Coronavirus

UPDATED 3 APRIL 2020

The school is acutely conscious of the impact this virus is having and greatly appreciates the support and understanding of families at this exceptional time. 

Public exams

We recognise that for many pupils (and their parents) the cancellation of public exams for this summer, and how grades might therefore be calculated is a cause of considerable concern. The problems facing exam boards, UCAS, and universities, are unprecedented and complex. The Secretary of State for Education made a statement on 20 March setting out the principles by which public exam grades will be awarded this summer and we continue to dialogues with the examination boards about the implications for our pupils. The Headmaster has written to parents about this topic a number of times in the past three weeks and these letters can be viewed on the Parent Portal.

We are awaiting further updates from the domestic exam boards (OCR, Edexcel and AQA) as to how they will arrive at Calculated Grades.

CAIE has issued a limited update this week as to the types of evidence that they may be using in arriving at Calculated Grades. We await detailed guidance but the salient points are as follows:

  • They are proposing to make use of mock exams, coursework (complete or incomplete) and assignments, alongside other types of evidence.
  • They advise that schools do not need to set students fresh work to gather evidence. They do not need to set new mock papers, set assignments or ask them to complete unfinished coursework. However, work completed since the announcement to cancel public exams may be used as supporting evidence.
  • All of the evidence submitted must be authenticated by the school; that is, the school must be satisfied that it is the candidate’s own unaided work. Winchester recognises that this may have ramifications for work completed within a remote-learning environment and we are looking at the best ways to address this.
  • Schools will have approximately two months to submit this information to CAIE and may be asked to provide supporting evidence for the auditing process at CAIE. An update on how this information needs to be gathered and processed is expected from CAIE on 7 April.

Arrangements for V Book in Cloister Time – Internal Exams

V Book boys will be sitting Winchester 16+ Tests over a three week period prior to Leave-out (04 May – 22 May). We feel it is important to give boys the opportunity to show their progress and attainment, to provide a goal to aim for over the next few weeks, to offer a chance to display the wide body of knowledge they have accrued over the last two years, and to try to ameliorate the sense of anti-climax that has arisen following the cancellation of public exams, and the likely growth of that psychologically unhelpful sense. Parents and boys have received detailed guidance on the scope and content of these tests.

After Leave-out the focus for boys will shift towards the preparation for A-Level and undertaking extended individual research projects.

Arrangements for VI Book 1 – Preparation for University

Given the uncertainty regarding Calculated Grades, VI Book 1 boys have been advised to remain focused on their Pre-U subjects over the Easter break and at the start of Cloister Time. As Cloister Time progresses, and the picture becomes clearer with regard to Calculated Grades, the focus will undoubtedly shift towards extension and preparation of boys for university courses.

Remote Learning

A remote learning system has been implemented by the school which went into operation during the last week of term. Pupils, dons and parents have provided valuable feedback on the first week of remote learning and we are now working hard to further develop our provision so that the virtual school experience is as close as possible to that experienced when boys are at Winchester. Remote learning will evolve to incorporate Div lessons, as well as a range of extra-curricular activities. 

A guide to online learning has been sent to boys and their parents via email, alongside advice on how to access learning and pastoral support from home. An additional guide to well-being, health and happiness, was sent out at the end of term. These documents are available via the Parent Portal.

The updated remote learning policy will be circulated to all boys and parents before the start of Cloister Time. The Headmaster’s end of term letter outlined a tailored approach for each year group during Cloister Time. 

School Trips

All trips during the Easter holiday are cancelled or postponed. Duke of Edinburgh practice expeditions are postponed and we are consulting with the national organisation about boys seeking to gain Gold and Silver awards.

COVID-19 Hardship Fund

In addition to the support the school is providing directly to those parents in financial difficulty due to crisis, we have set up a Covid-19 Hardship Fund. If you would like to support the Fund, further information can be found on the Winchester College Society website. Winchester is proud of the diverse backgrounds and financial circumstances of the parent population, and we are grateful that this is recognised and valued amongst the wider community as a strength worth supporting.

Staff

Employees continue to receive regular updates from the Headmaster and Bursar, as well as the weekly newsletter. The school is truly grateful to all those who continue to work, whether on site or at home; in many cases working even longer hours than normal. Many have also volunteered for roles outside their ordinary work and this is truly appreciated. Winchester has a very strong school community and, as expected, everyone continues to pull together through these difficult and unprecedented times. As an employer, the school wishes to provide as much reassurance and security as possible. Therefore the school will utilise the government's Job Retention Scheme, with additional contributions by the school, and has made a commitment to retain all employees until at least the 31 August 2020.

Community

The school has distributed PPE supplies to Southampton General Hospital, Hampshire Ambulance Service and the RHCH over the past two weeks. In total, over 2,500 gloves, 100 pairs of safety spectacles and 100 disposable aprons have been delivered. The school is also expecting a delivery of masks, kindly sent by someone in our extended community, which will be distributed.

Mill has been put to good use thanks to the efforts and skills of DT colleagues. Earlier this week they created a prototype face shield and, following consultation with an NHS colleague, they went into production, with 100 ready for delivery over the weekend.

Public access to the school

Last month, the school closed to all external visitors, in line with government advice, to limit the spread of Coronavirus. This includes the Sports Centre and Treasury museum. All guided tours have been cancelled and visits related to admissions have been postponed. We very much hope to welcome everyone back soon.

Background

The school took steps to prevent the spread of the virus as soon as news of Covid-19 emerged. Initially, when relevant, our travel restrictions were stricter than Public Health England's, but in line with advice from the Boarding Schools Association, as our main priority has always been the health and welfare of our pupils and staff. We were very grateful for the cooperation we received from parents in this regard.

It remains the case that no confirmed cases of Coronavirus have been reported amongst our pupils or within our school community. However, as families are affected both by the illness and the range of implications caused by the current situation, the importance of supporting one another remains at the forefront of our minds.

Staying in touch

We will continue to update this page with any developments. We will also email parents and staff directly with more detailed information, as usual, and this correspondence will be shared on the Parent Portal for ease of reference. Parents and pupils may also wish to follow our social media channels on Twitter and Instagram, where the school will continue to share posts that connect us as a community.

If you have any questions in the meantime, parents should not hesitate to contact their son’s Housemaster. The Headmaster and Second Master are also ready to answer any questions parents may have and can be contacted by emailing 2M@wincoll.ac.uk.

If you are a member of the media, please contact communications@wincoll.ac.uk.

Further advice

The following organisations have issued advice and offer the most up to date information about the virus:

Public Health England (PHE)

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Boarding Schools' Association (BSO)

The Government's reponse and the latest advice of the Chief Medical Officer can be found on the government's website:

UK Government