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  • NEW GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE ISSUED - 7TH SEPTEMBER 2020

    NEW GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE ISSUED
    FOR BOARDING SCHOOLS WITH INTERNATIONAL BOARDERS

    We were tremendously excited to welcome back the majority of our overseas pupils last week. This week we are receiving yet more arrivals and this is because borders are reopening, visas are being issued and flights are being booked. If you are still waiting for a visa for your child or if you are currently in the process of booking a flight, then do please remember that all pupils should be accessing their lessons via our online learning platform. If you have any questions regarding the curriculum or teaching and learning then do please contact Dina Porovic on [email protected]

    We would like to share with you some updated government guidance which was published last week. It relates specifically to boarding schools with international students and includes useful information for pupils travelling from countries both with and without air corridors. To all intents and purposes, Rossall had already preempted this guidance and we have put in place extensive and robust measures that go significantly beyond government recommendations in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all of our pupils.

    Square House

    Last week, we opened up a former boarding house in the main square to look after Senior pupils arriving after the start of term. This is to ensure that all Senior age pupils can self-isolate without compromising the house bubbles that we have already established. Junior pupils will go straight to Anchor House as we feel that their age presents a low risk to the School and Boarding House. Square House will accommodate pupils before they move into their allocated boarding houses upon completion of quarantine and/or the receipt of a negative test result. Square House, as we are calling it, is special in that it has more staff on duty than a regular boarding house. This is because of the short term nature of the house and our desire to ensure that children have an additional layer of support as they arrive and
    join our boarding community. Mrs Melanie Schwab, who runs our Summer School, is overseeing the House. She is a residential member of staff and it is her responsibility to look after our pupils and help them to settle quickly.

    Mrs Schwab welcomes our boys and girls and shows them their rooms, nearest showers, house kitchen (which has snacks delivered to it every evening) etc. She shares with them important information about mealtimes and the communal areas of the house. It is worth noting that all pupils have single occupancy rooms in this house and that there are ample shower facilities available for the small numbers of pupils who will be using them at any time. This provision is complemented by a strict cleaning regime that is now in place so as to ensure that all pupils are looked after fantastically well during this transition time.

    Initial Support: Mrs Schwab helps the children with administrative issues upon arrival and this includes testing, purchasing uniform, internet access etc. She ensures that they have access to online learning, classes and academic support. She is also a point of contact for the boys and girls throughout the day. This all means that when pupils move into their Boarding House, they are well prepared for all aspects of school life.

    Ongoing Support: Mrs Schwab is the key point of contact for the pupils and their parents upon arrival and she is happy to help with any queries that you may have.
    Pupils from countries with travel corridors: Pupils from countries with air corridors will not need to self-isolate according to the new guidance. However, Rossall has always exceeded government guidelines in order to ensure that we are looking after our pupils and protecting the bubbles within each of our houses and School.
    Pupils arriving from countries with travel corridors will arrive at Square House and move into their Boarding House and classroom based lessons as soon as the school
    has received a first negative test. These pupils will have a second test on Day 14 (or the nearest weekday to this) and this is to provide additional reassurance. Pupils will access online lessons for the very short time that they are in Square House. Pupils from countries without travel corridors: pupils from countries without air corridors will remain in the house until two negative tests have been completed. They will have online lessons throughout this period. Pupils are allowed to leave the house at set times to exercise within our very extensive grounds.

    Town Leave and Leaving Campus
    Pupils are not permitted to visit town at this point in time. As mentioned in previous communications, weekly boarders have either become full boarders or day pupils to ensure the integrity of the bubbles within each house and in order to create homogenous communities. Pupils need to remain on campus and in their bubbles until we feel we can gently relax some of the rules. This will be when we are confident that our community is fully settled and when established protocols and procedures are in place.

    On Wednesday, the Headmaster will share with you a few proposals designed to provide pupils with the opportunity to make use of our fantastic beach. He will also outline plans to enable our children to make social distanced visits to the Lake District and Trough of Bowland. We believe that it is important for the emotional and mental well being of our boarders to have the opportunity to get away from campus but only in circumstances where we are confident that they will not come into direct contact with members of the public. Given the vastness of the beautiful wilderness landscapes that surround us, we believe that it is perfectly possible for us to arrange such trips. However, we will consult with parents and provide full risk assessments before introducing any such measure. Children will be able to visit friends in other boarding houses as from next weekend, so long as they wear a mask and have their track and trace Bluetooth device on at all times. We believe that these moves are a measured and sensible first step towards ensuring as normal a boarding experience as possible. Such measures are possible because of the extensive measures that we have in place to keep our community safe.

    Deliveries
    Pupils and parents are welcome to organise as many deliveries to the School as pupils are unable to leave at present. Please address them as follows:

    Your Child’s Name
    Your Child’s Boarding House Name
    Rossall School
    Broadway
    Fleetwood
    Lancashire
    FY7 8JW

    If you have any questions or concerns about any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact me by email on [email protected], by telephone on 00 44 1253 774321, by skype on rossall.school.admissions or by zoom.

    With best wishes,

    Lucy Barnwell
    Director of External Communications

  • REOPENING UPDATE - 31ST JULY 2020

    We are tremendously excited to be welcoming back our first returning boarders in just over a week. The school campus is a hive of activity as we continue to prepare for the forthcoming academic year. The remaining scaffolding in our splendid Dining Hall is in the process of being dismantled and our maintenance team are putting the finishing touches to our beautifully refurbished Year 1 and Year 2 classrooms in the Junior School. Mrs Wright and her husband have moved on site and are now overseeing the process of moving Dolphin House to their splendid new accommodation. This afternoon, we welcome Richard and Isabelle Symons, who will be moving into Maltese Cross (MC).

    The robustness of the UK government’s response to the slight rise in cases in a few cities in the North of England is to be welcomed. We are very fortunate that there have been zero new cases in the borough of Wyre (within which the School is situated). Similarly, there have been zero new cases in Fylde. It appears that the slight upturn in cases is confined to specific communities in densely populated urban areas within which intergenerational living arrangements have led to a level of transmission that needs to be addressed. With Eid fast approaching, there is a preemptive aspect to this measure insomuch as it is specifically designed to prevent multiple households from congregating indoors. It has been described in the media as a ‘lockdown’ but that is misleading given that these additional restrictions are targeted interventions that are limited, and specifically designed to prevent people from different households congregating or socialising together.

    Whilst we are very fortunate that the Fylde Coast remains relatively untouched by COVID-19, it is important that we remain vigilant throughout the weeks and months ahead. There is no room for complacency and no community in Europe, Asia or the Americas should ever fool themselves that they have any level of immunity – at least until a vaccine arrives, and there is excellent news on that front emanating from Oxford University and AstraZeneca. It is reassuring that the UK government is now putting in place measures designed to preemptively minimise risk in specific localities where there are potential issues. As we continue to emerge from this crisis, it is clear that countries across the world are taking similar localised measures to ensure that life for the majority returns to some level of normality.

    As leaders of the Safe Schools UK movement, we have been at the very forefront of adopting rigorous measures designed to minimise risk and prevent transmission. We are fortunate to be situated a good distance from any major city and it is clear that our isolated position on the coast affords us much greater protection than schools situated in towns or cities. Nevertheless, the recent tightening of restrictions in a small number of UK cities serves as a reminder that our protocols are entirely appropriate and measured. We have resolved to ensure that Rossall remains a safe haven for children; one within which educational opportunity is maximised and any potential risk to public health minimised. We are proud of the reputation that we have gained as leaders within the educational sector and it is reassuring to know that so many of the measures that we have embraced are now being actively promoted by Public Health England and the UK government.

    So whilst we are very excited to welcome all of our children back to Rossall, we do so with the sure knowledge that continued caution, vigilance and confidence in our protocols and procedures will enable all of our children to enjoy access to so much that they have been denied during recent months.

    Jeremy Quartermain

  • COVID-19 - 16TH JULY 2020

    Term may have officially ended but we have never been busier in terms of making preparations for the forthcoming academic year. Our recruitment and marketing department are dealing with an unprecedented level of visits and inquiries and our maintenance team are making superb progress with key projects such as the completion of new classrooms in the Junior School and the redecoration of our iconic Dining Hall. I am delighted that we have launched our first ever induction programme for boarders and we fully intend for this to become a regular fixture in our calendar for years to come. To read more about our induction/quarantine programme please click on the following link .

    This is a time of great optimism and whilst summer holidays might be on hold for some of us, it is a huge privilege to be able to spend these weeks preparing to welcome back all of our children and staff back to our physical campus. There is much to be excited about and plenty of reason for us to look forward to what is going to be an incredibly busy and rewarding year. 

    Vaccines and Face masks

    The wearing of face masks on public transport within the UK has been compulsory since 15th June. From 24th July, it will be compulsory for members of the public to wear face masks in all shops. There is an inevitability that this requirement will be extended to include the vast majority of spaces. Exceptions will apply to very young children and those with medical conditions that would preclude the application of a face covering. However, this represents a very significant cultural shift and whilst we have actively embraced such measures at Rossall, few would have envisaged that Boris Johnson would have become such an ardent advocate of face masks.

    The UK is leading the way in the development of an effective vaccine

    Now that COVID-19 is being pushed into submission, the UK is determined to avoid a seasonal rise in cases and it is clear that such precautions will remain in place until the mass production of an effective vaccine.  On that front, the University of Oxford’s candidate vaccine should be through human trials by September and AstraZeneca has lined up agreements to produce 2 billion doses should it prove effective – 30 million of which will be produced for the UK market by September 2020.  The Oxford team is led by the delightfully modest but fiercely intelligent Sarah Gilbert and, rather remarkably, her 21 year old triplets (all studying biochemistry) elected to take part in the trial. Gilbert’s team are endeavouring to compress a process that usually takes five years or more into a matter of months.  Kate Bingham, chair of the U.K. government’s Vaccine Taskforce, recently told a parliamentary committee that, ‘Gilbert is well ahead of the world…it’s the most advanced vaccine anywhere’. For a detailed understanding of the progress being made in Oxford it is worth reading Sara Marley’s brilliant article:  Coronavirus Vaccine: AstraZeneca (AZN) Seeks Doses by September

    Cultural Change 

    As the article makes clear there are no certainties but there is every reason for us to face the future with a real sense of optimism. Apart from anything else, it is clear that the UK is now prepared to meet any potential rise in cases. For almost a hundred years (since the Spanish Influenza of 1918) the risk of a pandemic seemed to constitute something of an existential threat. Sars, Bird Flu and Ebola all happened elsewhere. Consequently, a country with one of the best healthcare systems in the world and one of the highest life expectancies in the world, found itself underprepared both in terms of PPE but also in terms of those public health protocols which have been so effective in countries like Vietnam. However, while there was never a time when the NHS was in any serious risk of being overwhelmed, it is undeniably the case that the additional capacity provided by the NHS Nightingale Hospitals and the couple of billion stockpiled pieces of PPE serves as an insurance policy for the future. More importantly, the UK is now adopting an Asiatic model of cultural response that emphasises the importance of personal responsibility in the fight to  ensure that transmission levels remain low and the dreaded ‘R’ number remains below 1. 

    Track and Trace at Rossall 

    We were one of the first schools in the UK to introduce thermal imaging cameras and to introduce face masks/coverings into the classroom. 

    We are now in talks with a company that is able to provide us with an effective ‘track and trace’ system which would allow us to isolate any member(s) of the community who had come into contact with someone who had presented symptoms and/or tested positive for COVID-19. All members of Rossall School would be required to wear a device which looks like a  Fitbit. The data from these devices allows one to determine those who have been in close proximity (i.e. closer than 2 metres) with another individual for what is considered to be a  significant period of time in terms of viral transmission. We are of the opinion that this will provide a level of protection which is unlikely to be replicated in many schools nationally or internationally. It puts us at the very  vanguard of schools in terms of our response to COVID-19 and it seems perfectly sensible that such a forward thinking school should harness the power of digital technology to ensure that all within our community remain safe. 

    You will be aware that we have frozen fees at the 2019/20 level until at least January 2021. Consequently, we are not able to absorb this additional cost into our proposed budget but we believe that parents will be supportive of a cost that amounts to just under £17 a month per child. This will provide additional peace of mind for all members of our community and provides a realistic response to the fact that ‘bubbles’ cannot always be tightly controlled in year groups where children take subjects organised in option blocks. Similarly, it takes account of the fact that boarding houses and sports teams constitute bubbles in their own right. Through our leadership of the https://www.safeschoolsuk.org/, we have always stressed the need to balance the need to minimise risk with the need to ensure that children are still in a position to receive an outstanding education which is not unduly diminished by restrictions which prevent them from availing of all the wonderful opportunities available at a school like Rossall. 

    It has always been my ambition to ensure that we are a safe haven for all members of our community. Whilst the risk level may have now substantially reduced,  I am determined that Rossall will continue to lead the way in terms of our response to COVID-19. 

    With best wishes

    Jeremy Quartermain
    Headmaster

     

  • COVID-19 - 6TH JULY 2020

    Planning for September

    UK Government removes all Quarantine Restrictions for the following countries:

     

    The UK government has announced that from 10th July there will be no need for those arriving from the countries listed above to self-isolate/quarantine for fourteen days. In some cases this constitutes a reciprocal agreement (e.g. Germany, Spain and Italy) and there are no restrictions upon those travelling between the two countries. In other cases, those arriving from the UK will be subject to a test at the airport or required to self-isolate for a number of days will be welcome news for international boarders and their parents. It will certainly make life much easier once the academic year is underway. As the rate of transmission within the UK continues to decrease, it seems reasonable to conclude that more and more countries will be added to this list. However, please note the following:

    We would still advise all international boarders to arrive on 23rd August if at all possible. The advantage of this is that it:

    1. Allows new boarders the opportunity to benefit from our induction programme and to settle within their boarding houses well before the formal start of the academic year
    2. Enables us to absolutely minimise any potential risk well for the whole community before the start of term
    3. Provides returning boarders with an opportunity to reconnect with their friends and gradually adjust back to boarding life
    4. Ensures plenty of time to make alternative arrangements should a specific flight be cancelled due to low passenger numbers

    As the founding member of the SafeSchoolsUK movement, we are committed to upholding the highest standards in terms of our response to COVID-19. Whilst quarantine restrictions may have been relaxed, we intend to maintain those protocols and procedures which are acknowledged as best practice from an international perspective. Rossall School is a safe haven for our children during these times and acknowledged as a sector leader in this regard. By maintaining the highest possible standards (in terms of community health and public hygiene) we are able to begin the forthcoming academic year with confidence and in the sure knowledge that our children will be able to experience as near ‘normal’ a school life as possible. We will always act with caution and, inevitably, this means that we will not necessarily relax our measures to coincide with decisions taken by the UK government or other governments around the world. 

