Letter from Mr Cairns

Dear Parent/Carer,

This is a newsletter that I reckon I have composed at least 5 times, and then revised in light of a change of guidance. However, given that today is in fact the end of session, in light of the Depute First Minister’s (DFM) statement in parliament yesterday and based on North Lanarkshire Council’s statements posted on the school website last night, I reckon it is about time you heard directly from the headteacher.

Through the past few weeks, we have been planning a return to school in August that might take account of every eventuality we can think of. This has ranged from schools staying closed and how we might ensure the best digital learning opportunities, through a couple of ‘blended’ learning models where social distancing of 1 metre or 2 metres was in place, through to a full return without social distancing as announce by DFM yesterday. I was confident that regardless of the directives from the government, in Cumbernauld Academy we would have planned well and been able to take the steps needed to implement a return to school. This remains the case. We have planned for each eventuality, and are now focussed again on a full return, taking into account all the health and safety implications. To quote North Lanarkshire Council:

We are preparing for pupils to return full-time to school on 12 August and we will be working closely with our schools and partners, including our early years and childcare provision to establish our plans, which we will communicate as soon as we are in a position to.

On return, there will be a strong focus on health and wellbeing, and I have spoken to the Pupil Support Team who are looking at new and innovative ways of ensuring that we keep everything as calm and normal as possible, while recognising that specific support will be required for all and additional support for some. Timetables will be issued to pupils on arrival.

In previously withheld versions of this newsletter I had addressed concerns around the structure of the school week, the curriculum, uniform, SQA arrangements and health and safety considerations. This was a complex logistical exercise mainly based on a model of social distancing and therefore needs reviewing again. Although the school closes today, along with many other members of staff I will be continuing to make sure that we are prepared for our return in August and will be in contact with you over the summer period regarding the finer details of this. I think however it is safe to say, that unless I get information to the contrary, school uniform will be worn as normal next session. I do realise there may be issues with the purchasing and fitting of blazers for some families and we will be sympathetic and supportive of everyone in this position in August. In other words, if you can get a blazer for August, then do so. If you can’t we will try and make arrangements with suppliers come August to support you. All S1 students will all be gifted a school ties on their first day. S5 students can purchase a senior tie at the school office for £7. These will be available over the summer from the school office, however exact money will need to be given as no change is available at the moment. Information regarding transport and consortium arrangements will also be communicated to you as soon as I have the details. In addition to this, over the summer, we will produce information leaflets for year groups and provide additional details around SQA results and re-coursing.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank a number of members of staff who will be leaving us this year. Mr Clark (Chemistry), Mrs Magill (Biology), Mr Malley (Technical), Mr McGinness (Maths) and Mr Morrisson (DHT and RE), all of whom are retiring. I am sure they will be very happy, they have certainly earned it through many, many years of commitment to children in Cumbernauld. Mr Chainey from Modern Studies is also, sadly for us, moving on to Kilsyth Academy and we wish him every success there. We have a number of new staff beginning with us next session including 9 probationer teachers who will come, as ever, with a real sense of enthusiasm. Over the years we have been very successful at mentoring new teachers and I am grateful for the additional staff available to us next year.

Finally, I would like to thank every parent and carer of our wonderful students. Your commitment and in particular, your patience are valued greatly by me. As a parent, I have been desperate to get information about my own children but as a headteacher, I have recognised the changing landscapes from day to day. I promise, along with all the staff here, to continue to do all we can to keep your children safe and provide the very best environment for learning we can. I look forward to being able to provide further information for you over the summer in preparation for the students returning in August. I wish everyone a well-earned summer break.

Home-schooling is definitely out for summer!

Kind regards

Mark Cairns

Headteacher

NLC schools update


Today’s announcement from the Scottish Government outlines the plan to reopen all schools on a full time basis from August.

We are currently considering the practicalities and implications of this announcement and will await further clarification and guidance from government, particularly in relation to public health and scientific advice.

Our priority is the safety of our pupils and staff across our network of primary, secondary and ASN schools, as well as our early learning and childcare settings.

We understand that you will have questions, and as this news was only announced today, we will make further information available on how this impacts on our schools and facilities in the coming days.

We are preparing for pupils to return full-time to school on 12 August and we will be working closely with our schools and partners, including our early years and childcare provision to establish our plans, which we will communicate as soon as we are in a position to.

