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COVID-19 Update 22 April

Coronavirus advice click here

Dear Parent/Carer,
 
As intimated in the e-bulletin issued yesterday, on Monday SQA published further information on how they intend to proceed with the award of National Qualifications in 2020.
 
You can read the SQA statement here. SQA also has a useful Question and Answer section on their web site.
 
In our update of 3 April we advised you that the school had already completed a detailed scoping exercise looking at the likely distribution of estimates based on our tracking and monitoring data and benchmarking this against performance in previous years. At that time we also provisionally rank ordered candidates as we anticipated that SQA would require this as they now do.
 
Over this week and next we will be provisionally assigning candidates an Estimate Band based on the refined scale published by SQA on Monday. This exercise will be undertaken collectively by departments and moderated by senior staff.
 
In the week beginning Monday 4th May we will receive from SQA a statistical analysis of our pupils’ performance over the past 3 years, presumably based on the Refined Band scale. We will then undertake a final review of all estimates prior to submission to SQA for 29th May. 
 
While we appreciate that candidates and their parents are primarily interested in their own estimates, we are confident that our data will stand scrutiny and that our pupils as a whole will receive results which reflect their collective capabilities. The work done to date has lent us considerable comfort that we have robust procedures in place. It already takes account of the ‘uplift’ in performance we normally see between say the mock (prelim) exams and the final exams. This year’s candidates will benefit from the quality of the school’s work in previous years and the fact that candidates of all abilities and backgrounds consistently outperform all of the statistical comparators published by the Scottish Government.
 
Ultimately, of course, for every candidate in every subject at every level the estimate submitted by the school must be based on actual evidence of performance held by the school. We cannot, for example, take cognisance of work done with tutors. It remains the case that schools will be required to hold all such evidence for possible scrutiny by SQA later in the year.
 
It is already the case that where a candidate would have reasonable adjustments or access arrangements (for example, a reader or scribe), then the estimate takes account of likely achievement with the reasonable adjustment/access arrangement in place.
 
Likewise, where illness or other personal circumstances might have affected performance in prelim exams, departments have reviewed candidate performance in alternative assessments when making their judgements. Indeed, departments have taken cognisance of every piece of meaningful evidence held. The criteria applied are essentially those that normally apply in Exceptional Circumstances.
 
At this time teachers are very busy working on the estimates, providing online work for pupils and preparing the ground for their eventual return so that candidates entering S4 to S6 have a firm foundation upon which to progress.
 
We would ask therefore that you do not submit queries about estimates. As indicated above, they will not be finalised until the end of May and be assured all of the relevant factors pertaining to each candidate are already being taken into account.
 
We hope you find this information helpful at this time.
 
Kindest regards
Paul Thomson

The information below was sent to the parent/carer of all pupils in S4-S6.

On Thursday 2 April the SQA published further information as to how they will undertake certification for National Qualifications in 2020.

SQA has indicated that they will provide detailed guidance to schools on how to determine and submit the required estimate information after Easter, and by 20 April 2020.

In anticipation of such developments, the school has already completed a detailed scoping exercise looking at the likely distribution of estimates based on our tracking and monitoring data and benchmarking this against performance in previous years. The process pre-empts much of the guidance issued yesterday by SQA. This has lent us considerable comfort that we have robust procedures in place.

The school will look at this again once SQA has published its detailed guidance and criteria after the holiday period. SQA recognise that teachers and lecturers will need time to access evidence and have departmental and faculty discussions. While this will be more challenging while the school is closed, we already have systems in place to allow this to be undertaken with the necessary care and attention to detail.

It remains the case that estimates must be evidence based and that schools will be required to hold all such evidence for possible scrutiny by SQA later in the year.

While we appreciate that some pupils and parents may be anxious about how the system may impact on them, we are simply unable to answer such questions at present.

The prior attainment of candidates and schools will be factors in the process. Candidates should take comfort from the fact that the school’s track record is one in which pupils of all abilities and backgrounds achieve considerably better than national benchmarking statistics would predict.

