St John Plessington Catholic College

16-Jul-20 Message from Mrs Sharratt

Dear Parents/Carers

It gives me great pleasure to introduce myself as the new Headteacher of SJP. It is a privilege to have been appointed by the Multi Academy Trust and Governors and entrusted with the job of leading such a fantastic school. In the words of Pope Francis, “Teaching is a beautiful job; as it allows you to see the growth day by day of the people entrusted to your care”. We are truly blessed with such wonderful pupils. 

I could never have imagined that I would be writing my first letter to you as Headteacher in the midst of a pandemic and at a time when we are preparing steadfastly for the return of all pupils in September. Many of you will already know me; I have worked alongside Mr Rylance most recently. I thoroughly enjoy working at SJP and I have an unshakable belief in our school community. I am determined that the school builds on its legacy, continues to flourish and maintains its position at the heart of our community providing a first class educational experience. 

As you will expect, arrangements for the safe return of all pupils in September are well under way and there are a number of pertinent points that I would like to draw to your attention to:

School starts on Tuesday 1st September 2020 with a staff development day (a day on which only staff attend). Pupils will begin to return on Wednesday 2nd September. We are expecting pupils to return in full school uniform including correct footwear (please see website for specific details). In order for us to share the new routines with pupils, we will be operating a staggered start to the school year for year groups as follows:

Wednesday 2nd September – Y7, Y12 & Y13

Thursday 3rd September – Y7, Y8 & Y11

Friday 4th September – Y7, Y9 & Y10

Monday 7th September onwards – all year groups

We are doing this to ensure that all pupils are aware of the routines and expectations for a safe return to school, as well as testing the capacity of the newly designated spaces across the school.

Pupils in Y7- Y10 will be based in a specific area of the school.  Their teachers will come to this area to teach them for each specific lesson on their timetable.  This is very different to what our pupils are used to; they are accustomed to going to different classrooms for different lessons throughout the day. There will be hand washing or sanitising facilities available in and around each of these specific areas.  Pupils will be given guidance as to the expectations around hand and respiratory hygiene as part of their staggered induction.  For some lessons, pupils will leave their designated area to go to specialist teaching spaces.

Pupils in Y11, Y12 and Y13 will move around the school to their lessons.  They will follow a one-way system in order to minimise contact.

Lunch times will be staggered in order to reduce the number of pupils having lunch at any one time and to allow for the eating spaces to be cleaned between sittings. In order to reduce the number of pupils and staff in any one area, there will be three eating areas: dining room for hot dinners ordered in advance, drama studio for those pupils who are having a ‘grab bag’ lunch ordered in advance (sandwich, drink, fruit, snack etc) and the college hall for those pupils who bring a packed lunch. I would advise you to provide a packed lunch for your child, where possible. Please ensure that your son/daughter has a snack to eat at break and enough drinking water to last them throughout the day as water fountains have been disconnected due to health and safety reasons.

Please make certain that you top up your child’s account (on Parent Mail if possible) so that they always have sufficient funds to be able to purchase food and drink. Of course, we will always ensure that no child goes hungry during the day should it slip your mind to top up.

Pupils should bring a school bag containing their equipment for the day’s lessons as they will not be able to borrow or share others’ pens/pencils/PE kit. Can you please check that your son/daughter has all the necessary equipment on a daily basis to ensure that they are ready to learn and that they minimise the risk to themselves and others. It would also be good practice if your child were to bring their own paper tissues and a small hand sanitiser with them to minimise risk of spreading any bacteria.

All pupils are expected to be in school by 08:30 for academic review which for the moment will now be at the start of the school day. In order to maintain as much distancing as possible, pupils will enter the school site as follows:

Y7 pupils will enter via the main school gate and they will be directed to the quad area.

Y8 pupils will enter via the gate opposite the main school reception (pedestrian gate at front of school) and they will be directed to a designated area.

Y9 pupils will enter via the main school gate and they will be directed to the ball yard.

Y10 pupils will enter via the main school gate and be directed to their zone.

Y11 pupils will enter via the main school gate and go to their form base.

Y12 & Y13 pupils will enter via the ABB and go to their form base.

In order to maintain social distancing, there will be a staggered end to the school day as follows:

Y7 & Y8 – 14:55

Y9 – 15:00

Y10 – 15:05

Y11 Y12 & Y13 – 15:10

While school buses and public transport will continue to run, I encourage you to find alternative means of travel; walk, cycle, drive. However, I am aware that this is not always possible and I remind you that pupils using school and public transport must wear a protective face covering provided by parents/carers. Any masks worn by pupils must be plain and one colour. May I also point out that if parents wish to come onto the premises then they will have to make an appointment with the relevant member of staff, unless it is an emergency. I’m sure you’ll appreciate these protocols are all part of our risk assessment.

I am looking forward to working with the whole community as we strive for even greater success for all our young people. By working together, we can ensure that all pupils enjoy their time at school, make excellent progress and leave us with the necessary skills and attitudes to lead successful and fulfilling lives, making a positive contribution to the communities we live in.

On behalf of the whole school community, I would also like to take this opportunity to formally thank Mr Rylance who is retiring after 19 years’ service at SJP. His commitment and belief in the SJP community have been unwavering and he has been instrumental in the school’s success.  We wish him well.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter and thank you in advance for your support. I am determined to do the very best for SJP, I will always put pupils first when making decisions and I am excited and enthused to take up my new post in September. I hope you have an enjoyable and safe summer and I look forward to meeting you in the coming months. Please keep checking our website and social accounts and do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any concerns.

Yours faithfully


Maria Sharratt