Habsmonmouth Online

Advice on Coronavirus – Latest updates

Information for Parents

Letter to parents, guardians and agents – 12th June 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Agents,

Many of you have contacted the schools with questions about opening next term. We remain confident that we will be reopening in September and wanted to offer you some reassurance by outlining our intentions regarding a few key issues for next term.

1. The #safeschools initiative

On 10th May, the UK Government announced the roadmap to ending lockdown. On Tuesday 26th May, the BSA formally announced the BSA Covid-Safe charter. I am pleased to inform you that we have subscribed to the charter and committed to the #safeschools initiative. Full details of our commitment are available at www.safeschoolsuk.org. This means that we will:

  • Allow students to wear face masks in school
  • Undertake temperature checks or thermal scanning regularly for all non-resident individuals
  • Put in place and ensure appropriate social distancing measures
  • Ensure appropriate PPE for staff who require it
  • Provide a suitable isolation area to care for pupils who show symptoms

2. UK Quarantine

The requirement for quarantining travellers arriving in the UK began on June 8th. The policy will be reviewed again in three weeks, and there is no indication as yet whether the policy will still be in force at the beginning of the Michaelmas term. The UK Department of Education has confirmed that schools will be deemed as suitable accommodation for any quarantine requirement.

  • We will open a boarding facility to accommodate boarders during the quarantine period.
  • Should the requirement no longer exist, we will honour the boarding booking and allow boarders to stay in the house under less stringent conditions.
  • This will be available from the 24th of August but please let us know if this causes difficulties with flights.
  • There will be no charge for this facility.
  • We hope that if you are able to make suitable private arrangements you will pursue this avenue before booking into School
  • The current guidance indicates that there will be no opportunity for those being quarantined to mix in any normal way even with members of their own “household”.

3. Half term

We are aware that it may be unviable to book a return flight for half term under the current circumstances. We will, therefore, be arranging a residential facility for half term for those who struggle to make suitable guardian arrangements. Further details to follow on likely costs involved.

4. Exeat

We understand that in the current unprecedented situation, making exeat arrangements may make cause additional pressure on some families or may be impractical. We will be offering a ‘stay-in’ option for the September and November exeats. The format has yet to be decided upon and may involve staying in a different location for the weekend, under the overall direction of Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools staff.

5. Travel

We will provide a letter that international pupils can use as a way of demonstrating that they are travelling back to a BSA member school. Translations into Chinese and Russian have already been commissioned and will be available imminently. Our dedicated travel office will continue to offer our usual service of coordinated airport collections to oversee the safe return of your child to school. We will monitor government advice and work tirelessly with our transport partners to ensure that this is done safely and in accordance with any social distancing requirements. Please liaise in the normal way regarding flight details: boarderstransport@habsmonmouth.org

6. Contact us

Many of you have already spoken with our boarding staff directly. Please continue to contact your son’s/daughter’s houseparent/housemaster with any further queries, or indeed contact the boarding secretary on willis.melina@habsmonmouth.org and she will answer your enquiry or direct it accordingly.

Kind regards,

Mr Alex Peace

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Letter to parents – 5th June 2020

Letter to parents – 5th June 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians

I hope that you remain safe and well. Thank you for your ongoing support and we continue to express our gratitude to those of you who remain on the frontline of response. I write to you this week as we look ahead to the much-anticipated easing of lockdown and how this will impact on the re-opening of schools and our provision for key workers’ children.

Welsh Parliament announcement on re-opening of schools

The Executive Committee has met to discuss the possibility and implications of a return to school on 29th June as suggested by the Welsh Parliament on Wednesday.

We have decided not to re-open our schools (with one key exception, please see below) for the five days that the Senedd’s decision would have affected us. This decision was not taken lightly and was only reached after lengthy debate, carefully weighing up the views of those parents and staff who have written in with their thoughts. We are aware that not everyone will agree with the decision, but I believe that a clear message delivered in good time is best for future planning.

The one exception is that we are thinking of opening one school site to accommodate a restricted service even though this is fraught with logistical issues in terms of preparing the site to reopen, picking up/dropping off and parking. In particular, we hope to find a way to allow ‘Exam Year Groups’ (i.e. current Years 10 and 12) some interaction with teachers. However, this is challenging because of the restrictions placed on pupil numbers in school by the Senedd and so we will write to explain more as our planning becomes clearer.

