Coronavirus Update

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30 April 2020

Dear Parents, Students, Staff and Governors,

Please find below a Press Release from the Education Minister regarding the extension to school closures that she announced today.

I am very aware that both parents and students are now facing further weeks of home learning and I want to reassure you that Victoria College will continue to do everything we can to support you as we move towards half term.

As families, you will continue to receive phone calls from the school to offer the opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns that you or your sons might have and our students will also be in contact with their tutors on a regular basis. Please remember that up-to-date information, including staff contact details and help-line information, is available on our website, www.victoriacollege.je via the red bar on the opening page.

During these unprecedented times, we are always seeking to adjust and improve our home learning provision. In my newsletter tomorrow, I will be asking both parents and students to respond to surveys about your home learning so far. It is very important to us to understand what you are finding interesting and useful in your learning and, equally, where you are encountering difficulties so that we can continue to develop the best possible home learning programme for our students.

I know that these are difficult times for everyone but I continue to be impressed by the resilience and strength of our College community: by the boys and their parents working from home; by the volunteering and fundraising efforts of our students and the support they offer to each other; and by the dedication and perseverance being shown by our staff in delivering and sustaining a very different way of learning.

I hope that you continue to stay safe and well and please take a look through the newsletter tomorrow to see all the things that our College continues to do, even while we are apart.

With my best wishes to you and your families.

Alun D Watkins
Headmaster 

GOVERMENT RELEASE

News Release: Schools to remain closed until after the May half-term break

The Education Minister has signed a further Ministerial Decision, based on the latest advice
from the Medical Officer of Health, to extend the closure of the majority of Government
provided schools and colleges to 22 May, the start of the Summer half-term holiday.

The Ministerial decision further states that Highlands College, which doesn’t have a Summer
half-term break, will be closed until 29 May.

The exceptions to this extension are the two special schools La Sente and Mont à l’Abbé
School.

As previously, non-Government provided schools, early years settings, childminders and
private nurseries are being advised to do the same.

This means that the earliest that schools and colleges could reopen is Monday, 1 June after
the end of the Summer half-term break. This date will be kept under continuous review.
Early years settings, childminders and private nurseries, schools and colleges will continue to
provide places to support critical workers’ children and some vulnerable children throughout
this period.

During this next month of closure, the Children, Young People, Education and Skills
Department will be working with headteachers, trades unions and others to develop plans for the eventual phased safe return to childcare, schools and colleges of all children, pupils and students. This planning will, as with all decisions, be based on advice from health
professionals.

The Education Minister has also requested that, as part of the Government’s Safe Exit
planning, consideration is given as to whether over the coming four weeks the numbers of
children and young people attending early years settings, childminders and private nurseries
might be increased.

In a statement the Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois, said: “Firstly, I would like to
thank parents, carers and students for their understanding during this unsettling and difficult
period. I know that, as parent myself, these have been testing times but the feedback I have
received is that parents are doing a wonderful job home-schooling and our students are
working so hard on their learning.

“I would also like to acknowledge and thank everyone in our childcare settings, schools and
colleges, and across the Children, Young People, Education and Skills Department, for the
huge amount of work that has been undertaken to provide continuity of care and learning. I
am especially pleased with the support provided to pupils and students through online
platforms, email and other resources.

“For those students taking formal qualifications, I remain saddened that they will not be able
to undertake final examinations but am grateful for the commitment shown by teachers who
are undertaking additional assessments to support the revised process of assessment and
grading.”

The Education Minister has also provided an update on the ongoing work of the new project
team that has been set up to review the funding and fee issues related to nurseries, schools
and colleges.

Senator Vallois said: “I would like to thank parents and carers for continuing to pay fees and
for understanding the difficult position our fee-paying schools are facing. Continuing to pay
these fees is crucial to the sustainability of our schools and underpins the alternative on-line
learning and teaching arrangements that the schools and colleges have put in place.

“I recognise that there is a desire for normal service to resume as soon as possible and, for
that reason alone, we share a strong commitment to the ongoing viability of our schools.

“Appreciating the pressures that many family incomes are under, I am pleased to advise the
Boards of Governors of the Government-provided fee-paying schools have recommended
that previously approved fee increases, due to start from the autumn term, should not be
implemented. I have readily accepted this recommendation and, therefore, fees will be frozen
until the end of 2020, providing budgeting certainty and reduced costs for parents.

