Please find below information relating to the different aspects of our Covid-19 planning framework. All additional COVID-19 policies and procedures that will apply across Oundle until further notice are included in the relevant sections.
The most recent updates, highlighted in maroon within each section, took place on Tuesday 29 September following the first of the School’s three-weekly reviews.
Should you prefer a printed version, please simply download the pdf.
Oundle School Leadership Team
29 September 2020
We want to ensure that the Oundle to which the pupils and staff have now returned is safe but is also familiar to them, and that those joining for the first time recognise the same friendly and vibrant atmosphere that they encountered when visiting.
We are guided by the following principles:
Reviews of the Reopening Framework will remain at three-weekly intervals over the Michaelmas Term unless changes to national guidelines or legislation require immediate adjustment.
We remain guided by advice and regulation from several professional and Government bodies, as we have been throughout. We have signed up to the BSA’s Covid-safe Charter. Regularly-updated guidance from the Medical Officers in Schools Association (MOSA) is also invaluable and we are of course subject to regulations from the Department of Education and Public Health England.
Care for our pupils and staff comes before anything else. To that end we have put together a detailed Covid-Safe Health and Safety policy. It includes physical adaptation to parts of the School, training of staff and pupils in behaviour protocols designed to keep the community safe from infection, hand washing stations, use of face coverings, visors or screens as appropriate, regular cleaning of classrooms and Houses, and visitor protocols. We have also updated our Safeguarding Policy appropriately.
A full summary of the key elements of these policies can be found here:
We have also planned our response to any adult or child showing symptoms of Covid-19. Any adult showing symptoms will be sent home to self-isolate while awaiting test results and to stay at home until free of infection if this returns positive. National test and trace mechanisms will be observed. Isolation will be available in Houses for pupils showing symptoms until any test result returns. Pupils testing positive will be sent home until free of infection. For any who contract the virus and are unable to return home or go to family or guardians, we will care for them in the isolation facilities in School already identified and under preparation, separate from the Health Centre.
We are resourcing fast, reliable in-School testing to minimise time spent in isolation where a negative test results. We are keeping under review protocols for testing on return to School after half term.
What follows in the subsequent sections is further updated detail about the different areas of Oundle’s operations and responsibilities.
Updated 29 September 2020
Michaelmas Term 2020
The dates of the two-week half term or the end of term will not change. We will stay open at October half term for those living overseas who cannot go home.
Lent Term 2021
We have considered how best to maximise teaching and learning time in the Lent Term at the same time as being sensitive to the needs of pupils and families over the Christmas Holiday, particularly those for whom return home might still be complicated by travel restrictions.
As a result, we have made the decision to delay the return to School at the start of the Lent Term from Monday 4th January to Sunday 11th January. We will reabsorb the time lost by adding five days over the course of the term: lessons will start on the Monday rather than Tuesday of the first week, we will break both for half term and the end of term a day later and the January exeat weekend will not take place, these being scheduled only when the first half of the Lent Term is at least six weeks long. Parents’ Receptions will remain as scheduled.
The changes are as follows in red:
Sunday 10th January 18:30 Boarders return
Monday 11th January 08:30 Lessons begin
Sunday 17th January 09:45 Fifth Form Parents’ Reception
Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th January Exeat weekend cancelled
Sunday 31st January 09:45 First/Second Form Parents’ Reception
Saturday 13th February 12:25 Half Term holiday begins
Sunday 21st February 21:00 Boarders return
Monday 22nd February 08:30 Lessons begin
Sunday 7th March 09:45 Third Form Parents’ Reception
Friday 26th March 12:55 Term ends; Houses close
Updated 29 September 2020
We fully understand that there are additional considerations for those parents living abroad and would want to give all the reassurance and practical help that we can.
The School will remain open for exeats and at Half Term for those living overseas who cannot go home. With the situation globally still subject to change, we remain sympathetic to parents unable to meet term dates or who wish to have their child access their learning from home for a period. We have no plans to remain open over the Christmas Holiday but will be sympathetic should overseas parents wish their child to access learning remotely at the start of the Lent Term if travel or quarantine restrictions make this preferable to immediate return to the UK.
We understand that overseas families may also worry about what will happen if their child shows symptoms or indeed contracts the virus and is not able to go home or be looked after by family or guardians. We have identified isolation facilities within School to look after any children affected in this way, including over exeats and the Half-Term holiday. In the event of a local or national lockdown where children are unable to travel home or to their guardians we undertake to care for those children at School until such time that they can travel.
We are very conscious of the additional load placed on parents and pupils whose home is overseas by the current situation. Hsms and the pastoral team will work closely with the pupils to ensure that they have all the support that they need. Parents should always feel that they can raise concerns about their child with their child’s Hsm or tutor at any time and we will also work closely with guardians where appropriate.
Updated 29 September 2020
In the interests of the health and wellbeing of all in the School and Oundle town community, there remain necessary changes to routine, and pupils and staff have been fully briefed on their responsibilities so that they can keep themselves and others safe, with updates and reminders where necessary. Access to the town is limited to only that which is strictly necessary, and the timetable has been adjusted to reduce movement around the town as much as possible. Shops remain out of bounds for the foreseeable future.
We will allow use of the Sports Centre by both School and the local community, including staff, at different times from 6th October. The café remains out of bounds to pupils for now. The Acre remains for School use only. After prep, the Sports Hall will be for use by Households and the performance gym by groups within the same bubble, by arrangement and under supervision.
Risk assessed arrangements are in place for all academic, pastoral and co-curricular activities, and pupils are expected to adhere to the Covid-19 Addendum to the Oundle Code and School Rules which gives clear instructions with regard to hygiene, distancing, and pupil whereabouts. Pupils belong to pastoral ‘Households’ and year group ‘bubbles’ and are expected to be in Houses, in lessons or activities, or moving between the two according to carefully prescribed routes. Masks, of conservative design and colour, are worn at all times when moving between classrooms and all locations, whether on or off School premises. Pupils are not required to wear masks in their Households or in lessons or activities, but they may do so if they wish. Pupils are not required to wear masks in their households or in lessons or activities, but they may do so if they wish. They do not return to Houses at break. Other free time is necessarily House-based and House teams are investing considerable time and imagination in ensuring a range of supervised and Covid-safe activities, including between year groups in different Houses because these pupils belong to the same bubble.
The School continues to use the online Teams platform alongside face-to-face academic, pastoral and co-curricular provision, to keep the community connected and to replace the need for larger or unnecessary gatherings. Sadly we cannot welcome visitors to the School, except to the Admissions Department and for essential School business, where visits take place in accordance with strict protocols.
Pupils and staff are supported and encouraged to discuss any queries or concerns they may have, so that they can be reassured about the measures which are in place to keep everyone safe and we can respond to any issues that may arise, making adjustments if necessary in light of experience at three-weekly review points. We continue to follow Government guidance and to respond to any changes of circumstances promptly and sensitively. In the event of a national or a local lockdown, we will regard boarding pupils as in our care, including during exeats and Half Term, if they are not able to return to their home environment or a suitable guardian.
Updated 29 September 2020
All pupils and staff must feel confident about their continued personal health and safety whilst in School. All premises and activities have been risk-assessed and all reasonable steps are being taken to protect the whole community from coronavirus transmission.
We have adapted the rooming schedule of lessons to reduce contact between different groups within School. Each year group is assigned to a single bubble and each bubble is taught in one area of the School. Following the first review point we have adapted this further to allow access to specialist facilities for as many pupils as possible.
Teachers move between bubbles in order to teach their classes but maintain distance from pupils, staying at the front of the class, and away from their colleagues where possible. Our staff wear PPE where appropriate according to government guidelines, and where practicable maintain a two-metre distance from each other and from children. The School has made small adaptations to the classroom to support distancing where possible. This includes seating pupils side by side and facing forwards, rather than face to face or side on, and moving unnecessary furniture out of classrooms to make more space. Sustained or close face-to-face contact is therefore minimised.
Pupils from different households (i.e their section of the boarding Houses or, for Laxton and Scott House pupils, their home) are able to move between classrooms and sets within each bubble. Contact between pupils in different bubbles is avoided during the School day. There are clear and time-specific routes from Houses to the classroom areas and one-way systems in corridors and between classrooms. Pupils from different year groups are not permitted to mingle at break-time.
The School has adopted an additional set of rules during this time, which pupils are required to adopt. These are detailed in the Covid-19 Addendum to the Oundle Code and School Rules document (see School Life).
In line with Government guidelines, pupils are not required to wear masks or other PPE in classrooms (except if required by the activity), though they may choose to wear it if they wish. Masks must be worn when moving between classrooms and when in transit outside: this is for the enhanced safety and reassurance of the community at times when there is significant movement of people around the School site.
Pupils are expected to bring all the equipment they need for a lesson, as advised by their teachers, and to use a bag to carry their books and equipment. Use of other equipment in lessons is planned to minimise the risk of cross-contamination. Teachers may adopt different methods of working, such as the electronic submission of prep rather than the use of exercise books, in order to reduce this risk further.
We are confident of our ability to deliver our broad and flexible curriculum during the period of these arrangements. Pupils are able to study all their subject options. Teachers continue to ensure that material covered during the Summer Term 2020 is reinforced on the pupils’ return to School, checking pupils’ notes and providing appropriate supplementary resources to support independent learning. Teaching time is prioritised to address any significant gaps in pupils’ knowledge, with some pupils being required to attend Academic Surgeries on the instruction of their teacher. Assessment for Learning continues to be a cornerstone of teachers’ planning and delivery, allowing staff quickly to identify and target any gaps or under-confidence in pupils’ understanding. Pupils are advised too that, whilst the programme of tests, internal and external examinations will remain largely the same, they should not underestimate the importance of timely preparation and determined performance as indicative measures of their attainment over the year.
Academic Surgeries will continue on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons between 5:15 and 6:45 pm (alternative arrangements exist for the First and Second Form) but will be conducted via Teams video calls, with the exception of the Fifth Form and Upper Sixth, where they may be held in person within the respective teaching zones.
Electives, also between 5:15 and 6:45 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, will begin after half term for the Third Form. Sports Electives are now in operation. Educational visits to locations off School premises remain suspended, as are visits from external speakers: some speakers have agreed to join us via video link.
We are particularly mindful of the now Fifth Form and Upper Sixth. We will implement any changes to the curriculum and examinations emerging from Ofqual and the examination boards. For the Upper Sixth, we will monitor carefully the universities position and continue to exert pressure so that the issue of fairness to this cohort of school leavers is prioritised by Government as soon as possible.
Ofqual is currently determining the exam timetable for Summer 2021, which we expect in October. The School will continue to monitor, adapt and advise on its academic programmes in response to any decisions. Changes to the extent of examination of syllabuses in some subjects have already been announced, and we have these incorporated into our planning for the Fifth and Upper Sixth Forms.
Practice GCSE examinations are scheduled for late November 2020 and will proceed under full exam conditions, subject to necessary distancing regulations, as planned.
Mock A level and Pre-U examinations are scheduled for the second half of the Lent Term 2021.
To support teaching and curriculum management, the School retains the use of Microsoft Teams and integrated software as its online learning platform. Preps and similar tasks are scheduled via the ‘Assignments’ function, and relevant material is uploaded to class teams for ready access both outside and within the classroom. In the case of a substantial or partial lockdown of the community, and where pupils are required to self-isolate, Teams is used for setting and marking work, for contact with teachers and, where possible and appropriate, for access to video content and live lessons. Structures are in place to move back and forth seamlessly from online teaching and learning as needed.
Updated 29 September 2020
Communication between pupils, home and School remains central to each pupil’s successful reintegration into School life. We ask parents and pupils to communicate any worries or concerns with us so that we can work with them to find a solution and to enable a smooth return to School.
All staff had an extended period of training before the start of term in order to be able to look after every single pupil to the highest possible standards in what remain unusual circumstances. The House system continues to be at the heart of our pastoral care with the Hsm and Matron resident in the Houses. Tutors continue to work closely with the pupils and are now able once again to come into the House for meals and to visit tutees, with all distancing and hygiene protocols observed.