I am happy to outline the compelling reasons which shaped our overall decision:

As a group of ‘independent schools’ we believe that we must act truly independently and decide what we believe to be best for our schools. In particular, we remain watchful of the COVID-19 situation in the areas that our families live in. We believe that it is best to remain cautious during the last week of term and do not feel we can implement the social distancing measures required across all our sites for just five days;

We think that offering a service of any sort could well be unintentionally divisive as many of our students will not be able to attend. School buses will not be running for day students and our boarders will struggle to return;

Evidence from fellow schools in England has confirmed there has been a relatively low uptake by parents and we do not believe that the experience would be as positive as we would have hoped for. Were we to open, we would focus on social activities for those students who could make it in and this presents staffing issues where the focus remains on ‘Habsmonmouth online’ which will continue right up until the end of term on 3rd July;

We are planning to support those students who are going through a transition point by ‘face-to-face’ online meetings with key staff and classmates and will be in touch with them over the coming weeks. We are also looking at how we can reconnect the remainder of our pupil body to ensure they feel more confident ahead of returning to school in September;

We have furloughed nearly 300 support staff to enable us to reduce our outgoings as much as possible as we charged only 60% of our day tuition fees during the Summer term. From the 10th June, under a new government directive, we no longer have the flexibility to unfurlough staff on a temporary basis. To reopen our site for five days would have a profound impact on our financial model put in place to cope with the pandemic;

The final element in our decision-making process was that we remain hopeful of fully opening in September and we are carefully planning for this.

Key Workers Provision

I would like to help clarify this situation as some parents have questioned the current arrangements.

When we headed into lockdown back in March, we agreed that families who had at least one key worker serving in a frontline position but whose circumstances warranted support could book their children onto our key worker scheme. This was done in good faith and we continue to honour this arrangement.

Since half term, we have been juggling providing this much-needed support with delivering our online educational programme. We have had to adapt this service so that new-joiners from 1st June must have both parents on the frontline and for whom there is absolutely no safe alternative. We can only staff the provision based on those children booked in and, therefore, please let us know if you do not need a session and please avoid just turning up without booking as our staff-to-pupil ratio may not be sufficient.

Staff in our schools have worked with little break since the imposed lockdown and the Easter holiday period was largely taken up with preparing for a new way of delivering and planning lessons. It is imperative that, whilst there will be some activity over the Summer holiday period – such as results days and the potential of a quarantine provision for our overseas boarders in late August – the staff have a break in readiness for the new school year. We will, therefore, be closing on 3rd July including our key worker service.

I hope that this helps to clarify these key messages. Of course, please do contact me should you have any further thoughts, reflections or questions.

Kind regards,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor

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Letter to parents – 3rd June 2020

Letter to parents – 3rd June 2020

Dear Parents,

At 12.30pm today, the Welsh Assembly announced that state schools in Wales will partially reopen on Monday 29th June, with a third of their pupils returning in rotation. As this is just five days before we break up, the Executive Committee is meeting to discuss this. We will provide you with more details by the end of the week on our plans for reopening in September and whether or not it is feasible to use this easing of the lockdown in the last week of term to benefit any specific year groups.

Yours sincerely,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor

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Letter to parents – 22nd May 2020

Letter to parents – 22nd May 2020

Dear Parents,

I hope that you remain safe and well.

I write to you after the inaugural Virtual Open Day last Saturday which was hugely successful. I am most grateful to all my colleagues and our students who contributed to this as we continue to plan for the future. I am delighted to say that we had 332 new users with 7783 ‘page views’! The highlights were the wonderful student testimonials, with considerable ‘traffic’ to the virtual tours section. Even though there was a pre-recorded panel session with the Heads answering key questions, a further forty-eight parents sent questions during the morning.

It is now apparent that England and Wales differ on their plans for a phased re-opening of schools. As a result of our location, just inside the border, we will be following the guidelines set out for Wales. We will continue to keep you updated on developments, but it looks increasingly likely that we will not reopen until September. We will continue to offer support for children of Key Workers as we have since March but this service remains available only to those children who have both parents on the frontline. We need to keep numbers to a manageable and safe level – any new children joining the provision must have both parents being key workers who are unable to work from home.

The Governors’ Cobra team set up in March comprising governors and representation from the Haberdashers’ Company, continues to meet at least weekly by video conference to keep up-to-date with developments and to provide great support as we navigate our way through these challenges. At each meeting, the committee discusses and debates a number of standing agenda items, including: remote learning and pastoral care; latest pupil number projections; marketing and admissions; financial and cash forecasts; HR considerations; and planning for the schools re-opening.

