January 2021 – Whole school blog

Friday 29th January 2021

I hope that everyone is well and that you get some chill time with your loved ones this weekend.


Parent communication survey

Here is an update from Sarah Smith-Voysey, parent governor at Percy Hedley School and James Turner, parent governor at Northern Counties School:

“We’d like to say a big thanks to all of the parents who’ve completed the communication survey this week, we’ve had 126 responses for Percy Hedley School and 61 responses for Northern Counties School.  As parent governors, we know how important it is that the views of parents and carers are heard by school leaders and other governors and your feedback is really valuable.  We’re going to be working closely with the school leadership teams and governors to review the responses and agree what each school will do to respond and we’ll provide a further update in the school update next week.”

Positive cases

We have had four positive cases this week, one of which was identified through our LFD testing programme. This has meant that some students and staff from Hillcrest post 14, Rachel/Rebecca G’s class and Deaf classes are now self-isolating. Return to school dates have been shared with those affected.


I am delighted to share that Newcastle/Gateshead CCG have offered the vaccine to all our staff. Many staff have had their first vaccination this week (including me) with second vaccinations booked for April.

LFD testing

This is now being offered to staff twice weekly. Daily testing in lieu of self-isolating has been suspended by the government so self-isolation for 10 full days is mandatory for all close contacts of anyone who has tested positive through either an LFD or PCR test.


Five year business plan – consultation

Myself, the leadership team and the wider Foundation are now considering how we want to develop the school over the next 5 years. To help us with this I would be very grateful for your views (don’t worry, there won’t be a survey every week). Please click on the link below to take part in the consultation.


Help us spread some love, decorate a heart!

We promise to put people at the heart of everything we do and we need you to help us spread the love across Percy Hedley by decorating a heart!  We want to fill our Facebook wall with love by sharing all the decorated hearts that are shared.

All you need to do is print off one (or more) of the heart colouring sheets from our website, decorate it and share a picture of your creation.  We’d love as many of our supporters as possible to decorate their own hearts.  It’s also a great lockdown activity to do at home with your family.

So if you have any budding artists at home (you included!), just print out the sheet from the link below, decorate and email to communications@percyhedley.org.uk


Have a lovely weekend



Saturday 23rd January 2021

Ros and Pam’s classes closed – all parents of close contacts informed.

Typo earlier and wrong class mentioned – apologies for any confusion –  Jo

Friday 22nd January 2021

I hope that you and your loved ones are well.  With many students at home, I thought it would be useful to share an update on what’s been happening in school. 


Positive cases 

We have been contacting parents directly where we’ve had positive cases and identified close contacts.  I’ll continue to update this blog with information as and when there are updates to share. 

Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing 

You might be aware that the government asked schools to start using LFD tests to test staff without any symptoms of COVID-19 so that we can more quickly identify any cases and prevent the spread of infection.  We’ve been testing staff once a week for the last couple of weeks, and from next week we will move to twice weekly staff testing, in line with updated guidance issued by the government earlier this week. 

We are not planning to introduce LFD testing for students yet, we are still working to understand more about this.  We will contact parents about our proposals before we plan to introduce any testing for students.  No child or young person will be tested without consent. 

Remote learning 

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who is supporting students at home to engage with the remote learning programme.  We know this isn’t always easy, and if you need any additional support, please let us know. Thank you to everyone who completed the survey last week, this has given us an opportunity to review the offer.

Learners in school 

The staff team at Northern Counties are doing a fantastic job of trying to create as normal an environment as possible, which isn’t always easy when we’ve had critical members of the team missing. 

How do ‘bubbles’ in school work? 

We’ve had some questions this week about bubbles, so I thought it would be helpful to provide some information about how we use bubbles in school. 

We’ve established bubbles in school in line with government guidance to help us minimise movement around school and to reduce the number of people staff and students come into contact with during the school day.  A bubble of students will have an allocated staff time, outdoor space, an allocated slot for playtime and a staff room area for the staff to use to minimise the opportunity for bubbles to come into contact with one another.  We have handwashing and sanitising facilities in every bubble. Our four bubbles are: Hillcrest pre14; Hillcrest post-14; Deaf/Armstrong; and, PMLD.

There are certain staff in school who need to move between bubbles, such as me as headteacher, therapists and nursing staff.  Any members of the staff team who move between bubbles will use handwashing and sanitising facilities before entering and after leaving each bubble.  

We will always try to make sure that the staff working in your child’s bubble are as consistent as possible.  However, there may be times due to staff absence when we ask staff to work in a different bubble.  We only do this where we absolutely have to and in line with our COVID-19 risk assessment. 

Help us improve how we communicate with you about COVID-19  

With the situation in school changing regularly, we know that communicating with parents about how COVID-19 is affecting the school as a whole and the education for your child / young person is more important than ever.   

Please take a few minutes to complete this short survey from our parent governor to help us improve our communications.  The deadline for responses is 29 January. 

COVID-19 parent communication survey 

Please remember that every time one person follows the basics (hands, face, space) it keeps everyone just that little bit safer. 

Have a lovely weekend 



Saturday 16th January

LFD testing has taken place for all staff that wished it this week. LFD testing is designed to identify asymptomatic people who are infectious with Covid-19.

Many of our staff and students from the Hillcrest Centre and Deaf Department will be returning next week following their self-isolation periods. We are still experiencing staff shortages due to the long lasting fatigue effects of Covid-19 but have increased our face-to-face learning offer wherever it is safe to do so.

Public Health have advised us that if any staff member or child is poorly at all then they should stay off school and get a Covid-19 test if appropriate. Please inform us is any child develops symptoms (closure.ncs@percyhedley.org.uk).

For families of children accessing home learning, please can you complete this survey so that we can get your feedback and address any concerns that you may have.


Remember that every time one person follows the basics (hands, face, space) it keeps everyone just that little bit safer.

Have a lovely weekend


Saturday 2nd January 2021

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you have had a good break.
As per government guidance, we are open for most students on Monday.
After the Covid-19 outbreak before Xmas we still have a number is staff not able to work and I have contacted a few families to say which days we can safely have their child in school. If you have not had an email from me then we are currently expecting your child in all week.
As usual, if your child is displaying any covid-19 symptoms they must get a test and cannot come back to school until they get a negative test. All self-isolation rules still apply. Please contact school if your child won’t be in school in the usual way.
We are looking at how we can administer Lateral Flow Tests in school for students and staff but we will not be starting this until we have all processes and training in place. Please keep an eye out for consent forms and further information.
If you are able to volunteer to help us out with the testing process, or you know somebody who can, please do drop me a line.
Have a lovely weekend,

Jo Allen