Please find below information relating to the different aspects of our planning framework for Oundle Online 2021.
Should you prefer a printed version, please simply download the pdf.
Oundle School Leadership Team
8 January 2021
While none of us wanted to be in the situation of moving wholly online once again, we are able today to do so more confidently than in April 2020. Experience of Microsoft Teams across both pupils and staff is now well developed and survey feedback from parents, pupils and staff from June onwards has enabled us to refine and in some cases redesign Oundle Online.
You will find in this brochure more detailed summaries of each area of the pupils’ experience of School. Our approach has been to consider the ways in which the online experience is different, and to maximise the benefits as well as avoiding more of the strains.
There will be a clear structure to the School day, each morning starting with Tutor group or House meetings. Each pupil will have also an individual weekly meeting with his or her Tutor. Lessons will all contain live content, which will be recorded for those unable to access them in real time, but they will be shorter. This is to reduce screen fatigue and to bring greater focus and pace to the lessons themselves. While 50 minutes in a classroom has proven to give pupils and staff the time to go deeper and further, online the experience can be draining. The space freed during the School day as a result of shorter lessons will give pupils time to work at their own pace and to contact their teacher via Teams Chat with individual questions, similar to the function of Vols but not at a fixed time.
In order to maximise the daylight in the UK, which is in short supply in January, we are giving breaks between lessons for pupils to stretch their legs briefly, as well as maintaining the long lunch break and the pattern of three afternoons of sport and activity, with attendance expected and followed up.
A common request as the Summer Term 2020 wore on was that, with your children at home and other family members not working, Saturday morning lessons were disruptive to the rhythm of family life. We have therefore moved these four lessons into the week and pupils will have access to a range of sporting activity to take part in over the weekend. We hope other members of the family might join in too. We will this time ensure that parents have the same information as their children about the co-curriculum and Chapel events. Please note the parent Q&A session being conducted by the Deputy Head Co-Curricular in the first week of term.
Our approach this time is also to involve parents much more in your children’s life beyond the classroom. A common concern from November’s survey was your feeling of distance from what was going on given that the usual visits were not possible, but also from each other as parents. These relationships as they grow over five, six or seven years are part of the enjoyment of being an Oundle parent and the closures have hindered their development. In the case of families newer to the School, they have been hard to establish at all. All the Houses this term will be arranging parental year group events and will appreciate any ideas you have about what you would enjoy.
Below is a short summary of our commitment to you as parents regarding communications.
• Full communication of our remote learning approach.
• Clarity and visibility of the School timetable.
• Provision of a fortnightly timetable covering the main co-curricular activities on offer.
• Weekly short email updates from your child’s Tutor.
• Year group social opportunities through your child’s HSM.
• Invitation to contact your child’s HSM or Tutor at any time if you have concerns.
• Prompt communication of any significant changes to the online provision as well as the national picture. .
• Bespoke communication to exam year groups regarding GCSEs and A Levels.
Below is a summary of our expectations on pupils.
• To attend all scheduled lessons where reasonably possible. Where time-zone differences make attendance
impractical or impossible, pupils are expected to play-back the recorded lessons.
• To be properly equipped for their lessons and to notify teachers immediately if they do not have the required
books or other resources.
• To maintain an appropriate standard of dress during online lessons; uniform is not necessary.
• To keep cameras on during each lesson and to join the class from a suitable location.
• To check in with their Tutor at 8.30am each work day to demonstrate that they are up and ready for lessons.
• To attend weekly tutorials with their Tutor.
• To attend weekly year group meetings with their HSM.
• To engage as fully as possible with the co-curricular programme, including exercising on sports afternoons.
• To keep lines of communication with their teachers and Tutor open, making use of the Teams Chat facility.
The return to a national lockdown has necessitated a return to online teaching and learning for all in the community, and Oundelians are once again collaborating across the globe. Reflections on the experiences of Summer 2020 have enabled the School to refine and adapt its provision, tailoring online lessons to meet better the needs of children of different ages and strengthening the pastoral and co-curricular support we offer. The principles of communication and connection remain paramount for the Oundle community, along with continued commitment on the part of the School to listen to feedback from children and their parents and constantly seek to improve our provision for our pupils. Microsoft Teams continues to provide the platform whereby we can foster the positive interactions that are essential if children are to keep well emotionally, intellectually, creatively and physically. They may be away from Oundle, but our determined aim is that their education will continue as normally as possible for as long as is necessary until we are able to re-open.