    Jeremy Quartermain
    Headmaster

  • COVID-19 - 23RD JUNE 2020

    Planning for the Future

    As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to decrease in the UK, the coronavirus alert level has been reduced from four to three and this allows for a gradual relaxation of restrictions. The ‘R’ rate remains between 0.7 and 1 which means that the situation is continuing to improve. However, as we emerge from this crisis, we are acutely aware of the fact that the international context is not uniformly so positive. Local outbreaks or ‘hotspots’ in some countries serve as a warning that we need to remain vigilant and keep in place those protocols and procedures necessary to minimise risk to all within our communities.

    Consequently, the lowering of the coronavirus alert level in the UK will not result in any immediate change of approach here at Rossall. From this morning, we have all of our Junior School year groups back with us but they will continue to practice social distancing and they are restricted to pods of fifteen children or less. They will continue to receive temperature scans every morning and they will continue to wear face masks in classrooms.

    There is a danger that after weeks of lockdown, people will be inclined to behave irresponsibly during this period of relative freedom. This is an opportunistic virus which is impervious to human sentiment and it will doubtless exploit situations where people have become thoughtless or careless. We hope all Rossall families will continue to exercise the high level of caution that has served to keep us entirely healthy throughout these past few months.

    Rossall provides a safe haven within which school life can proceed as normally as possible. Indeed, the point of the protocols and procedures that we have put in place is not to limit life within School but to ensure that our co-curricular and classroom activities may continue safely.

    Successful schools need to be agile and stand ready to ensure that children receive the very highest quality of education no matter the nature of the challenges presented by external circumstances. Any school which does less than this is ultimately failing its children. We feel very well placed in many regards. It is not for nothing that our international partners have deemed our response to be one of the most proactive within the sector.

    By the end of this term we will have delivered over 15,000 face-to-face lessons online and we will have continued to provide pastoral support to all of our pupils. Being a Rossallian, means being part of a community which has an extraordinary capacity to flourish no matter the obstacles placed within our path. In terms of educational outcomes, this has been Rossall’s most successful year on recent record and that is surely partly attributable to the positive and creative dynamic that pervades the School.

    Flight details for our returning boarders are now flooding in and we cannot wait to welcome everybody back for the new academic year. It is going to be wonderful to see so many familiar faces after such a long absence. Zoom and Google have served us well but nothing compares to the joy of being together once more. To see so many happy faces in the Junior School serves as a constant reminder of what was missing for the last few months. More importantly, it is an important milestone in our journey back to normality.

    The UK government now accepts the importance of all children returning to School in September and there is a common acceptance amongst the world’s leaders that ensuring that children are in school and receiving an education constitutes a key priority moving forward. The potential emotional and psychological damage of prolonged absence could result in a lost generation or a generation whose life chances are forever compromised by isolation and a weak provision. The ability to form meaningful relationships, to navigate friendships and to work as part of a team are so very vital to our personal and professional lives and much of the purpose of being at school is to provide a context within which young people can successfully grow.

    Building projects ahead of the Summer Term

    Dining Hall
    I am delighted that the redecoration of the Dining Hall has now commenced. The Dining Hall was designed by local Lancashire architect, Sir Hubert Worthington (1886 – 1963) and completed in 1931. Sir Hubert Worthington was very seriously wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He received no less than six machine gun bullets to his body and was invalided out of the army as a result. After the Second World War, he became the Imperial War Graves Commission’s Principal Architect for Egypt and he designed the beautiful war memorial at Alamein. Our Dining Hall is one of the crowning jewels of our fantastic school campus and I am delighted that the Rossall Foundation has agreed to fund this major restoration project in its entirety. It should be completed by early August and we cannot wait to see the transformation that will have taken place.

    Infants School
    Last year the Reception Class received a brand new classroom and then the Nursery was relocated and refurbished during the Autumn Term. Now it is the turn of our Year One and Year Two cohorts and our maintenance team are currently creating bright, spacious and technologically enriched teaching spaces for these classes. This work should be completed by the end of July – well in advance of the Autumn Term.

    Sports, Performing Arts and Outward Bound Expeditions
    Over the past few months, we have been liaising with various bodies such as HMC and the BSA to discuss how we might safely reintroduce these aspects of school life. We have received advice from the governing bodies of many different sports and we have thought very carefully about how we can ensure that our children are able to be creative during the months ahead. Plans are well advanced to manage a safe return to all of these activities and in almost every circumstance, there are creative and exciting ways of adapting to ensure that our children are still able to access those opportunities and activities that serve to make school so much fun.

    Question and Answer Session
    I will be holding my next Q&A session at 1:00 pm (BST) this Friday, 26th June. As always, please do send in questions either before to Lucy Barnwell on [email protected] or during our live session on Facebook.

    There are those who feel anxious about the future and tend to focus on what might not be possible in the first instance. By contrast, we are tremendously excited and we are superbly well placed to face the future with optimism and confidence.

    Jeremy Quartermain
    Headmaster

  • COVID-19 - 3RD JUNE 2020

    Confirmation of UK Quarantine Measures (8th June – 29th June)

    In a much anticipated move, the British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has announced a fourteen day quarantine for all travellers arriving in the UK. This measure will come into effect on 8th June.

    However, the government has made it clear that reciprocal ‘travel corridors’ will be established with countries with low rates of infection as quickly as possible. Consequently, it is now highly unlikely that the need for quarantine will be in place for most countries beyond the beginning of July. Countries and territories for which the need to quarantine is likely to be lifted include Hong Kong, China, Germany, Spain and Portugal. However, quarantine measures will remain in place for countries experiencing a high rate of infection.

    Those arriving into the UK will need to provide details of the address at which they intend to stay throughout the period of quarantine. Thankfully, we have received confirmation from the Boarding Schools Association (who have liaised directly with the Home Office) that is perfectly permissible for returning international students to quarantine at School or with an approved guardian(s).

    It is a relatively light touch ‘quarantine’ insomuch as travellers will be trusted to remain at their stated residence as far as is possible, although they will be permitted to leave for various reasons such as to attend medical appointments etc. Individuals might receive an occasional courtesy call to check that they are self-isolating but that is all. For those arriving at Rossall, so long as they do not leave the school campus, then they would be deemed to be self-isolating – though we will treat each boarding house as an individual household to ensure an even greater level of safety.

    We believe that regardless of whether or not the quarantine officially remains in place, it is sensible for international students to return to School (or at least the UK) ahead of the evening of Sunday 23rd August. This will provide plenty of time for students to settle into boarding before the beginning of the Autumn Term and ensure that a full two weeks have passed before formal lessons recommence. Furthermore, we have put in place an exciting programme of activities and events, which will make these weeks a really enjoyable and worthwhile time.

    Whilst, the official need to quarantine is unlikely to be in place by August, we believe that it makes perfect sense to follow the protocols and procedures set out within the COVID-19 brochure which you recently received – especially given that our number one priority has always been to minimise any potential risk whilst maximising the safety and wellbeing of all of our students and teachers.

    Jeremy Quartermain
    Headmaster

  • COVID-19 - 1ST JUNE 2020

    Thankfully, we are now gradually emerging from this crisis and the school will partially reopen next week.  The School will definitely be fully operational ahead of September and so we are now focused firmly upon the Autumn Term. We are very much looking forward to welcoming back all of our students and we are very excited to meet those who will be joining our community for the first time. Throughout this period, we have remained open to a small community of very happy boarders and I am delighted to  confirm that there have been no recorded cases of COVID-19 here in school.

    Please do read the brochure which details the very extensive measures that we have taken to ensure that we retain our reputation as one of the very safest boarding schools both here in the UK and overseas.  We have taken full advantage of our self-contained position here on the Fylde Coast whilst investing in thermal imaging technology and signing an exclusive testing contract with the Cambridge based biomedical company Oncologica.  Furthermore we have embedded a strong culture of social distancing and ensured a constant supply of PPE.

    Thinking beyond Rossall, we have worked with a number of other schools to persuade the Boarding Schools Association (BSA) to  introduce a Covid-19 charter that details those precautionary measures that we believe all boarding schools should agree to follow.  Finally, we have created the ‘Safe Schools UK’  movement which includes additional measures that  a number of safety conscious schools have now followed our lead in adopting. All of this is detailed in the brochure.

    I am confident that, collectively, the measures that we have put in place, serve to ensure that our children will remain safe in a caring environment within which they will still be able to enjoy their learning whilst accessing all the wonderful activities and opportunities  that make a Rossall education so special. I could not be more proud of the fact that we are now considered a sector leader in terms of our response to COVID-19 and there is nothing more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of all within this community. .

    Do please contact Lucy Barnwell if you have any questions relating to the content of this brochure or if there are any additional measures which you feel that we might usefully consider.

  • COVID-19 - 26TH MAY 2020

    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,

    Jeremy

  • COVID-19 - 19TH MAY 2020

    Rossall once again leads the sector in terms of responding effectively to COVID-19

    You may recall that in my last bulletin, I argued very strongly that boarding schools in the UK should adopt a common code of practice or charter detailing those protocols and provisions which should be put in place in order to respond effectively to COVID-19. I argued that:

    All schools must put in place a credible roadmap to successfully navigate out of lockdown and, as a sector, we should be working together to agree sensible objectives and commonly agreed protocols.

    Such a charter should serve to:

    • Ensure that our core purpose of education continues with minimum disruption
    • Standardise a high level of precautionary measures to be adopted by all UK boarding schools
    • Ensure the safest possible environment for our staff and day/boarding students
    • Bring the sector together with the common purpose of becoming an exemplar of best practice in terms of its practical response to COVID-19.

    I concluded that:

    It is not enough to adopt an ad-hoc piecemeal approach as a sector. It is my sincerest hope that organisations such as the Boarding Schools’ Association and HMC will discern the obvious merit in us coming together to act decisively and collectively. Anything less would constitute a disappointingly lacklustre response and would serve to undermine confidence within our sector. It is our collective duty to exercise our independence responsibly and for the common good. We should not simply be reactive to the vagaries and ambiguities contained within government directives. Collectively, we have the frontline expertise required to ensure that our sector leads the way in terms of protecting young people.

    These were not just words and, as part of this initiative, Lucy Barnwell (Director of External Relations) worked to establish common ground with a number of other leading boarding schools equally committed to ensuring best practice within the sector. We are therefore delighted that the Boarding Schools Association announced yesterday that:

    BSA is acutely aware that the profile of the UK and its COVID-19 response is a matter of great concern for both current and prospective parents of international students. Agents report that conflicting messages from schools are also damaging the perception of UK boarding schools in the eyes of those parents and children. As the UK moves towards a potential wider opening for all year groups in September, we are establishing the BSA COVID-SAFE CHARTER. This will be a series of steps schools will guarantee to take in advance of reopening, which will aim to reassure agents, parents and children that they have taken all reasonable measures to ensure their safety. This initiative is, of course, voluntary for schools, but is intended to be a strong statement that schools take the needs of their international students very seriously.

    This is tremendous news and we are so pleased that the Boarding Schools Association are adopting a proactive stance to ensure that the sector is superbly well placed for the reopening of Schools.

    From the beginning of this crisis, we have committed to adopting internationally recognised standards of best practice within educational settings. Whilst we have followed Public Health England’s advice and reflected carefully on the guidance issued by the World Health Organisation, we have never been satisfied to simply wait for directives or meet minimum requirements where we believe more rigour is required. The health and well-being of this community is our number one responsibility and this is why:

    • We were one of the very first (if not the first) UK boarding school to successfully isolate our boarding community and operate as two distinct schools (boarding and day)
    • We took the decision to close the School ahead of the government’s decision to close all UK schools.
    • We started teaching all timetabled lessons remotely just forty eight hours after entering lockdown.
    • We launched the Rossall Diploma for Year 11 and Year 13 students which has now been administered and invigilated remotely in forty one countries and ten different time zones.
    • We have remained open to the children of key workers and a small number of boarders, during which time we have created a secure site and put in place those practices and protocols which the vast majority of UK schools are only beginning to contemplate.

    Throughout all this time, Adam Cawkwell, our Head of International Admissions (Asia and Australasia) has remained on the ground in Hong Kong and his reflections on best practice in schools that have reopened in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan have informed our planning at all stages. Adam is currently in conversation with the Boarding Schools Association as he has a unique perspective to share in terms of how Asian schools successfully adapted.

    Whilst we welcome the move from the Boarding Schools Association, any charter must ensure a commitment to best practice as opposed to minimum expectations. Schools must prioritise investing in PPE, thermal imaging devices and testing kits. More importantly, they need to engender a culture which embraces and promotes the very highest standards in terms of personal/community hygiene and public health.

    For the sake of clarity, here at Rossall we intend to adhere to the following commitments:

    • All staff and pupils (day and boarding) to receive daily health checks and thermal imaging scans.
    • All visitors and non-resident staff to complete health declaration questionnaires before being permitted to enter the school site.
    • A requirement that all individuals who have travelled overseas should not be permitted to enter the school site until a period of 14 days has elapsed.
    • All students should be permitted to wear facemasks in school and teachers and support staff to be encouraged to wear face masks.
    • PPE and cleansing stations to be installed across the School site so as to actively reduce the risk of transmission
    • All new and returning international students arriving in the UK for the Michaelmas Term to be offered the opportunity to arrive at School fourteen days prior to the commencement of term so that they are able to complete a period of quarantine in school whilst under the direct care of our pastoral staff and medical team.
    • Effective and appropriate online learning provided for those who may not be able to attend school in person for whatever reason.
    • Single occupancy rooms allocated to all boarders
    • The option for students to purchase private medical health insurance for the duration of a pupil’s stay in the UK.
    • A clear commitment to providing regular updates from the School’s Senior Leadership Team to all parents.
    • An assurance that in the eventuality that a student is not able to join us until November or January 2021 (due to travel restrictions in country of origin) that they will benefit from an outstanding quality of online education.

