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Academy Update – 26/02/21

Posted on: February 26, 2021

Dear parent/carer,

With the full reopening of the academy just over a week away, I want to take this opportunity to update you on our plans which you can find in more detail at the bottom of the page.

There have been some mixed messages from the Government over the last week. Whilst it remains the case that no student can return to school until 8th March (a full three weeks from when the top 4 vaccine groups have been offered the vaccine), the Department for Education has now decided to allow schools to test before this point. Due to the very short amount of time Year 11 students have left, I have decided to take advantage of this change and ask the year group to have their tests on Friday 5th March. This means that Year 11 can return to face-to-face teaching on Monday 8th March. You can find details of this and other year group testing and return dates in our reopening plan. It is really important that as many students as possible are tested to ensure that the academy is as safe as possible. We need your consent to invite your child to a test. Over 600 of you have already done this, and you have until Tuesday to give that consent. This can be done here. If you would like to know what is involved in a test, please watch this short video below.

There have also been mixed messages regarding the wearing of face masks in schools, discussed recently in the news. The academy’s number one priority is the health and safety of its students. Public Health England highly recommends that students wear masks in classrooms as well as in communal areas. We will follow that guidance. If parents strongly feel that they do not want their child to wear a mask in lessons, please contact your child’s Head of Year at the academy to discuss the matter. If you have not contacted us, we will expect your child to wear a mask at all times inside the academy. The Government will review the measure at Easter, so hopefully, this will only be in place for 15-20 days. Staff will be wearing masks in classrooms except when they are within a taped off area that is socially distanced from any other student, at which point they can remove their mask to teach. Students who were exempt from mask-wearing before Christmas continue to be and should bring their lanyard with them when they return to the academy.

I know how hard the last few months have been whilst students have been remote learning, and I want to thank you for all your efforts in helping us. 

Our plans may have to change if or when guidance changes, but I will keep you updated. Please read our reopening plan, and if you have any queries or questions, please contact us.

Yours sincerely,


Mr. N Brennan


OSSMA reopening

Phase return to face-to-face teaching and testing

When returning to school, students will be offered three Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests.  Students will return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. Following the three initial tests, students will collect their ‘test at home’ kits and start testing at home on a regular basis. More information about this will follow in the weeks to come.

The Government has given schools the flexibility to decide how best to deliver testing on a phased basis from 8th March, depending on their circumstances. Therefore, our time frame for testing and a return to face-to-face teaching is as follows:

Testing Round 1 (Students go home after they have tested) Return to face-to-face teaching Testing Round 2 and 3
Year 11 Friday 5th March Monday 8th March (8.50) The remaining tests will be conducted within the school day



Year 10 Monday 8th March Tuesday 9th March (8.20)
Year 9 Tuesday 9th March Wednesday 10th March (8.50)
Year 8 Wednesday 10th March Thursday 11th March (8.50)
Year 7 Thursday 11th March Friday 12th March (8.20)

If you would like to see what happens during a Lateral Flow Test please watch the video here. If you have not yet given consent for your child to be tested you can do so here.

In order to ensure that we can manage the flow of students through the testing centre, students must arrive at their allotted time. This will be sent to you via our parent app or text message. Students can go home once they have had their first test.


Upon arriving at the academy for their test, students should report to the main reception. Here they will be directed by a staff member to the test centre, where they will receive their lateral flow test. Please note that face masks must be worn at all times when within the academy and test centre, and social distancing guidelines must also be adhered to.

Students not undergoing testing will attend school in line with the phased return arrangements identified above (i.e. Year 11 who are not testing will return on Monday 8th etc.) Students who are currently in the academy will continue to attend school and reintegrate back to face-to-face teaching when their year group returns. From Monday 8th, returning students should enter the academy through the same gate and at the same time as before Christmas.



Whilst we understand this may cause anxiety for some of you, the Government has made school attendance mandatory for all students from 8th March. The usual rules on school attendance apply, including:

  • parents’ duty to secure their child’s regular attendance at school
  • the school’s ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct.

