September 2020: Returning

Dear All

Greetings from Bro Edern at the beginning of a new academic year. We can only live in hope that it will be less troublesome than last year! I hope you are all fine and have had some rest over the summer. Once again, thank you very much for your support over the exam results period. It was a relief that our pupils were given the grades that they deserved after the government’s U-turn, and we are very proud of them. Good luck to year 13 as they start their university studies, and we look forward to welcoming a fantastic group of year 11 pupils back to the Sixth Form.

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the return to school this year. However, in Bro Edern, we have done everything possible to try to protect the whole Bro Edern Family. Although we may seem to be over the worst of the COVID-19 virus, there is a lot of talk in the press and media about a second wave, about various local lockdowns, and naturally, a lot of talk about reopening schools. The purpose of this blog is to provide Bro Edern families with clarity about what lies ahead, so that you understand our decisions, our arrangements and the reasons for them. Guidelines have been published by the government and the county, but the final decision on the interpretation of those guidelines rests with the headteacher, in order to make the best decisions possible for the school. 

Returning, day by day

As I explained in the blog at the end of the summer term, these are our daily arrangements for returning. Our priority, as you see, is to settle year 7 in first, because they missed out on the transition days before the summer holidays. Also, we are keen to see our new sixth formers as soon as possible in order to settle them into their choice of new A Level courses. We are obviously looking forward to seeing everyone, but it is only practical for us to welcome and settle one new year group on the school site each day. Apologies to years 8 and 9 for the long wait. Please remind yourselves that we keep the best until last!

  • Tuesday 1st September – Preparation Day – no school for the pupils
  • Wednesday 2 September – Preparation Day – no school for the pupils
  • Thursday 3 September – Year 7 and 12 Transition Day
  • Friday 4 September – Year 7, 11 and 12 Transition Day
  • Monday 7 September – Years 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13 only
  • Tuesday 8th September – Years 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 only
  • Wednesday 9th September –  Everyone
  • Thursday 10 September –  Everyone
  • Friday 11 September – Everyone

Language Immersion Unit

The year 7 Immersion Unit pupils will start at the school on September 7 and the year 8 pupils will start on September 9. They will be welcomed to our new-look library!

Daily Arrangements

Pupils need to arrive no later than 8:35am and the school day ends, as usual, at 3:25pm. Buses will travel at the same times as normal. In the morning pupils can continue to arrive any time after 7am and go and sit in Caffi Ikea. The small number of pupils who arrive at the crack of dawn will need to sit separately from pupils in other year groups. We cannot have different start and finish times for different years because of the buses, and this would also make things more complicated for parents. Pupils may sit in Caffi Ikea until 8am. After 8am, they need to go and congregate in the designated area for their year group.

Designated Areas – Before School, Break, Lunch

  • Bl 7 – yard between block 2 a 4 – outside Humanities and Maths
    (on the first morning they will congregate on the block 1 yard, right at the front of the school)
  • Bl 11 – block 1 yard – side nearest the road
  • Bl 8 – block 1 yard – inside
  • Bl 9 – under the canopy
  • Bl 10 – behind the Technology block

School Uniform

Currently, Welsh Government guidelines state that pupils need to attend school in clean clothes every day. This would mean having to buy 5 sets of clothes, or parents having to wash clothes every night. I do not intend to ask our parents to do this. We decided before the summer holidays that the first day that pupils MUST wear school uniform is Monday 5 October 2020. This is also true of the PE uniform, coats and school shoes. We didn’t want parents to be unsure about whether or not to buy a uniform by the beginning of term, so this should have taken the pressure off you over the summer. We understand that YC Sports queues have been huge over the summer, and are glad that Bro Edern’s parents have been able to avoid these! However, if your child would like to attend school in their uniform and can do so daily in a clean set of clothes, they are welcome to do so.