    As we prepare to reopen year groups within the Junior School amidst a cacophonous backdrop of political posturing on the national stage, we remain resolutely committed to minimising risk and maximising every opportunity to promote the well-being of all within our wonderful community. As such I have just emerged from one of our weekly COVID-19 response meetings with a feeling of very real optimism. I am extraordinarily fortunate to work with such an outstanding team of colleagues who have been so proactive in terms of logistics, procurement, strategy and communication and I know that this approach will ensure the best possible of returns for all of our pupils in due course.

  • COVID-19 - 11TH MAY 2020

    Creating a Coronavirus Protection Charter for British Boarding Schools

    Yesterday evening, Boris Johnson outlined a provisional roadmap which is designed to gradually ease the United Kingdom out of lockdown. Clearly, we should expect very few substantive changes in the immediate future and any relaxation of current restrictions will be entirely dependent upon the crucial ‘R’ rate remaining below one. The devolved authorities within Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have elected to persevere assiduously with the current messaging regarding the need to stay at home, whereas England is cautiously nuancing its advice to enable those in certain industries (such as construction) to return to work – so long as their employers are able to guarantee social distancing.

    As the number of hospital admissions continues to decline, the issue of how to emerge from the lockdown is becoming increasingly politicised. Statisticians would wish for our levels of anxiety to correlate with a fair assessment of risk. This point was made supremely well by Sir David Spiegelhalter, Chairman of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday morning. It is well worth reading his comments.

    Behavioural psychologists would tell us that our computation of risk is not dependent upon algorithms or statistical analysis and it should not come as a surprise that our anxieties are not necessarily lessened by an appeal to cold logic or forensic analysis. All Schools should seek to:

    1. Minimise risk by putting in place robust protocols and procedures designed to promote the health and wellbeing of each individual and the entire community.
    2. Embed a culture that relentlessly prioritises best practice in terms of hygiene and risk management.
    3. Communicate these measures with clarity so that parents have confidence in the knowledge that their children are receiving the very best level of care possible.

    Throughout this pandemic, Rossall School has earned a reputation within the British boarding sector for embracing internationally recognised standards that, at times, exceed the recommendations of the UK government. We have been tirelessly proactive and have often preempted important decisions taken at a national level. This strategic clarity and resolute decisiveness is shared by other independent schools who are equally committed to ensuring an outstanding quality of pastoral care.

    It strikes me that now is the time for Rossall to approach other UK boarding schools in an effort to create a Coronavirus Protection Charter.

    All schools must put in place a credible roadmap to successfully navigate out of lockdown and, as a sector, we should be working together to agree sensible objectives and commonly agreed protocols.

    Such a charter would serve to:

    1. Ensure that our core purpose of education continues with minimum disruption
    2. Standardise a minimum acceptable level of precautionary measures to be adopted by all UK boarding schools
    3. Ensure the safest possible environment for our staff and day/boarding students
    4. Bring the sector together with the common purpose of becoming an exemplar of best practice in terms of our practical response to COVID-19.

    At Rossall, we have committed to putting in place the following measures which could legitimately serve as a charter for the sector.

    • All staff and pupils (day and boarding) to receive daily health checks and thermal imaging scans.
    • All visitors and non-resident staff to complete health declaration questionnaires before being permitted to enter the school site.
    • A requirement that all individuals who have travelled overseas should not be permitted to enter the school site until a period of 14 days has elapsed.
    • All students should be permitted to wear facemasks in school and teachers and support staff to be encouraged to wear face masks.
    • PPE and cleansing stations to be installed across the School site so as to actively reduce the risk of transmission
    • All new and returning international students arriving in the UK for the Michaelmas Term to be offered the opportunity to arrive at School fourteen days prior to the commencement of term so that they are able to complete a period of quarantine in school whilst under the direct care of our pastoral staff and medical team.
    • Effective and appropriate online learning provided for those who may not be able to attend school in person for whatever reason.
    • Single occupancy rooms within the boarding houses – where space and capacity permits.
    • The option for students to purchase private medical health insurance for the duration of their stay in the UK.
    • A clear commitment to providing regular updates from the School’s Senior Leadership Team to all parents.
    • An assurance that in the eventuality that a student is not able to join us until November or January 2021 (due to travel restrictions in country of origin) that they will benefit from an outstanding quality of online education.

    It is not enough to adopt an ad-hoc piecemeal approach as a sector. It is my sincerest hope that organisations such as the Boarding Schools’ Association and HMC will discern the obvious merit in us coming together to act decisively and collectively. Anything less would constitute a disappointingly lacklustre response and would serve to undermine confidence within our sector. It is our collective duty to exercise our independence responsibly and for the common good. We should not simply be reactive to the vagaries and ambiguities contained within government directives. Collectively, we have the frontline expertise required to ensure that our sector leads the way in terms of protecting young people.

    Adam Cawkwell, our Head of International Admissions (Asia and Australasia) writes that

    ‘Being on the ground in Asia during the early stages of the pandemic, I am acutely aware of additional measures in practice to manage community transmission which have been successful in reducing the number of reported cases. As a sector, we have a responsibility to implement any additional measures where reasonably possible to reduce the risk to our communities. The traditions of our U.K. schools are rich with pioneering and groundbreaking stories. Signing up to this charter would serve as another chapter in our proud histories, demonstrating a commitment to well-being and a sector-wide empathy towards the anxieties of all our parents’ 

    Lucy Barnwell, Director of External Relations, writes:

    As someone who was lucky enough to go to an independent school and who will be forever grateful for the incredible education I received, I am continually focused on wanting to ensure we do everything as a sector to look after and protect our schools as a whole to ensure they thrive into the future.

    ‘Britain is a world leader with our educational offering, and as such we need to adopt a charter that will show parents both in the UK and abroad that we are serious as a sector in ensuring high standards of care and wellbeing in the face of Covid-19. It will reassure parents – as with the national minimum care standards for boarding that all boarding schools sign up to – that we continue to embrace new initiatives to ensure the wellbeing and safety of their child(ren) and collectively sustain our wonderful schools into the future.

    Best wishes,

    Jeremy Quartermain

  • COVID-19 - 7TH MAY 2020



    View from the Clocktower yesterday morning

    During these challenging times, we remain incredibly grateful for the tranquillity afforded to us by our stunning location. We are a self-contained community and we benefit from an abundance of fresh sea air and beautiful verdant grounds within which we can roam. In terms of health and wellbeing, it is difficult to imagine a more fortunately positioned school. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact upon densely populated urban areas for reasons that are not hard to understand. Commuters are forced to jostle for space on overcrowded trains and multi-occupancy accommodation is typically cramped, so it is not surprising that more isolated areas of the United Kingdom have experienced much lower infection rates.  There are social commentators, economists and environmentalists lining up to point out some of the ‘hidden benefits’ of the current pandemic. Given the suffering caused to so many families and communities around the world, such talk is at best distasteful.  However, I do believe that the current crisis will trigger a gradual move away from city life.  Remote working means that the commuter journey into London, Birmingham or Manchester may become a thing of the past and I am sure that we will all reflect more deeply upon quality of life and environment. 

    The impact of COVID-19 on some London boroughs is nearly twenty times more acute than it is in this part of the world. However, there is no room for complacency, and just as we worked hard to keep our community safe during the height of the pandemic, it is now our responsibility to ensure that we continue to provide an outstanding example of best practice  in terms of our response.  Indeed, it should be the case that we emerge from this crisis with a heightened regard for health and wellbeing.  It would be an absolute tragedy were we not to commit to ensuring that we become more collectively aware in terms of public health. Britain has one of the highest life expectancies in the world (identical to Germany’s) but this inevitably means that we have a disproportionately high number of individuals who are medically vulnerable because of their age or because of chronic conditions. Provisions for looking after the elderly and infirm will need very careful consideration moving forward. Whilst COVID-19 can afflict people of all ages, it is the case that only 1% of fatalities have occurred in those aged forty five or under. As we know, children rarely display anything more than mild symptoms and many are asymptomatic. However, it is our responsibility to ensure that our community does not become an agent of transmission, given the fact that almost all of us have relatives who are elderly or classed as ‘high risk’.   

    Whilst we monitor the UK government’s position very closely, much of our response has been influenced by observing best practice in educational settings around the world. We believe that we have much to learn from our colleagues and friends in Asia and Europe and the standards that we set ourselves are informed by a full consideration of the experiences of those who are currently emerging from lockdown.  There is a good deal of talk in the press about gradually relaxing ‘lockdown’ restrictions now that the peak of the pandemic appears to have passed. Teaching unions, though often reactionary by nature, are right to impress upon the government the need to proceed with extreme caution. Schools need time to plan a phased return which minimises risk. Instinctively, I cannot wait to have staff and children back in School, but I am not prepared to let impatience be the enemy of common sense and best practice.

    Every aspect of our operations is currently being scrutinised and it is inevitable that there will be adjustments to existing protocols and procedures. It is my intention to communicate these changes to you well in advance of any partial re-opening. Every measure that we put in place will be designed to minimise risk and ensure our community remains safe. Inevitably, there will be restrictions upon high risk activities and, in the first instance, we will be returning to a school that is operating very differently.  However, throughout recent times, we have demonstrated an ability to be remarkably adaptive and I think that the inevitable frustrations that accompany social distancing measures will be more than outweighed by the joy of being together once again and beginning to transition towards a new ‘normal’.  

    Please join us tomorrow lunchtime at 13:00hrs (BST) for a Facebook Live session that will explore various aspects of our risk assessments and outline our plans for our eventual reopening. 

    All best wishes,

    Jeremy Quartermain 

  • COVID-19 - 27TH APRIL 2020

    6000 Lessons and Counting!

    Rossall Senior School has now delivered over six thousand online lessons, and this week sees the launch of the Rossall Diploma Examinations. Despite the challenges and frustration of lockdown, we believe that all children have a fundamental right to receive an excellent education and that all schools should do everything within their power to ensure that teaching and learning continues throughout this period. It reflects extraordinarily well on our community, that this fundamental principle has been embraced so wholeheartedly. The response from our children has been phenomenal and this would suggest that they place an enormous value upon their education. 

    The resilience and creativity that they routinely display should serve as a source of inspiration for all of us. Almost all of our children are determined to make the best of this situation and, consequently, they will be able to look back on this period of their lives with a real sense of pride in both their accomplishments and their unwavering fortitude. Obviously, we look forward to the day in the not too distant future when we are in a position to congratulate them in person but, thus far, they have exceeded all expectations. We are also very grateful to our parents who have provided such superb support. In particular, we are aware that the burden of support and supervision is felt more keenly by those with very small children. I do speak from personal experience on that account! We wish all of our Year 11 and Year 13 pupils well as they begin their online examinations. 

    The National Context 

    As we have now passed through the peak of this outbreak, hospital admissions are decreasing and community transmission has fallen below one, which raises the hope that the virus is beginning to fade. This morning, Boris Johnson returned to Downing Street and it is clear that he intends to apply the brakes to any loosening of the current restrictions. As a community, we have expressed our clear preference for cautious policies that reduce the level of risk to an absolute minimum. Indeed, we embraced social distancing and introduced additional measures at a point in time when the government was less inclined to adopt a robust strategy. 

    The Future

    When schools do reopen, it is clear that social distancing will be required. Thankfully, we are blessed to have the sort of campus where it is perfectly possible for us to enact the sort of measures which would be difficult to put in place in many settings. We are lucky to have over a hundred and seventy acres of grounds and extensive facilities. 

    As we have highlighted in the past, our campus is relatively self-contained and we are able to operate fairly autonomously. Necessity has meant that the campus has become much more secure and some changes (such as delivery vehicles no longer being permitted to enter the main school site) will definitely remain in place. 

    We are investigating the possibility of investing in thermal imaging cameras as this will be able to provide a rapid and accurate way of conducting temperature checks for all members of our community. Sensibly, it now seems likely that those travelling from Overseas will have to agree to remain at a given address for fourteen days after the date of their arrival. As you are aware, we have already preempted this eventuality and we are ready to accommodate returning boarders during any such period. This would potentially mean an earlier return date for our international students. 

    Finally, it is clear that the government will ensure that a ‘test, track and trace’ strategy is adopted as we move towards the summer. It is likely that people will be required to have an app on their phone that will alert them if they have come into close contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. This will operate with Bluetooth and promises to provide a highly effective strategy to avoid a second peak. 

    As always, do follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for more regular updates. This week’s assembly will appear on Facebook and on our website early this evening. 

  • COVID-19 - 20TH APRIL 2020

    Possible ‘traffic light’ scenario

    On Thursday, 16th April, the current lockdown restrictions were extended for another three weeks, which takes us up to 7th May. The government made it clear that they will only contemplate an easing of restrictions when the following five conditions have been met:

    1. Ensure that the NHS is in a position to sustain its response and maintain additional capacity.
    2. Evidence  showing a sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates
    3. Reliable data showing the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels
    4. Total confidence that all operational challenges, such as ensuring testing and an appropriate level of PPE, are met.
    5. Confidence that any adjustments do not risk prompting a second peak. 

    It seems likely that the UK Government will proceed with extreme caution and that its response will be informed by the experience of Spain, Germany and Italy who are currently in the process of gently easing restrictions. Whilst the timescale may remain unclear, we can be sure that the UK government will adopt a gradualistic approach which takes full account of regional variations in terms of demographics, infection numbers, and the need to continue cocooning the vulnerable and elderly. Given the scrutiny being brought to bear upon the UK’s initial response to this crisis, it is not surprising that there is a collective political will to ensure that the easing of the lockdown proceeds carefully. It is thought that the government is proposing to adopt a traffic light system which will see different aspects of the lockdown lifted over a period of weeks or months..  Despite initial concerns, the National Health Service has not been overwhelmed, though it has been placed under sustained pressure. Whilst the service itself retains considerable capacity, at least in terms of intensive care beds, it seems that the health service’s procurement infrastructure has struggled to respond to the unprecedented global demand for PPE. Nevertheless, there are tentative signs that the peak of the infection has now passed and increasing consideration is being given to how we emerge from lockdown successfully. 

