Parental Letter – 15/01/21

It's all about you!

15 January 2021

Dear Parents / Carers,

I would like to start by thanking you for your ongoing support through such difficult times. For many parents / carers you will be feeling such disappointment in the way your son / daughter’s education has been affected by the lockdown in March and subsequently this academic year.   The decisions around the colleges opening and learning experiences have been put through incredible pressure this term by rapidly changing government decisions, and we know this can be unsettling to everybody.  I would like to reassure you that at S6C, comes the most dedicated and passionate staff that want to fulfill their roles in being the best educators that they can be. 

Remote learning

Our students are now very familiar with our Google Classroom resource area and Google Chat function to participate in live lessons.  We are delighted by the level of engagement we are seeing in our online classes this term.  Most students are able to connect to lessons and are participating with enthusiasm. 

Staff are planning to deliver engaging lessons that stretch and challenge students, and allow students to build on their previous knowledge and understanding gained.  Work is being marked online, mainly through Google Classroom and students are able to receive feedback on their progress and their next steps for development.  All staff will continue to set self directed study to allow students to be actively engaged in their independent work. A copy of our remote learning expectations linked to the Department for Education guidelines can be found here.

In weekly online faculty meetings, staff are working collaboratively to share good practice in their delivery of lessons.  Staff are reviewing how we can make lessons more interactive and how we can increase collaboration and discussion.  We feel this is an important area that we want to continue to develop; it is so important working from home that we stay connected to each other and are not working in isolation.   This works best when students are at least able to have a working microphone ideally on a computer or laptop so they can engage more easily in discussions.  It is important to let us know if there are concerns about accessing lessons and we will endeavour to try and help.  The college has applied for SIm cards that we will be able to distribute where broadband is being stretched to capacity at home whilst multiple devices are being used by the family. We may also be able to support the access of devices, so please do get in touch with Rebecca Anderson  if you need help.  Alternatively,  the government guidelines have been updated to allow  students to attend college if they have IT issues. Please let us know if this is something you wish to discuss.

Next week we will be sending out a survey to gather your views about the learning experience each young person is getting. It will help us to review what we are doing well and to look at adjustments we may need to make.

GCSE results

Despite the disruption to learning between March and the end of the last academic year, we entered our students in the GCSE English and Maths classes for a November entry.  With only a 6 week window of intensive work we hoped to provide an important experience for the students to at least aim to match the centre assessed grade they were awarded last year. This was an important foundation milestone to build on.   I am delighted that all students did achieve that, with a number of students getting their grade 4 pass and some achieving a grade 5 pass, which shows exceptional progress. One year 13 student also sat their GCSE Maths from an entry grade of a 5 to aim for a university entry that required a grade 6, and we are incredibly proud that this grade was achieved. Well done to all our students for their hard work.  

Lateral flow testing

The college has been busy training staff to participate in the testing of lateral flow tests for students attending the Hub and for the staff present on site.  The process has been led very efficiently and competently by our support team, and I would like to publicly thank them for undertaking such an important role in safety for our college community.  We will put together a short video next week to demonstrate the process and will share that in our news feed for you. 

Pastoral and Life Skills: 

Students and parents/carers are reminded to keep in touch with us and update us if there are any changes in your young person’s wellbeing (physical, mental, emotional, or family). We can offer support if we know. 

We’d also like to remind parents/carers to let us know if your young person has tested positive for covid, or is self isolating at the request of the test and trace system – we have to send these details to national data reporting, and we’d also like to know so we can offer support and take it into account in your studies. Please call the college on 01722 597970 or email office@salisbury6c.ac.uk. 

We know that some students are facing difficult times with family illness or financial worries – please be quick to let us know if we can help. This week in Life Skills students were asked to take a tour of the Wellbeing section of our Student Information Classroom and identify where they’ find info on 24/7 support, college support, physical exercise programmes, help with sleep, tips for mental and emotional wellbeing in lockdown, online safety, and other issues. We think that knowing where to find high quality information could change lives – either theirs or that of a friend/family member, now or in the future. We’d really appreciate it if you could remind your young person to take a look and fill out the form that shows they’ve engaged – it’ll only take them half an hour and no one regrets being well informed! 

There are so many sources of excellent support on the internet – this one is great for young and old and reminds us how we can look after ourselves and others in this difficult time.

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/

I would like to wish you all a very restful and safe weekend. 

Yours sincerely,

Louise Henderson
Vice Principal

S6C students ready to learn online

With the announcement of the new national lockdown coming into force, the delivery of all lessons to year 12 and 13 in GCSE, vocational and A Level subjects at S6C will all be taught online from Tuesday 5th January 2021.

The majority of  lessons will be live lessons that will require students to participate in the learning experiences. At S6C we are in a favourable position to deliver live lessons in the normal timetabled slots and intend to provide the best learning experience we can. Our staff are well prepared to deliver high quality engaging experiences and our Year 13 students have had experience of this high quality delivery of teaching in the first lockdown back in March 2020. Year 12s have also been prepared to learn online as they experienced it for a week whilst the Year 13 mock exams took place in November 2020 which gave students the opportunity to learn the systems and adjust to online teaching.

The College will not be closed, we are providing a learning hub in the Study Centre for a small group of invited students to follow their lessons online – they will need to bring a laptop and headphones and a packed lunch (we will arrange provision in the case of free school meal entitlement). The hub is open to those who have contact with a social worker, are on an EHCP,  young carers, and to the children of key workers who can demonstrate that they would be best placed working in college. It also includes those students who are unable to work effectively at home due to IT needs.

Throughout the lockdown, teachers will be monitoring students’ engagement in online lessons. And Parents will have the opportunity to discuss any concerns at the Parents’ Evenings which will still go ahead. Vice principal, Louise Henderson, says, “The upcoming Year 13 Parents’ Evening will allow us to assure parents that our priority for Year 13s is that we are still preparing these young people for their progression routes; university, apprenticeships and employment. We will continue to teach Year 13 students and we want them to know that we’re incredibly proud of them and want them to feel positive about their commitment that they have shown to their courses.”

When presented with the same situation in March, student engagement was very high. That is not to say though that some students may struggle with the different demands of working from home and not being in college with their friends. There will be regular posts to students with encouragement and resources to promote mental and physical health and wellbeing, online safety, study skills strategies, and tips for managing lockdowns. We will also be continuing with our remote Life Skills programme and will target this to be relevant for the times. Our counselling service will also continue online.

S6C Pastoral Lead, Rebecca Anderson, says, “This is a time when we will need to be safe, careful, diligent, flexible, positive, kind and understanding as we navigate this lockdown. These are qualities we have seen in our S6C students and staff – and we are very proud of our S6C community.”

Returning to College

Dear Parents

I hope that you have had a safe and happy Christmas and that you have been able to spend some good time with close family members, even if it hasn’t quite been what you would have wished or planned for.

Following the latest government information issued yesterday afternoon, Wiltshire has moved into Tier 3 and we have some families, including staff who are resident in Tier 4 areas. I want to assure you that whether you live in Tier 3 or 4, there is no restriction on travel for educational purposes; staff and children can therefore attend school.

However, whilst primary children will attend school as normal from next week, there is now no immediate return for most secondary and S6C students. The arrangements for secondary schools and S6C are as follows:

From Tuesday 5th January:

Young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan and/or a social worker or others invited to attend school or college in person should do so. Parents whose work is critical to the Covid-19 response should also send their children to school if childcare is necessary.

Students in all year groups will receive remote education including live teaching. The schools and college will run a normal timetable, which means that your son or daughter will start their day at the usual time. This will cover the curriculum in a similar way to normal face to face teaching and our aim is to ensure that all students, particularly our examination year groups, do not lose any ground with their learning

Students with a scheduled examination during the first week of term will attend to sit the examination

Students that are due to take external examinations in January are expected into college for live lessons in those subjects from the 5th January

By Friday 8th January, students in Years 11 and 13 and some Year 12s will have attended school or college to take a lateral flow Covid test in readiness for their return to face to face teaching on 11th January.

From Monday 11th January:

Remote learning continues for all year groups from 7-10

Students in Year 11 and 13 and those in Year 12 with examinations in the next couple of weeks will return to face to face teaching after a second lateral flow Covid test has been taken and results received.

Year 7-10 and most Year 12 students attend school/college at an appointed time to take a lateral flow test in readiness for return to face to face teaching

Please note that Wiltshire transport buses will be operational from Monday 11th January.

Monday 18th January

Year 7-10 and 12 students return to school after second lateral flow test

All secondary and college students receive face to face teaching as normal

After the initial return to school/college testing programme, we will continue mass testing through a responsive approach. This means that if a case is reported to us we will test the close contacts on a daily basis, allowing students to remain in live learning unless they test positive. We will also be testing staff routinely on a weekly basis.

This two week staggered return which will include testing for all students and staff will help reduce the spread of the virus by identifying those who have no symptoms and will also ensure that when we have a positive case we are able to avoid sending whole year groups home to isolate. The best place for our young people – for their education and their well-being – is in school and college. Please help us by consenting to the testing programme and ensuring that we know immediately if your child or another close family member has tested positive.

You will receive a communication from your child’s school providing you details of the testing process and asking you to sign a consent form; please read this information carefully and share it with your son or daughter. Do also feel free to contact your school or college should you have any questions.

There is no doubt that we are in worrying times across the country with regard to the spread of the virus. However, we are confident that the measures now available to us in our secondary schools and college will help us contain the spread and keep families well.  

I wish you a happy and healthy new year. Here’s to a brighter 2021 and a year in which all our children really flourish.

Warm regards

Sarah Busby

Chief Executive Officer

News from the Autumn Term at S6C

Here is a roundup of news from the College in the Autumn Term.

S6C has capability to run full curriculum online

Last academic year when schools and colleges had to close, we were one of only a small number of colleges that ran our full curriculum online, to timetable, very successfully.

This term some of our teaching and learning has had to move online to support the Government guidelines for social distancing and to keep students and staff safe. 

In November the decision was made for clubs and societies and the Life Skills programme to move online. Pastoral Lead, Rebecca Anderson, kicked off the online programme by asking students to look at some material and send in their views on values that shape this country, and the way these can ensure both protection and freedom, if we all work together as society. This was followed up with feedback to Year 12, having read all their responses – celebrating the strengths in their answers and addressing a few ongoing misconceptions. Pastoral Lead, Rebecca Anderson, said, “It has been so good to read so many insightful, kind, and positive views on acceptance, tolerance and diversity. The future is in safe hands with educated and empowered young people!”

Teaching also moved online for Year 12 during the mock week to reduce the number of students in the building and just have the ‘Year 13 bubble’ on site. This decision was made to support all Year 13 students, including students currently learning from home as a pastoral decision during the national lockdown.

Much like when we had to move online during lockdown last academic year, all lessons for Year 12s ran at the same time as the normal timetable, and self-directed study tasks were set to be completed in between lessons. Staff ran all subject lessons using Google Meet which students accessed through their Google classrooms. Staff were able to have a dialogue with the students at appropriate points in the lesson, so students could respond and share their answers and ideas using their microphones and cameras. Students could choose to change their background on Google Meet before logging in or whilst in Meet so that the privacy of their home is maintained. 

Fantastic new courses at S6C!

S6C is excited to present our new courses for September 2021 entry: we will be the only college in Salisbury offering Esports for 2021 entry which is an exciting new course that will help you navigate a career within the Esports industry or help you progress to university to either study Esports or subjects like marketing, video game development, computer programming, sports management and coaching and so much more. 

S6C will also be offering two accelerated pathway programmes which have been developed to support those students who may not have quite reached the grades to study a full A Level programme and will enable them to leave S6C with a level 3 qualification and a route to their next stage, whether that be employment, apprenticeship or university. As well as this, S6C will be offering new courses in Environmental Science (A Level), Core Maths and, following the success of our Extended Certificate in Applied Science, we can now also offer the Extended Diploma in Applied Science.

S6C students enjoy covid-safe trips to art galleries

Back in term 1 our art students enjoyed covid-safe trips to local art galleries – Messums Gallery in Tisbury and Sarum Studio in Salisbury – where they met artists who gave them a tour and presented their work.

At Messums Gallery, students had the opportunity to sketch, inspired by what they saw, and also recreate a piece from the studio replication of the original Elisabeth Frink’s Studio. Students looked at Frink’s work and watched a video about her life, and life’s work, before they began the task. Art student Amy Patterson said, “at the end of the task, each of us came up with a completely different style and view of what we were creating, as everyone has a different interpretation of art, which is what makes it so great.”

At Sarum Studio, students met Nick Beer who welcomed them and gave them a tour and presentation of techniques used by the Italian traditional school of painting.

Year 12 student Amy said that the trips helped her to “better understand art and sculpture. It showed me that I don’t always have to rely on accuracy and detail, and can instead concentrate more on form, tones and structures. I think that my time there really helped me to further understand the way in which Frink works.”

Student recruitment goes online

We have had to adapt the way we enable students to research their course choices at the College and apply to join us. In September, October and November we held online Open Evenings, where prospective students joined our teachers and some current students in live virtual video chats to hear about the courses and ask questions. 

Teachers tried to give an experience close to a real Open Evening here at the College and the feedback from participants was positive with one visitor saying that the evening was “very good. Technology worked brilliantly, we were able to ask direct questions to tutors and discuss questions.”

We have also begun our interviews for applicants wishing to join in September 2021. These are also taking place virtually using telephone calls and video calls to “meet” our prospective students. Video calls gives the applicants an opportunity to share work with the interviewer and enables our teachers to really see the students’ passion.

Mental Health Development Day

On Wednesday 6th October S6C held our annual mental health development day – full of positive messaging, resources and activities to promote mental and emotional wellbeing, so students are empowered to look after themselves and others.

Activities included outdoor sport, playing with clay, mindfulness, yoga, relaxing colouring, an interview on coping skills with a local doctor, an illustration of mental health using a backpack, a video on kindness provided by the Student Union, and making lists of unhelpful and helpful strategies. The newly created MHST (mental health service team) – which we are linked to as part of a national trailblazer test programme – delivered a talk on exam stress, how to manage panic attacks, strategies for minimising anxiety and tips on healthy sleep. It was so good to be able to facilitate the day for students in a Covid secure way and know they have what they need to be able to get advice, information and help, 24/7, whenever they or a friend may need it, now or in the future.

We all need a little help sometimes and being able to discuss mental health issues calmly, positively and practically is healthy and helpful. More information on the extensive pastoral support systems in college can be found on our website or by contacting the Pastoral Lead.

S6C Reverse Advent Calendar and Christmas Jumper Day

At the beginning of December, Rebecca Anderson, Pastoral Lead, launched a reverse advent calendar in the College. Usually advent calendars mean you take an item each day, with a reverse advent calendar, you give an item. Throughout December students and staff have donated unopened food basics, food treats, toiletries, Christmas decorations or novelties, small gifts, seasonal food items, sanitary products, pet food, pet treats and other items that could be spared or bought and donated.

Pastoral Lead, Rebecca Anderson says “Acts of kindness help our own mental health as well as helping those around us, so it’s a win win project!”

Donations have been placed in a box at S6C Reception and will be shared out across food banks and homeless projects in the local area at the end of term.

Vice-Principal, Louise Henderson, says “This year, we are facing a very different Christmas. Covid might deny some of us the family feasts of years past, but it won’t stop us spreading comfort and joy in the Salisbury community with our reverse advent calendar.  Covid-19 has put record numbers of families at risk of going hungry and we recognise the importance of service to our community and some festive cheer – to those in need.”

The College has also been supporting Save the Children by participating in the Christmas Jumper day on Friday 11th December. Staff and students were invited to wear their best Christmas jumper and donate to the charity.

Online Open Evenings – book now!

**THE PROGRAMME AND LINKS TO LIVE SESSIONS HAVE NOW BEEN SENT OUT TO EVERYONE WHO HAS BOOKED – if you have not received it yet please check your spam/junk email folder and if it is not there then please contact the College prior to the Open Evening** If you have not booked yet, there’s still time, please complete the booking form by 3:30pm on Wednesday 25th November.

Following the success of our online Open Evenings in September, we are offering two further virtual Open Evenings on Wednesday 21st October 2020 and Wednesday 25th November 2020 from 4-7pm.

Booking is essential for these events in order for us to send joining instructions to those wishing to attend. The booking form is short and will take no more than a minute to complete: https://www.salisbury6c.ac.uk/study-with-us/open-evenings/

The feedback from the previous online open evenings was overwhelmingly positive, including the following comments:

“Staff answered questions well, were friendly and nice. Booking and joining was simple and easy to understand.”

“Booking the sessions was really easy as well as joining them. Teachers were really enthusiastic and their sessions went into a lot of depth.”

Booking for online Open Evenings now open!

Booking is essential in order to attend the online Open Evenings and takes just a minute to complete. We require contact details in order to send joining instructions for the evening which will only be sent to those who have booked.

Bookings can be made on our website here: salisbury6c.ac.uk/study-with-us/open-evenings/

The dates of the Open Evenings are as follows

Creative faculty – Tuesday 22nd September 2020 – 5-7pm
STEM faculty – Wednesday 23rd September 2020 – 5-7pm
Humanities faculty – Thursday 24th September 2020 – 5-7pm

Each evening will cover a different faculty to give students the opportunity to sample as many subjects as possible and get a flavour of what S6C has to offer. Programmes for each evening will be published next week.

Students will have the opportunity to talk to subject teachers to find out more about our courses. Our current students will be on hand to talk about their experiences of life at S6C, and there will be a Q&A session with our principal and an information session from our SENCO and Pastoral Lead.

Transport Services Update 4th September 2020

Please see below a message from the Salisbury Reds team regarding the changes to bus timetables:

“The changes are designed to help ensure there is sufficient capacity on the bus network for scholars. Full details, including timetables, are here:

https://www.salisburyreds.co.uk/school-bus-timetable-changes-september-2020

Many of the changes feature the provision of new scholars-only services. These routes are not required to have the covid-19 capacity restrictions that remain in place on the general network.

These changes have been made with assistance from Wiltshire Council, using funding provided by the DfE.

Given the level of uncertainty this year, issues in the first week or two are perhaps inevitable as scholars become used to the new arrangements and as new travel patterns become established. Please be assured that we will be closely monitoring loads and will endeavour to react as quickly as possible to any problems.

If you have any queries please, contact our Customer Services team: https://www.salisburyreds.co.uk/contact.”