Latest press releases from the Government of Jersey have been attached at the bottom of this page.
1 June 2020
I hope that you, your son and your family have had a very relaxing and enjoyable half term break.
We are now very much looking forward to receiving our boys back in the College from the week beginning 8 June 2020. As you will no doubt have seen, the Education Minister has stated that, for secondary schools, students in Years 10 and 12 can return to school from next Monday. We are now busy planning for the phased return of our boys but we are all aware that the school will not be ‘normal’ for some time and that there will be a mixture of remote learning at home and in-school face-to-face education. The health and safety of pupils, parents and staff is paramount; we must consider carefully how these priorities can be balanced against the educational provision.
In accordance with the conditions laid down by CYPES and the Government of Jersey, we are required to put in place the following documentation:
- A ‘Safe Exit Strategy’ which is mandatory before we are able to accept boys or staff back into the school. I will be sharing this plan with parents, boys and staff.
- A Risk Assessment which is specific to Victoria College will be produced following guidance from CYPES. This will contain control measures to ensure that our site is safe and ready for the phased return of our boys and teachers.
- Dr Hughes, Deputy Headmaster, will be contacting parents of boys in Years 10 and 12 to identify which boys in those two year groups are likely to return to College in accordance with our plans for a phased return from 8 June. There is no compulsion to send your son back to school if you do not feel comfortable with that decision.
- Parents will understand that we will be running a dual system of remote and in-school education for some time to come. As the majority of the entire Victoria College pupil community will not be in school from 8 June, we will still be prioritising our system of Home Learning as the key method of delivering academic lessons. This will be co-ordinated by Mr Crossley, Assistant Head (Academic). Boys, when they are in school, should not expect an immediate return to pre-Covid 19 teaching provision. They will be supervised and supported while they continue to access the remote learning provision and our in-school education will be determined by the availability of staff and the number of boys in each classroom. To comply with social distancing guidelines, our boys will be in small groups (‘bubbles’) and they will remain in this group throughout the day. We will also be putting staggered day plans (drop off times, start and end to the day, breaktimes, pick up times, etc) in place to help ensure these bubbles remain separate.
- We will be creating a cleaning and hygiene plan and the purpose of this document is to ensure implementation of adequate cleaning in our school; then a ‘wash, cover, avoid and clean’ message will be established to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
As we move through this week, further communications will be sent to parents but at this stage I would ask for your patience and understanding. As I mentioned, we are very much looking forward to re-opening our school for the provision of face-to-face education next week but I will re-emphasise that the welfare and safety of your son, you as parents, and my colleagues is paramount. We will be doing all we can to ensure that you are provided with all the information you require to be confident in sending your son back to Victoria College.
Alun D Watkins
22 May 2020
I do hope you and your family are safe and well. As we approach half term, I wanted to pass on my thanks for your continuing support through what has been a challenging time for all of us. In this letter, I would like to provide you with details regarding a Press Release issued today by the Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois (attached) and our response to the surveys conducted by our parents and pupils last week.
Phased return to school
Throughout this week, Headteachers have been in discussions with lead officers from CYPES to plan for the safe return of pupils and staff into Jersey schools. This follows Ministerial meetings and formal medical and public health advice. Following the Press Release this morning from the Education Minister, we have been informed that schools will remain closed until 5 June. We will therefore continue to educate your son remotely and I will share any further updates with you as they arise. This will ensure the best planning can then take place to comply with the Government of Jersey’s ‘Safe Exit’ strategy.
