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Information for Parents

31st March 2020 Letters

Go to Parents and Guardians (exc CEA and Nursery) letter
Go to Parents and Guardians (CEA parents) letter
Go to Nursery Parents and Guardians letter


Letter to Parents and Guardians (exc CEA and Nursery) – 31st March 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The Executive team and Governors met last week to finalise arrangements for the Summer term as it looks increasingly likely that we will not be returning to school on the 21st April.

We are, therefore, planning to deliver a dynamic online educational programme which will ensure continuity of education for all our pupils across the different age ranges. This programme will be run from a new online microsite giving easy access to teaching resources and assessments, pastoral care, enrichment activities and a virtual day which can operate across different time zones for our international boarders.

We are determined to retain our sense of community despite the isolation that many of you will be experiencing. Our aim is to deliver the necessary structure and support to ensure some normality for your children during these extraordinary times. Having trialled elements of our remote learning programme during the past week, we are now introducing new software platforms and greater flexibility on the timings for assignments as families juggle to access computers and bandwidth.

We are acutely aware of the economic impact that Covid-19 is having on many people’s livelihoods. We will, therefore, be varying our normal terms and conditions in relation to our fees. The fee for the Summer term 2020 will be set at 60% of the day tuition fee, with scholarship and bursary holders’ fees pro-rated accordingly and, of course, no charges for lunches or buses.

Our schools have significant fixed costs and while we have closed down many areas of our schools and associated enterprises, and furloughed some staff, we are looking for your support through the prompt payment of this 60% fee.

We recognise that some families may struggle to pay fees because of their changed circumstances; if this is the case, please contact our Bursar in the first instance bursar@habsmonmouth.org

We are setting up a hardship fund to support those whose financial circumstances have changed dramatically at this time, and which may continue in the future. We would be immensely grateful to anyone who might be in a position to contribute to this fund, for example, by donating the difference between the amended Summer term fee and the full fee. If you feel able to help in any way, please do contact the Principal on principal@habsmonmouth.org

We wish to weather this storm together and to emerge stronger than ever. Your child’s educational needs and wellbeing are our top priorities whilst we remain closed to all but key workers’ children. None of us can predict when we will re-open for business as usual, but we are ready and waiting to open as soon as the government gives us the go ahead.

Thank you for your on-going support.

Yours sincerely

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Audley Twiston-Davies – Chairman of Governors

Download full letter (PDF – 151kb)


Letter to Parents and Guardians (CEA Parents – Summer term arrangements) – 31st March 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The Executive team and Governors met last week to finalise arrangements for the Summer term as it looks increasingly likely that we will remain open only for the children of key workers.

We have sought clarification from the MoD on the Continuity of Education Allowance, and we will be issuing fee invoices as normal for the Summer term. As you are key workers, we are making contingency plans that some of you may need to send your children back to school should you be deployed at short notice.

In addition, we are planning to deliver a dynamic online educational programme which will ensure continuity of education for all our pupils across the different age ranges. This programme will be run from a new online microsite giving easy access to teaching resources and assessments, pastoral care, enrichment activities and a virtual day which can operate across different time zones for our international boarders.

We are determined to retain our sense of community despite the isolation that many of you will be experiencing. Our aim is to deliver the necessary structure and support to ensure some normality for your children during these extraordinary times. Having trialled elements of our remote learning programme during the past week, we are now introducing new software platforms and greater flexibility on the timings for assignments as families juggle to access computers and bandwidth.

Your child’s educational needs and wellbeing are our top priorities whilst we remain closed to all but key workers’ children. None of us can predict when we will open for business as usual, but we are ready and waiting to open as soon as the government gives us the go ahead.

Thank you for your on-going support and the vital role that you may be called upon to play in the coming months.

Yours sincerely

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Audley Twiston-Davies – Chairman of Governors

Download full letter (PDF – 146kb)


Letter to Nursery Parents and Guardians – 31st March 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The Executive team and Governors met last week to finalise arrangements for the Summer term. It looks increasingly likely that we will not be returning to school on the 21st April and will be remaining open just for the children of key workers.

