Returning to school
RIC is pleased to let our international boarders and their families know that we will be open to welcome them from Friday August 21st. This will allow students travelling from countries that need to quarantine to do so comfortably in the College, cared for by our staff.
BSA Covid Safe Charter
Rochester Independent College is adopting the Boarding Schools' Association 'Covid Safe Charter.' The Charter confirms that we will be following all government guidance and rules as well as the additional requirements of the Charter with regard to student safety and welfare.
The BSA Covid-Safe Charter includes measures that schools must implement or undertake prior to reopening. These include deep-cleans of school environments, testing procedures, isolation areas, and clear advice to parents and agents about school policies on contact sports, trips, provision of boarding during holidays.
For when schools are operational, guidelines cover social distancing measures, the provision of sanitiser, enhanced cleaning procedures, ensuring equipment is not shared, and allowing staff and pupils to wear face masks.
Specific measures for international students in the BSA charter cover areas such as ensuring that students are met on arrival by a named person aware of appropriate social distancing guidance and wearing a face mask at all times in proximity to the student. Journeys must be direct and in vehicles that contain sanitiser and wipes.
Upon arrival at school, schools must ensure all changes to routines are fully explained and ensure that pupils have an opportunity to “discuss their fears, worries and concerns with a trusted adult”.
Boarding staff ensure new students are picked up from the airport, welcomed and shown around Rochester and the College.
At RIC student accommodation is located on the urban campus, so commuting from classes to boarding facilities is not required. All pupils are closely supervised by resident staff in a safe and secure environment.
We will manage the arrival of international boarders in September 2020 in a proactive, caring and safe manner. Our commitment is based on both the current and projected situations and may well change before September 2020 accordingly.
We will continue to uphold the highest of standards in hygiene, health and safety in order to mitigate the risk of infection and to care for our students in a supportive, comfortable environment.
If this becomes part of college life in the autumn, it will be managed practically and effectively and may include different mealtimes; a suspension of some school trips; a maximum number of students and staff congregating at any one time and guidance on socialising in college and in the wider community, including any local travel. Students should not visit each other’s rooms.
Students and staff will be advised to wear masks which cover nose and mouth; use the sanitising gel provided before each class and meal and on entering any college building and to use any other protective equipment as relevant to the activity undertaken.
Where possible RIC will be sourcing eco-friendly PPE products.
The college buildings will undergo a ‘deep clean’ prior to the start of term and again after two weeks. All classroom, laboratory, dining room and common area surfaces will be cleaned throughout the working day. Students should keep their own areas tidy and clean.
Students should report any symptoms of cough and/or fever to their house staff or college Nurse immediately.
Autumn GCSE and A level Exams
The government has released more, but limited details about the proposed Autumn series of GCSE and A level examinations for students unhappy with their calculated grades. Ofqual are consulting on the following proposals:
-There should be a full series of exams
-Papers should be the same as the summer
-Grades though should only be based on exams, not coursework- with an exception for art where there will be a new, shorter project set
-Suggestion only that AS and A-level exams will take place in October, and GCSEs in November.
-Ofqual believes autumn A-level results could be published before Christmas (opening up the possibility of January university starts perhaps if more universities become flexible) and GCSEs in February.
-Normal appeals procedure with remarks etc
The results of the Ofqual consultation into how grades will be awarded this summer is out- most decisions are pretty much as they originally proposed: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/exceptional-arrangements-for-exam-grading-and-assessment-in-2020
May 12 2020
Further to the UK Government announcement and the guidance issued we are now in a position to update you about our return to College plans.
It is very positive news that schools in England are scheduled to partially reopen on 1 June. As you’ve no doubt seen, this first stage will apply to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children in primary schools rather than secondary schools. Secondary schools and colleges though are being asked to plan to allow for some ‘face to face’ contact for students in years 10 and 12, intended to supplement the ongoing online provision, also from 1 June. This staging process is designed to reduce the risk of the spread of infection. The situation for RIC students is then, at the moment, as follows:
Teaching for students in these year groups will continue to be online for the rest of this academic year and we look forward to welcoming them back to the Lower School in September.
Day students in Years 10 and 12
Conditional on how the data looks next month, it is possible that day students in Years 10 and 12 may well have an opportunity to meet physically with subject staff and personal tutors after June 1. This would be a ‘checkpoint’ for: the term’s academic work and progress; setting summer holiday academic tasks and, for year 12s, guidance on the UCAS application. It would also give we think some welcome human contact and assurance. We will contact you once we have a clearer idea of what this will look like although for the avoidance of doubt it will not be a a normal return to timetabled teaching for these year groups, either partial or full.
Full online tuition will continue to the end of the term for these students and we look forward to welcoming everyone back into school fully in September.
I know from the lessons I have seen that our year 12s and 10s are making good progress in their subjects but we will ensure they are not disadvantaged in their GCSEs and A levels next year by putting on extra classes and catch up sessions where necessary.
Years 11 and 13/14
Year 11 and Year 13 students will finish their existing GCSE/A-level courses at the end of this week as planned and teachers will be working on predicting grades. There is a programme of support for both year groups whereby year 11s can join A level taster lessons and year 13 students enjoy a virtual university experience to help prepare them for the next step in their education.