As you will be aware, we have moved quickly to reduce the impact of the lower income by stopping capital expenditure projects, seeking donations to our Development Fund and taking advantage of the government scheme to furlough nearly 300 staff. In addition, we have managed to secure a £5m coronavirus bank loan to plug some of the gap between incomings and outgoings, but this will, of course, need to be paid back over the coming years.

To complement this team, the Executive Committee continues to meet online every week. We are focused on making the key educational decisions in these strange times. From this week’s meeting, I am pleased to update you on the following:

We will be issuing school reports for the Summer term; it might be that there are slightly amended formats, but we feel that it is important to give you this important feedback to aid your child’s future learning;

We have reviewed the calendar and practicality of arranging internal exams, and have agreed that there will be no summer internal exams in both Monmouth School for Boys and Monmouth School for Girls. To ensure rigour of continuity of assessment, various subjects and departments may be
using their own tests during the first part of the Michaelmas term. Nearer the time, individual schools will be in touch with details for the relevant pupils;

We have also made the sad decision to cancel Speech Day for all of our schools at the end of the term. We are keen, however, to mark the end of school life for Year 13 and we are working with the Heads of Sixth Form to consider a special event for them at some point in the future;

We want to continue to support our senior students through this time and have decided to ‘unfurlough’ Mrs Denise Gray so that she can work with the Heads of Sixth Form -and the wider Sixth Form team of Housemasters, tutors and Heads of Year, to continue to coordinate all Careers and UCAS matters. We are enormously grateful to Mrs Ann Johnson for her unstinting and excellent work at the Girls’ School over the past few years and wish her well as she prepares for retirement.

Please do not hesitate to be in touch if you think we can help in any way and thank you all for your continued support during these unprecedented times.

I wish you a happy half term.

Kind regards,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor

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Letter to parents – 7th May 2020

Letter to parents – 7th May 2020

Dear Parents,

I hope that you remain safe and well. As the weeks go by, your support is greatly appreciated and your positive feedback continues to really ‘buoy up’ our staff, particularly those working on the rota supporting the children of Key Workers. It has been a huge team effort so far!

We are most grateful for your responses to our survey on ‘Habsmonmouth online’. The overall picture looks like this:

Based on this feedback and the verbatim comments, we are drawing up an Action Plan to improve our service further over the forthcoming days and weeks. The key points emerging are:

  • A more structured week and day which both pupils and parents can see in advance, ideally with pastoral time each morning
  • A clearer expectation of work set with an overall reduction in the amount
  • Continuing to work on a balance between streamed, face-to-face lessons, pre-recorded and set activities
  • Clearer lines for academic feedback
  • A reduction in the amount of screen-time for students
  • Streamlining the platforms to access work; focus on Seesaw for preps and Teams for senior schools
  • A help desk for parents and additional support in the use of Teams

Please do contact me if you have individual issues and further suggestions and I will do my best to respond as soon as possible.

The Government has announced that they will let us know their plans for an eventual return to normality at this Sunday’s press briefing. We will be ready at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools to follow their advice and to work with you on what we expect will be a phased return to school. Our Executive Committee will meet online on Monday, and we then hope to be in a position to update you on arrangements for the rest of the Summer term, including reports, examinations and End of Year events.

In the meantime, I hope that you stay safe and well as we look forward to celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday; such an extraordinary moment in our country’s history, when the dark clouds rolled away, and Europe was once more at peace after many years of war. I am sure this celebration will be more reflective as we offer our continuing gratitude to those working on the frontline against Covid-19.

Kind regards,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor

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Letter to parents – 24th April 2020

Letter to parents – 24th April 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope that you are all keeping safe and well.

As ever, I would like to say how grateful I am to all my colleagues who have helped on the rota for children of key workers, which includes boarders who returned to us on Monday. We are very proud of how many of our parents are on the front line at this time and we would like to pay tribute to your sacrifice and service as you battle to keep the country running during this pandemic. I am sure that all parents join me in wishing you well.

The entire team would like to thank you for your support as we launched our online educational programme in earnest on Tuesday. We hope that your children have now established a good daily routine as they rise to the challenge of remote learning using Habsmonmouth online. Please do continue to log on to this service as it is changing by the day with more podcasts, videos and other interactive initiatives. Whilst we remain positive and hopeful that the lockdown will not go on for too much longer, this service is ensuring that our community remains strong and engaged with education in its broadest sense. Habsmonmouth online has propelled us towards a whole new way of delivering our teaching and learning; I have every confidence that it will become a real feature of our schools in the years ahead.

Thank you to all those parents who have paid their fees so promptly, this has made a huge difference to our cashflow as we negotiate our way through a very challenging financial situation. We have been touched by the number of parents who have been in a position to contribute to the Emergency Fund and this has enabled us to offer immediate help to those families who have been worst affected by the economic shutdown.

