Return to school September 2021

Wednesday 1st September 2021

Return to school September 2021

Dear Parent/Carer,

I hope you and your family have enjoyed the summer holidays and your child is looking forward to returning to school.

Welcome and congratulations

We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new Year 7 pupils who unfortunately missed out on the usual transition arrangements last term due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, Year 7 will be starting school, earlier than other pupils, this Friday 3rd September.  School transport will run as normal and pupils will be greeted by staff in the school bus bay and main drive who will support them on arrival and guide them to their form rooms.

At the other end of the spectrum, congratulations to last year’s Year 11 pupils on achieving an outstanding set of confirmed GCSE grades on August 12th.   It was wonderful to see so many delighted pupils looking forward to the next chapter of their lives.

New term arrangements

Thursday 2nd September will be an INSET day for school staff.
Friday 3rd September will be the first day for our Year 7 and STF pupils.
Monday 6th September will be the first day for all other pupils.

Over the school holidays we received updated Welsh Government Covid-19 operational guidance that has a significant impact on how the school will operate at the start of the new term. The main changes are outlined below:

  • Contact groups/bubbles are no longer recommended by Welsh Government. The school will liaise with NHS Wales TTP where there are positive cases.​
  • Normal session times will resume – no staggered end of the day. All pupils will finish at 3.00 pm.
  • Welsh Government are no longer recommending the routine use of face coverings in classrooms.​

During the school holidays we evaluated how the new guidance can be properly applied to the context of our school community. Please share the points below with you child prior to their return:

  • Break time refreshments will be available to all pupils every day.
  • There are no longer staggered lunches (see timings below).
  • Outside zones for each year group will continue. This is to maximise the use of our outside facilities and create a safe environment for pupils to play and socialise.
  • Face coverings will no longer need to be worn in classrooms or outside the school buildings. They should still be worn in communal areas such as corridors, toilets and when queuing for refreshments at break and lunch time.
  • Pupils are able to wear face coverings in classrooms or outside school if they wish to.
  • Pupils are required to wear face coverings on school transport.
  • Normal school uniform should now be worn every day. Last year we allowed PE kit to be worn as a way of reducing the number of pupils using the changing rooms, at any one time. This year the timetable has been arranged to limit the number of pupils required to change simultaneously. A reminder of the school uniform rules are here: https://pontcomp.co.uk/uniform/. An exception to this rule are for the classes below where there is a higher number of pupils requiring to use the changing rooms at any one time, these pupils are allowed to wear their PE kit on the days identified:

The school day timings are shown below:

Covid-19 safeguarding

All parents/carers should have received a letter yesterday encouraging the use of Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) to test for Covid-19. Yesterday’s letter can also be accessed here: https://pontcomp.co.uk/2021/08/31/covid-19-lateral-flow-device-lfd-tests/.  Testing will be used to quickly identify and isolate infected pupils and staff.

Any staff member or pupil who has any of the 3 cardinal symptoms of Covid-19 (new persistent cough, fever and/or loss of taste or smell) should not attend the school setting but should self-isolate, arrange a Covid-19 test and notify the school of this.

Wales moved to alert level zero on 7 August 2021. If a positive case is now identified in a school, TTP will lead on identifying the close contacts of staff and pupils who have tested positive, supported by discussions with schools. We no longer expect whole year self-isolation that disrupted much of last year’s education for many pupils. The majority of pupils in the year group are unlikely to be identified as close contacts. However, the school may be advised to take a ‘warn and inform’ approach to update parents/carers and staff on the situation and what they need to do, based on TTP advice.

Swansea Council will be providing an updated risk assessment to all schools by 20th September. We shall adopt this risk assessment then share it with all parents/carers via our website after it is finalised.

Key Dates

The INSET days for this academic year are:

Thursday 2nd September 2021
Friday 3rd September 2021
Friday 8th October 2021
Tuesday 4th January 2021
Monday 28th February 2022
Monday 6th June 2022

Swansea Council’s term dates for 2021/2022 can be found by clicking on this link: https://www.swansea.gov.uk/termdates2022

All schools in Wales have an additional bank holiday next year. After consultation with headteachers Swansea Council are hoping for consensus on Friday 29 April 2022, with an expectation that cluster schools work together on this date. Cluster schools (partner primary schools and Pontarddulais Comprehensive School) have agreed on this joint date to allow families to spend time together in keeping with the spirit of the bank holiday. This is a provisional date because no GCSE examination timetable has been released for next year. We shall confirm this date as soon as is possible.

We look forward to welcoming back all pupils over the coming weeks and will be looking for opportunities to further enrich the curriculum safely to give your child a rewarding and engaging experience. Likewise, we shall keep you updated on forthcoming extra-curricular activities soon. Please contact the school if you have any additional queries. A positive relationship between school and home is key to securing best outcomes for pupils and therefore your continued support is very much appreciated.

Yours faithfully,

Mr. G. Rees

Headteacher