    It seems obvious that we will not simply go back to ‘business as usual’ and that all responsible countries will commit themselves to prioritising public health and adopt radically interventionist strategies to ensure that citizens remain safe. Here at Rossall, we are planning for the future because we are determined to prioritise the well-being and health of our community during the months and years ahead. We do not believe that this is work that should be rushed. Rather we intend to plan meticulously so that we are in a position to be proactive and ahead of the curve. 

    Appointment of Director of Health and Wellbeing 

    I am delighted that Rachel Magowan has accepted the post of Director of Health and Wellbeing here at Rossall School. Rachel has worked as a health visitor, mental health nurse and hospital inspector for the  Care Quality Commission (CQC). She is currently the Named Nurse for Safeguarding Children and Adults for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals where her role is to oversee the safeguarding of all vulnerable people within the trust. She has a particular interest in counselling and health/relationship education. Rachel will oversee the development of the Health & Wellbeing Centre, contribute to the delivery of our PSHE programme and coordinate the medical aspects of the School’s response to  COVID-19. Rachel brings with her a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to promoting the health, happiness and safety of all within our community. 

    As we plan for the future, we are mindful of our responsibility to ensure that Rossall remains a safe environment. Consequently, it is our intention to ensure that we exceed rather than simply meet government guidelines.  We are already working on protocols and procedures designed to minimise risk by ensuring maintaining a strong level of social distancing and promoting the highest levels of personal and public hygiene. Measures that are currently under consideration include:

    1. Staggered meal times to ensure that children have limited contact beyond their immediate peer groups
    2. Staggered break times
    3. Whole-school events such as assemblies or House Music to be put on hold or conducted digitally. 
    4. Temperature scans and health checks to remain in place for all pupils and staff
    5. Access to the school campus will remain very restricted. For instance, deliveries will continue to be made to the Sports Hall car park.
    6. Puffin and Lugard will be used to isolate returning pupils in line with government policy and the latest advice from  Public Health England, the Boarding School Association (BSA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
    7. School to remain open to boarders during half term holidays and the Easter break. 

    There are many additional measures currently under consideration and we will publish details of all protocols and procedures well in advance of any partial or full reopening of the campus.  It might seem premature to be discussing such measures at this point in time but we firmly believe that we need to plan for a new ‘normal’ – one in which precautions such as these assume become commonplace and routine within our day-to-day operation.  

    Monday Assemblies 

    Our online assemblies are designed to bring us together as a community. Hopefully, they will bring a smile to your face whilst providing you and your children with an opportunity to experience a little of life at Rossall for those who are resident on site. Also, it provides an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate outstanding examples of teaching and learning. 

    Last week, Miss Porovic and  Mr Prest produced a video discussing arrangements for Year 11 and Year 13, and this was informed by the most recent announcements from OFQUAL. This week, Mr Prest provides advice on utilising study leave effectively whilst Mrs Stacker discusses family life during lockdown. 

    Senior assemblies can be viewed on our Facebook Page, School website and YouTube. 

    Mr Turner will continue to post both his Monday and Friday Junior School Assemblies in Google Classroom. 

    All best wishes,

    Jeremy Quartermain 

  • COVID-19 - 15TH APRIL 2020

    National Context 

    You will be aware that the United Kingdom is now experiencing the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak. It appears that the government’s lockdown policy and the population’s adherence to social distancing is beginning to have a positive impact. Meaningful comparisons with other countries are very difficult, given the well-documented variables that exist in terms of testing regimes and the administrative mechanisms by which deaths are classified and reported. 

    At the beginning of this crisis, there were suggestions in the national and international media that the National Health Service would be overwhelmed by a sudden surge of critically ill patients.  Specifically, there were concerns that intensive care units would be unable to cope and that there would be an acute shortage of ventilators. Thankfully, this has not proved to be the case and additional capacity remains within our healthcare system. Indeed, NHS Nightingale, the hospital rapidly constructed within the Excel Centre in London, remains largely empty as local hospitals have been able to cope with the increase in demand.

    The UK has one of the highest life expectancies in the world  (in joint 25th place alongside Germany) and significantly higher than the United States. This is undoubtedly attributable to a healthcare system that is well-resourced and free at the point of access. Indeed the creation of the NHS was one of the United Kingdom’s most impressive achievements of the modern age and there has never been a time when we should be more grateful for the doctors and nurses who are battling hard to care for those who are afflicted by this virus.  The National Health Service employs 1.7 million people and is the fifth largest employer in the world. It should come as no surprise that it is responding to current challenges with such resilience and compassion.   

    The selfless response of so many individuals and communities during the last couple of weeks is perhaps attributable to one of the UK’s most enduring national characteristics. In times of difficulty, we tend to show stoicism, courage, and a collective desire to safeguard the most vulnerable within society. It is this unshakeable spirit which will enable us to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before.  However, the thoughts of all of us here at Rossall are extended to those, both at home and overseas, who have lost loved ones in recent weeks. 

    Emotional Wellbeing during ‘lockdown’

    The current lockdown is an essential element of the nation’s strategy to overcome COVID-19. However, as many commentators have pointed out, the psychological and emotional consequences of enforced isolation are profoundly damaging. The great majority of us are missing the social interaction which enlivens our daily lives. Children are not necessarily as resilient as adults and very small children will struggle to comprehend or rationalise the restrictions which are currently placed upon their lives. Friendships are especially important for younger children and absence is perhaps felt more profoundly partly because time seems to pass more slowly when you are little.

    A wonderful resource which may be worth reading with primary aged children was shared with me by Rachel Magowan who joins us as Director of Wellbeing in September. It is entitled ‘Coronavirus, A book for children’ and was written by Elizabeth Jenner and Nia Roberts. The consultant was Professor Graham Medley, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 

    It explains the current situation superbly well and I know that my oldest daughter Alicia (currently in Year 4) found it enormously useful when we read it together. My top tips would be:

    1. Try to limit exposure to news items for children under the age of eleven. Age appropriate information for younger children can be found at  CBBC Newsround: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround
    2. Do address your children’s anxieties – talk to them about what is going on. Do ask them how they are feeling and reassure them that it is fine to feel anxious or confused. Try to answer questions in a gentle and age-appropriate manner. The simple act of talking things through will help your children to feel calmer.
    3. Encourage your children to think about the things they can do rather than dwelling on those activities which have been temporarily suspended due to the current lockdown. 
    4. Try to do as many activities with your children as possible. It provides the perfect context within which to provide gentle reassurance.
    5. Do keep as many regular routines in place as possible – this provides children with a sense of purpose, security and stability. 
    6. Remember to tell them that……

    This is also a tough time for families. Parents are experiencing dramatic changes in their own lives and routines. It is difficult to balance working from home with childcare. Many will have financial concerns and/or be concerned about vulnerable family members whilst others will have health worries on account of existing chronic conditions. Those of us who like to be in control of our lives have to learn to accept that there are certain things that we have little control of in the short term. However, we can choose to respond proactively and positively.  It is helpful for all of us to maintain a daily routine and to exercise regularly with our families. Connect with family and friends. If you are not a digital native, and few of our generation are, then don’t worry! Your children will be able to help you navigate Whatsapp, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and much more besides. 

     

    Avoid constantly checking digital devices for news updates as this will only increase your anxiety levels. Consider learning a new skill together as a family. Reconnect with those activities that have brought you pleasure in the past. Tackling that thousand piece jigsaw puzzle that has been gathering dust in the attic might bring you more pleasure that you could possibly imagine! An excellent source of information for support during this period can be found at: 

    https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/supporting-your-child-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/

    Finally…

    Term is now underway and it is great to welcome our children back to School….albeit remotely. This is going to be a full term during which we are going to affirm and celebrate the incredible progress that our children have made throughout this academic year. We are going to focus upon what can be achieved rather than dwell in sadness upon what is not currently possible. The school campus is looking as beautiful as ever and we are keeping the grounds in perfect shape for when everyone returns. The love that our parents and pupils express for this place is a source of very real sustenance throughout these times and we look forward, with optimism, to the day when our children begin to return to school.

    Thank you so much for the heartfelt expressions of support that we have received in recent times. Thank you also for adapting to different term dates, remote learning and the introduction of the Rossall Diploma. I am tremendously proud to write these words knowing that the spirit of Rossall burns more brightly than at any point during our recent history.  

    For the first assembly of term please see: https://www.rossall.org.uk/admissions/covid-19-video-blogs/

    Follow us at https://twitter.com/RossallSchool

    With best wishes, 

    Jeremy Quartermain

    Headmaster

     

  • COVID-19 - 7TH APRIL 2020

    Community Engagement and support for the NHS

    As we enter the third week of ‘lockdown’ in the UK, I thought it might be an apposite moment to reflect upon how Rossall is assisting the local community during these challenging times. For the past couple of weeks we have provided support and resources for the Fleetwood Mobile Food Bank. This initiative has involved volunteers from the Mustard Seed, West View Community Association, Fleetwood churches, Fleetwood Town Community Trust, Fleetwood Together and Wyre Council working together to provide food parcels for those most in need. 

    Those within our town who are isolated or need additional support contact a telephone line situated here on site and place their requests. This line is staffed by members of the Rossall School community and they have helped to coordinate the food bank’s response as well as providing emotional support for those feeling isolated.  A leading figure in this community work has been our very own Father John Hall, who is School Chaplain and member of Council. 

    Protective Equipment 

    Lee Hodgetts, (Head of Design Technology) has been hard at work in the Design and Technology Department manufacturing face visors for frontline NHS staff. We have already donated all of our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the NHS and we thank the science department for arranging to do this at such short notice.

    Accommodation for NHS Staff

    We stand ready and willing to provide accommodation for frontline NHS staff and have made our willingness to do so known to NHS procurement services. Were we to do so then these staff would be located at some distance from our boarding community, which will continue to remain in complete isolation. Most likely, we would utilise Puffin and Lugard. Given the number of empty hotels in Blackpool which contain ensuite facilities, we think it is unlikely that the NHS will take us up on this offer. If they intimated an interest in doing so, then we would inform parents and guardians immediately and the safety and welfare of our remaining boarders would always be our number one priority.  The NHS are aware of this fact and they know that we still have a boarding community and residents on site who need to remain isolated and safeguarded at all times. 

    Visors leaving the production line in the Design and Technology Department 

    Covid-19 Addendum to Rossall School’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy

    I attach an addendum to our existing Child Protection Policy which augments rather than replaces our existing protocols and procedures.  Both the addendum and Child Protection & Safeguarding Policy are published on our website. The addendum addresses those child protection and safeguarding issues which are pertinent to our current circumstances. Inevitably, operating remotely requires some adjustments to aspects of our existing policies but the addendum should be read in conjunction with these policies. It is informed by advice from the Boarding Schools’ Association, Public Health England and the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate. Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is anything within the document that you would like to discuss, although I think it is self-explanatory for the main part. Covid Addendum to Safeguarding Policy

    Emotional Well-being and Mental Health 

    We are acutely conscious that this is a challenging time for all families. Anxiety arising from concern for our loved ones is further exacerbated by the very necessary restrictions now placed on our daily lives. Confinement is particularly difficult for those residing in city apartments and only permitted to exercise once a day. It is inevitable that many young people will struggle with the absence of social contact with friends and regular access to the co-curricular activities that they enjoy so very much. 

    Some will be upset by news reports and I do think we need to be careful to ensure that our children are not overwhelmed by the incredible sadness and anxiety caused by this global pandemic now unfolding before our eyes. As a parent, I am aware that my oldest daughter is very inquisitive and wants to understand why life has, albeit temporarily, changed. I think that it is our responsibility to provide age appropriate explanations that balance reassurance with honesty. After all, children do need to know why personal hygiene and social distancing are important, whilst understanding that symptoms in children are usually very mild indeed. This is an unprecedented situation but I am conscious that some of the images from intensive care units around the world could have a very damaging impact upon young children who will then worry about the adults in their lives. We do not pretend to have the answers but we are here to talk through any concerns. Do please contact us at any time if you need some additional support or a friendly person to talk to. 

    We are more than a school, we are a community and we are here for you as well as your children. It is my hope that we can provide support for anyone within our community who is feeling lonely, frustrated or anxious. Parenting is not always easy and our children do not come with training manuals or instruction books. We all get it wrong on occasions but if we are reflective and share our concerns then we can support each other superbly well. 

    Rossall families are scattered across the world but whether you are far or near to us, I hope that you are safe and in good health. Finally our thoughts are with all healthcare professionals around the world who are the true heroes of our time. 

    All best wishes,

    Jeremy Quartermain 

  • COVID 19 - 30TH MARCH 2020

    Last week the UK government put in place additional measures designed to help safeguard and protect everyone from this virus. Whilst Public Health England has made it clear that it is permissible to view a boarding community as a single household, we have taken the decision to further protect our boarding community by sectioning it off into the following subgroups:

    1. Rose and Dolphin
    2. Pelican
    3. Maltese Cross & Spread Eagle
    4. Mitre Fleur de Lys 
    5. Anchor & Wren 

    Furthermore, we have introduced the following measures to minimise any potential risk.

    1. We have closed the Dining Hall and all meals are now delivered to the boarding houses where they are consumed in day rooms.
    2. Until further notice, children are not permitted to socialise or interact with children who are not resident in their house(s). 

    We are encouraging our boys and girls to get plenty of fresh air and take regular exercise. They are in good spirits and showing remarkable fortitude during these current times.  

    Thankfully, all of our boarders remain fit and healthy and there are no cases of COVID-19 here at Rossall School. If any member of the resident community feels remotely unwell, regardless of the symptoms, then they are required to self-isolate. For instance,  as a precautionary measure, I have asked Ian Parry (Housemaster of Pelican) to self-isolate after he informed me that he felt slightly unwell yesterday morning. Consequently, the Pelican boys are being looked after by Mike Kelly (Deputy Housemaster). 