We also recognise the longer-term impact this may have on your livelihoods and I am pleased to confirm that we will be freezing our school fees at the September 2019 rate for the next academic year. Please do contact Mrs Tessa Norgrove, our Foundation Bursar, if you need financial assistance in the short term. Our Development Office is also trying to secure additional funds as we continue to approach this crisis head-on. We have moved to secure banks loans to ensure that we can meet our operational costs over the months ahead. We are in a relatively privileged position as our Trustees at Haberdashers’ Hall are offering the necessary security and we remain totally confident we will be in a position to clear these debts in the medium term.

One of the key elements of our planning has been to reduce our outgoings wherever possible. We are now operating from one site and have furloughed 287 colleagues. We will keep this under constant review. We have had to furlough some of our visiting music teachers, but I am keen to point out that about half of these colleagues have found a way to tutor remotely. I am most grateful for this as it enables your children to develop their musical talents and to retain a greater sense of normality.

I also wanted to confirm that our term dates remain as published and we will be honouring the Bank Holiday on 8th May to commemorate VE Day, a momentous date in our history.
I am heartened and truly humbled by how the whole school community is pulling together. I hope that you find this update both reassuring and positive as we plot a path through the Covid-19 crisis.

With all best wishes for your safety and well-being.

Yours sincerely

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor

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Letters to parents re Summer Term

Letters to parents re Summer Term

Go to Monmouth School for Girls letter
Go to Monmouth School for Boys letter


Letter to Monmouth School for Girls’ parents re summer term – 17th April 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Re: Summer term 2020

I do hope that you have all managed to find some time over the past weeks to enjoy some rest and restoration in the Easter sunshine. I appreciate that it has been a strange and indeed difficult time for many, and I can only repeat the thanks conveyed in the Principal’s letter to those members of our community who are on the front line, to our staff who have worked through the holidays to support the children of key workers, and to all the staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure that our online provision is ready for the start of term.

Over the last week I have been urging myself, and indeed the more resistant members of my household, to get back into some semblance of a routine. Apparently, when William Shakespeare was quarantined by the plague, he wrote a few things. Anthony and Cleopatra, King Lear, and Macbeth. I have written many shopping and ‘to-do’ lists over the past three weeks, but I am beginning to miss the motivation that comes from having to be at a certain place at a certain time. Having seen the novelty of a rather ‘fluid’ holiday timetable begin to wear off with my own children, I wanted to reassure and indeed request, that when the Summer term starts next Tuesday, that we will all be up, alert, appropriately dressed, fed and watered and ready to go by 8.45am when the first online assembly of the term will be delivered. Our online learning will then resume as follows:

Online Learning

Remote learning will start on Tuesday 21st April. Teachers will aim to send work by 9am each day. Work will be sent via email or Microsoft Teams. As before the Easter break, we would advise that your daughter follow her normal school timetable as this will provide structure to her day. Please do not worry if your daughter is unable to complete all the work set. We do understand that not all students have access to a device for the entire school day. Your daughter should contact her subject teacher if she has problems accessing the work set. Teachers are available on email and will respond as soon as they can. Please encourage your daughter to return work for marking and feedback when teachers request it. If we are concerned that your daughter is not engaging as fully as she should be in the remote learning provision, her tutor or Head of Year may contact you to offer help to resolve any issues that she may be facing.

If your daughter is in Y11 or Y13, she will continue to study in the way she did before Easter, completing work set by each of her subject teachers. From May 1st (Y11) and May 7th (Y13), your daughter will continue to study the subjects of her choice. A Microsoft Form will be sent by Mr Evans on Tuesday 21st April so that your daughter can make her selection. This form is to be returned by Friday 24th April.

If you have any questions please contact your daughter’s form tutor in the first instance, and they will be able to help or point you in the right direction. If you have any questions of an IT/ Technical nature, please contact mg.helpdesk@habsmonmouth.org

Pastoral Care

The pastoral care of our students, your daughters, continues to be as important and indeed perhaps even more important than ever, and as a community we will do all we can to continue to provide a caring and nurturing environment, which will be remote only in the physical sense. Your daughter’s Head of Year will maintain weekly contact with the year group, and her tutor will contact the tutor group twice a week. I would ask that you encourage your daughter to stay in touch with and reply to her tutor and Head of Year when he/she makes contact.

Boarding

We look forward to reopening our boarding provision this weekend to support our key worker boarding families. I am sure it will feel slightly strange as we are currently, of course, a smaller boarding community than usual, but I know that the Boarding Team will make sure that the ‘new’ boarding experience will be as ‘homely’ as ever.