“The position for 2021 will be reviewed in due course as the longer-term implications of the
pandemic on schools becomes clearer.

The Minister added: “I understand and recognise that for some parents, the impact COVID-
19 will be having on personal finances and that paying fees may be increasingly difficult or
out of reach. Parents whose income is impacted should, in the first instance, contact their
school in the normal way for a confidential discussion. Our fee-paying schools have existing
hardship schemes and can discuss with parents how and when these can be accessed.

“To support these schools and parents, we are developing options that, if implemented, could
supplement the hardship funds already managed by schools should they become insufficient
to cater for demand. I will provide a further update on this work in a future announcement.”

 


20 April 2020

Dear Parents, Students and Staff, 

A very warm welcome back to the Victoria College community and I hope that you enjoyed a good, and more importantly, a safe Easter. It is a very surreal way to begin the Summer Term but I hope that by now our boys will have readjusted to working from home. In truth, Victoria College is absolutely not the same without its staff and pupils all together but I am very proud of the way in which everyone has responded to this difficult and unprecedented situation.

You will probably know by now that the Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois, has stated publicly that all schools in Jersey will not return before 5 May and this will be reviewed on health advice.

I recognise that this is also an opportunity to innovate and to develop new skills and to engage in a variety of different learning. I am encouraged by the positive comments we received before Easter from parents and further information about our home learning package is provided below from our Assistant Head (Academic), Mr Crossley.

Over the course of the next week or so, we will be asking our pupils to complete a survey to understand how they have engaged with the home learning process and what we can do to improve this. We will also be asking our teachers to contact families to ensure that all is well, both from a pastoral and academic point of view.

Whilst writing, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome new colleagues to the College. We are delighted that we have now been joined by Mrs Lisa de Gruchy, who will be teaching Business Studies and co-ordinating our Trident programme; Mr Adam Warburton, who will be teaching Theatre Studies; and Mr Lee Evans who is our new Science Technician. They have joined us at an unusual time in the life of the College but they are warmly welcomed to our school community.

I will continue to keep the communication channels as fluid as possible and we will provide further information in our regular Friday newsletter.

With my best wishes to you and your families.

Alun D Watkins 
Headmaster


Dear Parents/Guardians,

It is with regret that I must inform you that Victoria College is to close to pupils from Monday 23rd March, until Monday 20th April. Governmental guidelines, based on the rapidly changing Covid-19 health crisis, have necessitated this decision.

Please be assured that our Home Learning Guidelines are in place for all year groups and, from Monday 23 March, pupils will be receiving regular work from our teachers. Our online learning platform –ShowMyHomework– is the primary method of delivery of work. If you, or your son, have any concerns please could you contact the relevant member of teaching staff via e-mail.

A full staff directory is available on our website, and at the following link.https://www.victoriacollege.je/_site/data/files/secondary/894C1F8F5C0061D561D0DF203616E9A7.pdf

You will receive a phone call contact from a member of the senior team at least once over the next two-week period, leading up to the calendared end of term date of 3rdApril. This will be to check in on how pupils’ work is progressing, and also to help answer any questions you may have.

I would like to offer my sincere thanks for your understanding, support and flexibility at this testing time for both the College, and for the wider Island community. Please do be assured that as soon as I receive any confirmed update I will be sure to be in touch with you.

Kind regards,

Alun D Watkins
Headmaster


Updated Restricted Opening due to Cov-19 - 20 March 2020

Dear Parents and Students, Years 11 and 13, 

Firstly, I would like to say how very impressed I have been by our Year 11 and 13 students with the way in which they have handled the news that their public examinations this summer have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  As I explained to them in our assemblies today, they have been extremely understanding of the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves and have remained largely positive, upbeat, focused and engaged;  I would like to pass on my thanks to you all for your maturity and support for each other and for our staff.

As you will no doubt already know, the UK Government has now published details of the processes they will adopt to determine GCSE and A level grades for this summer’s candidates.  I have attached the information released this afternoon for you to read.

There will obviously be much to consider over the coming days in terms of how schools will work with examination boards to provide grades for our students.  Please can I reassure you that we will be doing all we can to ensure fair representation of the work that our students have done – but I would ask you to bear with us whilst we establish all the necessary details.  I will be in contact with all parents and students in our public examination groups to keep you fully up to date with information as it develops.

