At Westminster City School, we are committed to keeping all within our community safe during this challenging global situation and to continuing to offer a high quality educational experience to our young people.
As we start our 2021-22 academic year, we continue to monitor the UK Government's guidance around keeping all within our community.
Information, below, details how our School worked together through the challenges of remote learning and lockdown during the global pandemic.
Information from Public Health England (PHE) - fast spreading COVID ‘Delta’ variant
The following information come from PHE (dated 30 June 2021):
You will have seen that the COVID ‘Delta’ variant (originating in India) is spreading fast, with cases and the infection rate, (per 100,000 of population), rising in Westminster and North West London.
A recent published study has shown that people infected with the Delta variant can present with different symptoms in addition to those first listed. These are headache, sore throat, runny nose and fever. These symptoms present like “colds” so in order to try and reduce infections and transmission in schools it is important to have a low threshold of suspicion for cases.
If your child is unwell with symptoms, please let your school know, keep them away from school andget a PCR test. For information on how to get a PCR test, please visit: www.westminster.gov.uk/testing
Return to Palace Street following remote learning in 2021
Westminster City School started to re-open for face-to-face teaching from Monday 8 March with Years 7, 8 and 11, plus our sixth formers, returning to Palace Street. Our Years 9 and 10 returned for face-to-face teaching from Wednesday 10 March.
On their return, all our young people received an induction to update and remind them of our School’s safety protocols and expectations, which include staying in their bubble, being as socially distant as possible and, as part of updated government guidance at that time, wearing face coverings within our School buildings and classrooms
At Westminster City School, we warmly welcomed the return of all our young people to Palace Street. Our plans for re-opening were mindful of the need to keep everyone safe and supported by a risk assessment which remains under regular review. Our planning was also reflective of our research around best practice and continues to be scrutinised by our Governing Body.
Our Letters home page continues to hold all letters sent home to our parents/carers, while our social media accounts and weekly email newsletter to all within our School community ensures everyone is kept up-to-date.
Remote learning during lockdown 2021
The Prime Minister announced a new lockdown and move to remote learning for all schools in England on Monday 4 January 2021. Following that, remote learning began for all in Years 11 and 13 on Tuesday 5 January, with those who need additional support with their learning or are the children of key workers welcomed on-site by invitation. Remote learning for Years 7 to 10 and Year 12 began on Wednesday 6 January.
Exams and grades
The UK Government have announced that, due to the ongoing pandemic, summer 2021 examinations will now not take place.
We anticipate an update from OFQUAL with regards to the consultation over GCSE and A Level grading this year. As and when our School has further details, we will arrange briefings for both Year 11 and 13, so our young people and their parents/carers are kept informed of the very latest guidance.
Our School will ensure grades are fair and, if you have any questions, please contact a member of our Leadership group.
Letters have been sent to our parents/carers to explain our current position. These letters can be read on our Letters home webpage. We will continue to monitor this situation and update our community as soon as we have further news, with all letters placed on our Letters home webpage.
Sport during lockdown
Our PE Department recognises the importance of regular exercise in helping mental and physical health, relieving stress, improving posture and flexibility, and/or improving fitness. This becomes even more important during lockdown.
During our period of remote learning, young people at Westminster City School were required to complete their weekly games lesson, as part of their regular timetable. This comprised of a thirty-minute workout and some theory work.
However, our PE Department are also offered a range of extra-curricular sessions on a weekly basis, allowing everyone to choose activities depending on their ability and foci for sport. It was recommended that our young people take part in at least three sessions a week although they can complete as many as they like. Students may complete the same session three times, complete three different sessions or complete two of the same session with one different one.
Although our young people are now back at Palace Street, our sport challenges during lockdown can still be enjoyed in your spare time. All can be found on our School's Vimeo channel.
Our PE Department's extra-curricular activities are:
- Game Player with Mr Potten - This will comprise of sessions that prepare you to return to play across a range of sports. Training methods will include work that can be done indoors and outdoors. The main sports targeted will be football, basketball and rugby, and will focus on one component of fitness per week.
- Strength and Fitness with Mr Leckey - These training programmes will be designed to improve muscular strength, explosivity, power and the general fitness of the performer. They will benefit field athletes and events such as shot putt, rugby players, table tennis players and cricketers.
- Beat your Personal Best with Mr Asante - You will follow a programme specifically designed to improve your running times, carrying out exercises that can be completed indoors and outdoors. The programme will benefit sprinters, footballers and rugby players.
- Core Strength and Flexibility with Mr Huxley - Here you will combine strengthening exercises, such as the plank and bridge, with static stretching. Sessions will be designed to build the strength of core muscles, as well as improving flexibility. They will be of benefit to all performers and will especially help with injury prevention.
Please note: students are expected to wear appropriate clothing for physical activity, such as shorts and a t-shirt or tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt. They should have a water bottle with them at all times. Students must adhere to social distancing guidelines when exercising outside.
Army Cadet Force
Although unable to meet in person at present, Westminster City School's outward-bound students are connecting online during lockdown.