    It is worth stressing that were we to have a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Rossall School then we would immediately notify all of our parents, agents and guardians. The additional measures that we have now put in place are restrictive but they will be reviewed on a regular basis. Throughout this period, we have been committed to exceeding UK government recommendations rather than simply meeting them. At all times, our number one priority is the welfare of our children and, by extension, each and every member of the Rossall Community. 

    Thank you so much for the positive feedback with regards to the success of our remote learning provision. We have shared these comments with members of staff and they are very appreciative of your recognition of their efforts. In these unprecedented times, we are all on a learning curve. As always, we are keen to learn what we can do better and so do please email [email protected] with any thoughts about curricular or teaching matters.  

    Senior Assembly 

    This afternoon’s Senior Assembly will take place at 5:00 pm this afternoon but it has been pre-recorded on this occasion. It can be viewed on Rossall School’s Facebook Page.

  • COVID-19 - 25TH MARCH 2020

    I am delighted that, from an educational perspective, we are continuing to operate very successfully. We would like to thank all our pupils and their parents for embracing remote learning so enthusiastically. We have seen many examples of outstanding work completed at home and this reflects the huge pride that Rossall pupils take in everything that they do.  

    Spring has descended upon the School and the campus is looking particularly beautiful this morning. We will keep posting on our Facebook and Twitter pages throughout this period as we know that so many of you enjoy seeing images from Rossall. The goats have returned from their holiday and the rabbits are keeping the lawn in Graeme’s Garden trim. Obviously, we would prefer the School to be filled with the voices of young people but we are checking in remotely on a regular basis. Your child should hear from their tutor at least twice a week and  we intend to phone and Skype families before the Easter break. 

    Our boarders are settling into the new routine superbly well and the excitement of last weekend has now passed. We await further details about public examinations but we are busy preparing for a very full Summer Term which will include internal assessments for all year groups. It is important that we maintain momentum throughout the coming weeks so as to ensure that our children are well-placed for a seamless return to School, or transition to university.

    We would like Rossallians to share with us examples of their creativity and Dina Porovic and Margaret Young have created a Google Classroom which all pupils will have access to, entitled ‘Rossall Performs!’ The Classroom will allow children to upload short video clips or images of themselves :

    1. Reading poetry
    2. Dancing
    3. Singing
    4. Playing a musical instrument
    5. Shooting short Films
    6. Performing drama pieces 
    7. Photographs
    8. Works of art (drawings, paintings, sculptures etc.) 

    Each week, our favourite pieces will be shown and discussed on a Facebook Live Session – more details to follow.

    Live and Online: Friday 27th March 2020, 13:00 GMT

    Don’t forget to tune in to my live broadcast on Friday 27th March 2020 at 13:00 GMT to have your questions answered. Last week’s ‘Live and Online’ was viewed by over 200 members of our community, with a number of questions posed before and posted during this live session. We received great feedback from parents both in the UK and Internationally, commenting how useful and reassuring it was.

    Please visit: https://www.facebook.com/RossallSchoolUK/ to watch. To send in your questions, please email Lucy Barnwell at [email protected]

    New Saturday Morning Rossall Kitchen

    The new show hosted by Fiona Quartermain will commence this Saturday and you will be able to tune in live on Facebook. There will be interviews, cook-offs and culinary mayhem. 

    As always, we remain here for you and do please contact us directly if you have any questions about our new routines. Similarly, if we can be of any help in any other way then please do let us know.

    All best wishes,

    Jeremy 

  • COVID-19 - 24TH MARCH 2020

    Yesterday evening, Boris Johnson addressed the nation to announce what amounts to an almost complete ‘lockdown’. At Rossall, we welcome this measure, given that it provides an excellent opportunity to ‘flatten the curve’ and ensure that health services are not placed under additional strain. 

    People should only leave home to:

    • Shop for basic necessities – infrequently
    • Take exercise (once daily) 
    • Seek medical support or provide care or help a vulnerable person
    • Travel to and from work when absolutely necessary

    People are asked to refrain from:

    • Meeting friends
    • Meeting relatives whom you do not live with
    • Attending weddings, baptisms, or any other form of religious ceremony
    • Participating in public gatherings 

    The following are closed

    • All shops selling non-essential goods
    • All libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship
    • Cinemas, pubs, hotels, restaurants etc.

    Alongside the closure of schools, these measures now replicate the measures that have been put in place across much of Europe. Here at Rossall, we have been planning for and gently moving towards this potential reality for some time. Very few non-residential staff are now permitted to enter any area of the site. Those who live on site are respecting the terms of the ‘lockdown’ and practising social distancing. Only one nominated member of each household is allowed to leave the site to buy essential groceries etc. Otherwise, our boarding community and residential staff are in a state of complete ‘lockdown’. 

    The UK government has stated that the measures currently in place will be reviewed in three weeks’ time.

    Yesterday, the government published detailed guidance on isolation for residential educational settings and we would like to share this with you:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings

    The government treats a boarding school community as a single ‘household’ but at Rossall we are practising social distancing and avoiding bringing our remaining boarders together as one group. The above document sets out very detailed advice regarding isolation and the procedures to follow were a child to present with symptoms of the coronavirus.

    Whilst many of our boarders have returned safely to their home countries, we are committed to looking after those who are unable to travel home due to the cancellation of flights or other significant factors.  Parents should now feel reassured that the government has made it clear that it has no intention of closing down boarding schools or residential educational settings in entirety. As our previous bulletins have highlighted, we have anticipated the potential imposition of these restrictions by the protocols and procedures we have already put in place. Consequently, we have the facilities, resources and personnel to cope effectively with any eventuality. 

    You should know that we will continue to look after all children with care and compassion and we are very sensitive to the potential emotional and psychological implications of familial separation. With this in mind, it is our intention that all children residing with us should feel that they are part of a supportive family during the forthcoming weeks. In essence, we will treat our boarders as if they are our own children. Regular contact with home is very important for all children who are remaining at school and please do tell us if you have any technological problems maintaining close contact. 

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions about the School’s response to the current crisis. I appreciate that these are unsettling times but I do believe that the government’s measures are essential in order for us to get on top of the virus. 

    Remote Learning 

    Thank you so much for the positive comments regarding the quality of teaching and learning now taking place online. I am delighted by the success of this initiative and incredibly grateful to all staff for investing so much time and energy into an approach to teaching which is a little different from normal classroom practice – though the essentials remain the same.  

    Throughout this period, we will provide very regular updates on life at School on both our Facebook page and Twitter account. This will include school assemblies, information about public examinations, our response to coronavirus and various educational matters. Hopefully, we will also include content that is more light-hearted and celebrates those elements of life at Rossall which put a smile on all of our faces. 

    In the meantime, wherever you are, do keep safe and look after your loved ones. Sending love and support to all Rossallians near and far. 

    Jeremy Quartermain

  • COVID-19 - 23RD MARCH 2020

    NOTICE FOR PUPILS IN EXAMINATION YEAR GROUPS

    (Year 11 and Year 13)

    With confirmation that all external examinations have been suspended for our pupils, we write to you in order to clarify our position as a School. 

    We understand that this is an exceptionally unsettling time for all of our Year 11 and Year 13 pupils. We are aware that they have worked very hard to prepare for their upcoming examinations. Understandably, they will feel disappointed and frustrated that they will not have the opportunity to demonstrate their formidable progress and considerable achievements in the format that they both expected and deserved. 

    It is essential for all of our students to be provided with an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and experience a sense of closure before the conclusion of this academic year. In part, this will perhaps be partially provided by the grades published in due course. However, we believe that it is our responsibility to provide all students with an opportunity for their efforts and achievements to be acknowledged through a process of formal assessment.  

    Consequently, students in Year 11 will work towards the completion of the Rossall Senior School  Diploma. In addition to this it is our intention to confirm places within our Sixth Form (for both internal and external applicants) as soon as possible so as to remove a cause of real anxiety for some of our boys and girls. 

    Students in Year 13 will be awarded  the Rossall School Sixth Form Diploma upon completion of their studies with us. 

    Both these diplomas will serve as a tangible  record of achievement for each of our students and the graduation certificate for our Year 13 students will be accompanied by a valedictory reference written by the Headmaster.  

    Key features of the diploma will include:

    • Record of grades awarded by the exam boards (please see note below)
    • Record of internal grades awarded as a result of internal assessments to be sat in May 2020 (In all likelihood these assessments will be sat remotely)
    • A personalised reference summarising each student’s unique journey through Rossall highlighting all individual achievements, sporting or creative contributions, and a comment on soft skills such as leadership and teamwork
    • Each student will receive one of the following grades
    1. i) Pass
    2. ii) Merit

    iii) Distinction

    1. iv) Starred Distinction 

    Full details of the Rossall Diploma, along with dates and logistics will be published later this week. It is our intention for this diploma to be validated externally. 

    Information from Examination Boards 

    The Department for Education has shared further details with regards to  assessment for GCSE and A level courses.

    In essence, the process will be as follows: 

    • At some point, examination boards will ask schools to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe each student would have received if examinations had gone ahead.
    • This judgement will be based upon a range of evidence and data including both trial examinations and non-examination assessment.
    • The examination boards will then combine this with other relevant data, including prior attainment, to produce a grade which the government is aiming to release before the end of July. 
    • The DfE has stated that if students do not believe the correct process has been followed, then they will be able to appeal the results citing additional evidence.  
    • Additionally, if individuals do not believe that their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit additional  examinations once schools reopen their doors physically.

    The IB intends to publish its guidelines and FAQs by Friday 27th March. Once we have further information regarding the criteria that they will use to award the IB Diploma, we will, of course, inform students and parents. Students taking the IBDP are fortunate to have a relatively strong evidential basis in the form of coursework submissions and we presume that, in part, this will inform the level of grades awarded. 

    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Kind regards, 

    Dina Porovic
    Deputy Head (Teaching & Learning) 

    Stephen Prest 
    Director of Sixth Form

    Bethan Jones
    Director of the International Baccalaureate

  • COVID-19 - 20TH MARCH 2020

    Despite a lack of clarity from the UK government, we feel that the time has come to advise those who can return to their home country safely to do so. This is because:

    1. It is likely that cases are going to escalate in the UK and the government press conference this evening suggests that more significant measures may be introduced in the near future and these could impact upon travel arrangements. 
    2. It seems increasingly likely that any period of ‘lockdown’ may last for a significant period of time. 

    Please contact your child’s houseparent(s) if you would like to discuss options.  If you book a flight for your child could you please submit travel details using the online form https://form.jotformeu.com/50212685423348 and we will arrange transportation to the airport. 

    If the journey from School to Home is likely to involve significant risk then children will be able to remain here at school. Similarly, if there is a disruption to flights which makes the journey impossible then we will continue to care for children as outlined in previous bulletins.  

    Jeremy Quartermain
    20th March, 2020

  • COVID-19 - 19TH MARCH 2020

    NOTICE FOR GCSE PUPILS AND A LEVEL STUDENTS

    This morning the UK Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson confirmed that it will not be possible to run examinations and that the government was moving ahead with plans to ensure that all GCSE and A level candidates would receive their results in August as would normally be the case. 

    Mr Williamson did not give further details on exactly how this process would work but confirmed that further details would be published tomorrow. Once that information is published we will ensure that we communicate the implications of that, to all of our pupils and parents. 

    While the latest information available from IGCSE providers suggests that these international qualifications may continue outside of the UK, the implications of the government’s announcement for UK centres which run these qualifications are not clear. As above, once we have received clarification on this matter, we will provide further updates. 

    As we announced yesterday, we are moving ahead with our plans to assess and award a Rossall School Diploma and a Rossall Sixth Form Diploma, to our GCSE and A level students. 

    The provision that we will put in place will provide us with a clear evidence-base on which to draw upon, when the government announces the process by which it will expect educational establishments and the examination boards to award grades. 

    Furthermore, it will also allow us to formally recognise the industry, ambition and ability of our Year 11 and Year 13 students who have worked so incredibly hard over the past two years, and who we are confident will continue to do so over the coming weeks.

    Following the publication of further details from the Department of Education, we will tomorrow release further details regarding the practical details of the Rossall School Diploma and the Rossall Sixth Form Diploma. However, we can confirm that all pupils and students will be able to access learning and any further assessments that may be required, whether in person or through Google Classroom and Google Meet. 

    Indeed, we wish to reassure parents of pupils and students in all years, that the introduction of digital technology and our robust forward planning for such an eventuality, means that lessons will be able to continue, uninterrupted, for all members of the Rossall Community.

    NOTICE FOR IB DIPLOMA STUDENTS 

    The International Baccalaureate Organisation today updated IB Schools on their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that they are currently working through the options available to them, with a target of providing clarification on the May 2020 examination session no later than 27 March 2020. 

    The IBO also confirmed that schools should continue to submit students’ work and that they were exploring solutions to ensure that IB Schools can provide students with official documentation for use with university admissions, should students be unable to sit some or all of their examinations. 

    We hope that this does provide reassurance for both students and their parents at what is a frustrating and unsettling time. 

    Given this information provided by the IBO, our very clear advice to our IB students is that they should continue preparing for their examinations as usual. 

    Once we receive further clarification from the IBO, we will update students and parents. 

    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to be in contact. 

    Kind regards, 

    Dina Porovic
    Deputy Head (Teaching & Learning) 

    Stephen Prest 
    Director of Sixth Form

  • COVID-19 - 18TH MARCH 2020

    BRITISH BOARDING SCHOOLS TO CONTINUE OPERATING AS NORMAL

    Tonight, the UK School’s Minister Baroness Berridge confirmed that Boarding Schools have been instructed to carry on operating and caring for their students as normal. 

    This followed the UK government’s announcement that all schools in England will shut, to all except the children of key workers, at the end of the school day on Friday until further notice. As you will be aware, we had already taken the decision to close the school to day pupils from this point forward, although our boarding provision will continue to operate unaltered and all students will continue to be taught. We are very pleased that the UK government has now confirmed their support for the strategy that we have been adopting for some time and we know that this will bring much needed clarity and reassurance to all of our parents. 

