Our Manor 2-6 November 2020

Message from the Principal

What extraordinary times we are living in! Since I wrote to you in the last issue of Our Manor on 23 October, we have had a half term break, and seen the introduction of a second national lockdown from Thursday 5 November, that has implications for us all!

New guidance

Following the announcement last Saturday and the additional guidance released for schools yesterday, we have been working hard to ensure that we meet all the requirements placed upon us to continue to be compliant and keep students and staff safe. Despite the short timescales, I do welcome the changes which have been brought in to allow schools across the country to remain open. Our young people have seen so much disruption to their education; we are grateful that we have the opportunity to try and provide some consistency and stability moving forward. We have updated our COVID Risk Assessment and believe we have in place the best possible structures to support education while ensuring we can deliver this safely. This includes the revised expectations about face coverings and a temporary change to our uniform expectations that are highlighted later in this newsletter.

However, we must also recognise that as a school we sit within our local community and it would be remiss of any of us not to recognise the challenges that this brings. Indeed, it is interesting to note that many more young people were impacted by COVID during the latter part of the half term break than they had been during the 8 weeks of school leading up to this. I must remind parents that currently schools are open and therefore attendance to school is statutory as usual, despite the national lockdown.

While we have done an excellent job in minimising the risks and impacts of COVID on school life so far, with the prevalence in the community it is likely that we will get more cases or impacts moving forward. This may be through positive tests or through self-isolating households and partial school closures that can impact on staff as well as students. We will continue to communicate all cases openly and transparently, however, I wanted to reassure you that our knowledge and understanding of the procedures, alongside the support from NET, the DfE and Public Health England, mean that we are well set up to act very quickly when we learn of cases and thus minimise the impact immediately.

New ways of working - virtual parents' evening

Alongside responding to the guidance, we are also having to find new ways of working in all areas of school life. This means that every face to face event has to be reinvented to try and continue to offer a high-quality service to students and parents. The latest example of this is parents’ evening, with our first virtual parents’ evening taking place for the Sixth Form on 5 November.

Thank you to all of the parents, carers, students and staff that took part. Moving school events to the virtual world is not as simple as it may seem with the complexities of over sixty staff and up to 180 families joining from different locations with varying ranges of technical setups and confidences. As a school we have been really pleased with the process and are now working to gather feedback from all involved to consider how we develop these evenings in the future.

We would ask that parents/carers of students in the Sixth Form please complete the feedback form via this link or via the link in the letter sent by School Comms yesterday, so we can improve our service further. Similarly, if you are a parent/carer of a student in Year 11, please look out for further communication early next week with parent hints and tips based on the feedback from last night.

Please enjoy the rest of this issue of Our Manor. Despite the current conditions, we are still providing a rich curriculum, opportunities for students to participate in a wide range of activities both in school and online, as well as celebrate successes. There are examples of all of these aspects in the articles that follow. Thank you for your continued support and we wish you and your family well in these difficult times.

Jay Davenport, Principal

Geography, Culture and Ethics department

Welcome to the Geography, Culture and Ethics department! I am Mr Andrews, and I am the Curriculum Lead. I would also like to introduce the other teachers who teach these subjects:

L-R: Mr Andrews, Mrs Crowther, Mrs Matthews, Miss Notley, Mr Rowe, Mr Royle, Mr Stephenson, Ms Verma.

At the beginning of their journey at Manor we have three simple expectations of students: that they are willing to find out about the world around them, that they are willing to try their best (even if they find something challenging), and that they are respectful of other people’s views and opinions. These principles hold true at whichever stage of their journey they are in, even into their final lessons at A level.

When students come into our lessons we know that they have a wide range of experiences which help to shape their perceptions of the world. This might be because of the places that they have visited (some make us really jealous!), people they have met, or faiths and beliefs that they have. These experiences really help to bring lessons to life, and there is nothing more rewarding as a Geography or Culture and Ethics teacher than to see and hear students making links between what they have learnt in lessons and their own lives.

What will your child study in our subject area?

In Geography we have chosen to take a continent-by-continent approach to learning about the world. This allows students to build up their knowledge and understanding and make connections between different parts of the world. The content of these are wide-ranging: rivers and their management, perceptions of people and places in Africa, Stanwick Lakes, glaciations, earthquakes and volcanoes, development of countries, hurricanes, coasts and sustainability to name just a few. Schemes of work have been carefully crafted to make sure that students keep revisiting what they have learnt in earlier years.

In Culture and Ethics we have chosen a similar approach in terms of having themes that are studied. This means that different religions, faiths and other worldviews can be explored by comparing them to each other and constantly challenging students to form their own (and challenge other people’s) opinions. Most importantly, students develop their own informed moral compass, which is invaluable as they go through life. Topics, once again, are wide-ranging, but will also have practical use for students: how beliefs have changed through time, multiculturalism, perceptions of different beliefs, meaning and purpose of life, rules of living, how beliefs are expressed - again providing a snap-shot of what is covered.

What can students do to learn more?

The nature of our subject areas means that what we teach is constantly evolving; society changes its opinion on what is socially acceptable, events around the world change the way we perceive other places and people. One of the simplest things that any student can do to be successful is to keep up to date on what is happening around the world, whether from a geographical, cultural or ethical perspective. To help with this, each week a ‘Be An Excellent Geographer’ and ‘Be A Cultural Cleverclogs’ challenge is sent out to all students, currently through Show My Homework. This provides a summary of some of the television programmes that can be watched, articles that can be read and short clips that can be listened to that will help them keep abreast of current events. There will also always be a few challenges, quizzes and thought-provoking questions to tackle. We would encourage you to work with your child on these through the week; they’ll also gain ‘Curiosity’ points when they submit what they have done, as well as becoming more knowledgeable and understanding of the world in which we live.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact if you would like to find out any more, or if you have any questions.