Chapel and the Chaplaincy will continue to be a regular weekly presence in the life of our pupils with mid-week and Sunday services, as well as Open House for those who wish to attend. The Confirmation service scheduled for later this term will not be possible, regrettably, and the Senior Chaplain, Rev Cunningham, will be in touch with the parents and pupils involved.
We appreciate that some of you will be familiar with Microsoft Teams, but many will not. Your children will have been using Teams in School last term, but with them now at home with you it is important that you have the information needed to support them, and indeed in order to meet with staff virtually as the need arises.
To that end, we hope you find the brief guides to Microsoft Teams useful, located in the Planning Framework section of our Covid-19 webpage.
In addition, we are all very aware that you have not had the start to life as an Oundle parent that we would have wanted for you. You have not been able to visit, attend events or to start to put faces to names. Whilst this is sadly inevitable, you have our commitment that we will do all we can to remedy the situation as soon as we can.
Moreover, many of you will have built over the years of your child’s education so far a close-knit group of parents with children in your son or daughter’s year group. You have not yet had the chance to start to build the equivalent network at Oundle and I hope very much that you will respond to the opportunities for parent get-togethers that will be promoted by your Hsm in the first half of this term.
The closure of the School in the middle of the academic year brings different and new challenges to the whole Oundle community. We are all in a different position from Summer Term 2020.
We will be drawing on our experiences from that time and skills and expertise gained by both staff and pupils during the blended learning programme of the Michaelmas Term to implement agile, efficient and effective teaching and learning in this first part of 2021.
Please refer to the guides to Microsoft Teams should you find the information useful. These can be located in the Planning Framework section of our Covid-19 webpage.
The online School day is simpler and shorter, incorporating many breaks to allow pupils to step away from the screen. All lessons will be broadcast live via Teams. As usual, teachers will be varying the format of learning and the nature of tasks expected of pupils during lessons. Where pupils are working individually or in groups during lessons, teachers will be available to answer questions.
The teaching week will run from Monday to Friday only. Saturday’s lessons have been incorporated into the weekday timetable. The order of lessons during the week has therefore changed slightly, although the broad pattern is the same as in the Michaelmas Term.
|Morning Lessons||Monday- Friday|
13:00 for Fifth & Fourth Form, L6 (T only), Third Form (M/F)
|Afternoon lessons||This varies by year group|
|Sixth Form||Fifth & Fourth Form||Third Form||Second & First Form|
|Period 6||14:00–14:35 M/W/F||14:00–14:50 M/F|
|Period 7||14:45–15:20 M/F||-||15:30–16:20 M|
Lessons will restart at 14:00 on teaching afternoons and will finish at various times, according to year group. All pupils will have at least one lesson 14:00–14:35 on Wednesday afternoons.
Pupils will be asked to complete some tasks in their own time, akin to being set Prep. All tasks set in this way will be uploaded via the Assignments facility in Microsoft Teams. The space freed during the School day will give pupils time to work at their own pace and to contact their teacher via Teams Chat with individual questions, similar to the function of Vols. As such, there will be no formal Academic Surgeries: our experience from the Summer showed that pupils and teachers preferred a freer and individual approach. If pupils feel that they would like an alternative approach, they should speak to their Tutor who will be able to arrange something through the relevant Head of Department. Electives will similarly not run during the period of School closure.
Pupils are expected to attend all scheduled lessons where reasonably possible. Where time-zone differences make attendance impractical or impossible, teachers will record their lessons for playback later. Pupils are reminded that they are not permitted to make their own private recordings of lessons.
Pupils are expected to be properly equipped for their lessons: teachers will expect them to have what they might normally need for a lesson, including writing equipment. Pupils should notify their teachers immediately if they do not have the required books or other resources.
Pupils are not required to wear School uniform during online lessons, but they should maintain an appropriate standard of dress. They must keep their cameras on during each lesson and should join the class from a suitable location.
We remain confident of our ability to deliver our broad and flexible curriculum during the period of these arrangements. Pupils will continue to study all their subject options. Assessment for Learning continues to be a cornerstone of teachers’ planning and delivery, which will involve significant input from pupils.