    NOTICE FOR YEAR 11 AND YEAR 13 PUPILS

    Furthermore, the UK government announced that GCSE and A-levels exams scheduled for May and June will not go ahead but that they will work with Ofqual to ensure students get the qualifications needed to move onto the next stage of their educational journey.

    We anticipate that one of two possible things will happen:

    • The exam season will move to later on in the summer, possibly as late as July or August.
    • No examinations will run and qualifications will be awarded on the basis of school certification.

    Regardless of external decisions made, students will need to continue working towards their GCSE and A-level qualifications. This will ensure that if examinations do take place, students will be in the strongest possible position to fulfill their potential. Similarly, if qualifications are awarded on the basis of school certification, we will be able to issue grades with confidence and reward the continued hard work of our students. 

    Rossall School is well set up in this regard as we have already put systems in place which will mean that pupils can continue to access learning whether in school or at home. Indeed, having anticipated that such an eventuality may arise, we have put in place a Rossall Senior School Diploma which will be sat by all Year 11 pupils (either remotely or in person) at the end of the Summer Term and similarly, a Rossall Sixth Form Diploma for all Year 13 students who complete their studies with us and graduate at the end of the summer term. The outcome of this will then be shared with future employers and universities. 

    As soon as further guidance is issued from the relevant authorities, we will of course communicate this, and the implications for our pupils and students, to you.  

    If, in the meantime, you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Kind regards, 

    Jeremy Quartermain
    Headmaster 

    Dina Porovic 
    Deputy Head (Teaching & Learning) 

    Stephen Prest
    Director of Sixth Form 

  • COVID-19 - DAY PARENTS

    It is with a heavy heart that we have concluded that we are now approaching the time for the School to enter the next phase of our planned response to the unfolding Covid-19 crisis. The government’s recent advice regarding social-distancing and the need to self-isolate is, ultimately, irreconcilable with the demand that schools should remain open. Throughout this period, we have put in place measures to ensure that our children remain safe and whilst it is indeed the case that expert opinion indicates that children are extremely unlikely to develop more than the mildest of symptoms, we are mindful of our wider social responsibility to the people of the Fylde and beyond. 

    Rossall School is a community which comprises parents, grandparents and nearly two hundred and fifty members of staff. It is a community which includes individuals who are vulnerable by virtue of their health and or age. It is our duty to safeguard the interests of all members of this community and failure to do so would place us at odds with our ethos and values. This is an occasion when we have to have the courage to do what is right even although it is, undeniably, a very tough call. 

    Transitioning to the next phase of our plan will bring to a conclusion this current period of uncertainty. Moreover, we can now focus all of our energies upon operating remotely. We are committed to ensuring an outstanding quality of teaching during the weeks that lie ahead. Obviously, we will resume normal operations as soon as we are permitted but, in the meantime, we will devote all of our energy and time to ensuring an interactive, inspiring and stimulating educational experience for all of our wonderful children. Thank you so much for the positive feedback thus far from those who have been participating in lessons remotely.

    The current arrangements will cease from  4:30 pm on Friday, 20th March 

     

    From Monday 23rd March all lessons will be taught remotely and at the following times:

    Sch 1 08.05 – 08:45

    Sch 2 08:55 – 09:35

    Sch 3 10:00 – 10:40

    Sch 4 10:50 – 11:30

    Tutor Period 11:35 – 12:25

    Sch 5 13:00 – 13:40

    Sch 6 13:50 – 14:30

    Revision Slot 14:40 – 15:40

    It is important that parents work with us to ensure that children digitally attend all lessons. Dina Porovic will circulate parental guidance which will discuss issues including:

    1. Assessment and assignment completion
    2. Tutoring arrangements
    3. Effective use of Google Classroom and Google Meet
    4. Ensuring an appropriate working environment 
    5. Intensive preparation for public examinations
    6. Reporting

    Whilst children are not physically in attendance at School, they should maintain a disciplined approach to their studies and seek to remain full members of the School community at all times. As you would expect, our teachers are investing a huge amount of time and energy into ensuring that the curriculum is entirely deliverable online. They are committed to going above and beyond to ensure that all children receive the very best of support until they are in a position to return to School next term. 

    Unless required to self-isolate, teachers will continue to deliver their lessons from the School itself and they will teach from classrooms where they have excellent technological support on hand.  

    As you are aware, many boarders have elected to remain in School over the Easter holidays and so, in that limited sense, we will, of course, remain open. However, our boarders have already entered isolation and, consequently, they are at very low risk of infection. You will understand that it is simply not possible for us to reduce the level of risk for day pupils to a similar extent because they leave the site regularly.

    With the inevitability that an increasing number of day pupils and staff will have to self-isolate, maintaining the current status quo would make it difficult if not impossible to ensure a parity of offering between the boarding and day sections. We feel strongly that all pupils deserve the same experience. 

    Moving to a remote phase has clear benefits insomuch as:

    1. Children have equal access to their teachers
    2. Children will return to their normal teaching groups as original sets will be reconstituted.
    3. A quality delivery of the curriculum is no longer dependent upon external factors and we stop being  ‘hostages to fortune’. 

    Children of Key Workers: Nursery to Year Nine

    We are conscious that a number of our parents work in vital services such as the police, health or education sectors. It is important that we provide childcare for those who, by virtue of their profession, are not permitted to work from home. Consequently it is our intention to accommodate a small number of children in School so as to ease the burden on parents – many of whom may be working long hours to combat this infection. 

    Please contact Matt Turner or Catherine Stacker if you would like your child to be supervised in School whilst they complete School work. We have limited capacity so it is important that we only offer this to children of such workers. The two Junior School sites will be utilised for this purpose.

    At this time, the Nursery will remain open.

    Finally….

    I wish to thank all members of this community for demonstrating the very best of human nature and acting with grace, kindness and compassion through what have been difficult days. There will be those within this part of the world who will need extra support during the next little while and it is my hope that Rossall can play a leading role in terms of helping vulnerable members of our local community here on the Fylde.

    I am looking forward to and praying for the time when we will have the opportunity to renew the bonds that bind us so closely and enjoy the warm embrace of those relationships that enrich our lives here at Rossall. Throughout the weeks ahead, I will remain entirely at your service and please do not hesitate to contact me at any time should you have any questions or should you simply feel like a chat. It is my resolve to be here for you in the good times and the times when we need each other. We are a community and not just a school. 

    Wishing you all the best until normal School life resumes in the very near future! 

    Jeremy Quartermain

    18th March 2020

  • COVID 19 - BOARDING PARENTS

    As part of our regular Covid-19 update, I can inform you that there are 0 cases of Covid-19 in school, and 0 cases in the area immediate to Rossall. At the time of writing, there are just 15 cases in the county of Lancashire (population 1,210,053).

    Rossall School is a community which comprises parents, grandparents and nearly two hundred and fifty members of staff. It is a community which includes individuals who are vulnerable by virtue of their health and or age. It is our duty to safeguard the interests of all members of this community and failure to do so would place us at odds with our ethos and values. Consequently, we are closing the physical site to day pupils from 4:30 pm on Friday. This does not affect the boarding community which is already in isolation. 

    Obviously, we will resume normal operations as soon as we are permitted but, in the meantime, we will devote all of our energy and time to ensuring an interactive, inspiring and stimulating educational experience for all of our wonderful children whether they have elected to remain here with us on site or chosen to learn remotely.

    The current arrangements will cease from  4:30 pm on Friday, 20th March 

    For our boarders, there will be little change other than a few adjustments to the timing of lessons. 

    As of Monday 23rd March, we will be closing the site to all day students at Rossall who will continue to access learning online. 

    Our boarding community will continue to attend lessons in an isolated environment at the following times (GMT):

    Sch 1 08.05 – 08:45

    Sch 2 08:55 – 09:35

    Sch 3 10:00 – 10:40

    Sch 4 10:50 – 11:30

    Tutor Period 11:35 – 12:25

    Sch 5 13:00 – 13:40

    Sch 6 13:50 – 14:30

    Revision Slot 14:40 – 15:40

    Dina Porovic will circulate parental guidance for on-line learning which will provide clear advice on matters including:

    1. Assessment and assignment completion
    2. Tutoring arrangements
    3. Effective use of Google Classroom and Google Meet
    4. Ensuring an appropriate working environment 
    5. Intensive preparation for public examinations
    6. Reporting

    Children who are not physically in attendance at School should maintain a disciplined approach to their studies and seek to remain full members of the School community at all times. As you would expect, our teachers are investing a huge amount of time and energy into ensuring that the curriculum is deliverable online and teaching and learning continue uninterrupted. 

    Unless required to self-isolate, teachers will continue to deliver their lessons from the School itself and they will teach from classrooms where they have excellent technological support on hand.  It is our intention to communicate with you as frequently as possible and so do feel free to contact us through your usual channels to raise any specific concerns you may have.  

    Jeremy Quartermain

    Wednesday 18th March 2020

  • COVID-19 - 17TH MARCH 2020

    We draw considerable reassurance from the much tougher measures that the UK government announced yesterday and has now introduced. It is clear that we have now moved to the ‘suppression’ phase of the virus. Whilst the number of cases in the UK remains comparatively low, it seems perfectly sensible for the government to have introduced measures such as:

    • Social distancing
    • Self-isolation for people over seventy years of age (and/or with pre-existing medical conditions)
    • A ban on public gatherings
    • Avoidance of cinemas, restaurants, pubs etc.
    • Self-isolation for a period of fourteen days for anyone demonstrating symptoms such as a persistent cough.

    I am told that traffic on public roads is now very light and it is clear that the majority of people are practising social distancing and working from home where possible. Generally, people are only venturing out for essential journeys.

    It is the UK government’s decision that all schools should remain open at this time – though this may well change in the days to come. As you are aware, we have already isolated our boarding community because we believe it is our responsibility to minimise risk in every regard. Day pupils continue to receive temperature scans and health checks every day and the day school is operating entirely separately from the boarding school.

    As I indicated yesterday, these are uncertain times and a relatively small number of our boarding parents have decided that they want their children to travel home in the coming days. Others are very happy for their children to remain here now that we have put in place additional measures such as our confinement policy. It is reassuring that were the UK government to order schools to close, then boarding schools would be permitted to remain open as has already happened in Ireland.

    As we indicated yesterday, parents who do wish for their children to return home should contact Mark Pryor at [email protected] to confirm travel arrangements The advice from the BSA is that in such cases this should happen sooner rather than later. They also state, ‘some parents may be more concerned with the risks associated with travelling home and prefer for students to stay in school.’ Whichever path you choose, you have our full support.

    At all times, no matter what the circumstances, our boarders will benefit from the highest standards of teaching and learning and an outstanding quality of pastoral care. In the weeks ahead, our boarding staff will continue to work hard to ensure a warm and caring family-centred home-from-home environment.

    Online Learning

    Much of our energy is now directed towards ensuring that we are in a position to deliver an outstanding quality of education should we be compelled to operate remotely – either partially or fully. It is our responsibility to ensure that teaching and learning continues unimpeded during the weeks and months ahead. This is very labour intensive for our teachers but we are absolutely determined that our pupils should make the same progress as if they were here with us in school.

    It is enormously important that all parents work in partnership with us to ensure that their children’s education proceeds as normally as possible. Dina Porovic will send around pupil and parental guidance which will address issues such as daily routine, technological concerns, contact with tutors and form groups etc. There are plenty of reports in the media of children supposedly on ‘lockdown’ in European countries who are spending their days socialising rather than applying themselves to their studies and we do not want this for any of our own boys and girls. We will do everything within our power to provide children with an outstanding quality of education but parents will need to work with us on this. Those who do not study for a protracted period of time will be left behind.

    Jeremy Quartermain

  • COVID-19 UPDATE - 16TH MARCH 2020 -BOARDING PARENTS

    We understand that this must have been an anxious weekend for many of you. It is our intention to communicate with you as frequently as possible in order to keep you fully informed of events here in school. 

    As with previous updates, there are 0 cases of Coronavirus in school and 0 cases in the area local to Rossall. At the time of writing, there remains no increase of cases in Lancashire with just 6 cases for the county (population 1,210,053). Nationally, there are just 22.7 cases per million of population – very significantly lower than for many European countries. 

    For your reference, should you wish to track the number of cases in the UK, then you should use the Public Health England online tool, which can be found here

    There are many conflicting reports in the press which have served to fuel anxiety and the reliability of much of the information on social media is clearly of a highly dubious nature. I would reiterate that your best and most credible sources of news remain Public Health England and the BBC. 

    We are aware that there are various rumours circulating on Whatsapp groups that tend to heighten emotions.  For the sake of clarity:

    • Day students have not been asked to remain at home. However, they are being educated in a separate and self-contained area of school as outlined in previous communications. This is now in place and running very smoothly 
    • Only a relatively small number of our senior boarders left school last week to return home, as many of our parents believe that the safest place for them to remain is in the very self-contained environment that we have created here at Rossall.  The exact number of students to have left school at this point stands at ten. However, there are some further students who have made arrangements to travel home this week. We have detailed below the procedures for students who wish to return to their home countries. 
    • Should the school be required to close to day pupils by the U.K. government then the government has confirmed to the Boarding School Association (BSA) that boarding schools will remain open to boarders and, consequently, we would continue to operate in a self-contained and controlled environment. Day students would access lessons remotely. 
    • Should there be circumstances where the U.K. government requested us to close to all students then borders would remain under our care until arrangements could be made for them to return home. 
    • The indications from the government in the U.K. are that they are not planning to close schools at this stage.
    • In the event the school was forced to close physically,  then the teaching elements and educational provision would remain fully operational, with learning and assessments taking place online. This is already up and running and has been accessed by students who are learning remotely. 

