Latest from the Head Master

LATEST UPDATE: Tuesday 5 January 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

You will no doubt be aware of the Prime Minister’s announcement about a new lockdown in England. This period of is due to last until half term, after which the aim is that face-to-face learning is reintroduced in the week commencing 22 February. The Department for Education’s key points in relation to schools can be found at the end of this letter.

I am sure you will have many questions. Some of these will be very practical and immediate and others will focus on the longer-term. In order to address any immediate queries you will find an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) at the foot of this letter. The changes announced are a matter of hours old so please bear with us as we seek necessary clarifications. We will be in touch with further details in the days to come.

This week we will be continuing as already planned and announced: lessons, assemblies etc. will be going forward remotely. Students who are present (children of critical workers, vulnerable children, those from overseas who have already arrived on campus) will be cared for on-site as planned. This will include the phasing-in of lateral flow testing from later this morning. All our facilities are fully and safely functioning. We have a full range of measures in place to keep people on-site safe including Covid-testing, social distancing, additional cleaning and the use of face masks.

These last days and weeks have seen some significant and swift-moving change as the government has shifted strategy in the face of the virus and its impacts. What remains exactly the same is our commitment to delivering first class teaching, learning and pastoral care to Lancing’s young people. In the first period of lockdown our switch to a period of remote learning was seamless, immediate and produced excellent outcomes. As we enter into this new period, all elements of a familiar Lancing education will continue, even if that has to be in a temporarily different mode.

In an era of strange days, it felt particularly peculiar yesterday: the Prime Minister’s announcement came a matter of hours after the first person received the new Oxford vaccine for Covid-19. It is planned that there will shortly be more than two million vaccine doses delivered every week to people in the UK and it will be the vaccine programmes that ultimately provide the way out of this situation; even as we face a time of continued disappointment and concern, there is reason for optimism. Education and its focus on young people and the future is an inherently positive undertaking and as I write it also feels particularly important to underscore that Lancing’s mission to teach and to nurture is one we embrace and celebrate even on difficult days such as this. Our commitment to you remains entirely undiminished: the days ahead will see us absolutely wholehearted, energetic and focused in doing what is best for Lancing’s young people.

We will be in touch regularly in the coming days though, as ever, if you have immediate queries please feel free to be in touch with Housemasters and Housemistresses. With my best wishes to you and your families,

Dominic Oliver

FAQs

What are the changes to the school week?
• We will not be teaching lessons this Saturday, 9 January.
• All lessons during the week will be taught ‘live’ via Microsoft Teams prior to 1.00pm.
• After 1.00pm, classes will either involve set tasks for completion remotely or teacher pre-recorded material.
• All students new to this process have already received an induction into the process via their Houses.
• We will keep to the normal school timetable but with 10-minute transition zones between lessons, to allow children and staff to stretch their legs and get a screen break.
• The normal evening school timetable will be maintained.
• All live lessons will continue to be recorded.

We will contact you with some possible longer-term changes to this model and other elements (eg currently planned Trial Exams for the Upper Sixth Form) later in the week.

What if my child has just flown back to Lancing for the start of the term?
Your children are welcome here at the College. They will be cared for in their boarding houses by their Housemasters, Housemistresses, matrons and tutors. They will be able to access live remote lessons from within their rooms. We have a full range of measures in place to keep them safe including Covid-testing twice on arrival, social distancing, additional cleaning and use of face masks. Should you wish them to return home, we will help with the arrangements and in the first instance, please get in touch with your child’s Housemaster/Housemistress and copy in Julie May (jmay@lancing.org.uk).

What if my child is currently quarantining in the Ardington Hotel?
Once the period of quarantine has ceased they will be made welcome at the College, cared for by experienced staff and be able to access remote learning.

What if my child wishes to return home from the Ardington/School?
We are conscious that different countries and airlines will be updating their requirements to fly and would ask parents/guardians to make themselves familiar with these. We will do our utmost to support families in arranging any transport and testing.

What if my child is currently staying with a host family?
They should remain where they are for now: we will be in touch as soon as possible and when we have further detail from the government about permitted provision.

What if my child is currently due to fly back to Lancing imminently?
If they have not started their journey, we suggest they remain at home and access remote learning from home: the provision will be full. All lessons will be recorded (if people are in different time zones they can catch up with it at a later stage) and ongoing pastoral and tutorial contact and support will be fully in place. If they are in transit, we look forward to welcoming them and looking after them on campus.

What if my child has equipment in their boarding House that they need?
Naturally, we are keen that children have all they need to learn best. We have asked teaching staff to ensure that where possible pages from textbooks are scanned/photographed to ensure that all children can access learning. We are looking at the best means to ensure access to materials for pupils locally and further afield and will be back in touch on the detail over the next few days.

If my child is in school will they be tested for the virus?
Yes – lateral flow tests will be administered as soon as practicable to those present in school. Two tests will be administered initially, with an interval of three days between them where possible.

What if I am a critical worker?
Children with one or more parent who is classified as a key worker will be allowed to come into school to access remote learning on campus in the weeks prior to the February half term. The link below outlines who is a critical worker:
Critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

What if I think my child is vulnerable and in need of in-school support and care?
Please be in contact with your child’s Housemaster/Housemistress in the first instance. Pupils who are deemed vulnerable are welcome in school (and this might be for a number of reasons including being a young carer, living in temporary accommodation, facing risks to their mental health or without the means to access education remotely from home).

What if my child is due to sit public examinations in the summer?
The government have announced that there will be changes to public examinations and that they will not go ahead as previously published. The Department of Education will now consult with teachers and Ofqual about how assessments will change. We will, of course, let you know when we have more detail. Our key priority at present is, at the midpoint of the academic year, to maintain the continuity of learning for all students and, as such, we will continue with online learning for all. We have robust data-tracking and assessment procedures in place and have every confidence that however arrangements change, we will manage this fairly and to best support all of our students. We will be in contact when there is more detail to give.

What about any co-curricular activities?
In the first week, the focus will be on establishing the routine of the working week with lessons and learning the priority. From the start of next week (Monday 11 January), those activities that can operate remotely will do so. Pupils will receive a list of those activities at the end of this week with information on how to join.