Please find below information relating to the different aspects of reopening Oundle this September. All additional COVID-19 policies and procedures that will apply across Oundle for this coming term are included in the relevant sections. Each section is dated with the last update and any new information since the original date of publication (21 August) is highlighted in maroon.
Should you prefer a printed version, please simply download the pdf.
Oundle School Leadership Team
We are very much looking forward to welcoming back all our staff and pupils at the start of the Michaelmas Term. We want to ensure that the Oundle to which the pupils return 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:
We will review these principles and their application at three-weekly intervals.
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 which has been updated over recent weeks. 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.
So that we can support each child and take all steps to keep the community safe from infection, parents are being asked to complete a health and welfare form in advance of their child’s return to School, including confirmation of a recent negative PCR test. Testing of staff is under consideration, although they will at all times be socially distanced from pupils and, where this is not possible, wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
What follows in the subsequent sections is further updated detail about the different areas of Oundle’s operations and responsibilities.
Updated 21 August 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. We are keeping in line with the BSA Covid-safe Charter as well as following Government and other guidance where appropriate.
The School has opened for those pupils requiring self-isolation on return to the UK. This is being hosted in two boarding houses and overseen by Oundle staff. We are working with the families of pupils arriving from overseas to ensure that each child is picked up from the airport by a named individual, observing all safety protocols current at the time.
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.
It is important to recognise that this may be an unsettling time for children particularly if there is uncertainty about travel to and from School. 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 21 August 2020
Michaelmas Term 2020
We want to shape the term to give returning pupils confidence by providing a clear mental picture of what lies ahead. While acknowledging the potential benefits of minimising movement between School and home for the boarders, we have decided not to compress the term or remove exeats, but rather to enable pupils and staff to have breaks along the way in what is the longest term of the year.
To this end, and for this year only, we are making the Field Weekend at the end of September an exeat weekend for all pupils rather than only for the First to Third Form, as would be the case in any other year. The activities in which the Fourth Form and above are usually involved over the Field Weekend are unlikely to be possible and, in any case, we feel that all pupils and staff by that stage will benefit from a break, at home or with guardians.
The dates of the two-week half term or the end of term will not change. We have also retained the published exeat for all pupils from 12.55pm Friday 20th November. Pupils and staff will therefore, as term starts, be able to look ahead to blocks of three weeks, each interspersed with a break of some kind.
Whilst in usual circumstances we would expect overseas pupils to go to their guardian if unable to return home or have no plans to do so, we fully appreciate that these are extraordinary times. We will stay open for pupils over weekend exeats in the Michaelmas Term as well as October half term if they have nowhere to go for a restful break.
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 21 August 2020
We will do all we can to ensure that the School environment feels welcoming and familiar, and to support all members of the community as they make the transition back to School. In the interests of the health and wellbeing of all in the School and Oundle town community, there will be necessary changes to the routine, and pupils and Staff will be fully briefed on their responsibilities so that they can keep themselves and others safe. Access to the town will be limited to only that which is strictly necessary, and the timetable will be adjusted to reduce movement around the town as much as possible. Shops will be out of bounds.
Risk assessed arrangements will be in place for all academic, pastoral and co-curricular activities, and pupils will be expected to adhere to the Oundle Code and School Rules – Covid-19 Addendum which gives clear instructions with regard to hygiene, distancing, and pupil whereabouts. Pupils will be placed in pastoral ‘households’ and year group ‘bubbles’ and will be expected to be in Houses, in lessons or activities, or moving between the two according to carefully prescribed routes. When moving between classrooms and all locations, whether on or off school premises, they will be expected to wear masks, which they will always be required to have with them. These must be plain and conservative in colour and design. Pupils will not be required to wear masks in their households or in lessons or activities, but they may do so if they wish. They will be required to remain in their year group location at break time, with Catering providing access to snacks and drinks. They must not return to Houses at break. Other free time will necessarily be House-based. We recognise the potential need for free time to be filled that would otherwise be spent outside of House, and planning is underway to meet this need.
Arrangements for the division of boarding Houses into households are covered in a separate section. Scott House and Laxton will be organised so that year groups remain separate. Further details will be given to all parents and pupils in due course.
The School will continue to use the online Teams platform alongside the return to face-to-face academic, pastoral and co-curricular provision, to keep the community connected and to replace the need for larger or unnecessary gatherings. There will be no visitors, except to the Admissions Department, where visits will continue to take place in accordance with strict protocols.
