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Headteacher's update 25

Published on 22/05/20

Good afternoon everyone,

I hope that you and your families are well. Thank you for continuing to check Weduc for the home learning that has been set by your child’s teachers.


Year 10 Survey

Huge thanks to all the Year 10 students and parents/carers who shared with us their views about the possibility of returning to school for some face-to-face support with their learning. A detailed response to the survey is attached to this message. A summary of our response to the survey is as follows:

  • First, we will create opportunities for our students to access video lessons to better support them with remote learning. We will begin by providing video lessons for Year 10 students, before broadening this out for students in Years 7 - 9.
  • We will continue to monitor government advice regarding providing face-to-face support for Year 10 students in school and to carry out detailed risk assessments. We will give Year 10 students and their parents/carers significant notice of plans to begin face-to-face work in school should it be safe to do so.

Message from Sheffield City Council's Director of Public Health

We have been asked to share with you a message from Gregg Fell, Sheffield’s Director of Public Health. He goes through each of the five tests that the government has set to allow more students into school and provides an analysis of whether they have been met.

You can read the full letter at:

Race Across the World

Our PE department have organised a ‘Race Across the World’ in competition with Silverdale School to take place this Sunday, with the first leg being a race across the Netherlands. Please check Weduc for details - let’s make sure we win!

Lockdown Art Exhibition

Students, staff and parents/carers are being asked to submit their artwork for inclusion in a Chorus Trust exhibition of artwork created during the lockdown. Again, please check Weduc for details. We look forward to seeing everyone’s efforts!

Remote Learning during half-term holidays

A number of parents have again raised concerns regarding the amount of work being set for their children over half-term, and in particular that some of the work has deadlines for submission back to teachers during half-term. I absolutely agree that it is very important for all of our students to have a proper break over half-term. Please ensure your child takes a break! Our teachers are aware that not all work will be completed, and understand why. 

Skeleton School at half-term

School will remain open to a very small number of children of key workers over half term. A reminder to the parents/carers of those children attending this ‘Skeleton School’ that there will be no catering on site over half-term and therefore children will need to bring a packed lunch.

Thank you again for your continued support.

Take care,

Joe Birkbeck
Head of Westfield School


Survey Responses

We asked staff, students and parents what they thought about the government’s proposal for small groups of Year 10 students to return to school in June. There was an excellent response rate for each group that we surveyed. We are still working through the responses but wanted to share an indication of the key themes that have emerged. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond.

Should students return?

There was a clear split between those who feel very strongly that students should return and those who do not.

For those who did want to see a return it was largely out of a concern about what the students have missed in terms of their education and wanting them to experience better teaching and learning. Some highlighted students’ mental health and wellbeing as a reason for returning; some students said they found it very hard to get motivated with home learning, or just found it too challenging to do on their own. Some students explained how their home situation made it very difficult to study – due to responsibilities for younger children or a lack of private space or IT equipment.

For those who didn’t want to see a return, it was largely born out of fears about safety. The fear of infecting vulnerable members of their household was one of the top concerns given by students. Safety concerns covered everything from travel to school, to sharing equipment, and whether social distancing could be maintained.

It is clear that there are very strong, legitimate views on all sides.

How do we improve remote learning?

There was a lot of support amongst all groups for more creative ways of providing remote learning. This is something we are going to investigate further. Whatever the future holds, it is clear that remote learning will be part of it, whether alone or combined with face to face learning.

There are concerns about how accessible different tools are for everyone. Some students reported that, even though they had IT equipment, it had to be shared with others in their household.Heading 4

It is clear that everyone – staff, students and parents/carers – have learnt a great deal in a very short space of time about remote learning.

How are students finding remote learning?

Over half of students said that they coping fine with remote learning – or were even enjoying it. But a significant number said that they were struggling. A few said that they hadn’t done any at all.

Finding work confusing or in a format they couldn’t access was the main challenge for students, along with needing extra help with their work.

Maintaining motivation was also a common issue.

What next?

We are taking time to study the survey results in detail. Alongside this, we are looking at how the government’s proposal to let small groups of Year 10 students return to school in small groups in June could be implemented in our school. This involves undertaking risk assessments, drafting new procedures, working with facilities and cleaning  staff, and liaising with our governors/trustees. We are also still awaiting the secondary-specific guidance from the Department for Education (DfE). The current DfE guidance is not fit for purpose in a secondary setting.

There is a lot of work to undertake and at the centre of it all is our commitment to staff and student safety. We will endeavour to give staff, students and parents/carers a reasonable amount of notice, should we decide to reopen.

We are also looking at how we can improve our remote teaching and learning, including what we can learn from other schools and organisations. At the start of the lockdown systems were set up in a very short space of time with little preparation. If we are to move to the next level it will require more training and preparation, at a time when many of our staff face challenges similar to our students and parents: caring responsibilities, shared resources, health conditions and different levels of IT expertise. However, we are determined to find a way to address all these challenges, whilst also providing the ongoing in-school service to vulnerable students and children of key workers.

In the meantime, thank you for your continued support. We will update you with our progress in the week after half term.