COVID-19 ANNOUNCEMENTS

✉️COMMUNICATION FROM HEADMASTER✉️

I hope you are all well and managing to enjoy some rest over this Easter period.
The NI Assembly has just announced a continuation of lockdown restrictions for another three weeks. Although it is difficult to remain at home and we are all undoubtedly missing our extended families and friends, it is imperative we observe these regulations and stay at home. A return to some normality may be hastened if we stick to the governments regulations. I am particularly mindful of those who have family members ill at this time and those in the Dromore High community who have lost dearly loved family members to covid-19. As someone who has very recently lost a relative to this virus I understand how the complications around hospital visitations and funerals bring added stress to families at an already difficult time. Rest assured that those of you who are suffering are in our prayers at this time.
Yesterday the Minister of Education made an announcement outlining how exam grades would be awarded to pupils in years 12 and 14. There was also a reference to pupils in years 11 and 13. This provides some clarity on how the grades will be awarded. I recommend you read this information for yourselves carefully. You can access it by clicking on the links below which takes you to the CCEA website and to the relevant documents which were published yesterday.
As a staff we will shortly begin the process outlined by the Minister. All our efforts will be directed to ensuring that the grades pupils receive are as close to the grades they would in all likelihood have achieved if they had taken their exams in normal circumstances. In doing so our prime consideration will be that the final grades are as fair as possible to all pupils, accurate and take account of all available evidence at our disposal.
Please note that at the instruction of the Minister, the grades awarded by staff and the rank order placings must remain confidential and cannot be shared with pupils or parents. At this time the Minister’s plans are that results will be issued on the already agreed dates in August i.e. A level results will be issued to pupils on 13th August and GCSE results will be issued to pupils on 20th August. At this time we are planning to run with normal careers appointments and interviews for VI form but this will be subject to any restrictions in place at the time. We await final confirmation from the Department of Economy on the process re the awarding of grades for BTEC and other Vocational courses.
As a consequence of the Minister’s announcement there will be no further online teaching for pupils in years 12 or 14, however our online learning programme begins again on Monday 20th April for all other pupils and I stress the importance of these pupils engaging with their subject teachers. It is critically important that pupils are involved in their learning programmes as much of it will contribute to next year. In particular I would draw to the attention of pupils in year 11 and 13 that teaching continues in their GCSE and A level subjects. In some subjects teachers will be starting next years work now and it will not be possible to repeat it again in September therefore pupils must engage. Check in with all your teachers on Monday to find out what the situation is for you in each subject.
We may issue further guidance for senior pupils and parents if the necessity arises or if additional instructions are forthcoming from the Minister so please revisit our app and social media outlets frequently. I hope that the Minister’s  guidance clarifies the situation somewhat for pupils and parents and relieves some of the anxiety that has been understandably prevalent in your minds.
I hope you are aware of the joint initiative of the four Dromore schools to provide some support for our frontline workers. We set up a Just Giving page and already have raised over £2800. The money will be used to provide convenience packs (toiletries)  and comfort packs (snacks and drinks) for our frontline workers. We hope to begin delivery of these packs to workers early next week to show our appreciation for the amazing work they are currently doing, not least putting themselves in harms way to look after the sick and the dying with such compassion. If you would like to be part of this then you can simply make a donation (of any amount, large or small) on the just giving page and it will be put to good use.
I remind all pupils and parents of our joint school newsletter published once per week with interesting reading about what is going on with schools, some quizzes and (this week) some tributes to frontline workers connected with all our schools. I am indebted to Mrs Ravey for editing the newsletter and to my fellow Principals Mrs Beattie (Dromore Nursery), Miss Savage (St Colman’s Primary School) and Mrs Allen (Dromore Central Primary School) for their willingness to get involved and support this initiative. All the schools together make a great team (TEAM, Together Everyone Achieves More)!! We would love pupils from all the schools to send us their stories and photos of life in lockdown and we could publish some of them in the next edition.
If you wish to speak to someone about any issues (including if you are a key worker and require supervision for your child) please email info@dromorehigh.down.ni.sch.uk and we will contact you.
Best wishes at this time, remember to keep safe and remember your neighbours in need.
Mr I McConaghy
Headmaster

(CCEA document containing parents and pupil information)

IMG_4685

 

IMG_4037

 

The Dromore community would like to help the frontline workers.  If you are interested please open the link below and donate a small amount of money.  We will put together ‘Comfort Packs’ for our NHS workers.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/dromoretogether

 

 

COMMUNICATION FROM HEADMASTER

To all pupils and parents – Wednesday 1st April

First of all I hope everyone is sticking to the government’s instructions and also keeping well. Recent reports in the media suggest the policy of staying at home and social distancing is beginning to work and the rise in the number of new cases is slowing down. If this is the case it is very welcome news.

Unfortunately it is likely some of us already know someone who is suffering from covid-19 and may indeed be in hospital. Sadly, some members of our school family have already lost loved ones to this virus. I assure them that they will be in our prayers over the coming days.