Pupils and Staff will be 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. We will 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 1 September 2020
We look forward to welcoming all our pupils back to Oundle at the beginning of the Michaelmas Term 2020, with the intention of offering a full academic curriculum to all pupils. The Government has clarified the expectation that school attendance is compulsory for all UK children from September onwards, and requires schools to register attendance as normal. We are planning accordingly and expect to have all classes and subjects running as per the usual daily timetable, subject to a few minor logistical adjustments.
All pupils and staff must feel confident about their continued personal health and safety whilst in School. Before the beginning of term, we will risk assess each premises and activity and accordingly take all reasonable steps to protect the whole community from coronavirus transmission.
Distancing protocols mean that we will modify the rooming schedules of all lessons, to reduce contact between different groups within School. Each year group will be assigned to a single bubble and each bubble will be taught in one area of the School. Some subjects require access to specialist areas or equipment: in the early weeks of term, schemes of work will be adapted in recognition of the limited availability of such facilities. These arrangements will be reviewed after three weeks and every three weeks after that.
Teachers will move between bubbles in order to teach their classes but will maintain distance from pupils, staying at the front of the class, and away from their colleagues where possible. Our staff will wear PPE where appropriate according to government guidelines, and where practicable will maintain a two-metre distance from each other and from children. The School will make small adaptations to the classroom to support distancing where possible. This will include seating pupils side by side and facing forwards, rather than face to face or side on, and may include moving unnecessary furniture out of classrooms to make more space. Sustained or close face-to-face contact will therefore be minimised.
Pupils from different households (ie their section of the boarding Houses or, for Laxton and Scott House pupils, their home) will be able to move between classrooms and sets within each bubble. Contact between pupils in different bubbles will be avoided during the School day. There will be 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 will not be 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 will not be 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.
Fewer items of shared equipment will be available: pupils will be expected to bring all the equipment they need for a lesson, as advised by their teachers. Use of other equipment in lessons will be 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 will be able to study all their subject options, although some rearrangement of schemes of work will be necessary to accommodate temporary changes to classroom allocations. Teachers will make sure that material covered during the Summer Term 2020 is reinforced on the pupils’ return to School in September, checking pupils’ notes and providing appropriate supplementary resources to support independent learning. Teaching time will be 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 will continue 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 will be 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. Pupils will be able to join from their House or home. Electives, also between 5:15 and 6:45 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, do not usually start in the Michaelmas Term until week 4: a decision on when they will start this term will be made in due course. Educational Visits to locations off school premises are suspended until after the September Exeat at the earliest, 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 be checking whether any have fallen behind where we would want them to be at this stage of their examination, and putting in place supportive measures where this is the case. 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 its response to consultation on proposals for public examinations next year: the School will continue to monitor, adapt and advise on its academic programmes in response to these 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.
Modifications to the School’s normal procedures for formulating predicted grades for pupils’ university applications have already been advised to parents and pupils: the Deputy Head Academic will confirm individual decisions as at the start of the Michaelmas Term. 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 will retain the use of Microsoft Teams and integrated software as its online learning platform. Preps and similar tasks will be scheduled via the ‘Assignments’ function, and relevant material will be 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 will be 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 21 August 2020
We recognise that whilst most children are looking forward to returning to School there will be challenges for them after such an extended time away. Each pupil will have had different experiences and spent considerable time away from friends and from Oundle.
Communication between pupils, home and School will be 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.
We are asking all parents to fill in a welfare form before your child returns to School. It may be that they found lockdown very difficult, or there were challenging circumstances to deal with, or they have particularly anxieties about coming back to School. It is important that we are aware so that we can support them. Information will be passed on to your child’s Hsm so that they can take the lead in the pastoral care of your child.
Once back in School we will have induction sessions for all pupils to help them settle back into the routine of school life, many of which will be new to them. Induction will cover the practical aspects of being in School whilst following Covid-safe procedures as well as helping pupils to reflect on and process the last six months.
All staff will have an extended period of training in order to be able to look after every single pupil to the highest possible standards in what will remain unusual circumstances. The House system will continue to be at the heart of our pastoral care with the Hsm and Matron resident in the Houses. Tutors will continue to work closely with the pupils and to hold regular tutorials either face to face or remotely depending on the situation. We will continue to have tutors on duty in the Houses where they will observe social distancing measures.
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 will 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 will consider recent events to help pupils look forward. There will be strong support as usual from the Chaplaincy, although regular services in Chapel are for the moment suspended.
Updated 21 August 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 last period, whilst applying appropriate safety measures. Our plans will develop as things unfold.
