Welcome Back to the Academic Year 2020-21

Following the successful return of all our year groups to school during the summer term, we have continued to work hard to plan, risk-assess and mitigate the impact of social distancing and safety advice to ensure a safe and successful return to school for all of our pupils in September. As a result, there will be some inevitable changes to how the school day runs both internally for the children and also externally for parents.

The main changes are that children will be kept in bubbles throughout their time in school – these will be year group bubbles in the Junior School, alongside a Year 7 bubble and a Year 8/9 bubble in the Senior School – and that parents will no longer be permitted onto the school site unless they have an arranged appointment with a member of staff.

Main School Drop off – 8am to 8:30am

To allow for the smooth drop-off of all children whilst keeping to guidelines, we will be continuing with the system of dropping children off without adults parking or getting out of their cars.

To make this as efficient as possible, from a speed of drop off and traffic perspective, we have decided to adopt a lane system based on the ongoing route to be taken by parents. As shown in the attached map, we would ask the following:

  • If you are dropping off a Junior School child and continuing your route via the Grange Road exit, please use Lane 1.
  • If you are dropping off a Senior School child and continuing your route via the Grange Road exit, please use Lane 2.
  • If you are dropping off any child and continuing your route via the A24 exit (turning left only), please use Lane 3.
  • If you have children in the Junior and Senior School and are exiting via Grange Road, you may use either Lane 1 or 2.
  • If you usually walk or cycle to drop your child at school, we ask that you do so as usual. Please say goodbye to your child at a safe point off the school site and let them walk to an entrance unattended. A member of staff will greet them and guide them into the building safely.

Wherever you drop off your child, a member of the Leadership Team will be on hand to help your child/children out of the car and direct them safely into school. In the first instance, children will go directly to their classroom to wash their hands and prepare for the day ahead.

In order to ensure that year group ‘bubbles’ are kept separate, in line with government guidelines on social distancing, if your child is in Year 7, they will make their way past Howard House and enter the school via the side gate entrance next to the administration building, and similarly if your child is in Year 8&9, they will walk to the extended day playground entrance and enter the school there.

Main School Collection

During this unusual time, it is going to be a challenge to unload the school quickly and safely without allowing adults onto the school site. We have therefore devised a location-based collection plan to help us to do this as swiftly and safely as we can.

For the Junior School, it will be vital that class teachers know in advance whether your child/children will be attending Prep after school. They will either be brought out of the classroom at 3.40 or 4.20 but not between these times.

Year 2 3:30pm Admin Side Entrance
Year 3 3:40pm Dining Room
Year 4 3:55pm Turret
Year 5 4:05pm Dining Room
Year 6 4:20pm Outside Supervised Study Playground towards the Admin Block at the end of the school driveway
  • If you have booked for Junior School Prep, pupils will be collected from the same locations as normal collection, but at 4:20pm.
  • If you have booked Junior School Extended Day collection is at 5.45pm from outside Howard House.


Year 7 4:35pm Admin Side Entrance
Year 8 and 9 4:45pm Outside Supervised Study Playground, towards the Admin Block at the end of the school driveway


  • If you have booked Senior School Supervised Study, collection is at 5:45pm from Supervised Study Playground (old Extended day playground).

Main School Curriculum

Following the extended period of school closure since March, we are delighted to have our full curriculum offer back at school. We will be delivering every subject on the timetable with specialist teaching and specialist areas fully utilised from Years 2 to 9. Naturally, we have had to plan and risk assess all classroom arrangements and the delivery of practical subjects both in line with government guidelines and our enhanced cleaning protocols. We are delighted that we will be returning to a ‘new normal’ whilst also ensuring that pupils and staff are safe at school, as we did during the summer term with individual year groups.

The quality of teaching and learning has always been our priority, and we know that this provision is outstanding at Downsend. Please rest assured that the academic development of our pupils, as well as the reintegration of children back into social groups, school routines and friendships, is our highest priority at this time. All of our staff are equally excited to be back at school and ensuring each and every child is supported and challenged so that they make the best possible progress in the year ahead. Our Learning Support department, peripatetic team and counselling staff are all back in school from September.

Enhanced Cleaning and Safety Protocols

As it was during the return to school over the summer term, the safety of all our school community remains our highest priority. As such, we wanted to outline some of the procedures and guidance we will be following on our return:-

Over the summer the government has issued updated guidance and advice for school reopening in September. Our plans are based on the ‘systems of control’ contained within those guidelines which focus on the 2 main areas of prevention and response.


  1. Minimise contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have COVID-19 symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school
  2. Clean hands thoroughly more often than usual
  3. Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
  4. Introduce enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products
  5. Minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible
  6. Where necessary, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Numbers 1-4 will be in place in school at all times.
  • Number 5 will be considered and planned for wherever possible on our site.
  • Number 6 applies in specific circumstances e.g. in the case of first aid treatment.


Our response to any infection or COVID-19 symptoms will be to:-

  • Engage with the NHS Test and Trace process
  • Manage confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst the school community
  • Contain any outbreak by following local Health Protection Team advice

We will continue to maintain enhanced and regular cleaning throughout the school day, between lunch servings, after the use of practical equipment and there will be a deep clean of the school site every evening.


