Latest from the Head Master

LATEST UPDATE: Tuesday 25 February 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We are all excited by the prospect of having pupils back with us shortly. Please find below further information regarding the return of all pupils to school in the week commencing 8 March 2021. Our plans for return follow the guidelines laid out for all schools by the Department for Education and our aim is to enable the swift return to face-to-face teaching for as many pupils as possible. What follows is necessarily detailed and I hope that this will address many of your questions.

Who is expected back in the week commencing 8 March 2021 and when?

All Lancing pupils are welcome to return. The DfE has indicated that school attendance will be mandatory for all pupils in the UK from the week commencing 8 March 2021.

We have planned for the following:
• Sunday 7 March – day pupils to return for Lateral Flow Testing and then to return home prior to returning for a full school day on Tuesday 9 March.
• Monday 8 March – boarding pupils to return for Lateral Flow Testing.
• Tuesday 9 March – resumption of onsite lessons; school transport will resume.

This staggered return will enable us to undertake Lateral Flow Testing for pupils prior to their return to the classroom (pupils will return to face-to-face teaching when they have received a negative test result).

Further details will follow about staggered arrival times (by year group for each day).

Staff will be fully occupied in the logistics of testing and settling in the boarders on Monday 8 March and those returning will need to travel, test and settle back in to Houses. This means that there will be no lessons taking place on this day. This is a good opportunity for pupils to catch up on Evening School and ensure full preparedness for a return to face-to-face teaching. Lessons for all will recommence on Tuesday 9 March.

Of special relevance for those currently overseas:

We are mindful that the week of 8 March is quite late in the term and with only two and a half weeks left before the Easter break, the logistics of travel for such a short period will be difficult. We appreciate that this will be an important factor for some overseas families in deciding on their plans. Should your child be returning to school at this point, please be in direct communication with Mrs Julie May, Travel Coordinator (jmay@lancing.org.uk) to let her know flight details. Any period of quarantine will need to be completed in advance of returning to the school site. Further details about what is required (length of quarantine time, ‘test to release’ etc.) can be clarified at that point. As is always the case, we must insist that pupils, regardless of their age, do not remain on their own in a hotel or apartment but are cared for by an appropriate adult aged over 25.

We understand that some families may consider that returning at this stage, with a necessity of quarantine, is not something they are happy for their son or daughter to undertake and therefore they may wish to delay their return until the Summer Term. Please be assured that any who are unable to return will continue to be able to access our excellent remote learning provision for the rest of the term. The aim will be to ‘blend’ this teaching so that students join their usual classes, in person if they are able to do so, and remotely if they cannot. Housemasters, Housemistresses and tutors will be providing support to pupils as they have done throughout this term.

Return for the Summer Term

With all these factors in mind, we hope and anticipate that all of our pupils will be able to join us for the start of the Summer Term. We appreciate that the situation remains complex when it comes to making travel arrangements and therefore remote/blended learning provision will, where necessary, continue into the Summer Term.

We will additionally enable on-site quarantining prior to the start of the Summer Term for pupils returning from overseas. We will be in contact shortly to establish how this will work and to ask for your expressions of interest.

Practical matters from this point forward

What will be the process for pupils arriving at school?

A. Day pupils (7 March)

This will be a day of Lateral Flow Testing prior to pupils’ return to school and to the classroom.
• Parents will be asked to bring pupils to the school and park in the main car park to enable a test to be administered in the testing centre in the Sports Hall. We will stagger this by year groups.
• Once the test has been taken (a matter of some minutes) the pupils should return home. They will receive the result directly to their phone within 30 minutes – and the school will also receive a notification.
• In the event of a negative test, we look forward to them returning into school and directly to their House for the start of the school day on Tuesday 9 March.
• In the event of a positive test result, they will need to self-isolate at home for 10 days (whether symptomatic or not).
• Day pupils should use Monday 8 March as an opportunity to catch up on Evening School and ensure full preparedness for a return to face-to-face teaching.

