Dear Parents and Carers,
As we conclude this busy half-term, I would like to commend all of our pupils on the way in which they have, once again, navigated considerable challenges. This time last year they were, of course, learning remotely, and while we are delighted to be well into our third term now of on-site learning, we recognise that life is not yet back to normal for our learners. There remain numerous risk mitigations in place, including staggered breaktimes and lunchtimes, and pupils’ experiences have been far from ‘normal’ with face coverings being worn in the classrooms and the recommendation of LFT testing three times a week.
All of that said, our learners have responded admirably, and have got on with their studies with maturity. Our learners in Years 10-13 understand that the Welsh Government decision that the summer series of exams will proceed as planned means that a focused approach to classwork, homework and revision is essential. Schools nationally are, however, keenly aware that even the most senior pupils, the Year 13s, have never sat a full series of examinations due to the pandemic.
For this reason, we will be putting in place a number of support mechanisms in order to ensure that all of our exam pupils feel well-prepared academically, emotionally and mentally throughout the weeks and months ahead.
Information on all of the support available will be provided to you and updated regularly. We would like to make you aware of some areas of this support now, however, as it may be useful to you to be aware of this as parents and carers over the half-term break.
Dedicated Parental Section of the Website
The Catholic faith and Catholic social teaching place parents as being of central importance in the education of children. Their role is respected and supported by Catholic schools.
Parents are described, in Catholic social teaching as ‘the first educators’ of their children. We know that many of our parents and carers are keen to support their children in their learning and may find it helpful to access reminders for some of the most commonly used skills as well as exam resources. We are pleased, then, to be able to offer a range of support for parents and carers to access whenever needed. These can be found on the section of the school website named ‘First Educators.’
In particular, many parents of exam-age children are keen to encourage them to revise using past exam papers. We are conscious that this year, several adaptations to the content have been made to recognise the impact of the pandemic in disrupting learning. Your child is told by each subject teacher about these adaptations, however in order that you are able to encourage your child to revise in the confidence that what they are doing is relevant, we have placed two adapted exam papers per qualification on this section of the website. We hope that this is helpful to parents and carers who will be able to see what sort of material their child can expect to be examined on this summer, and who wish to encourage their child to make use of these.
You will also find a range of other resources in this part of the website, which is currently a ‘work in progress.’ We would appreciate feedback on any additional resources that you would find helpful. Comments and suggestions can be emailed to bishopvaughanH@hwbcymru.net.
Advice to Parents, Carers and Pupils re: Contingency Arrangements
We have, as stated, been informed that examinations will take place this summer. In the very unlikely event that this does not happen, it will only be due to a ministerial decision on public health grounds, i.e. that for some reason, it is not safe at that point for exams to take place. We have been told that this is highly unlikely, however all schools are required to have contingency plans in place nevertheless. Should this happen, then, those pupils due to sit exams will instead have a series of school-based assessments in the early part of the summer term, leading to centre-determined grades of the kind awarded last year. If this becomes necessary, you will receive detailed information at the earliest opportunity. Our advice to all learners, however, remains that they should prepare for exams to go ahead this summer.
Information on Supporting Wellbeing
We recognise, as referenced previously, the considerable impact on our learners of the disruptions over the last two years. We know that many experience anxiety at the prospect of exams or for other reasons. We currently are able to provide:
Counselling and stress management from the Exchange counselling service in school
Access to online support through our pupil wellbeing team
In addition, we will be putting in place the following additional support:
Workshop for parents of Year 11 pupils
Wellbeing workshops for all exam-age pupils
Exam stress’ workshops run by Early Help Hub and Faith in Families
We encourage our pupils to remember that Qualifications Wales have given assurances that the disruption they have experienced during their studies will be taken into account when awarding grades, which will be given on the basis of reduced specification content and which will be more generous than a ‘non-pandemic’ year.
Should you have concerns about your child’s wellbeing, please be in touch with your child’s Head of Year in the first instance, who will be happy to help you.
Once more, then, our congratulations to our pupils on navigating the challenges of the past half-term as they have. Our thanks too to you as parents and carers, for your ongoing support of the school. We wish all of the families in our community a safe, happy, restful and enjoyable half-term break.