23 March 2020 Update

Dear Parents, Carers and Students


Welcome to the first of what I aim to be a ‘virtual Park House’ update every Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week moving forward.


I hope that you and your families are all safe and well and that you had as good a weekend as possible.


I spent much of mine reflecting on how fortunate we are to have each other as a school community. I was proud to reflect this strength in an interview I did for BBC Radio Berks on Saturday morning. It was a great opportunity to offer general reassurances about how in schools we intend to keep learning creative, will support every one of our students and how, through working creatively together, we will come out of this even stronger over the coming weeks. As the late, great Terry Wogan put it, got a great face for radio...!


Above all, thank you for all that you did last week to support and understand what we have initially put in place to ensure continuity of learning. We are listening and learning all the time and making adjustments accordingly. Show My Homework is inevitably experiencing ‘jitters’ but it is constantly monitored and has not crashed.


So, moving forward:


  1. The Basics: A Reminder


  • The ‘virtual timetable, learning and school’ will begin on Monday 23 March


  • From Monday 23 March to Friday 3 April i.e. the remainder of this term, all Year groups should follow a daily work pattern from 9.10am-3.25pm based on what would be their ‘normal’ timetable for the day completing the work set by their teachers for their subjects for that day on Show My Homework


  • Assuming teachers are well (and not part of a rota that will need to be established for the supervision of children of key workers and vulnerable students) they will be available in ‘real time’ to respond by email to any queries about the work set for that ‘virtual’ lesson


  • Yr 12 students will additionally have the opportunity for seminar style learning through Microsoft Teams as appropriate. Details to follow


  • Any technical issues relating to this virtual learning environment should be sent by email to VLE@parkhouseschool.org


  • For clarity work will still be set for Years 11 and 13 until it is clear what the arrangements for grading will be


  1. General


Obviously, what we prioritised for this week was putting in place a basic and known to be workable system for online learning through Show My Homework.


We equally know and understand that learning in this way will, over time, inevitably become repetitious and ‘samey’ - after all, variety, creativity and personality in learning in a social context with others is why, in the digital age, we haven’t already done away with schools and need our teachers!


So, once basic and manageable routines have been established and are seen to be workable this week as a default, we will be working in subject teams to review how and what work is set going forward.


We are also acutely aware of this issue of feedback on the work that is being produced. By later this week, I aim to communicate the systems and timescales we will put in place for assessment by teachers.


  1. Key Worker Children and More Vulnerable Groups


Thank you to all our key worker parents and carers for all that you are doing to keep everyone safe, well and supplied.


In terms of provision for Key Workers’ children and vulnerable groups, this is being managed by staff in school on rota. Protocols have been established for physical distancing in classrooms and we are obviously striving to minimise presence on site in line with all national guidelines. Thank you for respecting the stay at home protocols.


Please can I emphasise that for safeguarding reasons the school will only be open from 9.00am- 3.25pm with access via the pedestrian front gate and that students will not be able to access the site before this time as they cannot be supervised safely.


  1. GCSE and A Level Grades


We of course realise this is a paramount concern to all of you in Years 11 and 13. The latest information from the Government can be accessed here:




I am genuinely and absolutely confident that given the skill, experience and professional integrity of our staff all students will be awarded the grades they deserve.


I have instructed staff not to respond to individual queries that have begun to be received from some students and parents regarding grades that will be estimated as part of this process. I respectfully request that you accept our professionalism and enable us to apply what are national procedures once these are clarified.


  1. Enrichment, Extension... and Fun!


In line with everything I have already said about what makes our community so special, we will ensure that we keep doing those things which, in ‘real time’ make Park House what it is. So:


  • We are introducing a Virtual House System with what we are calling ‘In the House’ points! These will rewarded in relation to a series of weekly challenges and competitions. Further details will follow on Wednesday. Thanks for Mr Marshall


  • There will be weekly challenges revolving around physical activity and creativity. More details of these will also follow by Wednesday


  • And photo competitions - for example, best home working with a pet as a partner or in fancy dress! We want to share them!


We will update you fully on all of this on Wednesday.


It is also our intention to produce a series of ‘virtual assemblies’ to ensure that Year Groups stay connected. I will also provide more detail on these later in the week. In addition:


  • Enrichment activities will continue to be circulated with links to relevant sites eg:


www.200millionminutes.org which encourages all students to keep reading!


Distance Learning Curriculum All Year Groups >>> which offers year group specific careers advice and guidance activities


  • We are actively investigating ongoing provision of counselling



  • All families in receipt of free school meals will be contacted individually to confirm the arrangements in place


  1. Lastly, doing your bit for the community


May I also take this opportunity to draw your attention to the work of the Greenham Trust Coronavirus Emergency Appeal to help those in greatest need in our community:




I know that any support would be greatly appreciated.


I look forward to writing again on Wednesday unless, of course, there are any major changes to arrangements announced by central Government in the interim.


In the meantime, please all keep yourselves safe and well. ‘We are Family…. More than Ever’ is the theme of my blog on the website this week.


Never has this been more the case!


With best wishes




D J Peaple