Boarding and international students
If Year 10 and Year 12 students are authorised to have ‘some time’ with their teachers this will amount to days rather than weeks. Combined with the likely quarantine period of fourteen days for international students, this makes a reopening for boarders this term impractical. Therefore, courses for these students will continue online, with the physical resumption of College planned for September 2020. Boarding students who are in the UK will of course be welcome to join any ‘checkpoint’ sessions with the subject staff and personal tutors we are able to offer if they are able to safely travel to the College for these.
Safety and confidence
Please find attached a short document that outlines the steps we are beginning to take to ensure that RIC is a safe environment for our students and staff to return to with confidence when the time comes. More detailed guidance will of course be issued well before our reopening to reflect changing government advice.
This is likely to remain part of our college day for the remainder of this term and in the autumn. It will be managed practically and effectively and may include: different mealtimes/break times; a suspension of some school trips; reduced class sizes; flexible timetabling; a review of extra-curricular activities; a maximum number of students and parents congregating at any one time and guidance on socialising in the setting and in the wider community, including any local travel.
Stay in touch
Given the situation, it’s natural you might have questions or concerns that you’d like advice on and please don’t hesitate to contact me or to speak to the Heads in different parts of the College. We will of course keep you in touch with our plans as they develop.
We look forward to welcoming our students back onto our campus as soon as we are able to safely do so. Until then, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Best wishes from the whole team at RIC.
A level and GCSE Results and Resit Arrangements- Covid 19 Update
In England, Ofqual is the public examinations regulator and it has issued a number of guidance updates over the last few weeks on how students in Years 11 and 13 will receive final GCSE and A level subject grades this summer.
When will results be available?
A level results will be published on 13 August and GCSE results on 20 August, as originally planned.
How will grades be awarded without examinations being taken?
Teachers will predict the grade they think a student would most likely have achieved in their subject if the summer exam had been taken, based on professional judgement.
Teachers will also have to place students in ranking order within grade bands. For example, if I have ten students taking History A level, I must list them in descending order of ability in each grade allocation. A ranking list must be submitted for each grade awarded in each subject. This will allow examination boards (Pearson Edexcel; OCR; AQA; CIE) to perform any moderation of grading in order to ensure the overall distribution of grades is consistent with previous years.
What evidence will teachers use in order to predict a final grade at GCSE or A level?
Teachers may use any reasonable form of academic performance data collected over the length of the course in order to predict a final grade. This may include mock examinations; internal testing; assignments completed in class or as homework; bookwork; previous exam results, ie AS level and performances in creative arts and Physical Education, and ‘any other records of student performance over the course of study.’
When will teachers submit their predicted final grades?
Schools will be able to submit predicted grades by 29 May at the earliest, and up until 12 June.
Can students continue to complete academic work which can be included as part of the evidence used to predict a final grade?
Yes, although teachers must be mindful of the context in which any work may have been completed.
Will students and parents be informed of the predicted final grades?
No. This is forbidden.
Could the exam boards change the grades teachers predict?
Can a student appeal a result?
There will be limited opportunity for appeals this summer, with students unhappy with their final grade(s) encouraged to take public examinations in the autumn. A proposed autumn examination schedule has not yet been published.
Will UK universities accept the August results based on predicted/final grades?
If a student takes A-level examinations in the autumn can they still attend UK university in September/October?
If a student does not have a place at a university they wish to enter based on their grades published on 13 August, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to attend a UK university in 2020 based on the results of any exams taken in the autumn, given that it takes many weeks for results to be issued.
If a student wishes to apply to UK university using autumn 2020 exam results they should re-apply through UCAS (by 15 January 2021). However, as we do not know when any of the new, proposed autumn exams will be taken or their results issued, there is a possibility that a candidate could apply through UCAS before knowing their results. Some UK universities offer January entry.
Can a Year 11 student unhappy with their August grades, start an A level course and take GCSE exams in the autumn series?
It is highly likely that many schools will show a greater level of flexibility this year. Many UK independent schools have already committed to honouring sixth form conditional places irrespective of August results.
When can I resit my GCSEs and A levels if I am not happy with the calculated grade I am awarded?
The government has committed to a resit, or perhaps more correctly a first real sitting, opportunity for students unhappy with their A level or GCSE grades awarded in August. We are told that this sitting will be in the "autumn" but as yet we do not know if this will take place in September, October or November.
Will universities treat me a resit student if I am not happy with my calculated grade and opt to take the autumn exams and reapply?
No. Early indications from universities is that you will not be penalised as a retake if you opt to take exams in the autumn sitting because you are unhappy with your calculated grade.
UCL for example say: "We are happy to consider applicants for 2021 entry should they wish to defer their assessment or are unhappy with the grades they are given in the summer examination result release. Applicants will be required to re-apply and will be considered in competition with other applicants for 2021. However, we will not consider sitting the examinations in the Autumn as re-takes and therefore applicants taking this route will not be disadvantaged in the application process."