Fifth Form and Upper Sixth Form pupils are now well advanced in their preparation for public examinations. Ofqual is currently determining the method by which pupils will be assessed in domestic examinations this summer. The School will continue to monitor, adapt and advise on its academic programmes in response to any decisions made nationally.
Many subjects follow specifications that are also followed internationally (ie IGCSEs and Pre-U). Most of these qualifications will go ahead in other countries; information is still emerging about their availability in the UK this summer.
We will continue to prepare pupils as if the public examinations are going ahead until the situation becomes clear, at which point we will consider the best approach for all pupils for both domestic and international qualifications. We will of course keep the School community advised of our decisions.
The House continues to be the focal point for the pastoral care of the pupils under the leadership of the Hsm. Tutors are essential to ensuring that pupils are engaged and you as parents also feel involved and confident in our oversight of your children. Please share any concerns you might have about your child with the Hsm as term starts, by submitting the usual welfare form. It is important that the Tutor and Hsm know if your child is finding any aspect of the current situation particularly challenging. Regular communication between School and home will be particularly important this term as children settle down to work under lockdown once again.
We want to ensure a clear start to the working day and are therefore scheduling pastoral time each morning before lessons start. Tutors will set up a daily meeting with their tutor group and all pupils will be expected to check in with their Tutor at 8.30am to demonstrate that they are up and ready for lessons. Appropriate individual arrangements will be made by the Tutor for those in time zones where this would be challenging. This will be also be a time to catch up briefly on any issues, but Tutors will also arrange to see each tutee individually once a week for a more detailed tutorial. We are keen to maintain regular communications between the Tutor and parents by means of a brief weekly email to you from your child’s Tutor, although of course you are welcome to communicate any thoughts or concerns with the Tutor or Hsm whenever you wish. Your child’s Hsm will also maintain contact with your child through a weekly year group meeting and will be in touch with year group parents about bringing the parents of the cohort together socially, albeit remotely.
We will continue to make use of AS Tracking, the pastoral monitoring programme we have been using for several years and Learning for Life sessions will continue to take place within the curriculum. The emotional welfare of our pupils remains a high priority, as I know it does for you given the responses to the parent survey in November. The network of parent, Hsm and Tutor is invaluable in ensuring that each child’s emotional as well as educational needs are being met. The welfare form you are submitting on Sunday is of great value to this process, but I urge you also to let your child’s Tutor and Hsm know as the term progresses if you are at all concerned about how your son or daughter is coping. Our Mental Health Lead, Natalie Jarvis, and her Emotional Wellbeing Team, remain on hand to help, advise and support.
We are conscious that the current situation is challenging for all our community and will continue to use all the resources at our disposal to offer support, working closely with parents to ensure the pupils flourish.
We aim to provide a stimulating range of engaging activities: some will help further to develop existing skills and interests and others may introduce pupils to new experiences.
To help ensure that you have a good oversight of what is available, we have produced an outline fortnightly timetable of the main co-curricular activities on offer. This will also be sent to your child, along with a form for him or her to fill out, detailing what he or she will be doing. This will be shared with Hsms and Tutors, who will liaise with you to help ensure there is a mutual understanding of what your child is up to.
Please note that the timetable starts in Week B which is the first week of term.
We will also be emailing you shortly to invite you to a Zoom Q&A Session on the co-curriculum, currently scheduled for Thursday 14th January at 5pm. The aim is to help deal with any questions you may have and to explain what we are looking to offer in the coming weeks.
As you will understand, we are working hard to pivot our online provision. What follows is a brief synopsis of our current planning. We want to provide as much live content as possible and understand that children typically thrive best when there is good interaction and communication.
Pupils will be offered a range of activities to choose from and are required to exercise on their sports afternoons. These activities will aim to cater for different interests and will be developed across the term. They will range from fitness and exercise classes, to live sports sessions offering coaching support, demonstrations and a chance for interaction and training. Specialist support will also be available for specific groups in a number of sports. There will be opportunities also for online seminars exploring analysis and game play. Pupils will be able to access details via their respective sport year groups on Microsoft Teams.
We plan to have sports and activities on Saturday mornings, and will use Strava and similar platforms to stage inter-House challenges encouraging exercise and getting outdoors, whatever the weather. We will again look to organise virtual competitions with other schools and will also offer suggested fun weekend challenges which you, as a family, may enjoy.
