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Letter from The Principal

Dear Parents, Carers and Students,

By now many of you will have seen the latest announcements from the government around schools and the Coronavirus situation. The key points at this stage seem to be:

• all schools to close for the majority of students from 3.05pm on Friday 20th March
• GCSE and A level exams have been cancelled and will not take place this summer
• provision to be made for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable

Regarding the examinations

At this stage we have no additional information or guidance from the government about what is fully expected and, crucially, what this means for those students who were expecting to sit GCSEs and A levels.  Undoubtedly this will come as a deep shock for students and we know that it will open up a large degree of uncertainty.  Once again, I would seek to reassure them that we are here to ensure that their progression is supported. 

I will be writing to all students tomorrow when I hope that further information becomes available.  It is really important to me that, if at all possible, students in both Years 11 and 13 are still able to experience Leavers’ events such as the various proms and that their memories of completing this phase of education are good ones.  We want to celebrate with them all and to acknowledge the contributions they have made to our community.  Of course, we can’t promise when and how such events might happen but I felt that I’d like to signal our intent.

Provision for children of key workers / vulnerable students

Unfortunately, we also have no details regarding the provision for children of key workers and vulnerable students starting from 23rd March 2020.   The government is planning to publish a list of roles which are designated as key workers tomorrow.   As soon as we have any further information on this we will be in touch.

Arrangements for Thursday 19th and Friday 20th Years 11, 12 and 13

Our intention is to open as planned for students in Years 11, 12 and 13.  In stating this we acknowledge that families of students in Years 11 and 13 may choose to remain at home, avoiding any further potential exposure to the virus and moving directly to the social distancing recommended by the government. 

At the same time, we understand that some parents will wish to ensure their sons and daughters are not left unaccompanied at home, and may have planned on students’ attendance/supervision at school until the end of the week. 

Students who do attend will be expected to follow the same timetable as before including the mock examinations for Year 11.  The outcomes of these mocks may be important in determining grades to be awarded this summer although I would stress that no student would be disadvantaged for not taking part.  

For students in Year 12, we will continue to provide lessons with specialist teachers and to prepare you for the school closure to come into effect on Friday.  Please rest assured that your teachers will be setting online work and making themselves available for you throughout the school closure.

Of course, any students starting to exhibit any symptoms or where a member of your household has contracted the virus should isolate as a household.

Collection of books

We have been contacted by a number of students who would like to collect books or equipment from their lockers or classrooms. The school will be open tomorrow and Friday 20th March for students in all years to collect any items they may need to support their home learning. However, we would request that students do not organise themselves into groups to do this, in line with current government advice regarding social distancing.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge that we are still a long way from being able to answer so many of the questions that you are all bound to have.  I am expecting more information to come to light in the coming days and will endeavour to keep you all informed via Twitter and the school website.  

Once again, I would reiterate that all of the staff at Netherhall and The Oakes are fully committed to supporting you and all of the wonderful young people in our care.  Acting together, we will overcome any barriers placed in our way.

With all of my best wishes to you and your families,

Chris Tooley
The Netherhall School and Oakes College Cambridge 

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