We are, therefore, planning to deliver a dynamic online educational programme which will ensure continuity of education for our pupils across the different age ranges. This programme will be run from a new online microsite giving easy access to teaching resources and assessments, pastoral care, enrichment activities and a virtual day which can operate across different time zones for our international boarders.

Whilst we are confident that this will deliver a high-value programme for older children, we also recognise that this will not be fully accessible for nursery-aged children. Therefore, instead of asking for 60% of the day tuition fees as we are doing for all other age groups, we will be invoicing you for a 20% retainer on nursery fees.

Our schools have significant fixed costs and whilst we have closed down many areas of our schools and associated enterprises, and furloughed some staff, we are looking for your support through the prompt payment of this 20% retainer.

We recognise that some families may struggle to pay fees because of their changed circumstances, please contact our Bursar in the first instance bursar@habsmonmouth.org

We are setting up a hardship fund to support those whose financial situation has altered dramatically. We would be immensely grateful to anyone who might be in a position to make a contribution to this fund. If you feel able to help in any way, please do contact the Principal principal@habsmonmouth.org

Our aim is to weather this storm together and to emerge stronger than ever. Your child’s educational needs and wellbeing are our top priorities as we remain closed to all but key workers’ children. None of us can predict when we will open for business as usual, but we are ready and waiting to open as soon as the government gives us the go ahead.

Thank you for your on-going support.

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Audley Twiston-Davies – Chairman of Governors

Download full letter (PDF – 149kb)

Letter to Parents and Guardians – 26th March 2020

Letter to Parents and Guardians – 26th March 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We hope that you and your family are keeping well in these challenging times. To those of you working on the frontline in healthcare and delivering vital goods and services, we send particular good wishes at this time.

The Board of Governors and the Executive Team are acutely conscious that, alongside the anxiety over the wellbeing of family and friends, financial difficulty and insecurity are significant considerations for many of you. The same is naturally true for our schools, so extensive consultation and modelling is already taking place as we look at our own finances, adapt our operations and review our fees for next term.

At the moment, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about several key issues. We need to take into consideration the following factors: the scale, scope and applicability of government financial support; requirements with regard to public exams; the nature of education we are able to offer remotely and for how long; and any operational savings we can make.

We are currently deliberating all of these factors and recognise that the same uncertainties and constraints will have a profound impact on many of your own businesses and livelihoods, in the short to medium term at the very least. It is, therefore, our aim to work with you to support families and to establish an appropriate fee level for next term.

In the knowledge that you will want clarity as soon as possible in this respect, we intend to communicate a decision to parents next week.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Yours sincerely,

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Audley Twiston-Davies – Chairman of Governors

Download full letter (PDF – 134kb)

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 18th March 2020

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 18th March 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Agents,

In the last couple of hours, we have been told that schools in Wales will close by Friday. We had been expecting this and so will put in place our contingency plans to support our pupils remotely. We will now action the following steps:

  • Preparing all pupils, in an age-appropriate way, to ensure they have the textbooks and materials they need to work at home.
  • All boarders need to return home as soon as possible. If you have been unable to change your child’s flight, international boarders should stay with their guardians from Friday evening. Please liaise with your child’s boarding house parents or housemaster as a priority so that we can work together to sort out any issues.
  • From Monday, we will put in place our temporary remote learning plan. You will be contacted by your child’s Headteacher shortly with more detailed information.
  • If we are unable to reopen as planned on 21st April, you will receive a structured educational programme for your child, including the necessary online resources.
  • We continue to press exam boards to brief us on their contingency plans for this summer’s GCSE/IGCSE and A level exams. We will inform all Year 11 and 13 students as soon as we know anything.
  • We will advise on amended fee structures as soon as we have a handle on likely disruption and timescales.
  • Finally, we understand that this will have an enormous impact on our parents’ ability to work. Recognising how many medics we have amongst our parent body; we are currently in discussion with Public Health Wales to see if we can provide any care in school to help them continue to deliver vital healthcare services on the frontline.