If there is any change to the date for wearing school uniform for the first time, we will let you know immediately, but there won’t be any need for uniform before 5 October. Once we are back to school uniform guidelines, please continue to follow our footwear guidelines carefully. Trainers and anything with a logo are not allowed, and shoes need to be leather, or look like leather. The transition website has full guidelines and pictures to help you choose shoes:

https://sites.google.com/hwbcymru.net/pontio/gwybodaeth-bwysigimportant-information/gwisg-ysgolschool-uniform

Remember: for pupils receiving free school meals a school uniform grant is available if your child is starting in year 7 or year 10.

Stationery

Strict government guidelines state that pupils are not allowed to share any equipment which has not been disinfected. This means that it is essential that your child brings a fully-stocked pencil case to school every day. With the current restrictions, it would also be useful if they had a PrittStick or similar. The list of necessary stationery is here:

https://sites.google.com/hwbcymru.net/pontio/gwybodaeth-bwysigimportant-information/offer-angenreidiolschool-equipment

Timetable

Pupils will be able to follow a normal timetable on their return, with the full range of subjects taught by specialist subject teachers, in order to experience the full curriculum after such a gap in learning. With our school population over 900 this year, and no spare rooms, the timetable can only function if pupils change rooms between lessons, going to their teachers.

Masks

We have decided to introduce a routine of everyone wearing masks as pupils walk down the corridors to move between lessons. This time between lessons, when walking from one room to another only lasts approximately 5 minutes, and then once settled in their seats, pupils can remove their mask. However, pupils are welcome to wear their mask throughout their lessons, if they so wish.
We understand clearly that masks have become a hot topic in the press recently. In Wales, Kirsty Williams has given each headteacher the responsibility of deciding on the use of a mask within their school, and I would like to explain why I have made this decision for Bro Edern. I’ve had the occasional experience of wearing a mask this summer, and I must admit that it’s not necessarily a pleasant experience. However, I think we need to put aside personal preferences for a moment while considering the bigger picture for the whole school.

In the absence of a clear consensus and evidence on the effectiveness of masks, some facts remain. I believe it is our duty to ensure that all members of the Bro Edern Family are as safe as possible from the dangers of the virus. We know that children and young people are not necessarily affected by the virus, or may not spread the virus as much as adults, but that is only half the story.

In Bro Edern we have pupils:

  • who have been shielding until 16 August due to health conditions
  • who suffer from underlying health conditions
  • who have siblings who have been shielding
  • who have parents who have been shielding
  • who live with an elderly grandmother or grandfather

At Bro Edern we have staff:

  • who have been shielding until 16 August due to health conditions
  • who suffer from underlying health conditions
  • who have children who have been shielding
  • who have parents and grandparents who have been shielding
  • who live with their elderly parents
  • who look after their elderly parents on a daily basis

According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, “settings where physical distancing cannot be achieved” are an example of a place where there is a benefit to wearing a mask. The Bro Edern corridors between lessons definitely fall into that category. We know that social distancing and hand washing are two of the main things that keep the virus at bay. In our corridors between lessons, it is impossible for pupils and staff to keep the distance of 2m that is still necessary in Wales, which is why masks need to be worn. Once pupils have reached their classroom seat, they will sanitise their hands to safely remove their mask, by which time the teachers will be 2m away at the front of the classroom. With their hands sanitised, pupils can safely remove their mask and put it away. We ask parents to ensure that all pupils have a plastic bag to keep their mask safe when it is not being worn, and if they are wearing a single use mask then one bag will be needed for old masks and another bag for clean masks. Pupils will need to dispose of their masks at home (single use) or take them home to be washed for further use.

School buses and any public transport require a mask – these are the rules stated by Cardiff Council.
The county has already supplied us with 2 masks each for every pupil at Bro Edern. We will distribute these immediately to pupils on the first day they return to us. Pupils travelling by bus will also receive a mask from NAT.

Pupils are welcome to bring their own mask, if they wish. Clearly, it is necessary to ensure that any image or wording that appears on a mask is suitable for a school setting. We will not accept indecent images or language on any mask worn.