Dear Parent/Carer,

We have set up a Remote Learning page  to provide some advice and guidance for pupils and parents. Please be aware that all use of IT systems is governed by our policy on ICT Use and Acceptable Behaviour signed at the start of the session.

Our Heads of Department have agreed on standardised approaches using Teams within Office 365. We recommend that pupils download the Teams app to their phone (if they have one) and/or to any PC, laptop or tablet device they may use. That way they will receive automated prompts when any work is set. You can read about Teams in the Remote Learning page.


S4-S6
Pupils in S4-S6 are well versed in working in Office 365. Teachers are continuing to communicate directly with pupils regarding any important tasks they need to complete or progress.

We have received some expressions of concern from teachers that some pupils are not responding. You will appreciate that the school can determine estimates for SQA only on the basis of robust evidence held. If a pupil chooses not to take advantage of an opportunity to update/redraft/complete work, then they have to accept the consequences of this.

For the avoidance of doubt, we can only consider evidence gathered through the proper channels and conforming to SQA criteria when determining an estimate. Thus, work undertaken with a tutor or statements from them cannot be considered.

Departments will not be issuing new work to S4-S5 until the new term. This will be based on the courses to be undertaken in 2020-21. We therefore need to conclude the course choices processes as soon as possible. Again, pupils must respond if their Head of House contacts them about course choice. Otherwise decisions will be taken in absentia.

S1-S3
All department are posting learning resources on O365 for S1-S3. Considerably more will appear next week.

To begin with many of these are simply tasks for pupils to undertake at home. As we progress into May and June they will evolve into more active learning with teacher direction and support. They will become mandatory for pupils to complete. Pupils therefore need to become familiar and comfortable with using Office 365 and Teams. The materials appearing now and at the start of next term are designed to accomplish this.

P4-P7
P4-P7 are following a similar pattern to S1-S3, but are not quite as far advanced. We are deliberately pushing ahead quite rapidly with some classes as a means to identify the best way to work. Generally, they will move towards adopting the same approaches as Secondary.

P1-P3
When upgrading Office 365 we took a conscious decision not to include P1-P3 initially as they are too young to take ownership of their learning in the manner required. Many would simply lack the coordination and IT skills.

At present, Primary will be posting some resources on the web site or issuing them through other channels. We are seeking to incorporate P1-P3 into O365, but this is not a simple task and will take some time.

I hope you find this information useful at this time.
KIndest regards

Paul W. Thomson, Rector

Dear Parent/Carer,

At the end of last week our priorities were three-fold: to provide schooling for the children of key workers from Monday 23rd; to put in place a programme to allow S4-S6 to complete their course work and assignments; to ensure that appropriate supports were available to young people and families particularly the most vulnerable.

You may be aware of the modelling study undertaken by Imperial College (Report 9) which underpins much of the UK and Scottish Governments response. Our perception is that schools are likely to be closed until August and even thereafter there may be periods of social distancing and further school closures. This requires a fundamental rethink of the nature and purposes of remote learning over the coming months.

Key Workers
This is up and running successfully. The pronouncements by the Prime Minister last night do place greater restrictions on us. The guidance today from Scottish Government is “to ensure that we are dealing with the absolute minimum number of staff and children to provide critical childcare to, primarily, workers in category 1 priority”.

Parents who have already registered as key workers and who wish to request schooling for their child next week can now do so by completing this online form. Please complete by Thursday 26th March.

S4-S6
A huge amount of effort went into planning a programme for course work completion that complied with the social distancing measures in place on Friday. This had to be abandoned in light of the decisions on Sunday followed up by yesterday’s announcements. The focus now is to identify to what extent pupils can undertake further work on advancing or completing course work remotely. They cannot, for example, come into Art or the Design and Technology workshops. We have no understanding as yet as to how SQA intends to assess candidates’ work or award grades. As a general principle, the more evidence we hold and the more advanced that work is, the stronger our position in setting and defending estimates. We would therefore ask that you encourage candidates to respond promptly to invitations from teachers to undertake further work. Pupils should be checking their e-mail and O365 page 3 or 4 times daily.