There are a range of support networks for the pupils. Central to this is the support offered by the Emotional Wellbeing Team under Natalie Jarvis and the Health Centre under Sylvia Meadows. We also continue to make use of the pastoral monitoring programme we have now been using for a few years: AS Tracking. This gives tutors and Hsms a framework to help our pupils come to terms with what has happened to them individually in the year so far, and support in the transition back to School. Our Learning for Life programme under Hannah Dawes has considered recent events to help pupils look forward. There is strong support as usual from the Chaplaincy, with regular services in Chapel now taking place by year group both during the week and on Sundays.
Updated 29 September 2020
Our aim is to provide a programme that is as rich, varied and meaningful as possible, enabling pupils to enjoy activities that they are likely to have missed over the Summer Term, whilst applying appropriate safety measures. Our plans will develop as things unfold.
In sport, we have started with four weeks of Summer Term sports, including cricket and tennis. Alongside these we have run sessions in other sports, including skills-based non-contact hockey (girls) and rugby (boys). Further, with the soft opening of the new Sports Centre, pupils have been inducted into how they can best and most safely use this exceptional facility. Sport takes place in year group bubbles.
For safety, there are, for now, no external fixtures and we ask that visitors do not attend sports sessions. All activities will operate within the relevant National Governing Body’s guidelines.
After the first weekend of October, we will move to our traditional Michaelmas term sport options (in particular rugby and hockey), with pupils having two weeks of training leading into the Half Term break. We will continue to prepare for the potential return of external competitive sport after Half Term. If inter-school competition and fixtures can resume after Half Term, we are hoping that sides will be able to play a good number of fixtures before the end of the Term. If possible, we will look to further supplement these with Sunday fixtures in the Lent Term.
All music lessons are now live. Ensemble work is currently done in year group bubbles, and this has led to some creative re-imagining of groups. There is a good deal of music-making happening and, given the restrictions on live audiences, we are looking at video opportunities to perform. Currently, Drama work is focusing on small cast pieces within the same year group. These are being filmed and edited, and the Stahl has been turned into a sound stage. The acting Director of the Stahl is working with Hsms and the music department on a short film competition, the task being to create the musical The Last Five Years.
The loss of Field Weekend aside, the CCF programme has been able to adapt well and pupils have been meaningfully engaged in activities, from drill to paintballing. Community Action has by its nature been challenged by Covid restrictions. Good solutions have been found, including activities such as learning sign language, craftwork for charity and introducing pupils to social entrepreneurship. Uptake of the Duke of Edinburgh Programme is good, with numbers growing considerably in the Silver Award. Expeditions are under review.
At the moment, trips out of School are extremely limited. However, sailors and golfers are driven to their sports with appropriate measures in place and senior pupils will shortly be carrying out Geography fieldwork in controlled conditions.
We have with reluctance decided to cancel all overseas and residential trips this academic year, with the exception of those few required for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. Educational day trips will be considered.
Updated 29 September 2020
We have looked carefully at each Boarding House to ensure that it is set up in such a way that we are able to adhere to the Government guidance on Covid-19 whilst also ensuring that we can maintain a high level of pastoral care.
Each senior Boarding House is divided into two ‘Households’. One household will contain two year groups and the other will contain three year groups, depending on the geography of the House. The Berrystead is divided into boys and girls.
Our aim is to ensure that each Household is kept as a discrete unit with the minimum number of people coming in from outside the household. Each Household within the House has designated sleeping, bathroom and work areas. Pupils may not enter rooms that are designated to the other Household. Pupils are expected to socially distance where possible within their Household, being sensitive to the feelings of others and sensible in their approach. There are two sittings for each meal and the dining rooms are cleaned between sittings. There is also an enhanced cleaning programme in each House with a focus on communal areas.
Resident staff in the Houses continue to live in the House and care for the pupils. They socially distance and ensure that the pupils do the same whenever possible. However, it is important that pupils know that they can freely access support from the adults within the House. Tutors are now able to come into the Houses for meals and to see their tutees, with distancing and hygiene protocols strictly observed. No visitors are allowed in Houses. Parents and visitors to the School will be asked not to enter the Houses at any time. Pupils will not be allowed to visit another House or Household, the only exception to this being supervised contact between House Prefects and Third Form pupils where these year groups do not belong to the same household.