We are striving to provide as much support and normality for your children as we can under these challenging conditions. We do not underestimate the enormity of the situation that we face as a nation and I would like to thank you for your on-going support.

With my very best wishes,

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 148kb)

Letters to Parents re Remote Learning – 18th March 2020

Letter to Parents re Remote Learning – 18th March 2020

Monmouth School for Girls Remote Learning (PDF – 130kb)
Monmouth School for Boys Remote Learning (PDF – 199kb)

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 17th March 2020

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 17th March 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Agents,

I would like to provide you with the following update post the Cobra press briefing this afternoon:

  • Firstly, could I please urge all parents not to send their children into school if they have a new, persistent cough and/or a high temperature.
  • If any family member has these symptoms, the entire household must now self-isolate for 14 days. We have had a couple of cases of pupils faking a cough to be sent home, please stress to your child the impact this could have on the whole family needing to self-isolate for a fortnight.
  • Could all international boarding parents please make the necessary arrangements for their children to return home as soon as possible. Travel arrangements should be discussed with your child’s boarding house parents or housemaster in the first instance.
  • We are still awaiting confirmation on arrangements for this summer’s public exams, which are likely to be disrupted. On this basis, we are now suggesting all Year 11 and 13 international boarders return home and the schools will update families as soon as we are briefed by the exam boards.
  • All pupils and staff with underlying health issues, as outlined by the government, have been advised to stay at home to minimise their risk.
  • We have contingency plans to email work to all pupils who are already absent. We will provide greater detail on our plans to deliver remote learning in the next couple of days as we audit the numbers of staff and pupils currently away from school.
  • All school trips and fixtures will be cancelled from Friday.
  • Additional practical measures have been put in place including staggering meals, staff serving all pupils where possible, staff ensuring hand sanitisers are used before and after every meal.

We understand these are very worrying times for our entire school community. We also recognise the important role schools play in enabling our healthcare workers, emergency services and supply network to function as normally as possible for as long as possible.

With my very best wishes,

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 144kb)

Letter to Parents – 12th March 2020

Letter to Parents – 12th March 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Further to my letter on Tuesday, things are moving quite rapidly with the continued rise of Covid-19 cases across the UK. Today’s Cobra meeting has outlined further restrictions which will be imposed nationwide to help slow down the spread of the virus as we move from the containment to delay phase.

As of 5pm today, we will now ask that all pupils and staff must self-isolate for seven days if they develop a persistent cough or a temperature above 37.8 centigrade. The Executive Committee met this morning to review all activities across our family of schools to identify higher risk events. Our overriding concern is the health and wellbeing of our whole school community and we recognise our duty of care to minimise the risk posed to more vulnerable members of our extended community.

While we have tried to balance providing a full educational programme with minimising this risk, we will put in place the following changes to our school calendar with immediate effect:

  • No whole school assemblies due to numbers attending and close proximity of pupils and staff.
  • Parents’ evenings for our Pre-Preps will be rescheduled.
  • All concerts will be postponed, and alternative dates sought wherever possible. This will include Friday’s tea concert at the girls’ prep, next Tuesday’s concert at Wyastone, and the Friday Afternoon Choir concert on 20th March with local primary schools at The Blake.
  • We are cancelling all external theatre and cinema trips with immediate effect. The school will reimburse the cost of the Year 10 trip to see Blood Brothers in Coventry and boarders’ cinema trip on Saturday.
  • The Careers Convention scheduled for the 19th March will be postponed. A significant number of the exhibitors had pulled out adhering to their own business protocols to avoid all but essential face-to-face meetings.
  • Each residential trip in the UK is being assessed on a case-by-case basis. The Year 5 trip to Naturesbase in Lampeter and the Year 12 geography field trip to Swanage are both deemed low risk and are currently going ahead unless government advice on residential trips changes over the weekend. We will take the additional precaution of taking each person’s temperature before they leave for the trip. Any day pupil who has a raised temperature will need to be collected by parents and boarders will stay in the medical centre.
  • All overseas school trips will be cancelled in light of this afternoon’s announcement. We are hoping this change to government advice will validate our insurance. Therefore, the following trips over the Easter holidays will no longer take place: the German/history trip to Berlin, the Year 8 trip to Naples, the football trip to Madrid, rowing training camp to Seville, Classics trip to Greece, and the lacrosse tour to the USA. We are unclear on whether or not this travel ban will impact on summer trips but will confirm as soon as we are able to.
  • Fixtures are set to continue this weekend. There is a strict protocol in place with home and away teams required to confirm that they have not travelled to restricted areas within the last 14 days. In addition, there will be no handshaking and teams will be encouraged to wash hands more frequently.
  • We are liaising with the organisers of the National Schools’ Heads and netball, hockey, football, rugby 7s tournaments scheduled over the next three weeks. We are fully expecting a number of these events to be cancelled given the large numbers of schools participating.

I am sure you will appreciate, this is such a rapidly changing situation, the list of events and activities outlined above may well become more extensive. If like Ireland, the government takes the decision that at some future date schools and colleges in the UK must close, we will then put in place our plan for remote learning. The Heads will email you with the arrangements for sending work online should this prove necessary.

As the list of European countries classified as a restricted area grows, we would like to remind families planning to travel abroad over the Easter holidays that they may well face restrictions on their return to the UK. We will be imposing a 14 day self-isolation policy before day or boarding students can be readmitted to school if returning from a Category 1 country or showing symptoms from a Category 2 country. The list of countries that pose an increased risk can be found here COVID-19: Specified countries and areas with implications for returning travellers or visitors arriving in the UK

All letters about Covid-19 will be posted on our website www.habsmonmouth.org/coronavirus

Thank you again for your patience and understanding as together we face the challenges of adapting to this fast-moving situation.

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 196kb)

Letter to Parents – 10th March 2020

Letter to Parents – 10th March 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We are closely monitoring the latest medical and government advice to ensure that everyone within our school community is protected and supported to the best of our ability as we face up to the challenges posed by the Novel Coronavirus. Whilst we hope the impact will be minimal in Monmouthshire, I wanted to reassure you that we are determined to run our family of schools as normally as we can for as long as we can. However, in such a rapidly changing situation, we need to make contingency plans in case we face a situation when some of the staff and students may be quarantined or unable to get to school, or like Italy and now Madrid, when schools are forced to close.

Our approach will have to adapt to and respond to the unfolding course of events. We are a boarding school so cannot close completely and there will, therefore, be additional support from the local authority if needed to help keep our boarding community up and running. However, the school could be shut to day pupils and necessitate remote learning. As symptoms for the majority of the population are mild, we plan to set work for students, particularly in older year groups, so they will not fall behind in their studies. In this scenario, we plan to:

  • Email work to students for their subjects daily so we can ensure the necessary work is covered during the normal school week
  • Respond to email queries on a daily basis to support students in their learning
  • Communicate with students via other means including Firefly, Skype etc
  • Enable access to files via Citrix

Should the schools be affected by reduced staffing, we are putting plans in place to deliver teaching across the classes to ensure all pupils gain teaching input. A greater priority will be given to exam classes in Years 11 and 13. We are expecting to get detailed advice from exam boards on their contingency plans shortly, as there has been a series of meetings to discuss fall-back arrangements if the Coronavirus is at its height in May.

We have also received many queries from parents over school trips and personal travel plans over the Easter holidays. Our line remains that we are following government advice to the letter and have not imposed additional restrictions on our pupils, parents or staff. The Year 8 trip to Naples was cancelled yesterday as the whole of Italy was reclassified as essential travel only. We are currently reviewing training camps for rowing and football in Spain as restrictions are now being put in place. At the moment, the lacrosse tour to the US and Classics tour to Greece remain unaffected but this may change. The cost of any cancellations will be covered by the schools’ insurance policy, which is activated when following government advice.