Note: Having issued this update SQA has subsequently published a statement indicating they will not be collecting Higher and AH  coursework for marking and will not mark the N5 coursework already submitted. However, “this work can still be used as part of the suite of evidence for teachers and lecturers to draw on as they consider estimated grades.” It therefore remains important that pupils respond to their teachers.

For all pupils in S4-S6 teaching of their current courses has in essence ceased – there are no exams and we cannot invite them in to undertake any further formal assessments that meet SQA criteria. Following the spring holiday the focus of work for pupils in the current S3-S5 will be on providing an experience that ensures they are in a position to cope with the demands of national qualifications as they progress into S4-S6 come August. That will not be easy in some subjects and may require SQA to initiate some changes to Course Arrangements.

Course Choice for Session 2020/2021
Heads of House will be contacting pupils to discuss the course choice process. It is most likely that pupils will be contacted by email to discuss their options.  Pupils are asked to check their school emails from next week.
If pupils are interested in any of the Senior Phase or Open Doors courses then they must contact their Head of House by the end of this week to ensure applications are made in time for the deadline of 31st March. You can find details of these courses on the Course Choice area of the website.

Supporting Pupils

  • Provision has been made to continue our counselling service and to cater for children in P4-S6 entitled to free school meals. Education Maintenance Allowances will continue to be paid.
  • Earlier this session we advertised the wealth of support materials available via the Help & Advice page in the Pupil Support area O365. The information on Mental Wellbeing is available on the web site.
  • The period ahead holds many uncertainties. If your family circumstances change and you feel you may be entitled to free school meals, uniform allowance or any other benefit, then please get in touch with the bursar. Click here for more information.

Remote Learning

  • Pupils in S4-S6 should respond to class teachers as set out above.
  • As previously advised, learning tasks will be published in due course for pupils in the BGE phase (P1-S3). Some materials for S1-S3 are available now on O365 and more will follow from Thursday 26 March into next week.
  • Primary colleagues have been very much focused on catering for the pupils in school. The requirement to minimise those in the work place creates a further hurdle to moving learning online. This will get further attention this week.
  • Reading is one of the best things for learners of any age. The Pupil page of O365 provides free access to Complete Issues. For our younger readers, you have free access to a wealth of books at Renaissance Learning.
  • We would like to remind you that all users of our O365 system can download up to 5 copies of the Microsoft Office suite free of charge for home use. We have advertised this in e-bulletins on a number of occasions.
    Simply get your child to login to O365 on the device. Click on the waffle (9 dots top left) and then on Office 365 and you will see the option to Install Office.

You will appreciate that we are trying to keep an appropriate balance between meeting short term needs and looking to the future. In line with Government policy, our immediate priorities remain the first three items above. Access to remote learning will ramp up over the coming weeks. We are intent on setting up systems which are robust and sustainable.

Thank you for your patience.

Keep safe.

Paul W. Thomson, Rector

A very brief update today to say that the arrangements for the children of key workers went smoothly. Our thanks to all of the staff involved. Information on the arrangements for next week will be published by Wednesday.

We await further guidance from Scottish Government and SQA on a number of matters. Both the school and parents have a number of unanswered questions, but it would be premature to address these at this time.

From tomorrow, in line with Government advice, only those staff scheduled for duties or timetabled to work with pupils will be in school. All other staff will work from home.

The Scottish Government has today issued new guidance which stipulates that pupils in S4-S6 should not come into school to complete coursework or assignments.
The plans put together by the school as mentioned in Friday’s update now fall. In particular, the Advanced Higher History assessment scheduled for tomorrow is cancelled.
As stated on Friday, we will not be able to answer questions about the assessment process until SQA publishes details. We will issue further information to S4-S6 and to parents as and when we have some clarity.