In the event of a child showing symptoms he or she is moved to an isolation room in House and tested for Covid-19. The other children in their Household isolate in House until the results of the test are known. If a child tests positive within a household, current guidance is that the other pupils within that Household will have to isolate within the Household for 14 days. Any child who tests positive for Covid-19 may be collected from school and go home or to their guardian’s house for the duration of their isolation period. However, we recognise that this may not be possible for all and pupils unable to go home will be moved to a central isolation space where they will be cared for by staff.
We will be asking boarders to limit the number of possessions they bring back to School in order to ensure that Houses can be cleaned as effectively as possible on a regular basis.
Updated 29 September 2020
We fully recognise that day pupils are members of the local community, but they are expected to follow the School Rules applicable to all pupils while in our care during the School day. This includes access to the town, which is out of bounds to all intents and purposes. Day pupils will remain part of their home household, and in School we will adapt the day Houses so that consistent bubbles can be observed for day pupils in House as well as in the classroom. Pupils also need a bag in which to carry their belongings such as files and books to lessons.
If your child has Covid-19 symptoms, they should not come to School but should self-isolate while you have them tested. Please let the Hsm know. If the test is negative, your child may return. If positive they should self-isolate for at least 10 days again, please let the Hsm know so that the School can take appropriate steps.
If somebody in your household has Covid-19 symptoms, please do not send your child to School, but inform the Hsm and await the result of the test. If negative, the child may return to School; if positive they should self-isolate at home for 14 days. Please let the Hsm know either way.
If your child or a member of your household is identified by NHS test and trace as a ‘close contact’ of someone with symptoms or a confirmed case of Covid-19, please follow guidance from NHS Test and Trace and keep the Hsm informed.
Updated 29 September 2020 (No significant change of detail)
For the foreseeable future, and in line with the organisation of hospitals, we will maintain our Health Centre as a Covid-free environment. The medical care of all boarding pupils is nonetheless the responsibility of our Lead Nurse, Sylvia Meadows, supported by the Nurses and Matrons, as well as the Lakeside medical practice in Oundle. We follow NHS guidance regarding medical appointments with the nurses and the doctors. This means that more appointments will be conducted online but, if deemed medically necessary, pupils will have a face to face appointment.
We have prepared an isolation area in each House and any child who is symptomatic will stay there whilst we have them tested. If the test is positive the pupil, parents will be asked to collect the child and take them home wherever possible, and if not possible the child will be moved to our central isolation space, separate from the Health Centre.
Updated 29 September 2020 (No significant change of detail)
Our operational model is one whereby each pupil is a member of a ‘Household’. For day pupils the Household is their family: for boarders it is a defined division of their House. Pupils are encouraged to observe social distancing wherever possible.
Each pupil is also a member of a year group ‘bubble’, in which social distancing is observed, direct contact is minimised, and the number of different contacts strictly limited.
Should there be a confirmed case of Covid-19 in a ‘household’, pupils will be restricted to that household for 14 days. Day pupils will stay at home and boarders will remain within the boarding House and grounds and work from their studies. Meals, social interaction and all other care will be available as normal.
Should there be a confirmed case within a ‘bubble’, we will take advice from the NHS advice team as to which members of that bubble should be sent back to their household to self-isolate. It is our hope that the measures put in place to ensure social distancing within teaching bubbles, and to reduce the number of different contacts, will mean that very few pupils will have to return to their household in this situation.
Where individuals or groups of pupils need to self-isolate, or there is a lockdown requiring pupils to remain in their household, we are in a position immediately to provide remote teaching and learning.
Teams remains the platform for all teaching resources and the setting and marking of assignments. We remain of the view that passively watching live lessons as they happen is not the most productive model for remote learning and such lengths of unbroken screen time are not good for anyone. Actively engaging with the material individually with the teacher’s support at hand is more representative of the process of teaching and learning. Pupils learning remotely may have access to the resources being used by their peers in School and may in touch with their teacher during scheduled lesson times. They may also join the class through Teams video. The teacher will therefore be supporting the learning of all pupils during the lesson, whether they are physically in School or not. This presents difficulties for some pupils living in different time zones, in which cases individual contact with the teacher may be arranged at another time.
Teams also provides the platform for meetings with Tutors and co-curricular activity for those pupils who are accessing their education remotely because of lock-down or necessary self-isolation.
Updated 29 September 2020 (No significant change in detail)