Dear Parents / Carers,
The first half term of this academic year is rapidly coming to a close.
The loss of one of the college community impacts us all and the death of William leaves a hole which cannot be filled. All of those who knew and worked with him will have learnt so much from his tenacity, determination, humour and charm. In memory of William, his family are raising money for the Chestnut Tree Hospice, the MPS Society and Oak Grove College. Donations can be made via this link or sent into college in an envelope and we will ensure they are passed on.
The thoughts of the whole community are with the family at this time.
Year 7 students and those who have joined in other year groups have had a wonderful start to their Oak Grove careers. Families and class teams have done a great job in working together for a smooth transition and the students are making great progress socially, emotionally and academically.
Free School Meals:
Free School Meal eligible families will already have received a link to a voucher for each FSM child for the upcoming October half term.
Students and families that are not eligible for free school meal vouchers will be able to access support for food and essentials, should they be required, via the WSCC Community Hub. The Community Hub can be contacted on 0330 222 7980 and is open 08:00 – 20:00 Monday to Friday and 09:00 – 17:00 weekends and bank holidays. Further information can be found via West Sussex County Council website.
I am grateful to the NHS vaccination team for an efficient and friendly Covid 19 vaccination session earlier in the month. This means that a large proportion of students have been vaccinated and this is clearly helping to keep numbers of cases in college low. We have had some disruption and I am grateful to the continued flexibility all are showing.
Other schools, especially where the vaccination programme has not yet happened, are experiencing quite considerable numbers of cases and we still need to all work together to ensure that this risk is reduced as much as possible for Oak Grove. In essence, my aim is to ensure that all students are getting a normal and full school experience as possible. This means that in other areas we need to be stricter; most meetings will still be remotely organised (Annual Reviews, for example), there are still limited off site visits and we have lots of windows open. As the weather gets colder it is vital that students come to college with a coat and jumper. Also please remember that if anyone shows any of the symptoms of Covid (changes in senses, high temperature or coughing) they must isolate and get a PCR test. The LFT tests are only accurate for non-symptomatic cases.
As in many sectors at present, recruitment is difficult. This is especially the case in relation to tutors to support Covid recovery work and for teaching assistants. This does mean that we need to be flexible in allocating staffing across all classes and students.
Key date for Y10, Y11 subject based learners and Sixth Form students 9th November – Transition Evening
This is a very important event where you will find out what opportunities are available to your child when they leave Oak Grove College. It is never too early to start informing yourselves. Providers will be available to discuss what they offer and answer any questions you may have. Key Stage 4 and Sixth Form staff will also be on hand to discuss the needs of your child and guide you to suitable providers.
A separate letter has been emailed to give further information on how to book on the evening to those students this applies to.
It is vital that families are aware and supervising young people on line. Here is some important information around current e-safety concerns:
What is Squid Game?
Netflix’s Squid Game is set to become the streaming service’s most successful show of all time, with huge numbers of viewers taking to social media to discuss each new episode. The South Korean thriller features some scenes of fairly brutal violence and is rated 15 by the BBFC. It follows a group of adults who compete to win innocent-looking playground games, but who are killed if they do not succeed at the tasks.
An unexpected success in terms of viewing figures, Squid Game’s popularity is beginning to spread across various online platforms. There has been a slew of content created – ranging from memes to apps – that convey the violence of the show, so it is important for parents, carers and educators to understand the basis of Squid Game and the potential risks to young people who might be exposed to it.
What are the hazards for children?
Squid Game’s 15 rating has not prevented clips and images from the show being uploaded onto social media sites such as TikTok, with the #SquidGame hashtag being viewed more than 22.8 billion times. There have been reports of children who have accounts on these platforms inadvertently viewing gory, explicit scenes from the programme, and parents and carers should be mindful of the prevalence of these uploads.
The popularity of the programme has also led to online challenges based on various scenes, which see people taking part in seemingly innocent children’s games. On the show, however, characters are executed if they fail in the game – and videos of people pretending to kill each other after competing in Squid Game-style contests are going viral on social media, where they are easily accessible to children.
What can trusted adults do?
As a parent or carer, keep a watchful eye on the content that your children are viewing. Speak to them openly and chat about how they have been spending time on their devices; let them ask questions, too. Ensure that the parental controls are activated on your child’s device and that age-restricted child profiles are properly set up any on-demand services available through the family TV (such as Netflix, in this case) to prevent inappropriate content being streamed.
If you see your child replicating the challenges from the show or hear them talking about scenes and characters from Squid Game, it would be a timely opportunity to discuss with them that the programme is not intended for children, that much of the content would be inappropriate for their age, and that the violence in the series is very realistic and often upsetting.
There has been lots of great work over this half term, it has been so pleasing to see students settle back into the more normal rhythm of college life and be thriving in their learning.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank families, students, staff and the governors for their ongoing hard work and I wish you all a great half term.