Dear Parent/Carer,

Key Workers
Our priority today has been to try in put in place some sensible arrangements from Monday for the children of key workers. We have many parents who work in the medical profession. We are communicating directly with all those who completed the survey. We are very much at the maximum numbers which Scottish Government has indicated is compatible with the aims of closing schools.

Scottish Government has stated that, if one parent is a key worker and the other is not, the non-key worker should normally be expected to provide childcare. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be. In general, they expect that if key workers can perform their critical functions effectively when working remotely from home, they should do so.

Please note that Scottish Government stated yesterday that term dates have not changed. Our dialogue with them has confirmed that there is no expectation that there will be any provision for the children of key workers during the holiday period.

Social Distancing
In addition, Scottish Government has stated that

  • Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions. 
  • Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.

We would ask you to note the second of these in particular. There is little point to closing schools if young people are then congregating in large numbers outwith school.

National Qualifications
As advised, we will be prioritising the completion of course work and assignments over the remaining two weeks of term. Individuals will be coming in only for the necessary period of time to complete such tasks. Where there is a larger group, we will subdivide them to maintain social distancing as far as possible.

We have put together a plan for all courses and will be communicating with the relevant pupils from Monday. A small number of pupils will be in on Monday to complete work for Advanced Higher History and they are all aware of this.

SQA has not as yet published details of how it intends to assess candidate performance and award grades. We assume that it will be some variant of the Exceptional Circumstances arrangements supplemented by other evidence and a range of statistical information.

Until we understand the process, we are not in a position to answer enquiries whether in general or about individual pupil circumstances.

Remote Learning
We will say more next week about the nature of work which will be shared via Office 365 or other channels.

This is a very fluid situation. We expect things to evolve over the next few days and that we will have to adapt plans accordingly. Please bear with us.

Kindest regards
Paul W. Thomson, Rector

Dear Parent/Carer,

I write to provide an update following the statement by the Depute First Minister this afternoon. The key points to emerge are

  • The expectation is that the opening of physical settings such as Jordanhill School and the number of people therein will be kept to a minimum in order to support virus control.
  • The 2020 diet of SQA examinations will not take place.
  • Schools will make arrangement to ensure that pupils in S4-S6 can complete all necessary course work for national examinations.
  • Some provision will be made for key workers subject to point 1.
  • The default position for most pupils is that learning and teaching will be delivered remotely taking account of staff availability and resilience. We will provide further guidance on this next week.
  • For pupils in the broad general education phase (BGE) such learning is likely to take the form of a weekly learning task. We will seek to provide further information on such tasks in the course of next week. The nature of these tasks is likely to evolve as we move into the summer term.

It will be necessary for the school to have a dialogue with Scottish Government on the extent to which we will be allowed to continue to deliver some services within our premises. To this end we need your cooperation to help us identify the scale of provision required.

Key Workers
We are asking all parents who consider themselves to be key workers to complete the online survey here by 9.00am tomorrow Friday 20th March.

Key workers fall into 3 categories:

  • Category 1: Health and Care workers directly supporting COVID response, life threatening emergency work or critical primary and community care services.
  • Category 2: All other health care workers and emergency/critical services (Police, Fire, Prisons, Social Workers etc.).
  • Category 3: All workers without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland or the ability to keep the country running would be compromised.

The survey asks you to identify clearly the category you fall into, the nature of your role and details of your employer. Ultimately, the school will be guided by the Scottish Government as to who will be recognised as a key worker and for whom some provision should be made.

At this time it is not clear the extent to which we can or will be allowed to respond to whatever level of need is identified by the survey.

Completion of SQA Coursework and Assignments
We are currently putting together a plan to allow pupils to come into school over the next two weeks to complete such tasks. This will be done individually or in small groups to facilitate physical separation.

This applies to a relatively small number of pupils. We will proactively contact them and their parents over the next few days. Please do not submit enquiries as these simply divert staff away from the task in hand.

The SQA has not as yet published details of how they will use coursework, estimates and evidence of prior attainment to inform decisions on the awarding of grades in national examinations. We cannot therefore answer queries on such matters.

