Weekly Update on Guidance and Measures

UK 16-19

Dear Itchen Student and Parents / Guardians

It has been a long term but much has been achieved, not least minimal disruption to learning throughout this difficult time.

Thank-you

We took the decision over the summer to return full time and face-to-face from September based upon feedback from those of you who had experienced the first period of lockdown. In order to deliver this we have made significant changes and asked much of you, and you have responded accordingly.

Those that came to us from schools where you missed the last few months of your GCSEs, your examinations and the normal ‘rites of passage’ like Leaver’s Assembly and prom have shown your resilience, you have settled quickly and you are attending and achieving well.

Those of you that were with us last year have adapted to our new timetable, made up for lost time in the classroom and are putting yourself in the best possible position to achieve as well as you can as you approach your last 6 months with us.

You have all followed the guidelines and measures we have put in place and helped to keep yourselves, staff and your families safe. Through working with us (and reinforcement at home) we have restricted the number of cases to 22. Although 146 of you have had to self-isolate at different times across the term this action has helped us ensure we have had no identifiable transmission within college.

Our thanks to you all, and to parents and guardians at home for their support and reinforcement.

Staff have similarly responded as we have asked them to change how they work and operate. Your classroom experience will have been different to normal with longer lessons, more teaching from the front, rooms arranged in rows and less group work, and all in face-coverings for the last half term. At the virtual staff meeting I will host on Monday morning (before your on-line learning commences) I will thank them for their efforts in keeping things going and enabling College to be a constant for you at a time of such uncertainty.

Cases at Itchen

Since last Thursday we have had one further positive test, but no action was needed on our part as the student had already been self-isolating. Local infection rates have continued to decline and we are in a much better position than we were in the period around half term. Our on-line learning week which allowed us to deliver the Autumn examination series safely may have helped to restrict cases, and I hope the two days next week will assist in maintaining an uninterrupted break for you and your families. Staff will continue to monitor cases through the week commencing 14th December and will contact you should the need arise – we sincerely hope this will not be the case.

Relief Bus Service

The 198 service will continue in the new year at least until February half term, reducing student numbers on the 191 and 192. 

‘Holiday Hunger’

We have just received notification of additional funding from the government and through Southampton City Council to support those of you in receipt of free college meals over the holiday. This will take the form of a £20 voucher from Edenred which can be used at most major supermarkets. Details of the scheme are available here, with a full list of FAQs available on the webpage. Given we are approaching our last day of face-to-face teaching we will send the eCode to you/your parents through email – please look out for this if you are in receipt of free college meals.

Covid Test Pilot

A pilot scheme trialling a saliva-based test has been in operation across the city since September involving Southampton University, a secondary school and three primary schools. The scheme has been hailed as the best system in the country for result return, with 97% of results received on the same day the test is submitted. We are expecting this scheme to be extended in the new year and may need to quickly seek parental permission for you to take part. We see this as another opportunity to keep you safe and well and will appreciate your participation and swift return of any documentation needed.

End of Term Arrangements

A final reminder that the last day on site is Friday 11th December, with remote learning on Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th December. Lessons will operate according to timetables via Google Classroom, and attendance will be registered in the usual way with absence followed up. We will be open if you want to use the facilities to study remotely at College, but we must know in advance if you wish to do this – please contact Steve Perkins, Assistant Principal (sperkins@itchen.ac.uk).

Thank-you to those of you who supported Festive Friday last week. I am pleased to report that we collected £531 and will donate £400 to the Southampton Hospitals Charity and the remainder to the Southampton Food Bank. We have had a similar response to our request for donations to the Food Bank and we will be delivering a mini-bus full of supplies that will make a real difference to families over Christmas.

We are midway through the first of our Christmas Jumper Days. It is clear that staff do not need much persuading and we have good representation in the student body as well. This is in aid of Save the Children – students and staff will be coming amongst you and asking for a small donation.

Examinations and Assessment

At the beginning of next term many of you will be undertaking examinations if you are on a BTEC course, and many more of you will be taking mock examinations and trial assessments if you are on an A level course. Please ensure you use your time wisely over the next few weeks to achieve as well as you can.

Finally…

This will be the last of my weekly updates, but please expect regular updates as necessary next term. We will need to guard against complacency even though the vaccination programme will be well underway by then, and we will continue with the current measures at the start of the new term.

Thank-you once again to everybody who has offered feedback through the term, and for your support and cooperation in keeping Itchen as safe a learning environment as possible.

With very best regards and best wishes for the festive season

Alex Scott