In the busyness of the last few weeks, I have yet to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope that the break gave you and your family time to recharge batteries, albeit in a quieter fashion than is normal.
As is all too familiar, but perhaps understandable, school leaders are still in the dark as to when pupils may be back in the building, with 8th March the new target date. I have been extremely proud of the way both pupils and staff alike have stepped up to the challenge of this third lockdown. The feedback from parents has been almost universally positive, and we have welcomed ideas that have allowed us to improve provision. As I have stated previously, we will be following EA advice, and using the outcomes of research, to provide learning that blends live classes or feedback sessions with resources that pupils can work through at their own pace. The balance between synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded/planned activities) may differ depending on year, class or subjects studied; we will monitor pupil experiences and continue to amend lesson planning as appropriate. Information on how pupils can access learning, and how parents can check assignments, is posted on the website.
Thank you for supporting the learning pack drive-throughs; a number of packs remain in reception for collection for those of you who were unable to come on the allocated day.
Please note that tomorrow (Tuesday) is a scheduled staff development day. Pupils should be aware that members of staff will not be reachable online tomorrow. I will email them all later to reinforce this message.
All pupils are expected to attend a weekly registration with their form teacher. Exact details have been shared with each class, but below is an indication of when you can expect your daughter/ward to attend registration. Please note that failure to attend will lead to absence marks and, in the case of Sixth form pupils, impact on EMA grants. Whole school assemblies will be posted on Teams from Wednesday morning.
- Monday PM YEAR 13
- Tuesday AM YEAR 9
- Tuesday PM YEAR 14
- Wednesday AM YEAR 10
- Thursday AM YEAR 11
- Thursday P7 YEAR 8
- Friday AM YEAR 12
We are being contacted by pupils who are struggling with anxiety regarding their work in lock down. It is okay to be worried about what the future holds. However, by avoiding work, often the anxiety simply builds. I would encourage all pupils who are anxious due to work missed to draw a line in the sand and focus on the learning that is current; they should contact their teachers privately and missed work can be caught up on later. Focusing on what has been missed may only add to the feelings of helplessness. If you are worried about your daughter/ward beyond normal school issues, please get in touch.
There has been much publicity nationally regarding access to devices. If pupils are struggling to get access to work because of a lack of hardware in the home, please get in touch and we will try to help if we can.
GCSE & A level qualifications
Pupils in Years 11-14 will be naturally concerned about the lack of examinations this year. While there has not been final ministerial approval for this year’s processes, we do know that there will be a period of assessment and review, with grades based on teachers’ professional judgement supported by evidence. It will not be simply awarding grades based on tests pre-Christmas. More information regarding assessment will be shared when the Minister shares his decisions.
With that in mind, it is essential that pupils continue to engage with work set online. Deadlines should be met as would be expected in school. The Senior Leadership team is currently looking into how to deal with non-engagement, but, ultimately, the pupil must shoulder responsibility and realise that by not engaging online, she may not be awarded the grades wanted or expected.
The Board of Governors and I acknowledge that, in the absence of the AQE test, there will be many pupils across Northern Ireland who are now deeply anxious about what school they will be attending next year.
We are a Controlled Grammar School. As such, in writing the admissions criteria for this year, Governors followed as closely as possible advice from the Education Authority with an intention to ensure that, as far as possible, siblings are kept together and our main feeder primary schools are prioritised. Our main feeder primary schools have been identified as those which have provided pupils in three of the last five years. Traditionally, Bloomfield Collegiate has attracted pupils from a wide catchment area.
Legal advice regarding inconsistencies of data from Primary Schools have led to all Controlled Grammar Schools, and the overwhelming majority of Voluntary Grammar Schools, deciding not to use any academic data for admission this year only. Our Admissions Criteria for next year’s intake is now on our website and will be published by the Education Authority tomorrow. Please note that date of birth and then random selection (as a tie-breaker) are recommended by the Education Authority as sub-criteria; distance as a sub-criterion is explicitly advised against.
The School recognises that the challenges of this year will not allow a number of P7 pupils who would, normally, be admitted to Bloomfield Collegiate and, again, appreciates the anxiety, frustration and hurt felt by some. As a school with pastoral care at its core, we bitterly regret events and sincerely hope as many pupils as possible find themselves in their chosen school in September.
Thank you again for your voluntary contributions to the school fund, which have allowed us to purchase further items of IT equipment to enhance remote learning for all of our pupils.