I appreciate that this update leaves many questions unanswered. Our priority is to gather the information required to plan provision over the next two weeks. I anticipate writing to you again tomorrow.

Kindest regards
Paul W. Thomson, Rector

Dear Parent/carer,

The First Minister has today stated that schools are likely to close from 5.00pm on Friday 20th March. The Education Secretary Mr Swinney will set out the details tomorrow.

Three priorities have been identified

  • Supporting vulnerable pupils including those who rely on free school meals
  • Addressing the issue of exams this year
  • Putting in place arrangements to support the children of key workers (these are not yet defined)

Ms Sturgeon has pointed out there will not be a one size fits all approach across Scotland.

Until we hear what Mr Swinney has to say tomorrow it is very difficult to understand what the specific  implications will be for Jordanhill School and therefore how best we can respond.

We have previously communicated that some aspects of learning can continue for pupils in P4-S6 via Office 365. Arrangements for P1-P3 are in place and will now be implemented.

The senior leadership team has been meeting every morning to consider the latest developments and will meet again at 3.45pm today.

A further communication will be sent to parents following Mr Swinney’s statement tomorrow.

Paul W. Thomson, Rector

Dear Parent/Carer,

As you are aware, the situation just now is extremely fluid. It remains the case that schools will remain open until instructed otherwise.

Scottish Government published updated guidance yesterday evening. However, even this has been superseded in relation to the medical advice regarding self-isolation.

Having considered the advice to schools and cognisant of the general direction of travel, the school has decided to cancel all public events and school trips until the end of May. Events scheduled for June will be considered following the spring holiday fortnight.

Specifically, this means that we are cancelling all music rehearsals and performances, all Primary parental engagement events (Fridays), all day trips and all of the Interdisciplinary Learning (IDL) events planned for S1-S3 in May. This is in addition to the cancellation of all sporting events announced yesterday. Regrettably also, we have to cancel the end of term services and the S5-S6 Summer Ball at Mar Hall.

We have three major residential trips scheduled in May/June: P6 Abernethy, S1 Raasay and S3 Lockerbie Manor. These too will be cancelled. We wrote to Scottish Government yesterday in advance of the latest pronouncements seeking guidance on the financial implications of cancelling such major events. The contractual and insurance positions are unclear. As and when we have some clarity, we will write to parents in these year groups to clarify reimbursement of deposits etc.

As an employer the school is seeking to follow best practice re the health of our employees and their families. There will inevitably be situations in which individuals fall into “at risk” groups and they will be unable to work as normal. There may be disruption to or reduction in services such as the Refectory. You should anticipate that there may be some disruption to lessons even while the school remains open. As communicated previously, we will prioritise pupils who are due to sit SQA examinations from late April onwards.

In the event that the Scottish Government closes schools, arrangements are already in place for pupils from P4 upwards to have access to learning resources via Office 365. Primary colleagues are reminding/briefing pupils about how to access these resources. Pupils in Secondary already make extensive use of O365 and any individual pupil who is absent will be able to continue with school work.

We are grateful to parents for following the health guidance from Health Protection Scotland. Dealing with COVID-19 is already placing considerable strain on our resources. If any significant number of staff are unable to attend work, then you will inevitably find it more difficult to make contact with those who remain.

I am conscious that this update leaves some questions unanswered. We will write to you again as and when further guidance emerges from Government or the particular circumstances in Jordanhill School require.

Thank you for your support at this time.
Paul W. Thomson,
Rector

Extra-curricular Sports Clubs and Activities Cancelled

Taking advice from national governing bodies, the decision has been made to cancel all of the school’s extra-curricular sports clubs and activities for the time being. This decision will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

Curricular PE (including Wednesday afternoon activities) will continue as normal.

The following events and activities are cancelled for the time being

  • After school and Saturday morning football training and fixtures for all ages.
  • After school and Saturday morning rugby training and fixtures for all ages.
  • After school and Saturday morning hockey training and fixtures for all ages.
  • After school netball training for all ages.
  • Strength and conditioning sessions, fitness suite access and gymnastics club.