 
 
Gerard McLaughlin
Head of Education (North)

S1 Reports 2019/2020

We are looking to issue S1 Reports for pupils who will be in S2 August 2020, later on today.
Reports will only be emailed to parents/guardians who have confirmed their email address.
It has been reported that the test email went to the Junk folder for some parents and it might be worth checking.
Any issues contact Mrs McGuigan on lmcguigan@cumbernauldac.n-lanark.sch.uk

S1 Test email

Test email messages have been sent to all S1 parents/guardians in preparation for emailing copies of the S1 Report home as soon as possible. If you have not received an email or your email address has changed please email Mrs McGuigan on
lmcguigan@cumbernauldac.n-lanark.sch.uk

Letter to Parents / Carers from NLC

Councillor Frank McNally, Convener of Education and Families and Derek Brown, Executive Director, have written a letter to all parents and carers detailing the plans for children and young people to return to schools and early learning and childcare settings after the summer break. Please follow the link below to read the letter.

www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/schoolplans

Letter from Mr Cairns

Dear Parent/Carer,

I am writing this note to you just shortly after The Scottish Government’s announcement around schools reopening in August albeit, the exact model of ‘blended learning’ is yet to be determined. The initial priority for the government appears to be around transitions and for us that means P7 into S1. Currently we have the following plans around this.

Transition arrangements

For Primary 7 pupils transferring to Cumbernauld Academy next year, a considerable amount of work has already been undertaken to ensure that everyone is able to settle in well in August. Miss Hart has worked closely with the primaries to ensure that we have all the information from the schools we need to make up the classes. We will also be providing some work for the P7s to engage in in June and we will be contacting all the parents and children directly to get even more information. Miss Hart will be in contact with everyone via the primary schools to let them know the details of this ‘virtual transition programme’.

Issues raised through parental consultation

I consulted with the Parent Council recently to ascertain if there were any particular concerns parents had that I might be able to respond to and give reassurance about. A number of the issues raised pertained to the curriculum, learning from home, using consortium arrangements for subjects in S6 once we are back in August and travelling arrangements to and from school, were among the issues raised. Clearly these are significant and will need specific answers and today I met with the Executive Director who confirmed that a local authority recovery plan is being developed and that. Following its completion I will consult with staff, parents and students on formulating the detail of a Cumbernauld Academy specific recovery plan. We can’t be returning to exactly what we had before, so we will focus on government priorities and do all we can to keep everyone safe and make wellbeing of students and staff a top priority. Clearly there are big questions around curriculum and exams for next session and whatever the arrangements are from the SQA we will continue to support all young people to be successful.

Assemblies on Microsoft Teams

I have organised virtual assemblies for next week and these can be accessed via the year group codes that were text to all parents. To take part in the Assembly, pupils should login to glow and select join a team from ‘My teams’. Then using their year group specific code they should choose the particular meeting for them. Parents are welcome to join us for the assemblies.  Hopefully, we will be able to provide some reassurances around some of the anxieties that our young people are experiencing. I intend to follow these up with further assemblies for current S1/2 pupils very soon. Details of these will follow.

Year Group

Meet scheduled for

S5 (New S6)

1pm on Tuesday 26th May 2020

S4 (New S5)

1.30 pm on Tuesday 26th May 2020

S3 (New S4)

2pm on Tuesday 26th May 2020

 

Accessing work from the school

I have been asked about how much time should be spent on each subject for each year group and I suppose that is difficult to quantify. Each household will have its own particular stresses to deal with and for me to give an amount of time per subject could cause additional stress. In my house we try and have three learning slots on school days of just over an hour. To be honest sometimes this works and sometimes it does not. It just depends on what I need to do and how everyone is feeling. I suppose we can only do our best and remember that in the good times, the school week was 5.5hours per day and that included exercise, reading and many types of problem solving.

The work from departments is available now mainly through Microsoft Teams. The school will continue to use Twitter and the Website to signpost work to families. Some work will ,inthe short term, continue to be available through Edmodo but we are migrating to Teams as the platform for digital learning.I appreciate that parents do not have direct access to Teams but you should know the work is there and your child has access to it via their Glow email address. The Pupil Support Team are on hand and have direct numbers for you to contact them on. All direct numbers for the Pupil Support Team are on the Website via Menu- Pupil Support.

From 26th May, the school timetable will move on to session 2020/21 and teachers will provide work for students in the senior phase based on their options. However, please do not worry about this since the courses will be taught from the beginning when we return in August. This is merely an opportunity for students to familiarise themselves with the course materials and get some digital support with them.  As yet, we do not know what the arrangements for the senior phase will be next year and what the requirements from the SQA around courses will be. As soon as I have any information on this I will pass it on.

Finally, as you know I have three school age daughters and I feel the pain of every parent trying to spin the plates associated with work and home schooling. I have had some positive feedback about my message on Twitter from parents and I would like to thank them for that and to reiterate that we just can’t do everything. Just do the important things well and don’t let your children harass you about work. (Although in my house it is more about me harassing them!) If they are unsure about what to do, just contact their pupil support teacher (or get them to do it). If they are unsure how to do something that has been set for them, get them to contact their class teacher via glow.

Hopefully soon, we will all have a clearer picture of what the next steps to reopening Scottish Schools will look like. If I survive the home-schooling bit, I will certainly be around doing what I can to support everyone in these uncertain times.

Take care

Mark Cairns

Headteacher