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s return to the academy, please contact your child’s Head of Year at the earliest possible opportunity and before your child’s return date. We will endeavour to put bespoke arrangements into place to meet your family’s needs and work with you to find a positive solution.

If your child is SEND and requires support or would like to discuss this further, please contact Mrs Wootten (SENDCo) or Mrs Dyball (Assistant SENDCo) at the academy.

A small number of students will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice to self-isolate because they:

  • have symptoms or have had a positive test result
  • live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive and are a household contact
  • are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19)

Where this is the case, please continue to follow the procedures established in September and inform the attendance office immediately.


Protective measures

All protective measures set out in September will continue to apply. In addition, the Government are now also recommending that face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained. Please contact your Head of Year if you feel your child is unable to do this. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons. A reminder of all these measures can be found here.



Upon your child’s return to school, the usual standards and expectations will remain in place.



Students are expected to wear their full academy uniform.  If your child has grown out of their blazer or requires a new tie, you should order these items of uniform as soon as possible from the School’s in! online shop.


One ring per hand – not sovereign.
One watch.
One chain to be worn below clothing.
One pair of studs in the lower lobe. No other facial piercings – including tongues, tragus, eyebrows, lips, nose, upper ear.
One bracelet can be worn.

All jewellery will be expected to be taken off and given in during any physical activity.


Years 7 – 8 no makeup.
Year 9 – 11 small, subtle amounts allowable.
No nail varnish.
No false nails to be worn at any time.
No false eyelashes.

Hair Colour

Natural colours only. No decorative hairpieces to be worn. No lines or designs cut into hair. Grade 2 and above is acceptable. No Mohicans or other bizarre hairstyles (the academy reserves the right to make a final decision if necessary).
No lines in eyebrows.


Any tattoos should not be visible and should remain covered at all times.

Religious Headwear

Any headwear of a religious nature must be black and accompanied by full academy uniform.


Laptop returns

If your child has loaned a laptop from the academy, they will need to return it either on the day of their test or the day they return to face-to-face teaching. The laptop, charger and case will need to be returned at the same time. Please ensure that any personal documents have been removed or backed up elsewhere as our IT technicians will wipe laptops. When you bring the laptop in, please hand it in at Reception if getting tested or to your form tutor if returning to regular teaching.



Do all students have to test?

Testing is voluntary, and individuals will be allowed to attend school even if they decide not to take part in testing. However, we would like to encourage everyone to join in the asymptomatic testing programme to help break transmission links by identifying those who may carry the virus unknowingly. If you would like to see what an LFD test looks like at OSSMA, click here. Anyone with symptoms, whether they are involved in this programme or not, should book a free NHS test and follow government self-isolation guidance until their test results are known.

Why can’t students start testing at home immediately?

It is important that initially, students are supervised whilst swabbing to make sure they are doing it correctly. This is why testing will initially take place on-site.

Can students swab themselves?

Yes, in an Asymptomatic Testing Site, all students can swab themselves if they are able to. When testing at home, children should self-test and report with adult supervision. The adult may conduct the test if necessary.

What happens if a student struggles to perform the test?

If a student administers the test and finds it difficult, there are Testing Assistants on hand to provide support. They are well-trained and will administer the test for the student if they request it. If a student feels as though they cannot complete the test after a Testing Assistant’s support, there will be no requirement for them to complete it, and their parent/carer will be contacted.

What happens if a student test positive following the asymptomatic test?

If a student tests positive for Covid-19, they must self-isolate for ten days from the day after they tested positive, and we must be informed immediately.

What happens if a student is unable to test themselves at home but have opted in for testing?

We will retain a “small” testing site for those unable to test at home. Please inform the academy if you are unable to administer the home test.

What is the rule about face masks?

All students will be required to wear masks in communal areas (unless exempt). Students are encouraged to wear masks in classrooms, but these have now been classed as optional. Please ensure that your child has a plain black mask with no markings. The academy has provided every student with a mask, and your child can purchase a replacement through ParentPay if they wish.