A Letter From the Head, 8 January
Dear Parents and Guardians
I write to you all to welcome you and your daughters to the new term and to give some detail about the shape of the school day from Monday 11th, while we remain in this period of supported home learning.
Students from Primary 6 upwards should use iSAMS registration, at 8.45am, every morning. Mr Rodger will be writing separately to you all, to give information about how girls should do this. Remove and above will follow their daily timetable, with lessons Monday to Thursday starting at 9.15am, and on Fridays at 8.45am. Lessons will be delivered through O365, using Teams. Primary 6 students should register via iSAMS and then remain logged on as their teachers will then start the morning call with them at 8.50am. We will follow the usual pattern of assemblies, some live, and some pre-recorded, throughout the week. I shall speak to Upper School students in a live assembly at 8.55am on Monday morning, and girls can join this assembly via the link, which will be placed in the Year Group pastoral Teams. Mrs White has already written to Junior School earlier today, to outline how the shape of the day will work for pupils in Primary 1 to 5. For our Nursery children distance learning activities will be available, and live online contact with their teachers will continue. Critical care provision for key workers’ children in Junior School will involve P3-5 teaching staff. This will mean that your daughter, for one day each week, will meet with the other P3, 4 or 5 teacher for her daily lessons online.
My teaching colleagues have been planning and preparing for this period of remote learning over the last few days and of course have built considerably on the experience of the previous lockdown over the course of the autumn. We recognize that a really key element of a successful supported home learning programme is the level of live access that your daughters have to their teachers. Lessons will vary in structure, using a combination of live delivery, pre-recorded pieces of instructional material, opportunities for group and independent work and one to one contact between students and teachers, depending on the needs of individual subject and topic. The wellbeing of all our students is also a key consideration for us. We made changes to the structure of our timetable last year, in order to give students and staff opportunities to move away from their desks, to stretch and have some time off-line. We encourage all students to take advantage of these breaks appropriately. We will continue to use pastoral questionnaires to invite feedback from the girls and to assess wellbeing in our community. One to one calls played a key part in our pastoral provision during the previous lockdown, and will do so again.
We are aware that students in Upper 5 to Upper 6, who would have been sitting public examinations, will be anxious and unsettled by this delay in returning to school. Their final grades will be based on teacher assessment and, for Higher and Advanced Higher we know that there will be four key pieces of evidence required to support those grades. Individual departments have started to identify the evidence that will be most appropriate in their subjects and will outline this for girls when term starts. We are still waiting for precise information from the GCSE boards about the procedures that will be in place for determining those grades, and will let you know the details when they are communicated to us. Please rest assured that we have strong systems in place in school to support these evidence gathering processes, to ensure that every student has all possible fair opportunities to represent herself at her best.
We will continue to charge full tuition fees for the period of remote learning. The School's Governing Council recognise that learning and teaching in remote form does not fully replicate the normal school experience, however our tuition fees are based on the cost of delivering education which is largely unchanged by remote operations. We take advantage of all grants etc that are available to us and have taken steps to reduce our operating costs during this period, as far as is possible, however these cost savings do not fully cover the loss of trading and other income which normally supports our operation. The Governing Council will keep this decision under review throughout the coming weeks. Fees for other services such as lunches, transport, after school care and boarding will be charged in arrears and only levied when the service has been provided.
With my best wishes to you all,
Mrs Alex Hems MA Oxon
Head, St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh