Start of Term Arrangements
The New Year; New Term; New Opportunities
On behalf of all the staff and governors at Bishop Challoner I extend to you a warm welcome to the New Year and wish you and your family every happiness and good health.
As we begin this term I recall the poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins in 1908 - And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: "Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown". And he replied: "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way".
We remember that the very first action and word of God, the giver of life, is this: ‘Let there be light!’ Indeed, in the eyes of faith, God is the source of that light within every person, that shines through in so many unexpected ways, and which has such a resilience that it cannot be totally extinguished. The account of our history, as portrayed in the Scriptures in so many styles and formats, is a story of the battle between darkness and light.
This account of our history comes to its climax in the events we recall at Christmas. In the words of St John’s Gospel, the birth of Jesus Christ is the coming of a life ‘that is the light of all people, a light that shines in the darkness, and darkness can never overpower it’ (Jn 1:4-5).
This light is refracted in a thousand different ways. Serving your child in education is certainly one of those bright rays. There are also so many other ways in which this light is reflected in how we live, in what we do, in generosity, in faithfulness, in companionship, in humour and good spirit. The world is full of such goodness and light!
No matter what the future holds in store for us, be assured the staff will work tirelessly for your child to have every opportunity to succeed and come through the pandemic.
So what do you need to know?
What is expected of every student returning to school this week?
The Department for Education (DfE) have instructed schools to offer Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) to all students before they return to school in January 2022. These tests will only be administered to students whose parents have consented to their child having a test. If you have not already done so, please give consent for the testing of your child by completing the information on the link Consent for Lateral Flow Testing.
If you have previously given consent, there is no need to complete the link above.
To ensure we are able to safely administer the tests, whilst controlling the spread of infection should any student test positive for Covid-19, we will be staggering the administering of tests. This also means that there will be a phased return to school in January. The tables on the next page outlines the date and time for your child’s LFT and the date that they will return to school. Once they receive their test, they will make their way home immediately and will return to school the next day. Please ensure your child arrives during the allocated slot, via the Lukin Street entrance.
They do not need to attend in school uniform but will be required to wear a mask.
Below are the dates and time slots for each form group and the date in which they will return to school:
The measures outlined above are being put in place to protect everyone in our school community. The safety of staff and students must remain a key priority and the steps above have been put in place to ensure our school is as safe as can be upon our return.
What has the government advised on students returning to school?
On 2nd January 2022 the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, has written to all education and childcare leaders to provide an update on the return to education and childcare following the holiday period. He also thanked all education staff for their ongoing dedication in keeping education and childcare settings open.
What is the advice regarding Face coverings?
Face coverings should be worn in ALL CLASSROOMS until the 29th January, communal areas and in all settings by staff, visitors and pupils or students in year 7 and above, unless they are exempt. Pupils or students (in year 7 or above) should continue to wear face coverings on public and dedicated school transport, unless they are exempt.
What is the advice regarding self-isolation?
Since Wednesday 22 December, the 10 day self-isolation period for people who record a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 has been reduced to 7 days in most circumstances, unless you cannot test for any reason.
Individuals may now take LFD tests on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period. Those who receive two negative test results are no longer required to complete 10 full days of self-isolation. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 6 of the self-isolation period and tests must be taken 24 hours apart. This also applies to children under 5, with LFD testing at parental or guardian discretion. If both these test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative test result and return to your education setting from day 8.
What is the advice regarding Daily testing for close contacts of COVID-19
People who are fully vaccinated, or children and young people aged between 5 and 18 years and 6 months, identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should take an LFD test every day for seven days and continue to attend their setting as normal, unless they have a positive test result or develop symptoms at any time.
Will the school remain open?
Yes. The school will remain open as long as we can with the staff we have available. There may be times where due to the lack of staff availability some years may have to be sent home. For example, in the last week of term there were 23 staff members off work. But this will only be done in exceptional circumstances. We will do everything we can to ensure we run a curriculum as normal as possible.
Are there any changes to the day this term?
Yes. There will now be a one-hour lunch break for all students at the same time – 12.30pm to 1.30pm starting on Friday 7th January. This will remove the staggered lunch we have at the moment and allow new opportunities for students at lunchtimes such as clubs to attend and use of the mugas (multi use games area) to play football.
We look forward to welcoming your child back to school this week.
Yours in Christ,
Acting Executive Headteacher