UK Government Quarantine Measures

Last Friday, the UK government announced that those arriving in the UK will have to self-isolate for a period of fourteen days. This measure has been put in place because transmission rates in the UK have fallen dramatically and airlines are beginning to increase the number of inbound flights arriving from Asia and Europe. We welcome this move but would have preferred that it had been put in place in early March.

In practical terms, the announcement of this measure will have little impact for our boarding students because, whilst students do not constitute a category which carries an exemption from these protocols, we are led to understand that it is entirely permissible for students to isolate within individual boarding households or with guardians living off-site should they so choose. All those arriving at British airports and ports will have to provide border authorities with confirmation of their address whilst resident in the UK. They will then need to remain at that address until a period of fourteen days has elapsed. At Rossall, we intend for all returning boarders to be tested on Day 1 and Day 14 so that we can be absolutely confident that our community is virus free before full term commences. Our testing regime will be operated by Oncologica Laboratories in Cambridge and they are currently responsible for the testing of many health workers within the UK.

At the moment it is unclear whether or not these restrictions will apply to all travellers arriving in the UK or just those arriving from countries with a relatively high rate of active transmission. This measure will be reviewed every three weeks and it seems highly likely that it will not be in place for more than a couple of months. Still, parents of international boarders should prepare for the prospect that we will ask students to return to School by no later than the evening of Sunday 23rd August – unless they are able to self-isolate with UK based guardians.

Rossall Prize Day and Leavers’ Ball

It is a source of real sadness that we were unable to hold our annual Prize Day this Saturday, but Chris Holt, our Chairman of Governors, has written to all members of our community to share his thoughts at this time. It is our intention to provide some sort of valedictory celebration for our fabulous Upper Sixth students when it is safe for us to do so. They have been a remarkable year group in so many regards and we are incredibly proud of the young people that they have become.

It seems most unfair that, were it not for the Rossall School Diploma, they would have been denied the opportunity to complete their studies with the sort of summative assessments that generations of eighteen year olds have deemed to be the pinnacle of their school education. The vast majority of our Upper Sixth Formers were eager to prove their mettle in their IBDP and A Level examinations and I know that many are desperately disappointed that this has not been possible.

The arrangements put in place by OFQUAL for the awarding of grades this summer are a lazy and iniquitous response that I believe lacks serious credibility. The fact that historical data from centres may be utilised to influence the grades of this current cohort is nothing short of disgraceful. It seems remarkable that OFQUAL is advocating a mechanism that may serve to punish students for what past students did not achieve rather than rewarding students for what they were set to achieve. The use of historical data also constitutes a fatal lack of trust in teachers and/or their ability to allocate grades fairly and in line with OFQUAL’s own guidelines. It is an offensive affront to our professionalism and it pains me to be compelled to sign off on a process that I believe lacks legitimacy and is so fundamentally unfair.

It makes me all the more grateful that we have exercised our independence and set our own examinations. We will do everything within our power to secure the very best outcomes for our Upper Sixth students and we are confident that they will still achieve excellent results and progress to academically rigorous courses at some of the most prestigious universities within the UK and overseas.

All best wishes,