    Whilst it is not possible to eliminate risks entirely, we are working to reduce risk to an absolute minimum level – certainly to what we consider a much lower level than that presented by air travel and public transport. As a reminder, these are the measures we have already taken. We have:

    • created an isolated boarding zone to remove contact and interaction between day students and boarding students. There is now zero interaction between the two groups including for PE lessons and activities. 
    • catering arrangements have been separated.
    • every single visitor, teacher and day student has to undertake a temperature check and complete a  medical declaration form on entry to the day zone.
    • local teachers are practising social distancing when not in school.
    • increased the number of hand sanitiser stations in school and availability of hand sanitiser products.
    • increased the frequency of disinfecting of school sites.
    • continued ongoing training for all members of the community with regards to hygiene matters.
    • any student returning from abroad needs to isolate for 2 weeks off-site before returning to school.
    • students have been permitted to wear masks.
    • Our Director of Boarding meets with our medical team (which includes a doctor) first thing every morning.

    Should a student be diagnosed with Covid-19 in school, then this is what would happen:

    1. If a boarder displays symptoms, regardless of how mild they are, then they will immediately be referred to the school medical centre and would be isolated until given the all clear. That isolation will take place in School (either in the medical centre or in one of our Summer School boarding houses). Members of Rossall staff have already volunteered to look after a student in the isolation area if needed.
    2. If a student was diagnosed with Covid-19 and the NHS advice was to remain isolated for 2 weeks, then we would provide that isolation in school and under our care. Again, members of staff have volunteered to do this. 
    3. Day pupils will be using separate medical facilities, and, should they present symptoms, they will be isolated well away from the boarding zone and then sent home.
    4. Because of the nature of our site, we would be able to isolate and contain a significant outbreak. 

    It is especially important that students in Years 11 and 13 remain in school. If a Year 13 student leaves now then it may make achieving a place at a top university considerably more challenging. 

    Current government guidelines suggest that GCSE and A-level exams will go ahead as planned. Leaving the school and the UK may mean that your son/daughter will not be able to sit the qualifications they have worked so hard to prepare for.

    We understand parental anxiety is high when children are so far away, but it would be difficult to imagine a more protected and isolated campus anywhere in the UK at this point in time.  We are concerned that flying represents a significantly higher risk of transmission for our children and, arguably, has implications in terms of social responsibility.  It is also worth remembering that every member of  our Senior Leadership Team has young children here at School – something which we would not contemplate if there was any real evidence of there being a significant risk to their health. Indeed, as you will be aware, all the available scientific evidence firmly indicates that this is not the case. 

    Nevertheless, we do recognise that at a time like this some parents will decide that they would like their children to return home to be close to them. Therefore, whilst the School remains very much open and fully operational, we are, of course, entirely supportive of such decisions. Ultimately, every family must make the decision which feels right for them. 

    If you do wish to temporarily remove your child from the physical campus of the School for a limited period of time, then the  school policy is as follows:

    • Students leaving should obviously not be subject to quarantine at their port of entry
    • Students will be expected to attend all their online lessons; the school has already initiated remote learning. 
    • Students will receive regular one-to-one contact from their tutors to monitor academic progress etc.
    • Students still retain their registered status as Rossall students and any such absence will be deemed authorised
    • Students are expected to return to Rossall at the earliest possible date to continue their studies in person. Rossall has already prepared contingency plans to provide isolation if required in those circumstances. This week we will be announcing details of our new Rossall satellite campus where this can be provided. This will be entirely staffed by Rossall staff. 
    • Contingencies have been put in place to allow mainland Chinese students to access learning materials, resources and lessons from within China

    Our teachers are committed to ensuring that, educationally, the needs of our pupils continue to be met during this time. The school will continue to operate remotely throughout this period. Above all else, our thoughts and best wishes are with you at what is undoubtedly a difficult time. 

    If you decide that you would still like your son/daughter to come home, please can you inform Mark Pryor ([email protected]) of their travel arrangements.

    Jeremy Quartermain                                                                                     

    16/03/2020

  • COVID-19 UPDATE - 16TH MARCH 2020 -DAY PARENTS

    Today was the first day of Rossall School operating across two distinct sites – Day and Boarding. As a Day parent, we thought you might appreciate some details regarding the new set-up:

    • Teaching staff and the senior team are split evenly across the two sites
    • The Day site is situated in the Maths and Farrell buildings. 
    • Lessons for all subjects take place in these buildings. Some classrooms have been adapted to make it possible to teach practical subjects such as Art and DT.
    • Classrooms have been designated for particular year groups with teachers rather than pupils moving between lessons where possible.
    • Learning Development is situated in Anchor House.
    • All lessons in Year 7 – 11 are overseen by a member of teaching staff:
      • In Year 7 – 9 all lessons are taught by staff who are on the Day site
      • In Year 10 and Year 11 lessons for core subjects are taught by teachers who are on the Day site.
      • Optional subjects in Year 10 and 11 are taught by the pupil’s subject teacher. If the teacher is on the Boarding site, such lessons are taught remotely with pupils being supervised to ensure that they are supported and engaging fully with the lessons being taught
    • Sixth form lessons continue to be taught by the student’s subject teachers. Where these lessons are taught remotely pupils are expected to attend, contribute and submit work virtually
    • Sixth form pupils have access to a suite of rooms designated for private study and group remote learning.
    • We use Google Classroom and Google Hangouts Meet for all remote interactions.
    • Break time snacks are provided through the Rosshop and lunch is served in the Performing Arts Centre. The food on offer is the same on the Day site as it is on the Boarding site

    Some parents have been in touch to request clarification regarding support for examination year groups. We can confirm that content coverage and revision in Year 11 and Year 13 continue undisrupted. All resources are now stored on Google Drive and as such, teachers can access and share such resources from any location. Although revision sessions have been temporarily suspended while we adjust to a new routine, these will recommence as soon as routines are set.

    Should there come a point where we are directed by the government to close the school to day pupils and operate remotely we will continue to maintain a full timetable of lessons. Our teachers will ensure continuity of learning through online lessons, one-to-one contact with tutors, sharing of digital resources, marking of assignments and intensive examination preparation. 

    As the situation evolves we will continue to refine our approach to ensure the highest possible quality of education. We will take on board guidance for best practice and will ensure that professional development for our colleagues enables them to make the most of the digital tools available.

    We understand that this is an anxious time for many of you. We know that clear and regular communication at this time is key and we will endeavour to keep you fully informed. Should you have any questions or concerns over the coming days and weeks please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Above all else, our thoughts and best wishes are with you at what is undoubtedly a difficult time. 

    Jeremy Quartermain                                                                                     

    16/03/2020

  • COVID-19 - 12TH MARCH 2020

    Rossall School – Announcement of Confinement Policy

    Our recent ISI inspection report highlighted the fact that the pastoral care of children is truly excellent. As this global crisis unfolds, it is my responsibility to ensure that we are ahead of the curve by minimising any potential risk to members of this wonderful community. There is nothing more important than the well-being of our children and it is for this reason that we are resolutely committed to exceeding the recommendations of Public Health England and other external agencies.

    There are 0 cases of Covid-19 at Rossall and 0 in the area local to Rossall. At the time of writing, there are only 5 cases in the whole of Lancashire. (population 1.4 million)

    The risk to our students remains extremely low and I am aware that some will consider our confinement policy outlined below overly cautious. However, we are resolved to ensure that Rossall School leads the way in terms of taking sensible measures to protect each and every member of our community.

    The measures we put in place will be reviewed on a daily basis and any amendment/update will continue to be communicated.

    As a community, we need to be proactive rather than reactive with regards to government policy. We are committed to taking sensible steps to minimise risk whilst continuing to deliver an outstanding quality of education.

    The unique nature of our diverse community is one of the strongest features of this School and it is my responsibility to ensure that we look after every member of this community. Parents entrust the care of their children to us and our number one priority will always be the welfare and happiness of each and every young person in this School.

    The updates you have received thus far are part of our phased and planned strategy in response to Covid-19. Consequently, we have decided that now is the time to gently transition to the next phase of our plan as this will allow us to:

    • further reduce the risk of transmission for all members of our community
    • enable the school to continue to operate effectively

    As from midnight tonight, the School will enter ‘confinement’. This is a preventative measure and one designed to ensure the continued good health of all within our School.

    With the exception of the Nursery and Junior School, the School will be closed to day pupils tomorrow (13th March). This is to provide our staff with sufficient time to ensure that we are able to run as two distinct sites when we reopen to day pupils first thing on Monday morning.

    Whilst the School will operate within two distinct zones, we are committed to ensuring minimal disruption to teaching and learning. We intend to remain open for as long as possible but we are fully prepared to operate remotely (for our day children) if directed to do so by the UK Government.

    Further details will be published in due course but at this point in time we would like to share the following with you:

    The School will be split into two distinct zones with staff and pupils allotted to either

    • The day school (Nursery, Junior School, *Years 7-8 and Senior Day Pupils 9 -13)
      *Including Anchor House
    • The boarding school (Years 9-13)

    Staff will be allotted to one or other of the two sites. Residential staff will teach our boarders whilst non-residential staff will be allotted to the day school.

    Whether residential or non-residential, ALL staff will adhere to our social distancing policy which will be circulated within the next 24 hours.

    Similarly, ALL staff will continue to receive daily health checks including temperature scans etc.

    Boarding Zone – Key Points

    • Boarders will be permitted to wear masks according to personal and cultural preference.
    • Boarders will continue to receive their meals in the Dining Hall
    • Town leave is cancelled for this weekend but this will be reviewed on a weekly basis
    • Boarders will have access to our own beach, Sports Hall at weekends, Gym etc.
    • At no point will pupils within the boarding zone enter the day zone and there will be a physical delineation between both sections.
    • A normal timetable will resume first thing on Monday morning.
    • All boarding pupils will receive a daily health check which will include a temperature scan.
    • Were a boarding pupil to be required to self-isolate then this would happen in a ‘home-from-home’ suite in our medical centre. The pupil would be attended to by a member of staff 24 hours a day.

    Day Zone – Key Points

    • For as long as possible we will continue to operate the day school and we are committed to ensuring minimal disruption to teaching and learning.
    • At no point will pupils within the day zone enter the boarding zone and there will be a clear physical delineation between both sections of the School.
    • Our day pupils will continue to register each morning at the Sports Hall and current health checks will continue to take place.
    • Senior pupils will be taught in the Maths block and Farrell building.
    • Junior School pupils will be escorted to class.
    • Although there will be no activities after school, we will continue to provide the prep facility for our pupils 4.30 – 5.30pm.
    • Lunch will be provided for Day pupils.
    • No day pupil will be permitted to enter the Boarding zone.
    • For the time being all sports fixtures will be cancelled.

    Finally, we are incredibly grateful for your continued support throughout this time. The love and support for this community is overwhelming and I am incredibly humbled to lead such an outstanding School.

    It is my responsibility to ensure that Rossall remains a calm and safe haven for all our children throughout the coming weeks. We will work to minimise the impact upon their lives whilst taking sensible measures to minimise risk.

    Regular updates will be provided to all parents and please do contact us if you have any concerns.

    This announcement is simply a continuation of our existing plan which has been in place for many weeks now. I know that the measures taken thus far have provided much reassurance for parents and pupils alike and we now move forward with confidence and clarity.

    Jeremy Quartermain

    12th March, 2020

  • COVID-19 - TERM DATES 2020 - 11TH MARCH 2020

    Rossall School Summer Term 2020

    Summer Term 2020 (new dates)

    Boarders return Monday 13th April
    Term starts Tuesday 14th April
    Half Term starts Friday 15th May (Start of Study Leave for Years 11/13)
    Boarders return Sunday 31st May
    Term resumes Monday 1st June
    Completion of all GCSE and A Level Exams Wednesday 24th June
    Term ends Friday 3rd July

    Headteachers and governing bodies are naturally reluctant to amend term dates because there is a general understanding that such amendments impact adversely upon travel and childcare arrangements. However, after considerable consultation with a good number of staff, parents and pupils, it is now clear that the best interests of our whole school community are served by commencing the Summer Term a week earlier than previously published.

    We were due to break up on Friday 3rd April and return to School on Tuesday 21st April. However, the vast majority of our boarders have elected to stay in the UK for the Easter break and, consequently, the School will remain open to children throughout this period. Given the isolated and autonomous nature of our site, it is clearly much safer for children to remain here during the holidays rather than travelling to other parts of the UK or overseas.

    Many have elected to remain in School and structured revision sessions are being put in place for year groups taking public examinations. Furthermore, various onsite activities will be available for children in other year groups.

    With this in mind, there is a general consensus that it would be most sensible to return to School on Tuesday 14th April (a full week earlier than previously stated). This move will support all those children taking public examinations (day pupils and boarders alike) as they will receive additional tuition ahead of their examinations.

    Whilst the Summer Term will now commence on 14th April, we intend to offer all those children in non-examination year groups the opportunity to take an extended Summer Half Term break. This additional week means that the Summer Half Term will now run from Friday 15th May to Sunday 31st May. However, if this presents childcare issues for any of our families, then School will make provision to help during this time (Monday 18th to Friday 22nd May) so as to minimise potential inconvenience or additional expense.

    This adjustment to our term dates will provide a much needed opportunity for our boarders to return home to visit their parents and loved ones. It is important for us to consider the emotional needs of families who have been kept apart as a consequence of the current travel restrictions in place due to coronavirus. I know that all members of this wonderfully compassionate and caring community will consider this adjustment a considered and measured response to the current situation.

    I am grateful to our fantastic staff for agreeing so readily to change their holiday plans to accommodate our children in this way. I should also add that I am incredibly proud to lead a body of staff who demonstrate such steadfast determination to put our sons and daughters above their own personal interests. Obviously, we have to balance the interests of all members of our community and,as you know, we are a particularly diverse community.

    I do understand that for some families this change to our published calendar will present some challenges; especially given the comparatively short notice. However, there is overwhelming support for us providing a longer break in May – not least because we hope that, as the summer approaches, life will begin to return to normal across much of the world.

    Additional Note: Overseas Travel during the Easter Break

    As you are aware, it is most likely that those who travel abroad at Easter will be required to self-isolate for a period of time once they return to the UK or indeed upon arriving in the destination of their choice. Whilst we are most fortunate that Rossall School is a relatively isolated and self-contained community, it is important that we take robust measures in order to protect all members of our School.

