05 Jan 2021

A Letter From the Head, 5 January

Alex Hems, Head of St George's School for GirlsDear parents and guardians

I hope that you have all had a restful break over the holiday period. In the wake of yesterday’s announcements of more prolonged on-line learning and the cancellation of the GCSE and A level examinations, I am writing to let you know about plans that are in place at St George’s for the coming weeks.

Supported Home Learning
As was already planned, we will move straight into Supported Home Learning from Monday 11th January. Over the course of last term my colleagues worked hard to build on their experience of teaching remotely in the spring and summer, to further develop their individual and departmental skills and capacity, and the school has invested significantly in technology to support teaching staff in delivering a high standard of learning via Office 365. We have a staff training day on Friday, which will focus on preparation for the coming weeks, and we will write in the course of Friday, to give further information about Supported Home Learning in the different areas of the school, and to remind all students about the procedure for registration on Monday morning and how to access start of term Assemblies etc.

Houldsworth will open on Sunday 10th January. We are aware that some of our families have travel plans already in place, and we look forward to welcoming them back. If your daughter is currently with a guardian, please let us know if you would like her to rejoin the Houldsworth community in person. Boarding parents will already be aware of the precautions that are in place in Houldsworth, in order to keep the girls and staff in the House safe and well, as far as we possibly can. Boarders will follow Supported Home Learning under the supervision and guidance of the Houldsworth staff, and there will be a programme of House activities and opportunities for the girls to have fresh air and exercise in the school grounds. Please use the address to communicate with the boarding staff about travel plans or if you have any questions.

Care for children of Key Workers
As I indicated when I wrote on 21st December, we will be offering a service for children of Key Workers in school, where both parents come under this description, for the duration of the period of Supported Home Learning. This service will run from 8am until 4pm Monday to Friday. Please be aware that it may not be possible for us to keep the children apart in their separate year groups, as we would normally seek to do, although children from different sections of the School will not be mixed and children will still be welcomed into their own part of the school. Where Nursery children are present there will be members of the Nursery team to care for them. A separate SchoolPost has been sent today, with a reply form to use if you will need to use this service.

Examination candidates
The Prime Minister indicated last night that GCSE and A level examinations would not go ahead this summer. We await further information about the alternative system that will be in place, but anticipate that it will be similar to that with which we are already working for Highers and Advanced Highers. As soon as we have clarification, we will be in touch with parents of girls in Upper 5. As the period of home learning has been extended beyond 18th January, we will be amending the assessment programme for girls in Lower and Upper School in order to accommodate changes to the public examinations, and will write to let you know further details in the next few days. As I indicated in December, all examination candidates should anticipate starting new course material from Monday.

With kind regards and best wishes to you all,

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


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