Response to surveys
We have come to the end of the first half of the Summer Term, which has been like no other in living memory. In these most challenging of times, I’d like to say that we are doing our utmost as an educational community to ensure that the provision for your son is as good as it can possibly be, both from an academic and pastoral point of view. When schools were closed by the Education Minister, we knew we were about to negotiate a very steep learning curve and that working from home was going to flag up some things we hadn’t considered before. Is being stuck at home as good as being at school? No. Has everything worked perfectly? No. Does the remote learning approach work equally well for all students? No. Have we, together, made progress? Most definitely yes and you have been telling us this in your many positive, generous and supportive comments that we have shared frequently with our staff. Thank you. However, we would ask for your ongoing understanding that current provision cannot possibly replicate a normal school situation; what is increasingly seen as the ‘new normal’ presents significant logistical challenges. Our teaching staff, support staff and school leaders do not always get things right – we are, after all, only human and working in ways that were not even imagined a few weeks ago - and we cannot satisfy all parties at all times. We are listening though. We really do value what the VCJ community thinks and have obtained a wide range of feedback from parents, pupils and our own staff on our Home Learning Guidelines as we seek to make things incrementally better. Thank you for taking the time to complete the parent survey. I’d like to overview what we have already done, and what we will continue to do, based on the results.
I’ve attached the key graphs showing the results of both the boys’ and parents’ surveys along with this letter and I have highlighted the main themes emerging from the information below:
Parents' survey (324 responses)
- parents felt that the biggest challenges for boys included their isolation from their friends, managing the workload, missing school and loss of sporting activities
- nearly 90% of parents stated their son was doing, on average, anything from 2 to more than 5 hours of quality work a day
- we are pleased to see that over 80% of parents are checking Show My Homework at least once a week, with over 50% checking at least daily
- parents seemed more satisfied with the flexibility as to when work was completed, the appropriateness of the tasks set, the variation in types of work set and the volume of work provided - and least satisfied with the lack of interactivity in lessons and feedback from teachers
- parents felt that it was important to provide live lessons through video conferencing, video demonstrations or lesson presentations with voice-over commentary
Students' survey (376 responses)
- our pupils said that the biggest challenges for them were managing their work, feeling isolated from friends and loss of sporting activities
- nearly two-thirds of those who completed the survey felt that the major barrier to work was a lack of motivation
- over 85% of boys stated they were doing, on average, anything from 2 to more than 5 hours of quality work a day
- 99% of boys are checking Show My Homework at least once a week with nearly 90% checking at least daily
- boys were generally more satisfied with the flexibility about when work could be completed and the appropriateness of the work that was being set - and least satisfied with the lack of interactivity with their teachers during lessons
- boys also commented that they preferred live lessons through video conferencing, video demonstrations and lesson presentations with voice-over commentary
The results of the surveys and emerging themes have been shared with our staff and our Student Council. Based on your feedback, we have encouraged all our teachers to consider new ways of delivering lessons and have put in place a range of in-house and CYPES-based training opportunities for our staff in a variety of skills. The launch of Microsoft Teams has been a crucial aspect in our ongoing delivery to bring about more interactivity between teachers and pupils during the working day. Whilst we will continue to develop our provisions after the Summer half term break, since the survey, I can report that our staff have increased the range of lesson types – video or audio conferences, pre-recorded presentations, quizzes, video demonstrations, bespoke worksheets, live Q&A sessions, and so on. Your son may not experience all of these, but he should be experiencing some of them. Whilst we would all prefer to be back in ‘normal’ school, it is likely that a phased return will take place at some stage after half term but we must be prepared to accept that remote learning will continue to play a role in your son’s education for some time to come. Our flexible approach to the school day, not seeking to stick rigidly to a timetable, has been received by many parents and pupils very positively. This has allowed pupils to work at the times that suit them, and their families, especially in households with multiple children and limited IT resources. Our pupils tell us they are grateful for this flexibility.