I will be writing to your daughters shortly to, I hope, give them encouragement and reassurance about the weeks ahead. I miss them passing by my study door and popping in for a chat, and I would very much like to think that they will continue to do this remotely. I believe that this experience will teach the girls even more about resilience and independence. More than ever I am made aware of the fact that the Haberdashers’ Monmouth spirit doesn’t come from the school buildings, but from the relationships between the teachers and the girls and from the friendships amongst the girls themselves – and these temporary conditions, far from weakening these bonds, will only make them stronger.

With my warm wishes to you all,

Mrs Jessica Miles

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Letter to Monmouth School for Boys’ parents re summer term – 20th April 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope that you and your families are well, and that you have managed to have as good an Easter as possible in the circumstances.

Over the Easter our staff have been working carefully to further develop our home learning provision, and I am writing to provide you with another overview of this for Summer term. I hope that you and your son have had an opportunity to look at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Online, which provides an overview of teaching and learning arrangements, pastoral support and care, and enrichment opportunities.

Teaching and learning

We will be continuing to use Microsoft Teams as the main platform for teaching and learning, and the opportunity to trial our systems in the week before Easter was very helpful: teachers delivered lessons through Teams, using a wide range of teaching technologies, and students submitted much excellent work. We showcased some of the work in our newsletter just before half term, and we are very pleased in general with the way that your sons have adapted to home learning.

It is essential that your son continues to work using a clear structure to the day. We advise that whenever possible, your son should access lessons at home using his normal daily timetable. We will be expecting your son to submit work to schedules set by teachers, and will be grateful for your support in reinforcing this. Over the course of the Summer term, these routines for working and submitting work are critical so that your son can continue to make strong academic progress, and then start the new academic year, in September, from a position of strength.

I have written separately to Year 11 and Year 13 students and parents to explain arrangements for the award of GCSE and A level grades. I do appreciate the difficulties of the situation for these students. However, I would like to reiterate my advice that students should continue to work on their examination materials, following instructions and advice provided by their teachers. This is essential so that students are well prepared for any potential exams in the Michaelmas term. We will also be providing resources for Year 11 students so that they can undertake effective preparation for A level study, as detailed in my earlier letter.

Pastoral support and care

Your son’s tutor and housemaster will be maintaining regular contact with your son, to offer support with home learning arrangements, and to offer pastoral care. They will also discuss academic enrichment opportunities, as detailed below; these are particularly important opportunities for Year 11 and Year 13 students.

We will be preparing regular virtual whole school assemblies this term; a number of staff, senior students and I will be preparing assemblies by video in time for the usual Monday morning assembly. I hope that these are helpful for your son to retain some connection to our whole school this term.

Enrichment opportunities

On Haberdashers’ Monmouth Online we have compiled a huge list of exciting enrichment opportunities. With creative thinking and inspiration we believe that students can turn home learning to their advantage. There are many enrichment courses of outstanding quality, and a number of students have already signed up to learn a new skill. In order to practice what I preach, I have just completed the ‘Machine Learning’ course on ‘Coursera’ (details are in Haberdashers’ Monmouth Online). This is taught by one of the world’s top experts in Artificial Intelligence, a professor at Stanford University, California. A number of our students are already working on this and similar courses.

These enrichment opportunities are particularly beneficial for Year 11 and Year 13, to retain their academic motivation and to enhance their academic profiles in creative ways. We have asked tutors of Year 11 and Year 13 to contact their tutees to discuss academic enrichment for your sons.

Although this Summer term will be very different to normal, in Monmouth School for Boys we are confident that we have created an excellent programme of education, as outlined above, and I am sure that your son will apply himself to these new opportunities with his usual energy and enthusiasm. We will continue to produce our usual regular newsletters to keep you informed of the good news in school.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely

Dr Andrew Daniel

Download full letter (PDF – 141kb)

Letter to Parents re start of Summer term – 17th April 2020

Letter to Parents re start of Summer term – 17th April 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope that you have been able to stay safe and well in these extraordinary times and that you have had a peaceful Easter with your families. For those members of our community who are on the front line at this time, we offer our sincere gratitude and full support.

