St John Plessington Catholic College

3-Dec-20 - SJP - Important Letter from the Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers

As we are mid-way through this half term, I would like to update you on a number of important items.


Sunday 29 November 2020 marked the commencement of the Liturgical Year and the first Sunday of Advent.  Pope Francis tells us that this season is one of expectation and hope.  This is particularly important when we are worried about the COVID 19 pandemic.  We will be marking this season of Advent in our College community through assemblies, services and a joint collaboration with our family of schools in the Holy Family Catholic MAT which we look forward to sharing with you.

COVID 19 Health and Safety measures

We have undertaken a review of the measures we have put in place to ensure that our College can be as safe as possible in the current circumstances.

We are conscious that the fundamental key measures captured by the Hands Face Space message remain crucial i.e.

  • to ensure a minimum of 2m distance between us wherever possible 
  • to wash our hands regularly throughout the day for a minimum of 20 seconds or, if this is not possible, to sanitise using an appropriate hand gel.
  • to cover our face within communal areas, where it will not be possible to be more than 2m apart from other people, as we move around

In the light of this, we have reviewed whether we can support the implementation of these continuing key safety measures more effectively by reviewing some of our current practices.

Wearing our face masks

Wearing face masks in communal areas in schools is now compulsory in every school. Increasing the places and time in school where we wear them is part of our revised health and safety measures. It applies to pupils and staff alike.

Likewise, face masks must be worn at all times on school and public transport, both at the bus stops when waiting for the bus and also when waiting on the train platforms.  Whilst travelling to and from school, pupils are ambassadors for SJP and should behave in a respectful way at all times.  Any unacceptable, anti-social behaviour when travelling to and from school will be followed up stringently by school staff.

Can I thank you for your support with this and in ensuring that your child has an adequate supply.  We will be contacting you on a daily basis to ask for your support if we find that your child has lost or forgotten theirs. Please ensure that your son/daughter has two masks so that they have a replacement in case of loss/damage.

Revising the Bubble Model

The principle of the Bubble Model is to establish a coherent and consistent group of pupils who will spend time together so that contact with other pupils is finite. This concept was drawn from the model in primary schools where a class typically spends all the day in the same classroom with the same group of pupils and also with a limited number of school staff.  There is not the same need to access specialist areas in a primary school as is the case in a secondary school.

The rationale was that if a positive COVID case is confirmed then it was only the children in that class who would need to self-isolate. The implication being that the whole class would be sent home as pupils commonly move around the primary classroom during the school day. 

The current guidance, which we have from Public Health Wirral, is that in secondary schools we should not usually be sending whole classes or bubbles home. We are advised to trace back through the previous 48 hours, and to look at who would have spent 15 minutes or more within 2m of the positive case either in lessons, form time, break and lunchtime and it is only those individuals who need to be sent home to self-isolate.  Where necessary, we have been doing that since September.

Having explored this fully and checked this with our Health and Safety consultants, our revised bubble model, with some other significant adjustments detailed below, will support Hands Face Space even better. 

With the current bubble model it is the teachers rather than the pupils that move.  We think that allowing the pupils to move and rigorously reinstating our one-way system in College will enable us to enhance our current safety measures.

Maintaining distance wherever possible 

We cannot increase the size of teaching spaces so we will continue to ensure that teachers maximise the use of the teaching areas to space pupils as far apart as is practical and also that all the pupils are forward facing, as face to face close contact needs to be avoided. The teacher, who will now remain in that classroom, will retain the layout that ensures this is maximised in their room.

Currently in the bubble model, in which pupils remain for a number of their lessons, pupils leave the classroom between lessons as they regroup before the next lesson. This can involve pupils moving both ways along a corridor meaning they are face to face, albeit briefly, and reinforcing why it is so essential that pupils are wearing facemasks. 

They may then enter a different classroom and sit at a desk where another pupil in their bubble sat in the previous lesson.  These desks are currently cleaned at the end of the day. Sanitiser is available on the corridors for pupils to use between lessons but the volumes of pupils make this more difficult.  We have thought how we might overcome some of these challenges.

Our revised model will allow desks to be cleaned between each lesson.

The teacher will be ready at the classroom door to greet the class and dispense sanitiser on entry.  This will ensure that no child has missed out on this before sitting down. 

How will the one-way system help?

If pupils are moving in the one-way system from one lesson to the next wearing their face coverings then this will mean that, as is the case within a classroom, pupils are not facing each other.  Currently they may move up and down the corridors both ways within their bubble.

Will break and lunchtime arrangements change?

As you will be aware, pupils from different year groups are kept separate at break and lunchtime.  This will continue as it will support the staggering of pupils on the corridors following the one-way system and ensure that the risk of year groups mixing at break and lunchtime is reduced.

In line with our introducing sanitising on entry to classrooms, a member of staff will dispense hand sanitiser to pupils as they enter the canteen and insist that they wear their facemasks until they are sitting down at their table with their food. They will then need to put their face coverings back on as soon as they leave their place in the canteen.

Is there any change to the start and end of day arrangements?

No.  Pupils will continue to enter the building through their current entrances and we will continue to stagger the departure of pupils at the end of the day through their respective exits.

How will my child find out about the revised bubble model?

We will spend time on Monday 7 December going through the changes with pupils so they understand what it means for them and we will be reissuing their timetables to show the rooms that they will have their lessons in, starting on Monday.  To ensure that all pupils have a thorough understanding of the new arrangements we will be operating, there will be staggered start to the school day for year groups on Monday 7 December ONLY as follows:

Year 7 – pupils should arrive at school at 10:00

Year 8 – pupils should arrive at school at 10:30

Year 9 – pupils should arrive at school at 10:30

Year 10 – pupils should arrive at school at 11:00

Year 11 beta – pupils should arrive at school at 08:30 for their English trial examination

Year 11 alpha – pupils should arrive at school at 11:00

Year 12 & Year 13 – blended learning from home


Year 11 and Y13 Trial Exams

Over the past weeks, our Year 11 and Year 13 pupils have been taking trial examinations.  For Year 11, this will be the first time that they have sat examinations in formal exam conditions.  As well as using these assessments to provide routine practice, we will also be using them to further diagnose any gaps in learning in order to provide support and intervention.  We wish Y11 and Y13 the best of luck.  

Traffic, travel and parking

We are currently faced with a number of challenges with regards to travel arrangements; due to COVID restrictions we have staggered finish times and there is limited staff availability at the end of the day due to them teaching; the car park at The Oval is currently unavailable; public buses currently allow reduced numbers of passengers.  With all of this in mind, can I ask you to park and drive with the utmost care for the safety of our pupils. 

Again, can I thank you for your ongoing support and understanding at this challenging time for us all.

Yours faithfully


Ms M Sharratt