Visors for Staff

At the times when pupils wear a mask, staff will wear a visor. Socially distancing at least 2m at the classroom door and in the corridor as pupils arrive would be impossible for staff. We have chosen a visor so that pupils can understand staff more clearly. A lack of lip reading means that it is often difficult to understand someone talking under a mask.

One Way System

As you saw in the video before the summer holidays, our one way system continues to be enforced, and it is essential that it is followed by everyone at all times. On rare occasions, staff may need to ignore the one-way system in the event of a medical emergency.

Welcoming Year 7

We are really looking forward to welcoming our new year 7 pupils to Bro Edern and are confident that they will settle in quickly with us. On their first day, they will congregate on the yard of block 1, which is right at the front of the school. They will then be taken to their welcome meeting with Mr Ellis in the sports’ hall, which is the largest space in the school.

Year 7 Photos

On Monday 14 September, year 7 will have their individual school photos taken by Colorfoto. Year 7 will be the only pupils in school to have a photo taken at this time, apart from any new pupils in other years. Year 7 parents will be welcome to purchase the photos in due course and these will be ideal Christmas presents. If you would like your child to have their photo taken in their school uniform, then please send them with their green polo shirt on the day so that they can change their top in the toilet before having their photo taken. Clearly, this year they are more than welcome to have their photograph taken in their own clothes. It doesn’t matter to us, but if you would like a traditional “school photo”, then your child will need a uniform, or at least the top part of the uniform, on the day!

Bubble = Year group

A school is now allowed to define a bubble as a year group of pupils. This is our plan. This means that pupils can have lessons in their correct sets, and follow all their option columns for their GCSE and A Level choices. However, be assured that we are taking all possible steps to keep the years = bubbles apart.

Lessons

In lessons, all classes will have a seating plan, as we do every year. In line with government guidelines, the chairs will be in rows. There will be at least 2m between the teacher’s desk and the pupils. When arriving at a lesson, pupils will sanitise their hands. Pupils are welcome to bring their own sanitiser if they wish.

At the end of lessons, pupils need to help their teachers by being involved in the process of disinfecting the chair and table where they have been sitting during the lesson. These are the official guidelines for pupils who move classes.

We will be arranging digital devices for years 7 and 8 as soon as possible. We are aware that there is a worldwide shortage of devices at the moment due to the high demand for technology in recent times, and the fact that the factories producing digital technology around the world have had to close during lockdown in the respective countries.

In terms of practical lessons, the guidelines are evolving, but for now we can confirm that the content of the practical lessons will be different. Lessons will have fewer practical elements, and we will need to evaluate all practical activities to assess the health and safety risk. However, we are very aware of the importance of practical lessons in the pupils’ timetable and I can assure you that we will do all we can to ensure that the practical elements continue in some form. Inevitably, we will prioritise exam pupils in years 10 – 13 in the first instance.

Pupils will be able to take their own writing books home with them and any handouts, photocopies or booklets will not have been touched by anyone else for 72 hours, or distributed with gloves to pupils.

PE Lessons

At present, it will not be possible for pupils to change for their PE lessons, but it is important that our pupils have the opportunity to keep fit and get plenty of fresh air after the lockdown. The health and wellbeing of our pupils is important to us, and keeping them fit is a key priority for the PE Department. Lessons will continue, so on the days when your child has PE, could you please send them to school wearing sports’ kit and trainers, with a bottle of deodorant in their bag? They may wear the school’s PE kit or any other suitable sport clothing. Most lessons will be outdoors, so a hoodie or a fleece would be a good idea. It would be a good idea for them to bring spare clothes, if they happen to get wet or very sweaty. Everyone will receive a full explanation of the term’s sporting activities in their first PE lesson. Everyone will return to wearing the school’s official PE kit after 5 October.

Sixth Form CACHE Course

The year 12 immersion day for CACHE will be on Thursday 3 September, with year 13’s day on Monday 7 September. Full details about locations to follow. Pupils will have the opportunity to order the polo shirts and hoodie during their immersion days.

Break time

At the end of lesson 2 – pupils will leave their bags in the classroom and go out for a break. 5 minutes before the end of break there will be a bell to start pupils on their journey to collect bags from lesson 2 and go to lesson 3. Pupils from different year groups are not allowed to gather in the same place. The designated areas for different year groups can be found above.