It does not seem that long ago that our schools were closed as a result of the Government’s policy of lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus. However, in that time a great deal has occurred in our schools. In particular, I extend my thanks to our staff who have worked throughout this time to support the children of key workers. We have many parents who are on the front line trying to deal with the crisis and I know that they have really appreciated their children being in school to enable them to focus on doing such a brilliant job of caring for all of us. Many of these parents have kindly written to express their gratitude. One typical example I received stated:

“The current battle against covid-19 has affected us deeply as a family. We work on the frontline of healthcare and we have never experienced challenges as great as we are facing today. The support the school is providing to us though key worker provision is carrying us through this difficult time and we are tremendously grateful. The staff are putting themselves at risk every day and yet they continue to give our children fun and fulfilling days. Please could you pass on our thanks to all those involved.”

I am sure that we all recognise how extraordinary this time truly is in our history. I have been humbled by the considerable number of parents who have written to offer their ongoing support for our schools, and we are most grateful for this. We have had to make some important decisions such as reducing our fee level to 60% (we believe this to be the lowest fee of any independent school in the country) and we have furloughed 90% of all our support staff as part of our strategic planning. Another recent email stated:

“We have every confidence that the fee level set represents what the school needs to achieve from parents in order to remain operational, whilst also providing job security for hard working and valuable members of staff. We are a community, and as such we all need to support each other, to make sacrifices, and work together for the good of our children. Only in this way, can the school come out on the other side of this and be in a position to offer the same standard of educational provision it always has, by the same truly wonderful and extremely caring staff.”

The Summer term starts on Tuesday 21st April and we are focused on delivering the most dynamic and interactive service we can through our newly constructed remote learning provision. This can be accessed via our website www.habsmonmouth.org/online and there are links to a whole range of initiatives and advice covering Teaching and Learning, Enrichment and Pastoral Care. ‘Habsmonmouth online’ will streamline access to the various platforms the teachers will be using to deliver the curriculum and assignments to your children over the weeks ahead. You will note the emphasis on assessment and feedback as we recognise the importance of this in every child’s progress. Our Year 11 and 13 students have been written to separately at this challenging time for them. Our senior schools’ Academic Deputy Heads and prep schools’ Curriculum Leaders will provide further direction should you need it as we adjust to this online resource.

One of the expressions I often use at home and for which I am often teased is ‘normality is good’! At this time this seems particularly apposite in two ways. Firstly, we hope to deliver as normal a service as possible over the coming weeks. I have every confidence that our staff here will rise to the challenge and that your children will have a positive educational experience. We would welcome your feedback and suggestions to make this even better, day by day. Secondly, we all hope for a return to some sort of normality before too long in all aspects of our lives. I suspect that it will be a different world then but as soon as the Government directs us to re-open our schools, we will be ready to offer the outstanding breadth of education for which Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools are renowned.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor, Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 208kb)

Letter to CEA Parents re Summer term – 16th April 2020

Letter to CEA Parents re Summer term – 16th April 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Over the past week, we have been addressing a number of concerns raised by some of our Forces parents in relation to us billing the full amount for the Summer term against the Continuity of Education Allowance. The Executive team would like to reassure you that the schools were following advice from the MoD and have guaranteed that we will reimburse whatever discount we pass onto the remainder of our parents retrospectively, when we have a clearer picture on what this amount will be after the May half term.

You will appreciate this has been a very fast-changing situation and we are responding as quickly as we can to these unprecedented events. We understand that there is a strict process in place for eligible service personnel to claim the CEA, and as there remains some uncertainty when we will reopen, or if our Forces boarders will return to school if their parents are deployed, we followed the MoD’s advice to the letter.

Since these invoices were sent to our Forces families, we subsequently made the decision to cut our tuition fees by 40% and will be charging day parents and the remainder of our boarders 60% of the tuition fee while we remain closed to all but key workers’ children. We will be passing the same discount onto Forces families but in addition will be offering the following boarding provision to all parents who are key workers: £72.50 per night up to 15 nights and 60% of the boarding element if it exceeds 15 nights. At the moment, this is for the first half term only but could extend for the full term if we do not re-open as hoped in June.

We were concerned that to apply the same treatment to the bills of Forces families in receipt of the Continuity of Education Allowance would not fit the process of applying for the CEA with its associated deadlines and rules. You will note, however, that the service bursary has been increased this term to ensure that only the absolute minimum 10% required by the CEA scheme applies.

As we still do not yet know the length of closure and as we have been asked to keep our boarding provision open for the children of keyworkers, which will include many of our Forces families, we understand that the CEA should be claimed and paid in full at this stage. To be clear, we did not do this in order to treat our Forces families differently from our other boarding families. We merely wished to accommodate the CEA claim process as cleanly and simply as possible for you.