B. Boarders arriving from within the UK (8 March)

• Boarders should arrive at school with their parents/guardian and parents/guardians should park in the main car park adjacent to the testing centre in the Sports Hall.
• Pupils will be tested on arrival at school and should wait with their parents/guardian in their car until a negative test is received (which should take approximately 30 minutes). Once received, the pupil can make their way to their House with their luggage and be welcomed there.
• In the event of a positive test result, the pupils will need to return home with their parents/ guardian to self-isolate for 10 days before a return to school.

C. Boarders (returning to school from outside the UK)

• For any pupils unable to re-join school before Easter, all lessons and support will be accessible remotely for the remaining two weeks of the term.
• Given the time scale, we cannot make quarantine facilities available this term. Our experience in September has shown that with most pupils back, we need to set aside our self-isolation facilities for any pupils who may require this as contacts of a positive case.
• Pupils are welcome to return from 8 March if they have been able to quarantine at another location in the UK. They will undergo testing on-site as outlined above in section B.

Covid-safe structures and routines

Many of the structures and routines will be familiar from the Advent Term:
• Pupils will be subdivided into Year and House ‘Bubbles’ and all the mitigations in place previously regarding hand washing and retaining of space between individuals will continue.
• Staff will keep a record of seating plans as previously in order that close contacts can be identified in case of a positive test.
• We will run a wide programme of on-site co-curricular activities. Off-site school activities are not currently possible – this is being kept under review and will change when circumstances allow.
• Chapel, Assemblies, Year Group Meetings etc. will revert to being face-to-face where possible but will be taking place in Bubble groups as in the Advent term.
• After the initial set of testing, school buses will run as normal and have had additional COVID-19 safety measures fitted for drivers.

Some things will be different:

Face coverings
In line with new Government guidance, these will now be worn in classrooms as well as when moving around the premises. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons.

Lateral Flow Testing
This will continue at five-day intervals for all pupils and twice-weekly for all staff across the remainder of the term and further details will follow about the self-administration of these tests after an initial three tests have been conducted by the school in the Sports Hall testing centre. This process is about the security of the whole school community and of the wider community of associated families.

Arrangements for the Summer Term (20 April – 2 July 2021)

The Summer Term commences on 20 April and boarders not requiring quarantine will return on the evening of 19 April.

Quarantine for Boarders (returning to school from outside the UK)

We will be open for pupils requiring quarantine from 12 April – and this should be the day of arrival. This quarantine facility will be supported by Lancing staff. Further details will follow as to the charge for this service, as will a form where you can express your interest in making use of it.

Summer Half Term and Exeat Weekend

We will remain open for the exeat weekend (1 and 2 May) and will run a camp over half term for any overseas pupils who are unable to return home or to guardians for that holiday. A separate charge will be in place for this half term provision.

Looking ahead

For those taking GCSEs and A Levels this year

The Department for Education has this morning released initial information about the award of GCSE and A Level grades. While there is much detail we will need to reflect upon, the underlying messages are strong and positive.
• The school will get to make a submission of grade awards based on all the evidence that students have provided throughout their courses to date, both so far and throughout this and next term.
• We will provide further opportunities in this term and the next for examination candidates to demonstrate the progression of their learning.
• Our judgements will be holistic, based on all the learning that candidates have done and will be supportive, fair and scrupulous. No single piece of evidence will dominate in coming to our final grade submissions.

We will be taking the necessary time to digest this information in full (more is being released by the hour) and we will issue a further communication before the weekend.

For everyone

All being well, there will be a glorious Summer Term where – together – we can enjoy our wonderful school environment. The precise details will not be announced by the Government until nearer the time but we all are looking forward to some lifting of restrictions in time for next term. Keeping everyone safe will remain the number one priority at all times and we will be making every effort to ensure pupils enjoy the fullest possible Lancing experience.

We will be in touch again soon with further details, including times for the return to test this term. In the meantime, if you have any questions please feel free, as ever, to be in touch with Housemasters and Housemistresses.