Whilst we continue to educate our pupils as best we can via the internet, we of course acknowledge that these are not normal times, indeed very little of the way we are currently living our lives is normal. This new way of living is undoubtedly unsettling for many of us as we try to adapt. I want to reassure pupils and parents that we have been and will continue to be understanding if pupils are experiencing difficulties with distance learning. Some may be finding it difficult to grasp new topics n the absence of face to face lessons, some may be having difficulties getting used to the various online platforms we are using and some are experiencing difficulties with internet connectivity. We will take this into account in our day to day work.

With regard to internet connectivity issues, our IT Technician, Mr Harrison has been doing a sterling job endeavouring to sort problems for pupils and parents. Our new technical helpline number has been extremely busy. You can contact Mr Harrison on the helpline number, 07907 017681. Please exercise patience if the line is busy.

It may well be that you are experiencing difficulties accessing our online platforms because your internet connection is poor, or because at certain times of the day everybody’s connection is poor due to the heavy traffic using it. It would be helpful if you would try a test before calling the helpline; Mr Harrison requests you simply try to stream any video from Youtube. If it is buffering and will not stream that indicates a poor or slow internet connection and is most likely the reason you cannot access and use some of our online platforms. Regrettably there is nothing Mr Harrison or any of us can do about this. If your internet connection is regularly slow like this, your best option is to engage with your teachers via email and avoid attaching large files to the emails. Mr Harrison is of course available to answer other queries.

Of more concern to us is that some pupils are not engaging at all, or very little online with their teachers, perhaps choosing only a few subjects to engage with. I would remind everyone that whilst technical issues can be a reason for less participation in lessons, a refusal to engage is unacceptable. There are many decisions that will have to be made by staff before school returns to normal, hopefully in September, such as class placings including in English and Maths, and the effort made over the next few months will have to be taken into account. This applies as much to pupils moving from year 10 to year 11. Decisions about who is admitted to certain GCSE classes will also be made before the summer holidays and once again it may be necessary to consider the effort made by pupils to engage with staff in deciding on the allocation of pupils to classes.

Year 11 and year 13 must continue to engage with their teachers. Their courses continue for the remainder of the year. Furthermore, if the next academic year runs as normal from September there will not be time to finish year 11 or 13 and complete the work for year 12 or 14 in the one year. Therefore I urge all parents to ensure your children are at least making an effort to learn online including returning completed work to teachers as requested. Parents, you have more responsibility than usual in these times as we do our best to continue to educate your children.

On the positive side, there has been a lot of work going on in many subjects and some parents are providing feedback that their children are struggling to cope with the demands of working online. I stress the importance of keeping in touch with your teachers to let them know this is the case and I assure you they will be understanding. No teacher will be disappointed where pupils are doing their best. Remember it is the effort made by pupils to engage that is important.

I would remind all of us that we must take steps to look after ourselves during these uncertain times. I would emphasise three things:
Get sleep. We all need a good night’s sleep so we can engage again with each other day after day. Online learning can be just as tiring as coming to school. Parents do your best to ensure the technology is switched off in good time to allow your childrens’ minds to settle. Research suggests that young people should not be engaging in online activity one hour before they go to bed and it goes without saying that phones should not be in bedrooms with them, the temptation to keep communicating late into the night is too great.
Take breaks. Pupils are not expected to be online constantly between 9:00am and 3:20pm. They should work in chunks of time and take breaks in between. We all need to get away from the screen from time to time. It helps us function better when we are online. Staff likewise will not be online constantly and in most circumstances will not be operating beyond 3:20pm.
Remember that in time all of this will pass and school will return to something like it was before. This is most important. Some other countries are already emerging from this pandemic and we will also. Whilst we all adapt to online learning at the minute your teachers are there to support you through it and will be back in school when the time is right. We will support you through these next months.
Finally, the arrangements for the next weeks are as follows:
Online learning will finish for the Easter holidays this Friday 3rd April, and will recommence on Monday 20th April. If any staff wish to engage with classes over the Easter break they will be in touch with their pupils separately.
I would stress that pupils who would have been sitting external exams need to regularly check our online messages in case there are decisions made by the awarding bodies. There hasn’t yet been an official outcome from the deliberations about how grades will be awarded to year 12 and year 14 pupils. There has been a suggestion that pupils who disagree with the grade they will eventually be awarded, can take exams early in the new school year to try to get a higher grade. We await official confirmation of this and will not be taking any action until it is forthcoming. Year 12 and year 14 pupils should note however that if this were to be the case it may be necessary to fully re-engage after Easter to ensure that they have completely finished courses and have a good grasp of their subjects.
We have been heartened from hearing how some of our pupils have been engaged in helping those in need at these times. We would expect this to be the case and encourage more pupils to be considerate of others at these difficult times. A simple act like asking an elderly neighbour if they need anything can mean so much.

The next version of our newsletter will be published this weekend. Look out for it and please send in any contributions for the post-Easter edition as soon as you can, including more of those good news stories I referred to above.

My sincerest best wishes to you all.

 


 

Update your app helpsheet

 

 

PE kit available to purchase every Monday and Wednesday break times at the PE office

 

A4 -PE kit pictures and prices