In our discussions with the Student Council last week, our boys valued the opportunity to engage more with their tutors. We have, therefore, made improvements in the last few weeks with our tutor programme, with more tutors, Housemasters and the Leadership Team engaging regularly with the boys through a range of different channels. We recently launched ‘Channel Victoria’ which aims to provide updates to our community, including for example, this week’s video on Mental Health Awareness Week. Housemasters are providing weekly assemblies to keep the House spirit alive. We undertook a huge fundraising effort through Challenge75, raising almost £9000 for Jersey Hospice Care and Age Concern, which brought together many of our pupils in a united effort for two excellent causes. We have continued with our rota of calls to parents, and this ‘check in’ by staff members has been well received by parents and boys. We very much welcome constructive feedback from parents, so please do get in touch with us if you feel you need to discuss anything – you don’t have to wait for the call. I’d also like to thank those parents who have written in to express their thanks to the staff – these comments are always passed on and provide a lovely lift to our teachers who are working hard to help educate and support your son in these difficult times.
We are mindful of the comments from parents and boys regarding work load and the use of Show My Homework. In response, we have adapted our Year 7 and 8 curriculum before half term to include appropriate assessments, conducted online to be flexible and manageable for all boys, and after half term we will introduce the Year 7 and Year 8 College Diploma to account for the high workload issues that were raised by boys and parents. With pupil welfare high on the agenda, we have also cancelled Years 9 examinations in order to reduce stress and anxiety on our pupils and parents at this time, with Year 10 examinations postponed to a time when the boys can prepare properly and sit assessments in a meaningful way. Year 11 have been provided with a range of pre-A level transition tasks, well received by the boys, as they look ahead to A Levels. Year 12 have been working towards their Pre-Public Exams, pushed to the other side of half term based on feedback to ensure the best possible engagement with these assessments, and working with our consortium schools to ensure that the examination preparation has been achievable and not too onerous. Your responses highlighted the frustration with the range of different work channels, which can be daunting for our boys and as a result, we have released guidance videos and are actively seeking to rationalise the provision. We will, for example, shortly be closing down our Google applications, as we seek to bring our provisions solely onto Microsoft platforms. Many staff and students have engaged positively with Microsoft Teams, launched by the Government of Jersey shortly after quarantine and with its functionality improving weekly. ShowMyHomework remains our primary delivery method for notifying boys of work, and parents have the ability to use that platform – this continues to be a real strength. Our remote learning is still evolving but please rest assured that we continue to listen to you and your son and will endeavour to do all we can to improve what we are delivering. Thank you once again for your comments and for your continued support. May I wish you and your family a very enjoyable and restful break.
Alun D Watkins
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Alun D Watkins
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.
Alun D Watkins
Restricted Opening due to Covid-19 - 18 March 2020
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Alun D Watkins
Updated Home Learning Guidelines and Calendar Adjustments - Covid-19 Contingency Planning - 17 March 2020
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.
Alun D Watkins
Updated Home Learning Guidelines - 17 March 2020
- Should be online and follow their normal timetable where possible to enable teachers to respond to student needs and keep structure to the day.
- Students must complete all set work.
- Check ShowMyHomework and @vcj.sch.je emails on a daily basis. @victoriacollege.je email addresses will not be used by staff.
- 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.
- Ensure they can access ShowMyHomework
Login via Office 365
Username – College e-mail address (@vcj.sch.je)
Password – same as College PC
- 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)
Username – College e-mail address (@vcj.sch.je)
Password – same as College PCs
- Teachers must provide meaningful work in line with what would be set should College be in full operation.
- Work to be set via ShowMyHomework only, to ensure parents and pupils can access the material.
- Work must be set for the week ahead, ideally in a single post for each class.
- 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.
- Each lesson missed must have clear work set to be completed remotely and work set should reflect the length of the lesson.
- Wherever possible, work set should reflect the normal curriculum objectives. It is understood that learning activities may differ from those in a classroom setting.
- 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”.
- 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.
- Additional homework during remote learning should not exceed the time guidance, be meaningful and should complement the lesson.
- It is the student’s responsibility to complete the work.
- 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.
- Any teachers who feel they will struggle to access a computer from home should speak to the IT Department.
- 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.
- 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.
We advise parents and students to visit the Jersey Government website for all information regarding Coronavirus.