disappointing this is for the girls, who have worked so hard in preparation for these examinations.

Hard work is never wasted, however, and we will be moving Upper 5 and Lower 6 students onto their Higher or Advanced Higher courses earlier next term than previously scheduled. Dr De Ville will be in contact with further details of assessment arrangements for examination candidates. For the Upper Sixth we are currently planning a programme of learning and skill development, which we can deliver remotely and which could lead to further qualifications for them. We will be in contact with further information very soon.

Our Leavers
The recent news has of course been especially disappointing for the Upper 6. I am committed to holding Speech Day for them, however, whether early in the autumn or nearer to Christmas, to ensure that the school celebrates their achievements and contributions in the appropriate fashion. Today they will mark their final day of formal lessons in the ways that have become traditional at St George’s.

Provision for children of key workers
As I mentioned earlier in the week, it is our hope to provide some support to enable key workers to continue to be at work when the country needs them most. I need to have regard for the safety and wellbeing of the staff here as well. Thank you to those of you who have indicated that you might fall into this category; we will be in contact with you to confirm what will be available over the next two weeks in the first instance. This will be overseen by Mrs Elaine Ford.

Any boarders who still have belongings in Houldsworth should contact the staff there to arrange a time to pack and collect their possessions.

Holiday period
The holiday period will run as scheduled from Monday 6th April and supported home learning will resume on Monday 20th April.

I hope that you and your families stay well throughout this difficult time.  My colleagues and I will remain in regular contact with you.

With my best wishes to you all,

Mrs Alex Hems MA Oxon
Head, St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh

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