In the meantime, I would like to advise that we will be closing the school to all year groups (including Years 11 and 13) from Monday and pending further updates from the Department of Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES).  Please could I encourage our students to continue to consolidate their learning at home.  Guidelines have already been issued for home learning and teachers can be contacted via their staff emails should you have any questions regarding areas of study.

Please accept my very best wishes to you all and I will be in touch again soon.

Yours sincerely

Alun D Watkins
Headmaster

 

 


Restricted Opening due to Covid-19 - 18 March 2020 

Dear Parent,

As you will no doubt be aware, the ongoing public health situation is changing daily, and Island schools are receiving regular updates from the Government of Jersey and CYPES.

In addition to previous guidance on self-isolation, many teaching staff with underlying health conditions across Jersey have now been asked to work from home, as a precautionary measure to safeguard their health. The staffing shortages that have resulted means that Victoria College will be unable to remain open for all our year groups from tomorrow (Thursday 19th March). We will be unable to meet our essential staff-student ratio, in place to ensure classes can be supervised and basic health and safety requirements can be met.

We have had to take the difficult, but necessary, decision at this time to require the following year groups to work from home from Thursday 19th March, and for the foreseeable future.

  • Year 9
  • Year 10
  • Year 12

The College will remain open for our two youngest cohorts (Years 7 & 8) and also for our two cohorts about to undergo public examinations (Years 11 & 13). From Monday 23rd March, school will only be open for Years 11 & 13. We will endeavor to keep to their usual timetable as much as we can.

The updated Home Learning Guidelines that were sent to you on Tuesday 17th March will shortly come into effect for the absent year groups, to ensure continuation of academic provision.

Whilst College will remain open for pupils in Years 7, 8, 11 and 13, should parents of boys in those year groups wish to keep their son away from College, we will support that decision. Please follow the usual process of contacting the College Office on 638200 or admin@vcj.sch.je to inform us of any pupil absence.

I understand that parents are concerned and anxious at this difficult and uncertain time. My thanks for your ongoing support and I will, as always, keep you informed of any developments or updates as soon as I have them.

Kind regards, 

Alun D Watkins


Updated Home Learning Guidelines and Calendar Adjustments - Covid-19 Contingency Planning - 17 March 2020

Dear Parents,

Following communications last week about academic contingencies in the event of Victoria College’s school day being suspended, attached are updated Home Learning Guidelines. The intended outcome is that the curriculum is at the forefront of the work and, as far as possible, student progress should not be negatively impacted.

The current COVID-19 situation is changing on a daily basis. In order to comply with current recommendations, and also to take proactive steps to safeguard pupil, parent and staff health and safety, we have made a number of cancellations and postponements to the College calendar. Academic lessons, public examinations, revision sessions, moderations and academic support will be prioritised, and continue as normal, unless we receive further Governmental guidance.

As of Monday 16th March, 2020, through to the start of the Easter Holidays (3.25pm on 3rd April, 2020) the following events in the College Calendar with be cancelled or postponed.

  • Year group and multi-year group assemblies
  • Parents’ Evenings
  • Sports fixtures with other schools (inter-house fixtures will run as normal)
  • Music / drama productions
  • Inter-school academic events
  • External speakers and lectures
  • Parent meetings and interviews
  • Trips and visits (unless exam-based requirements necessitate)
  • CCF training and events after 3.25pm
  • Co-curricular trips and events*

*A separate e-mail will be sent by Mr Akers – Senior Teacher (Co-curricular) with further details on these events. 

Kind regards,

Alun D Watkins
Headmaster


Updated Home Learning Guidelines - 17 March 2020

Student Expectations

  1. Should be online and follow their normal timetable where possible to enable teachers to respond to student needs and keep structure to the day.
  2. Students must complete all set work.
  3. Check ShowMyHomework and @vcj.sch.je emails on a daily basis. @victoriacollege.je email addresses will not be used by staff.
  4. Get in contact with teachers if they are unsure of the requirements of any work, by vcj.sch.je email addresses only, not via @victoriacollege.je or SMHW notifications.