    From this point forward, Mark Pryor, Senior Master, will be responsible for making decisions regarding proposed travel plans. You should contact Mark Pryor [email protected] if you are contemplating:

    • travelling overseas during the Easter break
    • travelling from overseas to visit children within the UK
    • Anticipating your child living with anyone who has travelled overseas during the last fourteen days

    Mr Pryor will consider requests on a ‘case by case basis’ and he will take full account of the most up-to-date guidance provided by independent bodies including:

    • Public Health England
    • World Health Organisation
    • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
    • Independent Schools Council
    • Boarding Schools Association

    We would caution against all foreign travel, not least because of the very obvious risk of transmission whilst travelling through airports and on board aeroplanes.

    Finally, it is worth remembering that we are fortunate insomuch as, so far, our region (Lancashire) has been affected very little by coronavirus with only four cases being diagnosed within a population of over 1.4 million. (see Sky News – 11th March).

    The cautionary steps that we have taken over recent days means that Rossall is becoming increasingly secure as a site. Furthermore our isolated and self-contained situation means it would be very easy for us to enter a state of greater containment whilst continuing to offer an outstanding quality of education.

    Jeremy Quartermain

    11th March 2020

  • COVID-19 - 9TH MARCH 2020

    I should begin by thanking all parents for the overwhelming level of support and positive feedback that you have provided for us at this time. It is very reassuring to know that the measures that we have put in place are deemed to be well-considered and proportionate.

    This is an evolving situation and it is our intention to be proactive and preemptive in order to mitigate against potential risk factors and address any possible causes of anxiety amongst members of our community. You should know that our children are calm and happy. For them, life continues as normal but with additional safeguards relating to hygiene and overseas travel.

    As a point of note, every single one of our boarders has been in the UK for longer than 14 days with no signs of infection. The student who had been in Milan during half term has now successfully completed her period of self-isolation and rejoined her boarding house.

    At this stage, we believe that it is important to take sensible measures to ensure that all members of our community remain fit and healthy. Over recent weeks, we have already taken the following steps:

    • Increased the number of hand-sanitizers throughout the school
    • Ensured that we have sufficient supplies of masks, tissues, bottles of hand-sanitizers and disinfecting agents.
    • Provided ongoing training for all staff relating to all aspects of public health/hygiene.
    • Carefully monitored the health of all members of our community
    • Put in place arrangements to ensure that the School would continue to operate remotely – should the need arise.
    • Required all visitors to the School to complete a medical health questionnaire
    • Prohibited anyone from visiting the School who has been to a Category 1 country at any point during the last fourteen days.
    • Augmented our existing disinfecting/cleaning regimes across all areas of the School.
    • Developed a number of robust procedures with the school doctor and medical staff to be actioned quickly if necessary

    As numbers of cases worldwide continue to increase, we believe that it is prudent to gradually introduce several additional measures that we believe will provide further reassurance to our parents and help to diminish the risk of a transmission or isolated outbreak of coronavirus impacting directly upon any member of our community. As you are aware, the risk to children under the age of nineteen is extremely low because:

    Transmission is less frequent and accounts for less than 2.5% of all cases
    Symptoms in children under the age of nineteen tend to be very mild indeed. Less than 0.2% of children infected with coronavirus develop serious symptoms.

    Nevertheless, it is our responsibility to safeguard all members of our community, including parents and staff. Consequently, we are introducing additional measures to ensure that the School continues to function normally in every other regard.

    Temperature Scans/Health Checks

    From tomorrow morning, visitors, day pupils and non-resident staff entering the School campus will be subjected to additional health checks. This is to reduce the risk of infection from any external source.

    Before pupils and staff are permitted to move freely within the school site, they will have their temperature taken and be asked to confirm that they have experienced no symptoms suggesting a risk of infection. They will also be asked to disclose if they have been in close contact with anyone who has travelled since their last health check

    Anyone with an elevated temperature or demonstrating any other relevant symptoms will not be permitted to enter the School site. They will only then be permitted to return to School when they have been given the ‘all-clear’ by a medical professional.

    For the sake of clarity, a visitor includes anyone entering the School site who is not a current member of staff, pupil or parent.

    Parents of children will not be permitted to enter any building unless they have gone through the same checks as staff and pupils.

    Classroom doors to be left open to minimise risk of transmission.

    Swimming Pool and Outside Lettings

    External use of the Swimming Pool has been suspended for the time-being. The virus is not waterborne but given that the swimming pool is used extensively by outside groups it seems sensible to minimise the risk that this presents.

    Our Sports Facilities are used by members of the local community both in the evenings and at weekends. We intend to suspend community usage until the end of April.

    Access to the School site

    Access to the School site will now be restricted to either the Sports Hall Reception. The only exception to this is for Infants and Nursery Children and their parents.

    We will keep arrangements for town leave for boarders under review but it may well be that this is suspended at certain times. If it is, then we would obviously arrange for deliveries to be made for our pupils.

    All deliveries will now take place at the side entrance of the Sports Hall and, consequently, no delivery vehicles will be permitted on the main school site.

    Travel during the Easter holidays

    This is an obvious area of concern for some parents though we know that a majority of our boarders intend to remain in the UK with many electing to stay at School during this relatively brief break.

    We have decided that there will be no additional charge for children wishing to remain at School during the Easter holidays – given that it is now our clear recommendation for our international boarders and given the very obvious risks associated with air travel.

    Currently, it is most likely that anyone (including day pupils) travelling overseas during the Easter break will be required to self-isolate for fourteen days within the UK upon their return. Later this week, we will provide additional details regarding adjustments to the Easter Holiday which would be designed to minimise the amount of time that our borders would be apart from their families.

    Finally……

    Please do remember that if you have any concerns then do contact us immediately. Parents sometimes imagine that we might be too busy to respond but we always have time for you. Our children and our parents are our priority at this time. By taking these measures and exceeding the recommendations of Public Health England, the World Health Organisation, and the Boarding Schools Association we are confident that we can minimise the impact upon pupils, staff and parents.

    It is worth noting that the risk to students at Rossall remains extremely low because of our semi-autonomous and self sufficient nature. We have planned extensively for various scenarios and monitor the situation daily. Should there be significant increases of Covid-19 in the UK then the school will be ready to respond to allow teaching to continue in a safe environment.

    Finally, thank you once again for working with us to ensure that we continue operating as normal but with additional safeguards and precautions now in place.

    Jeremy Quartermain

    9th March, 2020

  • COVID-19 - 5TH MARCH 2020

    Our first priority is the health and well-being of our boys and girls. The responsibility to ensure that our children are safe and nurtured within an environment in which they may flourish underpins all operational and strategic decisions that our leadership team takes. The current situation is concerning from a medical perspective. However, this is not simply a clinical conundrum to be grappled with by immunologists and virologists. There are profoundly human dimensions to this situation and it is a situation which has emotional and psychological implications for young people and adults alike. It is natural for us to feel anxiety when contemplating any threat to the well-being of our children and those whom we love. As a School, we feel obliged to ensure that we take steps to minimise the risk of us unknowingly becoming a source or conduit for infection within the communities in which we live and work. Moreover, it is our natural desire to respond compassionately and calmly in order to minimise the potential anxiety and distress caused by uncertainty or familial separation.

    If you type ‘coronavirus’ into Google then you will be confronted with just under three billion results. Rumours, misinformation and uncertainty abound. Individual countries have adopted strikingly different strategies when confronted with cases of infection. For those with family members in a number of different jurisdictions, this can appear both confusing and contradictory. It is tempting for us to conclude that some countries are taking the situation more seriously than others or that some governments are responding more effectively than others. However, as this global crisis develops, there are some common threads emerging; especially in terms of those preventative measures that we can all take in order to limit the impact of this virus.

    It appears to be the case that the risk to children is very low indeed. The vast majority of confirmed cases have occurred in adults and, globally, there have been only about nine cases reported in children under the age of ten. Indeed 98% of reported cases are in those over the age of nineteen. Just as the mortality rate for Chickenpox is twenty five times higher for adults than it is for children, all available evidence suggests that the risk of very serious complications occurring in children under the age of nineteen is less than one in five hundred. Symptoms in younger people are typically very mild and are most unlikely to progress to a pneumonic phase.

    “From everything that we’ve seen, and for reasons that are unclear to us, it does seem that this is primarily impacting adults,” Richard Martinello, an associate professor of infectious disease at the Yale School of Medicine, told Business Insider in early February.

    How are we determining our response to this situation?

    We follow the latest guidance and advice provided by the World Health Organisation, Public Health England and the Department of Education.

    We work very closely with our medical practitioners in our Medical Centre (which itself is linked to Fleetwood Broadway Medical Centre). The School Council is kept informed of all developments and Dr David Elliott (member of Council) has provided support and guidance over recent weeks.

    In terms of the potential impact upon public examinations, we are provided with regular updates from JCQ and OFQUAL.

    We consult with colleagues in other independent and maintained schools and receive daily bulletins from both the Boarding School Association (BSA) and the Independent Schools Council (ISC).

    The Senior Leadership Team meets every morning to review the latest developments and make any necessary amendments to our existing position.

    A committee dedicated to responding to this situation meets together regularly to agree short and mid-term strategies. The School has an extensive risk assessment plan in place which takes account of an extensive, if not exhaustive, set of eventualities.

    What are we doing to reduce the risk of potential infection?

    All children in the Junior School, Nursery, and Senior School have benefited from briefings and training sessions related to personal hygiene. This educational programme has been enhanced by excellent resources provided by Public Health England, the World Health Organisation and the BBC.

    Communal facilities within boarding houses and in all other parts of the School campus (such as washrooms) are disinfected several times throughout the day.

    Hand-sanitisers have been installed throughout the School and the School has stockpiled supplies of soap, bleach, disinfectant, hand-sanitizer and packets of tissues.

    All movements of boarders are tracked carefully and any member of staff intending to travel abroad for any purpose is required to inform our HR department well in advance of any proposed trip.

    Visitors to the School must adhere to our procedures which are published on our website and communicated directly to individuals and visiting school groups. Please view our visiting guidelines here.

    All visitors to the School site are required to complete a Health Declaration Form upon arriving at reception.

    Some events, such as the forthcoming Rossallian weekend, have been cancelled due to the fact that some of those attending would potentially have a heightened risk of complications were they unfortunate enough to contract the infection.

    What are you doing to prevent the risk of possible infection created by those who returned to Rossall School after Half Term from high risk areas?

    None of our boarders have visited areas which require individuals to self-isolate. (i.e. Category 1 countries). These areas include Wuhan, Iran, Korea and a number of towns in northern Italy.

    No student returning from a Category 2 country has presented any symptoms which would require them to self-isolate. However, we did ask one student to isolate because the student concerned had visited Milan during the Half Term break. This student’s period of isolation will conclude this weekend and, thus far, the student has presented no symptoms. As we explained at the time, we were exceeding guidance by asking the student to self-isolate but we are determined to be vigilant at all times.

    For further information see:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-specified-countries-and-areas/covid-19-specified-countries-and-areas-with-implications-for-returning-travellers-or-visitors-arriving-in-the-uk

    What happens if a student presents at the medical centre with symptoms?

    Any student suffering from a cough or a cold is reviewed by our medical team upon visiting the medical centre. Our medical staff utilise algorithms designed to ensure appropriate assessment and subsequent management of patients within a primary care setting.

    Primarily, our medical team assesses patients for any symptoms such as shortness of breath or raised temperature. Thus far, no one has presented symptoms which would suggest a suspected case of Coronavirus.

    Fine, but what would you do were a student to present such symptoms?

    A student presenting such symptoms would be isolated immediately and would be placed under strict medical supervision. PHE guidance, “Management of a suspected case of COVID-19” would be followed.

    Were a case of Coronavirus to be confirmed, then we would take directions from the local Public Health England Protection Team and from our local NHS trust.

    What would you do if a student tested positive?

    A member of the School’s Leadership Term would contact parents immediately to appraise them of the situation.

    The student would then come under the care of the National Health Service (NHS) and we would be guided by their recommendations and the local PHE Health Protection Team with regards to further steps.

    Presuming that they were not hospitalised, then the boarding student(s) concerned would remain isolated but within our care.

    Boarding students would be kept under close medical supervision and looked after by staff members. Day pupils would be expected to be isolated at home.

    Have you made plans to isolate groups of children?

    Yes, we have an extensive risk assessment plan which includes provision for isolating a child or groups of children both on-site and off-site.

    Do you envisage a situation where the school is compelled to close for a period of time?

    Currently, there are no plans for the School to shut and the clear advice from the government is that Schools should remain open. However, it is possible that a school could be required to operate remotely were there to be an outbreak of Coronavirus.

    Can a high quality of teaching and learning be maintained when children are not present within School?

    Obviously, such a situation would present challenges but it is an eventuality for which we have planned extensively. A full timetable would be maintained through the use of video-conferencing apps such as Google Hangouts Meet. Similarly, Google Classroom would be utilised to ensure workflow between staff and pupils. Parents and pupils should feel reassured that work will be set and marked if the School entered a phase of operating remotely.

    Who can I talk to if I am still worried?

    Houseparents and all members of the Senior Leadership Team are on hand to answer your questions or talk through any concerns. Our primary concern is the welfare of our children and, by extension the welfare and peace of mind of our parents. Consequently, please feel free to email or phone us at any point during the working week or during the weekend.

    During the Easter Holidays will Rossall School remain open?

    Yes, the School will remain open during the Easter Holidays and Lucy Barnwell has circulated details of our holiday programme to all parents and guardians of boarding pupils. We strongly advise against travel to any part of the world where there is a high incident of infection – not least because students would be required to self-isolate upon their return. This would present particular problems for our Year 11 and Year 13 students who are due to sit external examinations.

    Finally, this is a rapidly evolving situation and we will keep you informed of any changes to this information. It is always our intention to work in close partnership with our parents in all matters pertaining to safeguarding and welfare. We are aware that this situation is potentially distressing for those pupils who face the prospect of not seeing family members for longer than usual and we are working closely with them to ensure that they are fully supported. I should add, that we will ensure that if a child is unable to return home during the Easter break, then he or she will be able to do so as soon as restrictions are lifted – even if that means being absent for a period of time during the Summer Term. Our thoughts are with all of our families and we will work tirelessly to look after all members of this wonderful community.

    Jeremy Quartermain

    5th March, 2020