As the first major step towards the progressive wider reopening of Queen Elizabeth’s School, boys from Year 10 have today returned to the site. Headmaster Neil Enright and all the senior staff came out to welcome them.
In line with national Government policy asking schools to prioritise on-site provision for those with public examinations next summer, QE’s Year 10 return first, to be followed by Year 12 from 29th June.
Huge efforts have gone into readying the campus to allow social distancing and to ensure a safe environment for pupils and staff to return to. And although all boys from these year groups will be coming in, they will not all be on-site at the same time, since this is not allowed by the guidance. Instead, large groups – typically half the year – will be attending at once.
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are very happy indeed to have boys back on the site in numbers. Bringing them back is a step we have taken only after conducting a substantial process for assessing and mitigating risks. My thanks go to our Head of Facilities Management, Mrs Silvia Shann, and her team for all they have done to get the site ready.”
Deputy Head (Pastoral) David Ryan said: “We will now be able to provide these boys with important in-School support, supplementing the remote learning that has been taking place through our eQE online platform. I know that Year 10’s Head of Year, Dr Tim Waite, their tutors and other staff have all been looking forward to spending time with them face-to-face again.
“We recognise the challenges that boys have faced through having to work largely in isolation over recent weeks and months, so it is tremendously satisfying to be able to offer these two year groups the opportunity to socialise safely with each other again.
“We will be able to hold some enriching, extra-curricular activities on site again and also, crucially, to provide them with face-to-face social and pastoral support: we are determined that our very developed support and guidance programme remains central to the boys’ experience of life at QE.”
The returning year groups will initially sit end-of-year assessments covering boys’ learning over the whole academic year. The results will, on the one hand, help teachers consolidate the learning boys have done during lockdown by providing useful data to inform ongoing priorities for the classroom. On the other, they will inform the boys’ own choices of A-level subjects and, for Year 12, their decisions about applying to university.
Deputy Head (Academic) Anne Macdonald said: “The Year 10 boys and their teachers have done brilliantly to adhere to the timetable and to keep up the pace as they have progressed through the GCSE curriculum during the lockdown period. The end-of-year assessments will be important in charting the course forward from this point.”
While it is not possible for other year groups to return to the site yet, the full programme of timetabled remote learning for Years 7-9 continues, together with the extensive pastoral support that is also offered through eQE. Tutors are busy with bespoke tutorials being delivered through Zoom and the latest round of senior staff pastoral checks for Years 7 and 8 starts this week, also on Zoom.
The preparations for the return of Year 10 and Year 12 have included, among many other measures, the:
- Introduction of new cleaning regimes
- Reduction of venue capacities to allow for social distancing
- Plentiful health and safety signage
- Re-allocation of outside space
- Installation of ‘mag-lock’ doors in the Main Building to reduce the need to touch doors.