We will be returning to a full catered lunch provision from September, and have planned both the timing, layout and cleaning protocols to ensure all our Year groups can eat a healthy and hot lunch to fuel them for their busy Downsend days.

Clubs, Sport, Music, Drama and STRETCH

Due to the new year group bubble system, we are not able to offer the same flexible multi-year group system of clubs as we could pre-Covid. Instead, children in all year groups will be offered a music ensemble (for the Junior School this will be after school and for the Senior School this will be before school), a sports practice, swim squad on a fortnightly rotation and one other club night per week with a choice of clubs available. Children will be dismissed by their club teachers outside so that parents do not exit their cars or come onto the school site. Club teachers will dismiss the children from their usual collection locations, as above.

Year group clubs will run as follows:

  • Year 2 – Thursday
  • Year 3 – Wednesday
  • Year 4 – Tuesday
  • Year 5 – Thursday
  • Year 6 – Tuesday
  • Year 7 Wednesday
  • Year 8&9 – Tuesday

Sport, Games and PE

  • Swimming will return as normal with changing rooms and pool area cleaned thoroughly between uses.
  • PE will return as normal, however we are not asking pupils to change for this lesson.
  • Football will return as normal with some amendments to focus morning Games lessons on individual skill development and afternoon Games sessions focused on structured competition and developing team play.
  • Hockey will return as normal with some amendments to focus morning Games lessons on individual skill development and afternoon Games sessions focused on structured competition and developing team play.
  • Netball will return as normal with some amendments to focus morning Games lessons on individual skill development and afternoon Games sessions focused on structured competition and developing team play.

Music – One-to-one instrumental lessons

  • Lessons will be timetabled to coincide with children in the same year group bubbles
  • There will be a cleaning break between bubbles when all surfaces that have been touched will be wiped down
  • Peripatetic teachers will have hand sanitiser and the majority will wear a mask, some may wear a mask and visor
  • We will not be using the pods in what was previous the Music Department
  • Doors and windows will be kept open to improve ventilation as required
  • Peripatetic teachers will maintain a minimum distance of 1.5m from pupils
  • The majority of pupils will go on a rota with lessons at a different time but same day in the week


  • We are currently planning to stage a Year 7 play in December.
  • Drama clubs will be offered after school for Years 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9
  • LAMDA lessons wil continue as normal with some amendments to lesson times

Senior School STRETCH Programme

Our ‘Stretch’ program runs on a Friday afternoon from 3.20-4.20pm for all Senior School pupils in Years 7-9. It is specifically designed to stretch and challenge all of our pupils in areas beyond the traditional curriculum, and to enable them to fulfil their potential by:

  • Developing curious minds, to work things out for themselves – be that spotting patterns in strategy games, solving problems or investigating how things work
  • Being open to new experiences, learning new skills and different ways of thinking. Developing an array of qualities – self-confidence, leadership, creativity and resilience – in preparation for future education and beyond. We encourage them to explore who they are and how to overcome challenges, which test their courage and problem solving abilities.
  • Otions this term include: Artful Maths, Feel the Beat, Coding and Microbits, Musical Theatre, Young Engineers, French Film Making and Sports Fitness and Nutrition.

Early Birds, Extended Day and Supervised Study

Early Birds

Early Birds will be running as usual in the Dining Room from 7.40am until 8am. As there are few children who use this service, we will be abiding by Social Distancing guidelines in order to facilitate this. Sadly, we are not able to operate breakfast service during this time.

Extended Day

Extended Day will be running for children in the Junior School, if required, until 5.45pm. However, in a change to the previous system, this cannot be on an ad hoc basis. Children must be booked into Extended Day for the whole term so that we can ensure adequate and appropriate rooming and staffing for each bubble of children. Extended Day bookings can be made via School Cloud, accessed through Cognita Connect.

Supervised Study

For Senior School pupils, we will be offering a new after school provision known as ‘Supervised Study’. This replaces the previous extended day provision and will involve only Senior School pupils, in Year group bubbles, who will be supervised by our academic team. This will mean pupils can focus on their homework, prepare for lessons in the days ahead and use the Century Tech, Firefly and online resources available to them here at school, whilst being supported by our academic team of staff. Like Extended Day, children must be booked into Supervised Study on the nights that you choose for the whole term so that we can ensure adequate and appropriate rooming and staffing for each bubble of children.


Children will be expected to return to school in uniform, as usual. However, to eliminate the need to use changing rooms, we are asking that on Games lesson days they dress in their sports kit. This will not be necessary for PE lessons, practices or clubs.

Mobile Phones

Mobile phones are not permitted at Downsend School except for those pupils who need one to assist/facilitate safe communications whilst walking or cycling to and from school, or who use home school transport. If you wish to ask for permission for your child to bring their phone to school for this purpose, parents will be asked to notify us.

We are conscious that this represents a stark contrast to how Downsend has run in the past and hope that these measures that keep children apart and adults off the site will not be in place forever. As parents, you are a vital and welcome part of our community. We are grateful for your support, diligence and flexibility as we all manage these changes together. One thing that is not different is that we are always here to support you and your children.

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01372 372197