Planning Framework

Please find below information relating to the different aspects of reopening Oundle this September. It covers the majority of questions that we are being asked by parents and is being kept fully up to date throughout the summer holidays.

Please do revisit this page for the latest information ahead of making any travel arrangements to Oundle for the new academic year. The Head will be writing to all parents mid to late August, giving further details on policies and procedures that will apply across Oundle for this coming term.

Our Approach

We want to open Oundle fully at the start of September.  We recognise the care that will be needed to keep our community safe as we reopen, as well as further into the future, but have conducted detailed scenario planning over recent weeks to ensure that we can adapt our operating framework and risk assessments nimbly when the time comes, and communicate them to you in good time.

We believe that our pupils and staff will require particular care and support in returning to school after almost six months, and that heightened provision for mental and physical health should inform our planning, with adjustment if necessary to the regular shape of the term.

We are guided by advice and regulation from a number of professional and Government bodies, as we have been throughout.  We have signed up to the BSA’s COVID-SAFE Charter, which is updated as the situation develops, as well as formulating our own Covid-safe Health and Safety and Safeguarding policies.  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 will be updated and refined over the coming 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 will support the wearing of face coverings, whether or not this is mandated.

A full summary of the key elements of this policy 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.

What follows in the subsequent sections is further detail with regard to the different areas of Oundle’s operations and responsibilities.

Updated June 2020 

Start-of-term Arrangements

We believe that each year group of pupils will benefit from a period of induction or re-induction, with breathing space in which to acclimatise to School life and to reconnect with friends and staff.

We have therefore decided to bring the pupils back in a phased way so that we can more easily focus on each year group individually as they return, with a full day of induction before beginning their taught timetable.  We have also doubled the number of staff training days before term starts so that we can all be ready to support the pupils fully.

Should you have children in year groups returning on different days and repeat journeys will be difficult, please bring them all back at the time scheduled for the latest returner.

KEY CHANGE: U6 and Third Form return remains as published. Other pupils will return from Saturday 5th September according to the following schedule.  The time stated is that by which the pupils should return:

BoardersFirst FormSecond FormThird FormFourth FormFifth FormLower SixthUpper Sixth
Saturday 5th SeptemberBy 3pmBy 1pm
Sunday 6th SeptemberBy 4pmBy 5pmBy 5pm
Monday 7th SeptemberBy 4pmBy 3pm
DayFirst FormSecond FormThird FormFourth FormFifth FormLower SixthUpper Sixth
Saturday 5th September9-11am onlyBy 3pmBy 1pm
Monday 7th September By 8.30amBy 8.30amBy 8.30am
Tuesday 8th SeptemberBy 8.30amBy 8.30am

Updated June 2020

Term Dates and Exeats

We want to shape the term so as 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, but 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 as well as October half term if they have nowhere to go for a restful break.

KEY CHANGE: the period from the end of morning lessons on Saturday 26th September until the evening of Monday 28th September (the morning of Tuesday 29th September for day pupils) will be an exeat for all year groups.

Full term dates can be found here. 

Updated 23 July 2020

Pupils returning from overseas

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.

Quarantine has been a significant cause of concern.  We stand by our position first communicated in May, that, should quarantine be necessary before the start of term, we will accommodate in School any pupils who cannot get to friends or guardians.  This would have to be taken up such that the whole of the quarantine period will have been completed by Saturday 5th September.

There have been clear signs over recent days that quarantine restrictions are soon to be lifted, possibly to be replaced by a programme of testing. Nonetheless, overseas parents may contact the Admissions office throughout the Summer holiday ( if they wish to discuss further any questions they might have about sending their child back to School, or to register for quarantine.

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.

With regard to booking flights, we very much sympathise with the frustration of not having a clear plan to work to.  You must each make your own decisions, but the options seem to be as follows:

  1. Book flights for no later than Saturday 22nd August. If quarantine is still required, we will accommodate the pupils here.  If it is not, you would need to make separate arrangements for your child to stay with family or guardian until term starts.
  2. Book flights for the start of term as above, making provisional arrangements for quarantine with guardian or family should that still be required. I regret that we will not be in a position to quarantine pupils in School once term begins, for reasons of space.   We will be flexible if it is not possible for you to follow the schedule because of flight issues, and need to send your child back a little before or little after the time scheduled for their year group.
  3. Wait until the position about quarantine becomes clearer.

In line with the BSA Covid-safe Charter, we will work 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 will be collecting information from you when I write again in mid-August, if necessary arranging School transport for those pupils not being met at the airport by their guardian or a family member.

Updated June 2020


When the Head writes again in mid-August, you can expect detailed guidance on how we will adapt boarding to the requirements of Public Health England and any additional measures we believe to be necessary on advice from BSA and the Department of Education.