Lunch

As explained before the summer, Cardiff Council will not open any canteens until at least 14 September. This means that your child will need a packed lunch and make sure that they have enough water for the whole day. There is no food nor drink available at school.

The arrangements for pupils receiving free school meals continue as before. You will receive money via ParentPay, so you will also need to provide a packed lunch for your child.

The guidelines currently state that different lunchtimes are required for pupils, in order to reduce the number of people wandering around the school site. The intention, therefore, is to divide lesson 4 into two, with year 7,8,9 pupils following the pattern lesson 1, 2, 3, lunch, 4, 5, 6, and older pupils following 1, 2, 3, 4, lunch, 5, 6

Lunch for years 7,8,9

Years 7,8,9 will go to lesson 4 at the end of lesson 3 and eat lunch there at the start of lesson 4, in their lesson 4 room with their lesson 4 teacher. They will be allowed out to their designated area, after they have finished eating.

Years 7,8,9 will leave their bags where they have eaten, so the bag will be ready for them after lunch in the lesson 4 room. Their lesson 4 will then take place during “lunch time”.

If the eating location for 7,8,9 pupils is their PE lesson, then they will eat in the hall. Tables will be placed there.

Lunch for years 10,11,12,13

Years 10,11,12,13 will stay in lesson 4 at the start of lunchtime and eat there with their lesson 4 teacher. Years 10,11,12,13 will leave their bag in lesson 4, where they have eaten, then there will be a bell before the end of lunch to start pupils on their way to collect bags from lesson 4, before heading straight to lesson 5.

If the eating location for year 10 and 11 pupils is their PE lesson, then they will eat in the hall. Tables will be placed there.

Lunch for the Sixth Form

Sixth Form pupils are allowed, as always, to leave the premises at lunchtime. The café in the Sixth Form Lounge is currently not open. If pupils have a lesson during lesson 4, please see above. If they are free during lesson 4, then they will eat their packed lunch in the Lounge.

The Sixth Form Lounge is available during free lessons, but the number of pupils will need to be checked regularly. High numbers may well lead to the need for pupils to be distributed between the Lounge and Caffi Ikea. Miss Land’s decision on this will be final.

COVID-19 Symptoms

If your child is showing any COVID-19 symptoms, then they should not come to school at all. We know it may be tempting to give your child some Calpol or Paracetamol and hope for the best, but we would like to remind you of the seriousness of the situation if your child then infected numerous classmates and staff. The wording on the Cardiff Council website is clear:

Families are reminded that under no circumstances should learners attend school if they: 

  • ​feel unwell, have any of the three identified COVID-19 symptoms (a new continuous cough, a high temperature or loss of taste or smell) or they have tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • live in a household with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

If your child develops COVID-19 symptoms during the school day, they will be escorted to a safe isolation room, where they will be looked after by a member of staff and we will contact parents immediately. We will ask you to collect your child as soon as possible. They will then need to self-isolate with you for 14 days, or until they have a conclusive negative test. If a child shows symptoms in school, any siblings living in the same house will need to leave the school site at the same time.

ClassCharts / Replacing Handbooks

Many of you have had your first experience of using the ClassCharts app over the lockdown period. We plan to use even more of it this year, as the pupils will not have handbooks, as explained to you before the summer. In order for the system to work to its full potential, and in order to support all pupils in the school, we encourage all parents to download the app on their phone, and check it daily.

If a lack of work or effort occurs, for now teachers will not be able to keep any pupils in at lunchtime, because current circumstances and eating arrangements make this impossible. If there is a situation where a pupil would have been kept in, then the details will now appear on ClassCharts, with an explanation for parents.

ClassCharts codes will be redistributed to parents at the beginning of term. The ClassCharts app will only carry the title and deadline for any homework, so that parents can see that work is due. Full details for your child to follow will appear in Google Classroom. For any queries about the ClassCharts app, please contact Mr Gary Ellis.