As stated, we intend to review the position after half term when the length of closure and the use of boarding will be better understood. We will then apply to your accounts the same discount given to our other boarding families. We will refund the difference to you and it is our understanding that you are then obliged to declare this fee reduction to the MoD who will identify a mechanism to facilitate the repayment of any unused element of CEA to the PACC where the reduced fees are below the allowance maximum.

We hope that the above offers reassurance and clarity to this complicated situation.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Tessa Norgrove, Foundation Bursar

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Letters to Students and Parents – 9th April 2020

9th April 2020 Letters

Go to Year 11 letter
Go to Year 13 letter


Letter to Year 11 parents and students re summer term – 9th April 2020

Dear Year 11 Students and Parents,

Re: Summer term 2020

From April 21st until 1st May your Year 11 teaching and learning will continue. Teachers will deliver lessons that consolidate, extend or enrich the GCSE syllabus material so that you are prepared for the Autumn examinations if need be.

In place of the summer examinations, from 4th May until 19th June, departments are devising an exciting extension programme of courses to help you prepare for your A level studies. This programme runs until the 19th June so that you can still enjoy the extended summer break that you had all been looking forward to.

This programme has been designed to be as flexible as possible. You can select the subject courses which you wish to continue. These courses will be a series of lessons/assignments that will focus on skills which will prepare you for your A levels. These courses will be delivered by your subject teachers, unless you have chosen a subject only offered in the Sixth Form. You can expect some of your normal lesson time to involve instruction from your teacher and some to involve independent work. We will also provide pre-A level resources for the subjects, which are only offered in the Sixth Form, such as Economics.

We advise you to take five courses as a minimum; this will allow you some spare time to complete some of the enrichment activities available from ‘Habsmonmouth Online’ www.habsmonmouth.org/online/enrichment-and-life-skills

Your tutor will contact you at the start of the summer term to discuss the enrichment activities that you might sign up for. You will be expected to study for approximately 2 hours per week on each subject. Your selection of courses should include the subjects that you intend to study at A level along with two other subjects that would be the most useful for your needs. Please also consider that some subjects require skills that can be enhanced by the study of other subjects.

For example:

  • Biology, Chemistry, Physics require Maths skills
  • Drama and Geography benefit from English skills
  • Economics benefits from Maths, History and Geography skills
  • English benefits from modern and/or ancient languages and History

We will be asking you to let us know what subjects you are selecting once term starts on the 21st April.

This is an exciting opportunity not only to prepare yourself for A levels but also to broaden your educational experience through enrichment activities.

Our aim is to continue to provide as holistic an education as possible over the coming weeks. With this in mind, you will continue to have regular contact with your tutor who will guide you in your choice of online programmes to support extra-curricular activities, be that drama, music or physical activity. We will also continue to provide you with access to careers and university advice.

With best wishes,

Dr Andrew Daniel

Mrs Jessica Miles

Download full letter (PDF – 139kb)


Letter to Year 13 parents and students re summer term – 9th April 2020

Dear Year 13 Students and Parents,

Re: Summer term 2020

From April 21st until 7th May your Year 13 teaching and learning will continue. Teachers will deliver lessons that consolidate, extend or enrich the A level syllabus material so that you are prepared for the Autumn examinations if need be.

In place of the summer examinations, from Monday 11th May until 19th June, departments are devising an extension programme to help you prepare for your future studies. You will be expected to study for approximately 12 hours per week. This will allow you some spare time to complete some of the enrichment activities available from ‘Habsmonmouth Online’. Your Sixth Form tutor will contact you at the start of the summer term to discuss the enrichment activities that you might sign up for.

This programme runs until the last day (for the majority of students) of the public examinations so that you can still enjoy the extended summer break you had all been looking forward to. Your subject teachers will continue to provide support and guidance throughout the term.

This programme has been designed to be as flexible as possible: You can

  1. Continue with all three A levels
  2. Continue with two A levels and complete one MOOC related to your university degree OR
  3. Continue with one A level and complete two MOOCs related to your university degree

If you opt to continue with your A level subjects you can expect teachers to provide investigation/extended project work as this will prove most useful in developing the skills required at university.

MOOCs are online courses, offered free, many by some of the top universities of the world. They offer an exciting variety of courses at various levels, including introductory courses for university study. You will be expected to write a 500 word review of each online course once you have completed it and submit your review with evidence of completion of the course to Mrs Whiteman/Mrs Gregory. We hope to publish your reviews as part of a guide to MOOCs for future Sixth Form students at the Monmouth Schools. Your Sixth Form tutor will expect you to provide regular updates on your progress. More information on MOOCs is available at ‘Habsmonmouth Online’ https://www.habsmonmouth.org/online/enrichment-and-life-skills/

We will be asking you to let us know what subjects you are selecting once term starts again after the Easter break. This is an exciting opportunity not only to prepare yourself for your future studies but also to broaden your educational experience.