In the main, online music lessons worked very well in the last lockdown. Greater experience and technical knowledge will help these to be even better this time around.
In addition, we will be running a wide variety of ensembles.
Duke of Edinburgh
Duke of Edinburgh sessions will move online, with teachers helping to guide pupils through the different sections of their award. Please note that Mrs Raftery, our Duke of Edinburgh Award Officer, will be emailing shortly with an update on the Silver and Gold Award expeditions scheduled for the Easter holiday.
There will be senior and junior ‘Playgroups’ looking at different aspects of theatre. Some sessions will be live discussions with theatre professionals. Already confirmed are awarding winning playwright, Alecky Blythe (London Road – National Theatre/film, The Riots – BBC2, Little Revolution – Almeida Theatre), Amy Fisher, Producer at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough and Tom Fox and Becky Owen-Fisher of Lamphouse Theatre. Other sessions will be live play readings or an opportunity to discuss plays which we can access online through the School’s dramaonline subscription.
Further, there will be an opportunity to get involved in co-creating a verbatim theatre piece reflecting life under lockdown through many voices and perspectives.
We are keen to support our pupils in taking on charity work and there will be mentoring sessions available to ensure that philanthropic efforts can continue. There are various initiatives to target engagement. ‘Making Time for Others’ is aimed at encouraging pupils from all years to make time and use their skills to help others who need it most. Time Makers will contribute to communities by offering their support or may fundraise as an individual or collective effort for charities of their choosing. For the Fifth and Sixth Form, Oundle Charity Ventures has a more entrepreneurial flavour. This programme will be relaunched to accept new venture proposals alongside the mentoring of existing ventures. Skills of creativity, budgeting and presenting an excellent business plan will all be developed through the OCV programme.
There will be a range of online debating, comprising practice sessions as well as inter-house and intra-school competitive rounds.
Wednesday Afternoon Activities (for Fourth Form and above)
Pupils are expected to continue with Wednesday afternoon activities. Community Action will continue to run most of their usual activities on a remote basis. These include the following: The Oundle Chronicle newspaper; Crafts for Charity; Green Team; interaction with the elderly; and sign language.
Meanwhile, other pupils, including those who usually do CCF, will take up a challenge and learn a new skill each week, choosing from a range on offer under the following headings: creative, culinary, cryptic, physical and practical.
Overseas parents have in many ways had a more difficult time of it than any, and I remain in deep admiration of the adaptability and resilience of your children as well as of your own patience.
We have listened carefully to responses from all parents and have taken on board the suggestions for improvement coming from our parents living overseas when revisiting our remote learning framework.
While we will never be able to devise a timetable that suits pupils across the world, we have ensured that live content will be recorded for those unable to access any lesson in real time because, for example, they are very late at night or in the small hours of the morning. We have also compressed the timetable so that the time during which your son or daughter might be at a screen is reduced. The setting of work and use of Assignments has also been refined to make it easier for your children to access tasks and materials in their own time.
Teachers will be ready to respond to questions sent to them on Chat within Teams, which will be particularly important for those pupils not able to access any lesson in real time.
We will provide in-School supervision for children who are vulnerable or whose parents are critical workers. These pupils will access their teaching and learning online with their peers who are learning wholly remotely but will be accommodated in staffed classrooms. This provision extends to boarders who are eligible. They too will be supervised in classrooms and return to House when not in lessons, with access to outside space for exercise and relaxation.
We have undertaken to look after in School any overseas boarder already in the UK when the decision was made to close schools. These children will be accommodated in line with provision for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
The Deputy Head, Daviona Watt, oversees the arrangements and has contacted parents separately (firstname.lastname@example.org). Schools are closed for a reason, however, and in order to limit the number of contacts for all involved we ask parents to use this provision only if it is absolutely necessary.
All staff and pupils in School will be tested using lateral flow devices, and we retain use of the in-House PCR machine to isolate and test symptomatic boarders and staff cases immediately.
Thank you for paying your Lent Term fees as usual. We are acutely aware of the impact the pandemic continues to have upon many family incomes and we remain committed to supporting parents where this is most needed.
There remains uncertainty about the length of time the School will be operating its remote learning model and of the savings it is able to make over the Term. However, once we have assessed the extent and impact of the lockdown, we will issue revised bills for the Summer Term, balancing savings made during the Term with the value of the offer. More detail will follow in the second half of term.