Summer Term 2020

Dear RSD Pupils,

I hope you had an enjoyable time with family over the Easter holiday period. It was strange to finish last term as we did and even stranger to have a lockdown Easter and the start of the summer term without the usual buzz around school life. Usually, we would be looking ahead to events such as Sports Day and activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions and House competitions, which help to balance the academic focus around the exams season. Of course, none of those things will be happening this term and we are all stuck in this new world of staying at home and helping to contain the spread of the coronavirus. There is no sign of schools reopening anytime soon, so we will all have to continue in this new situation and do the best we can to help each other and our wider community.

Your teachers will continue to help you online with your learning and to support you in whatever ways we can. So far, the vast majority of pupils have been very engaged with the learning activities provided so well done to all of you. If you are having trouble connecting to Google Classroom or other online materials, then please let your teacher or Head of Year know. We will try to help you. For all pupils in Years 8-11, you will be pleased to hear no doubt that we will not be having school exams this term as we would normally do at the end of May and start of June. This makes your online learning more important, not less, as it will be the main way to build your knowledge base in your subjects and prepare for moving on to your new year group in September.

For pupils in Years 8-10, your main task is to keep working with your subject teachers using the learning materials provided. It won’t be the same as when you are in school, working together in class, but it is an important way to sustain continuity in your learning across all your subjects. For Year 10, we are working on the options groups for GCSE next year. We will probably need to contact some of you about your choices to help make everything work. Also, sometime later this term, we will look at moving Year 10’s online studies more towards your subject choices for next year.

For Year 11, your focus is on keeping your GCSE work going in each of your subjects. We know that it is not always easy to do this but the most important thing is to engage with your teachers and the work that is coming your way online. If you drift away from your work, then you will find it so much harder next year to fill in the gaps and link everything together. Year 11 pupils who were meant to sit GCSE Mathematics this summer already know that they won’t be sitting those exams and that their grades will be allocated by RSD and the exam board, CCEA, working together. It may be tempting to ease back on your maths in this scenario but remember, you need to build your maths knowledge and skill level so that you have the foundation for Further Maths next year. Stay focused!

Pupils in Years 12, 13 and 14 have received lots of information about the exams being cancelled and the grading process now happening instead. I won’t go over that again but I will take this opportunity to say please do not be worrying about this process and to reiterate that your teachers and senior staff at RSD will be working hard on your behalf to make sure that we provide the exam boards with the best grades that we can for you. One thing to look out for in the weeks ahead is an opportunity to engage with some material related to the subjects you are going on to study at AS or continuing to A2. This will be a useful way to become familiar with the type of topics, concepts and skills which characterise the subject at that level and make it interesting. It will help you make a sharp start in September and hit the ground running.

We know that school life is not just about academic study and we all want to do what we can to sustain the sense of RSD community that we normally enjoy each day. When we were closing down school in March, I mentioned to Year 12 and Year 14 that we didn’t envisage the year ending like this and it would be important to have everyone back at some stage. We still aim to do just that, to have you all together and celebrating your time at RSD. For Year 13, there is the issue of the prefect elections still to take place and we will definitely do just that, either by some clever electronic means this term or as soon as we are all back together in September. There are also school Honours to be awarded and we want to do this in the coming days and acknowledge all those senior pupils who have given so much to RSD in areas such as hockey, rugby, music and debating. Indeed, your teachers have been giving some thought to the issue of how we sustain our sense of community and how we could do some things together which showcase the good things still going on, give everyone a bit of fun and laughter or maybe raise some funds for good causes. Watch this space! We will hopefully have some ideas and activities for you to enjoy or become involved with in the days ahead.

I wish you all good health and a sense of contentment as we make our way through the next few weeks and months of lockdown. RSD is still here for you and your teachers are still thinking about you and your future. Stay engaged with your learning and involved with the RSD community and we will look forward to seeing everyone back in the Old Grey Mother in the not-too-distant future.

Dr D Burnett (Headmaster)

21st April 2020

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Royal School Dungannon

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