Re-opening of Harrogate Grammar School

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Harrogate Grammar School will reopen to staff on Monday 7 September for training purposes after which the return of students will be phased.

On the 8 September, Year 7 and Year 12 students who are new to Harrogate Grammar School will come into school for an induction day. The following day, Year 7, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10 and all Year 12 will start the term with all year groups returning on 10 September.

Mr Neil Renton will be the ninth Headteacher of Harrogate Grammar School
Mr Neil Renton, Headteacher of Harrogate Grammar School

Neil Renton, Headteacher for Harrogate Grammar School, said:

Over the busy summer period, we have worked closely with the RKLT (Red Kite Learning Trust), our local governing body, our staff, headteachers in the Red Kite Alliance and local headteachers to develop our plans as we collectively interpret the guidance.

Our main focus has been to implement the ‘system of controls’ set out by the DfE:

  1. Minimise contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school.
  2. Clean hands thoroughly and more often than usual.
  3. Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
  4. Introduce enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents and bleach.
  5. Minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible.

Work has taken place over the summer period to ensure that school is ready to safely welcome our students back in September. A number of changes have been made:

  • Every classroom in school has sanitiser stations at the entrance.
  • Classrooms have been configured to allow for distancing of teaching staff, including removal of unnecessary furniture.
  • The dining facilities have been partitioned into two defined areas to allow for distancing year groups.
  • The rooming of the timetable has been re-worked to reduce the number of times there is crossover between year groups in the same rooms.
  • A detailed and thorough risk assessment has been produced.
  • We have employed additional cleaning staff to ensure we can meet the enhanced cleaning arrangements.
  • Outdoor sinks have been installed to ensure good hand hygiene following the removal of face coverings for those students who arrive on buses.
  • We are developing a new cashless payment system, whereby students will have an individual pin number, rather than using the thumb-print recognition software.

In order to support and reassure families, we have issued additional communications over the summer with our final phase of communication in the week commencing 31 August. This will be a detailed booklet containing all the final arrangements. Our approach has understandably been the safety of our whole community, whilst also delivering our normal broad and balanced curriculum.

One of the most significant changes that students will experience when they return are the year group groupings, clearly identified entrances and areas for different year groups, staggered lunch times and staggered finish times. We have also put in place before and after school provision, this will allow students to be on site from 8am-5pm, supporting families who need to drop-off and pick-up their children early or after the end of the school day. Students are being encouraged to walk or cycle to school.

In addition, we have developed a contingency plan for remote education where a class, group or small number of pupils need to self-isolate. This plan draws on all our learning and development during lockdown.

We will be highlighting central messages of cleaning hands more often than usual and good respiratory hygiene, but our focus will also be to provide a welcoming and positive experience for children. We will focus our efforts for all year groups on mapping current understanding, mastering prior learning, enhancing, deepening and building on knowledge and learning during remote learning.

We very much recognise that children will experience a variety of emotions in response to the coronavirus outbreak such as anxiety, stress or low mood. We will continue to support students through a variety of well-being initiatives, pastoral support and our emphasis on positive relationships.

Our intention will also be to restart extra-curricular activities where it is safe to do so and where we can continue to keep students in separate groups.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming students back to school and re-establishing our school routines.

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Harrogate Informer