If any parents or pupils travel to, or transit through, restricted areas over the Easter holidays, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to school. The list of countries that pose an increased risk can be found here COVID-19: Specified countries and areas with implications for returning travellers or visitors arriving in the UK

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to communicate any updates via email and all letters will be posted on our website www.habsmonmouth.org/coronavirus . Thank you for your patience and understanding as we adapt to this fast-moving situation.

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 166kb)

Letter to Parents – 24th February 2020

Letter to Parents – 24th February 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy

As a family of schools with both boarding and day pupils, we have been tracking and monitoring the latest government advice on travel restrictions to help prevent the spread of Novel Coronavirus and to ensure the health and safety of all those within our community. Following this advice, all of our Chinese students remained in the UK over half term. However, this is a fast-changing situation and there is now a significant outbreak of the Coronavirus in northern Italy; an area defined by the Italian government as any region north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini but excluding those cities.

The British government has stated that anyone returning from northern Italy should immediately self-quarantine if they develop any ‘flu-like symptoms. In addition, should anyone have visited the following places now in lock-down, they should self-quarantine for 14 days even if they appear to be symptom free:

In the region of Lombardy: Codogno; Castiglione d’Adda; Casalpusterlengo; Fombio; Maleo; Somaglia; Bertonico; Terranova dei Passerini; Castelgerundo; and San Fiorano.

In the region of Veneto: Vo’Euganeo.

Please could you contact your child’s Form Tutor, Head of Year, or Housemaster as soon as possible if you visited northern Italy over half term. We would ask you to follow the government guidelines to the letter. If it proves necessary to self-quarantine your children, we will support them by sending work online and offering catch-up clinics, especially for those in Years 11 or 13.

Looking ahead to the Easter holidays, we are planning to bring in an external consultant, John Zhang from Connexcel with whom we have worked closely for a number of years, to run a residential programme for those students who cannot return home or stay with guardians in April. At the moment, the overseas school trips during Easter should remain unaffected. These trips would only be cancelled if government advice changes.

Thank you for your continued support as we navigate through these challenging times.

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 146kb)

Letter to Parents – 13th March 2020

Letter to Parents – 13th March 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We had stressed that this was a fast-moving situation but few of us could have predicted quite how fast. Since yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister, travel advice and requirements to self-isolate have changed.

It is hard for us to keep pace with the changing advice and so we would like to direct you to the government website which spells out their guidance on when to self-isolate at home:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

In addition, there is a new link on the government website for the latest travel advice
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

This includes the following key points:

  • There is no longer a list of restricted countries with a requirement to self-isolate for 14 days from a Category 1 area or 14 days if symptomatic from a Category 2 area, with the exception of Northern Italy.
  • Everyone with a new persistent cough and/or a high temperature should self-isolate for 7 days.
  • Overseas boarders returning to school should delay their return by 7 days if they become symptomatic. Should they become symptomatic while in school, they would then be isolated in either the medical centre or another designated space for 7 days.

As Covid-19 spreads rapidly on both sides of the Atlantic, there may be more flight restrictions as countries close their borders to delay and reduce the predicted peak in numbers. Please call your child’s houseparent or housemaster if you wish to discuss travel options with them. We would fully understand if you decide your child should leave before the end of term. In those cases, we will grant authorised absence and provide some additional online teaching support.

Again, I would like to reassure you that we are assessing on a daily basis which elements of our educational programme are deemed higher risk and we will take action accordingly. Wherever possible, our aim is to postpone not cancel activities.

We have also been contacted by several parents with children who have significant underlying health issues. Please contact our senior school nurse, Mrs Louise Goodwin, to talk through any medical concerns you may have.

A reminder that all letters about Covid-19 will be posted on our website: www.habsmonmouth.org/coronavirus

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 152kb)