For the attention of parents of students currently in Year 8:

Although much of our focus has been on supporting students with their learning in the present situation, we are also beginning to consider the implications for the start of the new academic year in September. We have therefore made the decision to extend Key Stage 3 by one term for students currently in Year 8. This means that they will now begin their GCSE studies in January 2021 instead of September 2020.

We have taken this decision for three main reasons:

1) Shortly before we closed in March, students currently in Year 8 had submitted their initial GCSE option choices. However, they did not have the opportunity to receive the additional careers advice and guidance around their choices which they would normally receive, or to have the chance to change their options – which a number of students often do.

2) Year 8 students will have missed out on a large amount of their Key Stage
3 learning, even if they have engaged fully with their online work. Some of this learning is vitally important in preparing students for their GCSE studies, and all of it is important in giving them a firm and secure knowledge and understanding of our world and society.
3) Whilst currently we expect government guidance to be that we reopen fully in September, it remains possible that some students may be forced to self-isolate either as a precautionary measure or as a result of becoming ill themselves. Extending Key Stage 3 for a term means students are less likely to miss out on the crucial learning that takes place at the start of a GCSE course.
Whilst we know that Year 8 students will be eager to begin their GCSE studies, we believe delaying this by one term will benefit them in the long term. Students currently in Year 8 should therefore continue to complete home learning for all their Key Stage 3 subjects, regardless of their option choices, as they will be continuing to study them until January.