The agreements you normally sign in the handbook appear in your ParentPay account this year. The letters that accompany the agreements are in our new letter folder: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1evCYDouXs3MXXPvy3THDBBrW0wf_OKVU
For those of you who continued to use the green absence slips in the handbook, your child’s absence will now have to be registered, as most do, by calling on the first day of your child’s illness.

The useful information at the back of the handbook will now appear on our new website under the Cymorth button. Everything that used to be in the handbook has a new digital location, ready for this new academic year. If you think your child would still benefit from having a book or diary to note homework tasks, then please feel free to send a notebook to school with your child.

Homework Club

The Homework Club is usually open to everyone, every night until 5pm, but until 4:30pm on a Friday night. However, this is not possible at the moment because we cannot mix bubbles = years. Therefore, for the time being, it can only be one night a week per year group:

  • Monday evening year 7 – starting 7th
  • Tuesday evening year 8 – starting 15th
  • Wednesday year 9 – starting 9th
  • Thursday evenings 10 – starting 10th
  • Friday evening year 11 until 4:30 – starting 11th

After seeing how many children come in the first few weeks, we can assess how to vary the evenings and review our plan. Going forward, there is the possibility of a booking system. The Sixth Form may work quietly in the Sixth Form workroom after school, if they wish.

Buses

School buses are going to be running normally. You should have heard from NAT by now, if your child is eligible to travel by bus. There are 4 buses this year, 810, 811, 812 and 815. Maps of each bus’s route are right at the bottom of the page on our website: https://www.broedern.cymru
If you have any problems, please contact NAT: feedback@natgroup.co.uk
Their website is http://www.natgroup.co.uk
In accordance with the rules for using public transport, everyone on the bus will need a mask.

Website

https://www.broedern.cymru

We are delighted to launch our new website and thank Mr Osian George for all his work over the summer. All school information is now in one place, for the convenience of pupils, parents and staff alike. Please take time to explore the website – the answers to many of our parents’ most frequently asked questions are now on the website!

#HerYrHafBE Reading Challenge

Thanks to the pupils who have been reading enthusiastically all summer. I’ve enjoyed seeing the tweets with the pictures of the different books. Reading for pleasure can bring great joy to individuals, and the pupils who have read regularly throughout the summer will have benefited greatly. Reading is going to be a whole-school focus for the coming year, so please continue to encourage your child to read as much as possible. Please remember to record any #HerYrHafBE books by 8pm on the night before your child returns to school. The Joe’s ice cream vouchers are ready for the most avid readers!

Link for registering all books read: https://forms.gle/yipz883WGtMzshCK8

Contacting us

With everyone moving up a year, here’s an opportunity to remind you of how to contact your child’s new head of year. Please note that all addresses in Bro Edern end with @ysgolbroedern.cardiff.sch.uk

  • Blwyddyn 7 – Mr Gary Ellis – GEllis@
  • Blwyddyn 8 – Mr Kerry Lerwill – KLerwill@
  • Blwyddyn 9 – Miss Rita Bevan – RBevan@
  • Blwyddyn 10 – Miss Bethan Yapp – BYapp@
  • Blwyddyn 11 – Mr Huw Voyle – HVoyle@
  • Blwyddyn 12 a 13 – Miss Nia Land – NLand@
  • General enquiries – post@

Thank you for all your time and patience in reading all the above details, but you are bound to agree that the health, safety and wellbeing of our pupils, and the wider Bro Edern Family, is of the utmost importance in arranging the return to school for all our pupils and staff.

I would also like to thank you as parents in advance for your support of all the procedures in our carefully planned return. It has been a difficult time for some pupils and their families, and together, we can make sure that everyone benefits fully from the return to school.

Over recent months, we have heard many times of how important schools are to pupils and their families, to society in general and to the economy, and we look forward to welcoming Bro Edern pupils back to school and see them take advantage of every opportunity that comes with the great education that we as a school have to offer them.

Best wishes

Iwan Pritchard
Headteacher

Gadael Ymateb

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