Student Logistics

  1. Ensure they can access ShowMyHomework
    • www.satchelone.com

    • Login via Office 365

    • Username – College e-mail address (@vcj.sch.je)

    • Password – same as College PC

  2. Ensure they can access the Victoria College email – speak to IT if not. @victoriacollege.je email addresses will not be used (to ensure a single system of communication)

https://email.jeron.je/owa/
Username – College e-mail address (@vcj.sch.je)
Password – same as College PCs

Teacher Expectations

  1. Teachers must provide meaningful work in line with what would be set should College be in full operation.
  2. Work to be set via ShowMyHomework only, to ensure parents and pupils can access the material.
  3. Work must be set for the week ahead, ideally in a single post for each class.
  4. Work should be posted as early as possible in the week, at the very latest, by the time of the first lesson in that subject.
  5. Each lesson missed must have clear work set to be completed remotely and work set should reflect the length of the lesson.
  6. Wherever possible, work set should reflect the normal curriculum objectives. It is understood that learning activities may differ from those in a classroom setting.
  7. Teachers must identify clearly on SMHW at the end of their entry the intended outcome of work. “By the end of this lesson students should have completed X”.
  8. Where possible teachers will be available during the normal school day. This enables staff to respond timely to student needs, facilitate conversations amongst colleagues, and keep structure to the day.
  9. Additional homework during remote learning should not exceed the time guidance, be meaningful and should complement the lesson.
  10. It is the student’s responsibility to complete the work.
  11. Teachers should take into account adaptations to home learning for students with Additional Needs, ensure they are able to access the work at home and there are appropriate expectations of the work they will produce.
  12. Any teachers who feel they will struggle to access a computer from home should speak to the IT Department.


Additional Information

  1. The Leadership Team will make direct phone contact with all parents at least once during each ten school day period of Home Learning being implemented, to check on progress.
  2. The Special Educational Needs team will contact parents on the SEN register at least on a weekly basis to check how they are coping with the home learning, and offer any further support.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Education Minister's announcement on school closures

 

Schools and colleges to close to students to reduce the spread of Covid-19

Jersey’s Education Minister has made the decision to close the majority of Government of Jersey schools and colleges to students from Monday 23 March, to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Students’ last day in their school or college will be Friday, 20 March with two weeks of closure rolling into the two weeks of Easter holidays, meaning the earliest estimated return date for pupils in Jersey is Monday 20 April.

The Children, Young People, Education and Skills department will use this month to determine if further closures are needed, based on health-led advice, and parents, carers and students will be advised in a timely manner should this become necessary.

The Minister’s decision to close schools and colleges has been made in direct consultation with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health and is fully supported by the Emergencies Council.

All students affected by the school closures will be continuing their learning at home with work set by teachers. Schools will be open to staff and for some selected year groups, principally years 11 and 13 who have summer exams. Exam students in other years will also be accommodated. Secondary schools are making arrangements for minimal disruption to these students, but if there is any then parents will be notified directly. In conjunction with this work, we are closely monitoring the situation with the various examination boards.

We are also exploring remaining open for some children attending specialist settings with more details being announced later this week.

The Minister is recommending that private schools and early years and childcare settings should also follow the Government of Jersey health care advice.

Parents and carers will be urged to support their children to practice social distancing to help avoid the spread of Covid-19 which includes restrictions on play dates, parties and all out-of-school activities and gatherings. This advice will be published on gov.je shortly.

We are also working across Government to see if we can organise childcare for some essential workers. Wider work is continuing to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults.

Minister for Education, Senator Tracey Vallois, said: “The decision to close schools has not been taken lightly. This will clearly have consequences for students, their families and the wider community hence our considerations around targeted support and advice.  This is a proactive health protection measure, taken in the best interest of the public and wider island community to assist in the effort to contain the threat of Covid-19.

“I appreciate this is an extremely challenging time for everyone. However, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of reinforcing the messaging around health advice from the Government of Jersey, including regular handwashing, and to read the new advice for parents and carers, when available.

“Abiding by these measures will save lives.”

The Department of Children, Young People, Education and Skills will remain fully operational and will continue to provide support at this time, working closely with health officials. The situation is being kept under continuous review.


Find out the latest updates, travel advice and preventative steps here

We advise parents and students to visit the Jersey Government website for all information regarding Coronavirus.