Please also be aware that the following upcoming events have also been cancelled by the organisers

  • Tuesday 17th March – Glasgow Schools x-country.
  • Wednesday 18th March – West District Hockey 7’s (S4-S6) and Hutchesons’ Grammar School boys hockey tournament.
  • Thursday 19th and Thursday 24th March – U14 West District hockey trials.
  • Monday 23rd March – Scottish Cup Tennis v Merchiston Castle School.
  • Saturday 28th March – P5/6 West District hockey festival.

Keeping in Touch
We want our parents to have access to accurate and up-to-date information as it relates to Jordanhill School. During the working day we can send targeted e-mails to our parents. Outwith this we issue information via the school app and on the web site. If you do not already have the school app on your phone, then we would strongly urge you to download it. Full information can be found here.

As the UK and Scottish Government statements did not take place until after the school was closed, yesterday’s update was issued via the app. (Scroll down to view.)  As indicated therein, specific information for parents of pupils in S4-S6 was issued by e-mail this morning. That letter can also be viewed below.

School Sports – This Weekend
The SFA have today decided to suspend all domestic professional and grassroots football until further notice. Scottish Rugby have also indicated a temporary period of suspension and a number of teams have already withdrawn from tomorrow’s fixtures across all sports. The uncertainty that this creates means that we feel we have no option but to cancel all sports activities this weekend. This includes Primary football and all hockey, football and rugby fixtures.

The future of training activities will be reviewed on Monday once we are in receipt of guidance from the governing bodies of the respective sports.

PTA Uniform Sale
The PTA had planned a uniform sale tomorrow to coincide with the large number of planned fixtures. This has been postponed.

Guidance has been issued to all schools by Health Protection Scotland (HPS). There is no heightened risk to the Jordanhill School community at this time. As necessary, HPS will offer specific advice to individual schools to deal with any of the various scenarios which might emerge. Our focus is very much on maintaining learning and the normal routines for pupils and we would encourage parents to convey a message of work (and homework of course) as usual.

Dear Parent/Carer,

The First Minister has today made a statement indicating that it is not necessary to close schools at this time. Jordanhill School will therefore continue to operate as normal until such time as contrary advice is given.

At all times the school follows the advice of Health Protection Scotland (HPS). Be assured that if any issue of concern were to emerge relating to the school, then we would contact HPS and take the appropriate steps.

While concerns about COVID-19 are understandable, it does not help if rumours or incorrect information are circulated. While we appreciate that some parents may feel that the school should respond to any expression of concern that emerges, HPS are explicit in their advice to schools that we should not do so as “this is likely to lead to heightened anxiety in pupils, parents and staff”. The school will not act contrary to that advice.

The school has given detailed consideration to the issues which might emerge in the coming weeks. We are writing separately tomorrow to the parents of all pupils in S4-S6 sitting SQA examinations setting out the measures already in place or that can be activated as required. We trust that parents will take some reassurance from this information.

We are fortunate that we are able to share learning resources via Office 365. All pupils from P4 upwards have dedicated learning spaces. Older pupils are already making extensive use of this and while some younger pupils may have made limited use to date, we can rapidly scale this up as necessary. We will provide further information and advice to parents as required.

In a statement this afternoon, the Health Minister indicated that Scotland has moved from the ‘containment’ to the ‘delay’ phase. Schools are being advised against overseas trips. However, we do not have any such trips in 2020 and neither do we have any school groups visiting us.

From tomorrow individuals with symptoms indicative of the coronavirus will be asked to stay at homes for seven days.Those symptoms are a dry cough or fever and if you have those you don’t have to call your GP to self-isolate. This applies both to adults and to pupils.

In school we continue to reinforce the key messages on good hygiene and preventing the spread of infection and would ask that you do the same at home. As before, we would remind you that we post the most up-to-date information on the web site.

Kindest regards
Paul W. Thomson, Rector