LAXTON JUNIOR SCHOOL

Background to Our Approach

The Lent Term saw us take a series of measures to reduce the risk of infection as soon as news of COVID-19 emerged. Our main priority has always been the health, safety and welfare of pupils, staff and all those in our wider community. We are very grateful for all the co-operation and understanding we received from all members of our community, especially parents, in this regard. As families in the world over are affected by both illness and the range of implications caused by this present situation, the importance of supporting one another remains at the forefront of our minds.

Visitors

Given the current situation, we are working under the assumption that we will not be operating School in the normal way over much, if not all, of the Summer Term. Whilst the School remains physically closed and government restrictions across the UK remain, we are regretfully unable to welcome visitors to either Oundle School or Laxton Junior School unless specific attendance arrangements have been confirmed. This sadly includes all prospective parent visits, which are on hold until further notice. Over the course of this term we shall be in touch individually with all parents who had hoped to visit. In the meantime, our website and social channels are all being kept updated with news, information and videos.

Remote Learning

We are committed to providing continuity of education and pastoral support for our pupils throughout this crisis. At the end of the Lent Term, we moved to a remote learning model which will launch in full on Tuesday 21 April, the start of the Summer Term. Our online platform is Microsoft Teams, through which lesson-by-lesson material will be delivered, group and individual tuition and conversations, including with tutors, will take place, prep will be set and marked, and other information, activities and exercises will be provided. Pupils will be given roughly as much work weekly as they might normally expect to receive in their scheduled lessons and for prep: this will help to maintain academic continuity at this difficult time and will give a balanced diet of activity across the week to help them to keep healthy. Supplementing the online programme will be a series of ‘Video Vols’ sessions scheduled at various points in the day, giving pupils access to additional support no matter what time zone they are in. A detailed guide about our remote learning programme has been sent to all parents and pupils.

CHILDREN OF KEY WORKERS

We are committed to doing what we can to support the key workers in our community. We are continuing to offer in-School provision for any Oundle pupil from First to Fourth Form inclusive and all LJS pupils whose parents are key workers and have no other safe option for their children’s care during the week.

We are providing this service until further notice from 7.30am to 6pm at LJS. Duty staff will be ensuring essential hygiene and social distancing arrangements are respected by all those in School across the day.

Pastoral Care

Pupils will continue to be taught by their classroom teachers and will also continue to be tutored by their Tutor. As with remote learning, tutor contact will be via Microsoft Teams, where each Tutor group is set up as a team. There will also be the opportunity for Tutor groups to meet via Teams and each tutor will develop their own way of keeping the group going as they would have done if they were meeting each week in House. A pupil’s Hsm remains the centre of their School life, and their Tutor the first point of contact. We are also committed to the continuation of our Learning for Life programme, details of which are being communicated to all pupils. The Emotional Wellbeing Team remains in place and will be in contact with all pupils offering support and directing them toward various online resources that may be of use.

Co-curricular Programme

We will continue to provide a wide range of support and opportunities for pupils to develop their skills, attitudes and habits of mind in a healthy and productive way. An engaging programme will be delivered in the Summer Term, including but not limited to:

Sport Online coaching demonstrations, fitness courses, training schedules, as well as coach-led group and individual support.
Music Online individual lessons and a range of further opportunities, from masterclasses to group work.
Community Action and CCF We are engaging with a variety of charities and welfare organisations and will be helping pupils to support others, with a particular focus on the vulnerable and isolated.
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Skills sessions and support work will continue.
Drama Alongside rehearsals for The Arsonists and Honk!, there will be seminars, workshops and the chance to get involved in writing and rehearsing a new musical piece.

Examinations

We recognise that this is a particularly stressful and challenging time for all those pupils due to sit public examinations this year. On 3 April, Ofqual published further information and the Head has written to the parents of all Fifth and Sixth Formers with details of this and the measures we are taking to ensure that teachers gather the necessary evidence to make objective, fair judgments. With the guidance now available, we can see a way clear to ensuring that we do the very best by each of our pupils and therefore to enable them to be awarded the grade they would have got had they sat the exams this year.

School Trips and Events

All trips over the Easter holiday were cancelled and parents will be issued full refunds. Field Weekend in April has already been cancelled and it is likely, with the assumption that we will not be operating School in the normal way over much, if not all, of the Summer Term, that most School events and trips this term will be cancelled or postponed. More information on decisions and individual trips will be made available in due course and parents and pupils communicated to.

September Admissions

We appreciate that many our feeder schools currently use Common Entrance examinations for their pupils in June. At this stage of the year, dialogue between Heads of feeder schools and Admissions is well developed and therefore we consider Common Entrance to be a qualifying examination rather than a competitive assessment. This is our standard approach, as has been borne out through the results over the past five years. We have therefore already been in touch with both our feeder schools and those parents holding places for their children in September, assuring them of our commitment to adapting processes as necessary to ensure fair decision making that recognises fully all the hard work and achievements of both the children and their feeder schools.

Contingency Planning for Re-opening

Observing the relaxation of lockdown and the approaches taken by schools in other countries gives us valuable insights and the opportunity to reflect on decisions made by those ahead of us. We are now actively investigating and planning for the range of scenarios that might play out ahead of Government guidelines being published.

The health and safety of our pupils, staff and parents remains at the heart of this planning and modelling. Whenever we are permitted to open and in whatever form, we are preparing to be able to provide the highest levels of hygiene and any necessary social distancing. We are continuing to develop robust procedures and protocols and, with reference to the advice of Public Health England, we are currently considering all our options, including regular monitoring of pupils and staff well-being, regular temperature checks, testing for COVID-19, quarantine measures and social distancing across the campus to name but a few.

If we are allowed to open before the end of the Summer term, it is very unlikely that this will be for the whole School, and we are working therefore to ensure that our online offering persists to the highest quality of which we are capable, including into next term if necessary. If return to the UK at any point, either this term or next, for our overseas boarders requires a period of quarantine, we will seek to provide this in School. If we regather and a second wave of infection requires the closure of schools nationwide, we will do all we can to look after our boarders for whom home is overseas.

As soon as the Government sets out its strategy for schools across the UK, we will be able to apply our various modelling scenarios to this, making any adjustments we deem necessary to ensure the safety of our community, just as we did prior to UK lockdown. We shall update this information as soon as we are able to.

Supporting Our Local Community

We continue to do everything we can to support those in our local community, especially those vulnerable and self-isolating, through our extensive Community Action programme. We have donated over 600 pairs of safety goggles to the NHS and loaned our most advanced 3D printer to a local parent who is making face shields for Peterborough and Kettering NHS trusts. Our catering department has made a significant food donation to local community and we are grateful to all members of staff who are giving up their time and resources to help all those in need.

Staying in Touch

We will continue to update this page with any developments. We will also, as usual, email parents and staff directly with more detailed information. Parents, pupils and other members of the community may wish to follow any of our social media channels as we will continue to share posts that connect us a community and that give highlights of our remote learning approach.

If you are a member of the media, please contact Rachel Makhzangi, Director of Communications:
E: rmakhzangi@oundleschool.org.uk
T: 07703 609267

Further Advice

The following organisations have issued advice and offer the most up-to-date information about the virus:

World Health Organisation (WHO)
Boarding Schools Association (BSA)
UK Government