Dear Parents / Carers
I hope that you are all well and staying safe.
The media reports on the challenges that hospitals are facing are very sobering and I know we are all grateful to the teams in the NHS who are working exceptionally hard at this time. I spoke to one of our families this week who work in our local hospital and that also brought home the size and complexity of what we are all seeking to do in controlling this virus.
Information from West Sussex Public Health this week, suggests that rates of cases of Covid 19 in West Sussex have been highest in 15-19 year olds since the middle of December and that rates have been increasing rapidly in all age groups in this period of time.
I also had a thorough conversation with the Public Health England Clinical Lead for Schools on Monday which reinforced the key messages of Hands, Face, Space and Stay at home if you can.
There is a video message on the college YouTube account at https://youtu.be/s4kM54MEAvs which talks more about that along with support and information for home learning.
I have further meetings with Public Health and discussions with the DfE arranged for next week, to continue to review the advice, evidence and contradictory information we continue to receive.
The meeting I had on Monday, reassured me about our current approach to managing numbers on site and how we are also fortunate to have our therapy team fully operational on site providing support and remote support. Only three of the special schools are in this position. Counselling provision has also been organised to ensure all of those who receive this can continue to do so remotely or face to face.
In relation to technology:
Laptops – Our allocation of 35 laptops have arrived in college and are being set up and families contacted to arrange the distribution of them. If there are any issues with the laptops, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile data – those families who requested additional data via the DfE have been submitted by OGC and families should check their phones for text messages from their network provider and follow the instructions from there.
4G routers – We have submitted a request for some routers and families should discuss this with their form tutors if they need one. We don’t know what the delivery time will be on these.
We are starting a process to try and get laptops refurbished and out to students in need.
If you, or anyone you know, has an unused laptop (not too ancient!) gathering dust in a drawer or cupboard somewhere, please let us know. We will completely wipe them, reinstall Windows and allocate them to students once we have them ready.
I think there is information on www.bbc.co.uk/makeadifference that may advise on age of laptops going to charity for use.
We are setting a daily Koa challenge on our social media platforms, using live lessons for students in Animus to ensure they can regularly check in with people and there is a huge volume of work available on the website (see our video where this is explained). Form tutors will also set up Teams meetings with individuals and groups to ensure that we are maintaining our links and communication routes with all.
It has been great to see so many photos and emails of the work that students are doing coming in. Please don’t forget to send photos in that you are happy to be shared to email@example.com and any completed pieces of work or questions about logins/technology to firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important that students get to practice their independence skills so you should be expecting them to help cook and prepare meals. Chef Guy and Chef Hayden have prepared lots of structured ways of doing this on our YouTube account:
Another good skill to practice is signing. It would be great to practice this as a family and develop new skills together. The website has lots of development videos from Mia on it at:
There are also lots of students who have done amazing work over the last few weeks and some of the certificates that have been sent out are attached at the end of this letter.
Sixth Form re-designation:
We received confirmation before Christmas that the formal re-designation of the Sixth Form has been approved from September 2021. This means at KS3 and KS4, Oak Grove College will be a generic school and at KS5 we will be a complex needs provision. This is in keeping with the reality in most of other special schools in West Sussex and helps enable the Local Authority to plan for the future provision in a more coherent way.
Free School Meals:
Thank you to everyone who has spoken to the OGC team about free school meals and the food hampers and vouchers. The DfE made it clear that they wanted schools to use hampers and WSCC acted accordingly with that. The DfE have now changed this method and decided that using vouchers is the preferred option.
We will still deliver food hampers to families next week, however, from Monday 25th January 2021 we will be issuing vouchers for families to spend on food of their choice, in the supermarket of their choice. We will have to use the original Edenred system this time, but we will revert to the Wonde system over February half term. (It was the Wonde system that we used over the Christmas holidays). Edenred offer M&S and Company Shop Group vouchers, as well as for the usual supermarkets, so please email email@example.com by the end of Monday 18th January if you wish to have a different supermarket from the one you chose over the Christmas holidays. We know the Edenred system was clunky and not user friendly for many people so how we practically deliver these vouchers may change!
Please bear in mind that, if your child is in school and is receiving a school meal, even for one day a week, we will not be able to issue a voucher. However, if your child is in school and is bringing in a packed lunch from home, then we can still supply a voucher. If you have any voucher queries, please contact Lesley Crosby on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your patience with this and thank you to the staff teams who have worked hard to put together, deliver and organise these.
Testing in College:
Staff are now having weekly testing in college using lateral flow tests and we are bringing our volunteers on line to assist with this (thank you to all of them). Students who are able to swab themselves have also taken part in the testing very well.
We will NOT be offering close contact testing every day for students or staff who have come into close contact with a positive case. We had already reviewed evidence that raised concerns around this and we were advised yesterday, by the West Sussex Director of Public Health, that this was not a suitable way forward.
Remember it is a time of anxiety and flux. It is important that we take time, we rest and we enjoy the small things in life, we stay in touch with all those who are important to us and that we look after ourselves.
If anyone needs support, help or guidance please contact the college, we are part of a team and a community and we will work to support each other.