Jon Andrews, Curriculum Lead for Geography, Culture and Ethics

Year 11 after-school revision

During Term 2, our timetable of after-school revision sessions change from non-core priority to core subjects as the priority. This is to ensure that students are prepared for their trial examinations and to support access to all subjects. Some non-core subjects will offer sessions on Wednesday and Friday.

Transport continues to be available for bus users on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday only. To access the minibus, students must sign up via the signup sheet on the door outside of Mrs Bannard’s office (next to room 14) by the beginning of lunchtime on the day before the session.

There are a maximum of 12 spaces available on this service and it is a first come, first served provision. The minibus will leave Manor School from the Park Street car park at 4:25pm. Students must wear a face covering on the minibus at all times.

Elevate Education

We work with Elevate Education who support Year 11 students and parents with the skills they need in the build up towards formal exams at the end of the academic year. They are running a free parent webinar next week focusing on Exam Preparation. If you would like to view this event, the details are included below.

Free school meals

You may be entitled to free school meals for your child(ren) if you receive one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit Only (with income up to £16,190) with no element of Working Tax Credit
  • National Asylum Seekers Support
  • Guarantee Element of the State Pension Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit (Income Related)

To apply, please click on the following link:

Bebras Computing Challenge

The Bebras Computing Challenge (ran in partnership with Oxford University) is now live and login details have been handed out to students during tutor time or via email for those absent. The Bebras challenges are made of a set of short problems called Bebras tasks and are delivered online. The tasks are fun, engaging, and based on problems that computer scientists often meet and enjoy solving. The tasks can be solved without prior knowledge but instead require logical thinking. The aim is to solve as many as you can in the allotted time.

The deadline for competing in the challenge November 13th. If students require help with their login details, please email ewilford@manor.school.

Maths challenges

To instil a love of learning in our students, Mrs Radd has launched a new Manor Maths Challenges blog. Every week she will be setting a number of mathematical challenges for students to try at home. They can tackle the problems own their own, or they may wish to get a younger sibling involved.

The first set of problems can be accessed via the following link.

Breakfast Club reminder

A reminder that we currently run a breakfast club from 8am until 8:30am each morning. This is run by a member of staff, and gives students the opportunity to settle into learning before school and seek any help they may need with homework. There are a limited number of spaces available, and therefore registration of interest is required. Please fill in the short form via the link below and await a confirmation email.

Face coverings

We wrote to you on Monday this week asking you to support our decision of asking students to wear face coverings in communal areas and spaces where they cannot socially distance. As you will be aware, this is now in the national guidelines for schools. Face coverings in classrooms remains optional for students.

We wanted to take this opportunity to thank families for supporting us in this matter by sending their child(ren) in with a face covering. Please could I ask you to ensure your child(ren) has a sealable bag in which to store their face covering when they are not being used.

As we wrote to you on 5 November, some individuals are exempt from wearing a face covering. The full guidance for exemption can be found here. With reference to our school, this broadly covers:

  • people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a medical, physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress

If your son or daughter is exempt from wearing a face covering, please complete the form here before school starts on Monday 9 November. We will collate a list of exempt students to ensure they are not challenged unnecessarily. If your child is exempt please ensure that they are aware that they need to be consciously proactive in ensuring social distancing measures wherever possible outside of the classroom. We also recommend that parents of students who are exempt and who use school buses provide a hand-written note detailing the exemption.

Uniform variations from Monday 9 November

From Monday of next week, students will be able to wear an additional layer as part of their uniform. This is a temporary measure and will only be in place for the time we are operating in these times of COVID. This measure will be reviewed again prior to the Christmas break.

We know we must maintain adequate ventilation in classrooms by keeping windows open and we also appreciate that the outdoor temperature is decreasing as we approach winter. We understand that the impact of these factors is that the temperature in the classrooms is not always ideal.

Our expectations are:

  • Students are permitted to wear an additional layer underneath their blazer to help them to keep warm.
  • If a student wishes to remove a layer because they are warm, they must remove the additional layer rather than removing their blazer and keeping the additional layer on.
  • Shirts and ties are expected as normal.
  • Additional layers must not contain any rude or offensive language.
  • Members of staff reserve the right to ask students to remove the layer if it is deemed inappropriate.
  • Coats will be not permitted to be worn in classrooms. Coats are for protection from the wet and damp weather and wearing them in the classroom will defeat the object of keeping warm.

We hope that this measure helps students to feel more comfortable in their learning as we continue to keep classrooms well ventilated.

Remote learning

We are continuing to work on improvements to our strategies for remote learning and providing education for those who are isolating or unwell as a result of the Coronavirus. The infographics, shared in previous newsletters and again here today, share the processes for students and parents, and all of the relevant resources are on the remote learning page of the school website. Mr Isaacs has produced a short video showing students and parents the student view of live lessons. The link to view this is here.

Student success

Before the school closure back in March, Amelia M in Year 9 borrowed a violin from the school's music cupboard. She had never played the instrument before but had always wanted to, and so thought that she would try to learn to play it during lockdown. Henry G - one of our Sixth Form students - spotted her walking home with the instrument and offered to give her lessons via Zoom. Henry taught Amelia for 30 minutes weekly through lockdown and the summer holiday.

Amelia is now playing grade 3 standard pieces, and has shared the following audio clip with us.

Excellence Awards

Weekly REACH Champions