Headmaster’s Newsletter – 22 May 2020

Dear Parents,

We have come to the end of the most extraordinary first half of term that anyone can remember. We thank you for your patience, tolerance and understanding of the new way of learning that has been forced upon us by the Coronavirus epidemic. But while the buildings may have been empty of children, the learning and discovering has continued unabated thanks to the wonderful efforts and dedication of our remarkable band of tutors. In the face of such adversity and uncertainty the Hill House spirit is flourishing. Thank you too for the many emails of support and gratitude that continue to come in.

We have been working hard to find solutions to the significant challenge of providing the level and breadth of educational experience that both you and we would wish for in school while adhering, as best as we can, to social distancing requirements and the very restrictive guidelines set out by the Government. Earlier today you will have received a copy of our Action Plan, which sets out how we intend to manage this return to school. Please read this carefully. We are asking all parents with children in Small School, Lower School, Upper Senior School and Upper Transitus to confirm whether they wish to send their child into school or remain at home by this Tuesday, 26 May. This is crucial so that we can ensure suitable staffing levels both for in school and remote learning. As set out in the Action Plan, if you choose to return we will ask you to commit to your choice, outside events not withstanding, for the rest of term. The reasoning behind this is laid out in the Action Plan. Please also be aware that the experience in school will be significantly different to that which we were used to before lock down. This will be particularly true for pupils in Hans Place. The challenge of providing subject specialist taught lessons to small socially exclusive “bubbles” is far from straightforward.  The timetable for Hans Place will follow Google Classroom and most of the lessons will be delivered remotely to ensure continuity of learning. For those children in Small School and Lower School the experience will be closer to normal but still appreciably different to before. Please read the Action Plan where the plans for each year group are set out.

Regrettably we have no discretion to accept children from any other year groups, including siblings. The guidance on this from our insurers is very clear.

To ensure that the move to partial opening is as smooth as possible Monday, 1 June will remain online for the whole school. The teachers who will be teaching in school will have the day to arrange resources and iron out the inevitable unexpected issues without children in the building. In school learning will restart on Tuesday, 2 June in conjunction with the continuing Google Classroom.

All music instrument tuition for the rest of term will remain online at the times already arranged with the individual music tutors.

I wish you all a restful Half Term and I would encourage everyone, pupils and tutors alike, to have a break from their screens and enjoy the good weather as much as possible. 

Best wishes,

Richard Townend