Our School has had an Army Cadet Force Unit for over one hundred years, with participants normally meeting weekly to parade on our playground. Although this is not possible at present, due to lockdown restrictions, our Army Cadet Force has been meeting online each week to continue training, making use of a range of virtual activities provided by the Middlesex and North West London ACF.
Alongside these activities, our School’s Army Cadet Force have successfully begun the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Programme, with 20 students challenging themselves with fitness goals, learning new skills, and volunteering in their community.
For more information on joining our Army Cadet Force, please contact Mr Drew.
Spotlight on careers
At Westminster City School, we prepare our young people for future employment, with a strong careers education programme from the moment they first join our School. And we’re not letting lockdown stop this, with weekly online careers activities available for all.
Each week, we're holding a spotlight on a future career or opportunity. Further information is on our School's Careers webpage, so have a look and see where your future could take you!
Our School Chaplain
Our School Chaplain, Rev Steve Taylor, has been recording weekly video messages for all within our community.
All Rev Taylor's videos can be viewed on our School's Vimeo channel.
Staying positive during challenging times
For many of us, the start of 2021 may not be what we were hoping for, with further COVID-19 restrictions to protect ourselves and others.
In these challenging times, it is important to look after your wellbeing, so you can successfully face current challenges and those that may be ahead. Below are some top tips to help us all deal with the difficulties around lockdown.
- Mental health matters - make your mental health a priority.
Staying at home can get you down but remember that it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently.
Human beings are social creatures, so maintaining relationships with loved ones is important. Keep in touch with others via phone, messaging, video calls and social media.
If you are feeling anxious, then talk to family and friends about your worries. If you decide you need further support, then don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted helpline or orgaisation, like Childline or the NSPCC. Both have great online resources, for young people and for parents/carers, and are available 24 hours a day.
Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, difficult feelings will pass. Staying at home may be difficult but you are helping to protect yourself and others.
- Routine, routine, routine - life is changing for a while, so try to create a new and positive routine to your day.
Make sure you keep your mind active (for example, by reading, writing, playing games, doing crosswords or art) and try to carry on with things you enjoy.
Feel free to focus on your favourite hobby (if you can still do it from home) or why not learn something new? There are many free courses and tutorials online to help you pick up a new skill or interest.
- Working out physical wellbeing - a healthy mind needs a healthy body and your physical health has a big impact on how you feel! Try to find a fitness routine that works for you and ensure that you undertake at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Even in lockdown, you are allowed outdoors for daily exercise, so why not go for a regular walks, runs or bike rides, ensuring that you keep a safe social distance from others whilst outside.
Remember there are many online exercise classes, so find something you enjoy and take part from the comfort of your home. Exercises like running on the spot and press ups, sit ups, tricep dips, squats, calf raises and the plank can all help if you are trying to build muscle. If you don’t have any weights, then improvise with a can of tinned food. Make some space, put on some fun music and start working out!
When exercising, keep challenging yourself! Why not download a step counter on your phone to see how far you go, then try to beat that number the next day? If going for a jog, then see if you can go a little further each day and aim to be able to run for 30 minutes without a break.
- You are what you eat – watch your diet! What you eat can significantly impact your physical and emotional health. It is important to keep a good diet and hydrate yourself well, even while in lockdown.
Some top tips include: try to eat breakfast, as it gets your day off to a good start as by providing you with energy; try to avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly (eg sweets, biscuits or sugary drinks) and try to eat fruit and vegetables as they contain the minerals, vitamins and fibre needed to keep you mentally and physically healthy.
- Get some shut eye – lack of sleep can significantly disrupt your day, affect your mood and lower your productivity.
Ensure you have good sleep routine by trying to wind down before go to bed (have a bath, listen to music or read a book) and by going to bed at roughly the same time each night.
You should also avoid caffeine or sugary snacks in the evening and try to stay away from electronic devices for an hour or so before bed.
Free School Meals
Due to the effects of COVID-19, there may be members of our School community suffering from financial hardship and reduced income. This change in circumstances could mean your child is now eligible for free school meals.
At Westminster City School, we strongly encourage members of our community to apply for free school meals, even if you do not feel you are entitled or you were not previously eligible. If you are eligible for free school meals, we will be able to send you vouchers towards your shopping bills, whilst your son/daughter is undertaking remote schooling.
To apply for free school meals, please download the form on our website. Alternatively, please contact our School Office and they can email the form to you. You must complete your form and return it to: email@example.com. (Emailing your completed form will be quicker than posting it to the address given on the form).
- If you send a photo or scan of your last three Universal Credit statements with your application form, then this will help your application be processed more quickly.
- If you are receiving Child Tax Credit and the amount has changed recently, due to your new circumstances, then please scan or send a photo of your latest notification from them. Alternatively, you scan or send your most recent Tax Credit Award Notice TC602 (pages 1 to 4).
- If you are applying for benefits, so do not currently have statements or notifications regarding benefits, please complete your form and mark the ‘not sure’ boxes.
We will then forward your information to the Council’s Free School Meals Service. We will contact you as soon as we have further information from them.