Our aim is to continue to provide as holistic an education as possible over the coming weeks. With this in mind, you will continue to have regular contact with your Sixth Form tutor who will guide you in your choice of online programmes to support extra-curricular activities, be that drama, music or physical activity. We will also continue to provide you with access to careers and university advice.

With best wishes,

Dr Andrew Daniel

Mrs Jessica Miles

Download full letter (PDF – 132kb)

Letter to Parents re Boarding Provision for Keyworkers – 6th April 2020

Letter to Parents re Boarding Provision for Keyworkers – 6th April 2020

Dear Parents,

Re: Boarding Provision for Keyworkers

I write to you with a brief update and direct offer of support from boarding. In addition to the schools’ keyworker day-care provision, I recently wrote to all boarding parents to inform them that we would be opening a boarding house to support boarding families where both parents are keyworkers.

As the situation evolves and the crisis escalates in the UK, many individuals are being redeployed or finding their working hours increased; I would therefore like to extend the offer of boarding support to all of our keyworker parents who would find a short-stay boarding provision for their child helpful during the coming weeks. Please email us directly so we can discuss individual requirements with you.

To protect those working and living within the close community of a residential boarding house during the lock-down period, staff will take all reasonable measures to reduce risks of transmission into the house, and therefore will not be accepting requests for day boarding, where non-residents come into the boarding house for part of the evening. Should a pupil join boarding, it would therefore be for a continuous period of time. Further information is included below:

  • Augusta House, extending into Twiston Davies House will be the main accommodation block
  • Where possible, pupils will be allocated their own single room with a desk and en-suite shower room
  • Boys and girls will be arranged in separate zones
  • The youngest pupils will be placed in rooms in close proximity to staff accommodation and experienced junior boarding staff will be directly involved in their care
  • Boarding duties will be undertaken by experienced boarding staff from both the boys’ and girls’ schools.
  • All pupils will have access to age specific common rooms to relax in, as well as access to: a communal kitchen; games room; on-site playing field; tennis courts; sports hall and gym
  • Should a child or member of staff develop symptoms, we will closely follow the latest guidelines in our response
  • This facility will officially be available for you to book from Sunday 19th April (2pm), however we may need to bring this provision forward and will be prepared to accommodate at short notice should government instructions change. Please contact us if you have a more urgent request.
  • The boarding fee will be set at 60% – including CEA recipients
  • This emergency boarding provision will be reviewed weekly until schools are reopened.

Please email boarding secretary willis.melina@habsmonmouth.org to make an enquiry.

Kind regards

Alex Peace, Head of Boarding

Download full letter (PDF – 157kb)

Letter to Parents and Guardians re GCSE and A level exams 2020 – 3rd April 2020

Letter to Parents and Guardians re GCSE and A level exams 2020 – 3rd April 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Please find a link to a letter from Ofqual (the English exams regulator) explaining the latest information on how GCSEs, A levels and EPQs will be awarded in 2020: Ofqual

The Welsh exam board (WJEC) is following the same process for its qualifications.

For those studying an IGCSE with Cambridge, please find an additional letter regarding their process for awarding IGCSEs. Please note that they will ask schools to submit evidence along with their grades. This evidence will only be drawn from work completed prior to the school closure; there is no need for pupils to complete any additional assessments: Cambridge Assessment

We will now start working with our Heads of Department on the process of submitting grades to the exam boards. As the letters state, the exam grades can not be discussed with pupils or parents. The process is to be kept strictly confidential and we can’t tell you the grades we will be submitting.

We would also like to reassure you that the exams regulator has stated that pupils won’t be disadvantaged; the grades pupils receive in the summer will have equal status with universities, colleges and employers, as if they had taken the exams this summer.

There is a likelihood that pupils will have the chance to take exams in the autumn term if they wish to appeal the grade they received. We continue to await further information on this and will update you as soon as we can.

Following this guidance, we will continue our academic, pastoral and enrichment provision for Years 11 and 13. In addition, we will continue to help with Careers advice for both Years and especially on-going UCAS support for Year 13. Both services will continue beyond the academic year, of course. We will be in touch about these plans soon.

Kind regards,

Liz Gregory – Deputy Head (Academic)

Kath Whiteman – Deputy Head (Academic)

Download full letter (PDF – 123kb)

Letters to Parents and Guardians – 31st March 2020

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)