There are certain things on which we can give clarity now, however, which we hope will be helpful as you think about what your child will need on return to boarding.  Each decision is designed to facilitate thorough hygiene and cleaning routines:

  • We will provide all duvets, pillows, bed linen and towels for boarders. Boarders should leave their own at home for next term.
  • We will be asking boarders to limit the number of possessions they bring back to School
  • Please pack only clothes that can be machine washed. This includes suits, so the uniform suit for the younger boys should not be brought back to School next term.
  • We will be asking parents to provide face coverings for their children if they wish them to use this protection, as well as individual hand sanitisers to complement the hand washing stations that will be positioned around School and in the Houses.

Updated June 2020

The Health Centre

For the foreseeable future, and in line with the organisation of hospitals, we will need to 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 asking all parents to complete a Return to School declaration in advance of the start of term, so that we can gather health and welfare information necessary to our ability to care for your children.

We will, by the time any pupils return to School, have prepared an isolation area separate from the Health Centre where any pupil with symptoms can be kept apart from others.  This will also accommodate any pupils who contract the virus but are unable to go home, either because they live overseas or because of shielding. 

Updated June 2020

Pastoral Care

The level of contact with and support from Tutors within Oundle Online has emerged as a strength from the recent online survey of pupils, parents and staff.  These relationships will be all the more important as we return to School, and we are preparing for an extended period of training for all staff in order to be able to look after every single pupil to the highest possible standards in what will remain unusual circumstances.  Central to this will be the support offered by the Emotional Wellbeing Team under Natalie Jarvis.

Hsms continue to value the insights given by the pastoral monitoring programme we have now been using for a few years – AS Tracking.  This monitoring has continued over the past term and will give pupils, 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.

We updated our Safeguarding Policy in May in light of Covid-19 and will continue to update it in preparation for the start of term.

Updated June 2020


Teaching and Learning

Further to the survey of parents, pupils and staff last week, we continue to work on refining our Oundle Online provision. We will share our reflections on your feedback in due course.  Our hope is that with all pupils back, we can retain the best of Teams as a complement to classroom teaching and learning.  However, work conducted now will mean that if we need to use Oundle Online as we go into September, in order to provide education for our pupils until full opening without social distancing is allowed, we will be ready.

We are working on the assumption that the online offering might well be needed for some of our pupils, and are planning to that scenario too.  However, we cannot promise full provision online if parents choose not to send their children back when it would be possible for them to do so, but we will in those circumstances do what we can to ensure work is sent as we would for illness or other absence.

We have already made the decision that, should Government regulation require the phased return of year groups across a matter of weeks or even months, we will nonetheless be able to accommodate all boarders in line with the current guidelines.  We would then continue to provide Oundle Online to those boarders or day pupils not scheduled to be in the classroom.

We are conscious that different pupils will have progressed at different rates over the period of the lockdown, and departments will therefore be assessing learning and understanding regularly across the term.

With regard to the Upper Sixth, their UCAS predictions have been made on evidence from across their Lower Sixth year, including the end-of-year assessments conducted remotely this term.  Any Upper Sixth Former who believes he or she has been disadvantaged by their circumstances in the later part of this year should in the first instance discuss matters with his or her tutor, who can make the case to the Deputy Head Academic.  Mr Smith will be happy to advise pupils on an individual basis, including any discussion and decision on being able to confirm or increase predicted grades by means of additional assessment in the early weeks of the Michaelmas Term.

Updated June 2020 


Our assumption for now has to be that many but not all of the co-curriculum will be able to restart immediately.

We will aim to ensure a full programme of Wednesday afternoon activities, subject to restriction.  Community Action, for example, is likely to be affected by continuing restriction, CCF is subject to guidance from the Ministry of Defence and the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme by its own protocols.

We are also working on the assumption that provision for sport will be different at least during the first three weeks of term.  We have made the decisions below based on the lack of summer sport played so far this year, lack of certainty as to whether it will be possible to play traditional Michaelmas Term sports in their regular format, the likelihood of restriction on travel for fixtures in the new term and the likely need to ease pupils back into sporting activity:

  • We will start our programme in September with summer sports, at least until the Exeat weekend, when we will review.
  • There will be a clear focus on physical literacy and conditioning: we anticipate a wider than usual range in levels of fitness among the pupils.
  • There will be no fixtures until the first Exeat weekend, and any internal matches will be subject to guidance from the national governing bodies for each sport.
  • We will not be running pre-season training for any sport.  This will be the case irrespective of whether government guidelines ease over the summer holiday period and we are able to play invasion team sports again in September.
  • Pupils will need their own equipment (eg, cricket bat, tennis racket) and, if they have it, appropriate clothing, but please do not buy new: the sports uniform specified for next term will be more than adequate. For those who do not have sports-specific equipment nor wish to purchase it for a potentially short period of use, every effort will be made to accommodate a pupil’s involvement, subject to restrictions at the time on shared use of equipment.

Updated June 2020

School Life

We will do all we can to ensure that the School environment feels welcoming and familiar.  Pupils can nonetheless expect restrictions on their access to Oundle town, and to visiting each other’s Houses.  Activities at Break, for example, are likely to be in restricted to Cloisters and the Clubs.  We will update our Visitor Protocol in mid-August to ensure an appropriate level of caution in controlling the movement of visitors in to and around the School. Further details will be provided when the Head writes again in August.

Updated June 2020