In sport, we are planning to start with four weeks of Summer Term sports, including cricket and tennis. Alongside these will be some 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 will be inducted into how they can best and most safely use this exceptional facility. Sport will take place in year group bubbles and our focus will initially be on physical literacy and providing a reintroduction to activity in pupils’ chosen sports. For safety, there will be no external fixtures at first and we ask that visitors do not attend sports sessions. Rather, we intend to run internal matches and competitions within the appropriate bubbles. All activities will operate within the relevant National Governing Body’s guidelines.
After the first weekend of October, we plan to 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 begin preparations for the potential return of external competitive sport after Half Term. We will explore the possibility of hosting ‘pre-season’ camps at Oundle to take place towards the end of the Half Term break: we are keen to prepare appropriately for contact and competition in the second half of the 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.
In addition to returning with their usual Michaelmas Term sports kit, pupils will need their own Summer Term sports equipment (eg cricket bat or tennis racket) and, if they have it, appropriate clothing for the same. However, please do not buy new: the usual sports uniform specified for Michaelmas Term will be more than adequate. So, for example, if your child has outgrown his or her cricket whites, then please do not go to the expense and trouble of buying more: instead, your child may wear his or her Michaelmas Term kit when playing cricket. For those who do not have summer sports-specific equipment nor wish to purchase it for a short period of use, every effort will be made to accommodate a pupil’s involvement, subject to restrictions on shared use of equipment.
Individual music lessons are to restart immediately, and ensemble work is to take place to the extent possible within emerging guidance.
There will be a full programme of Wednesday afternoon activities, with appropriate modification to Community Action, CCF and the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, at this stage, have been planned from Spring 2021 onwards, and these will be reviewed in line with on-going government advice.
The Stahl Theatre’s season will, we hope, begin on 17th September with a school production of The Arsonists. The current intention is that this will be filmed, rather than performed before a live audience. This will be followed by auditions and rehearsals for a series of theatrical short pieces, to be performed as appropriate in October. The Dryden House play is scheduled for the first week of December.
The government are still advising against residential educational visits; with regret, we have therefore had to cancel the trips planned in October to New York, Thailand and Israel. We continue to watch the situation closely and will be reintroducing day trips and residential trips as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Updated 21 August 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 will be 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 will be 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 will have designated sleeping, bathroom and work areas. Pupils will not be allowed to enter rooms that are designated to the other household. Pupils will be expected to socially distance where possible within their household, being sensitive to the feelings of others and sensible in their approach. There will be two sittings for each meal and the dining rooms will be cleaned between sittings. There will also be an enhanced cleaning programme in each House with a focus on communal areas.
Resident staff in the Houses will continue to live in the House and care for the pupils. They will socially distance and will 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 will continue to hold regular tutorials but these may be done remotely or outside the House depending on the situation. Initially tutors will only come into the Houses for their weekly evening duty, when they will be asked to socially distance and wear face coverings when necessary. There will be no visitors allowed in Houses. Pupils will not be allowed to visit another House or household. Parents and visitors to the School will be asked not to enter the Houses at any time. We ask that no parents visit during the first three weeks of term. This will enable us to ensure the safety of our whole community by maintaining the integrity of the boarding House households.
In the event of a child showing symptoms they will be moved to an isolation room in House and tested for Covid-19. The other children in their household will need to isolate in House until the results of the test are known. If necessary they will also then be tested. 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 21 August 2020
We fully recognise that day pupils are members of the local community, but they will be 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. We ask day and boarding parents to provide their children with face coverings and individual hand sanitisers. Pupils will also need a bag in which to carry their belongings such as files and books to lessons. There is a School bag that can be bought through Schoolblazer or pupils may bring a small bag or backpack
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.
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 21 August 2020
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 will nonetheless remain the responsibility of our Lead Nurse, Sylvia Meadows, supported by the Nurses and Matrons, as well as the Lakeside medical practice in Oundle. We will be following NHS guidance regarding medical appointments with the nurses and the doctors. This will mean 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 21 August 2020
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 will be 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 local health protection 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 will be in a position immediately to provide remote teaching and learning.
At the end of the Summer Term we reviewed our online provision in expectation that we would still be using Microsoft Teams to a greater or lesser extent in September. Strengths and weaknesses were identified, and teachers given guidance as to how to prepare for teaching in the new academic year.
Teams will remain 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 will have access to the resources being used by their peers in School and may be in touch with their teacher during scheduled lesson times. At the discretion of the teacher, they may 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 will present difficulties for some pupils living in different time zones, in which cases individual contact with the teacher may be arranged at another time.
Teams will also provide 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 21 August 2020