Principal's Letter - 22nd October 2021

Date Published:
Friday 22 October 2021
Dear Parents/Carers,

This has been quite a unique half term for schools across the country.  We are proud that we have for the most part returned to ‘normality’ with a return to the full curriculum, sporting and enrichment activities and have resumed tutor and parents’ evenings.   Students are continuing to work hard and commit to their studies.  The best part of my day is when I walk around the school and see the effort that is being put in; it is truly inspirational. 

It is quite clear, however, that Covid-19 has not left us.  Over the last fortnight, we have seen a significant increase in Coronavirus cases in our community and this has hit the school hard.  A large number of staff have also tested positive, including myself, causing significant operational challenges in terms of covering members of staff who are absent, with supply staff almost impossible to find.  I would like to thank staff and students for the resilience and flexibility they have shown. I have always known that we have an amazing school community at Jesmond Park, but the last eighteen months just continues to reinforce how special the place is. Realistically, I know that these challenges are with us for the next few months, so I am thanking you (staff, students and families) in advance for your patience and understanding for whatever might be thrown at us next half term.

We are very conscious of the impact that self-isolation has on students and we have been supporting those families who have been affected.  Clearly this is a national problem, with one in fifteen secondary aged children currently absent from school, and we must have our eyes open to the forthcoming challenges.  We are asking students to take the following actions so that we can continue to keep everyone safe:

  • Take a test on Sunday 31st October before returning to school after half term. Continue after that to use lateral flow testing, twice a week on Wednesday and Sunday late evenings
  • Follow the instructions for the reporting of lateral flow test results on our school website on the Key Information and Updates page
  • Do not attend school if you have Coronavirus symptoms
  • Wear a clean face covering on arrival, in corridors, stairwells and communal areas and when leaving the site. Students may wear face coverings in lessons but this will not be an expectation
  • Continue to use regular handwashing and hand sanitiser throughout the day

You can find further detailed information related to preventing the transmission of Coronavirus on our school website in the Key Information and Updates section, accessible directly from the website home page.

GCSE and A-level Exams - Summer 2022

My plan is to keep parents updated regularly with regards to changes in examinations and grading’s this summer. Here is what we know so far:

  • Subject Adaptations: there will be optional topics and content in GCSE English Literature, History and Geography
  • Practical work in GCSE Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Combined Science may be delivered via demonstration if necessary. For Jesmond Park Academy students we are trying to ensure students have those key practical skills to progress but can use this flexibility should it be needed
  • GCSE and A Level Art will be assessed only on portfolios
  • Pupils will be given a formula sheet for GCSE Mathematics as well as a revised formulae sheets for GCSE Physics and Combined Science
  • Exam Boards will provide information about the focus of the content of their exams for all GCSE, AS and A Level exams (except GCSE English Literature, History and Geography) by 7th February 2022
  • Results for exams next year will return to their normal format, with AS and A levels being released on 18th August, and GCSEs on 25th August. VTQs used to progress in a similar way will be issued on or before the same days, and other VTQ results will continue to be issued throughout the year.

We will continue to provide updates to pupils as well as parents, as more details are shared by the Awarding Bodies. The Government is committed to delivering a full exam season next year, but given the contingency plan, is based on TAGs (Teacher Assessed Grades) we recommend to all Year 11 and Year 13 students that they continue to work hard in lessons and ensure they do the very best they can in homework and class assessments/mock exams. This is nothing more than our pre-Covid expectations.

Covid-19 and Flu Vaccination Programme Update

Please visit the Key Information and Updates section on our website for the latest detailed information on the Coronavirus and Flu vaccination programmes that will be taking place after half term. This includes a revised Coronavirus and Flu vaccination date of Tuesday 2nd November.  Coronavirus vaccinations are for students aged 12-15 on that date and that have their consent signed and returned.

Student Leadership

I wanted to take time to praise our students who have shown great leadership recently during school events. Developing leadership in the student body is one of my targets for the school and I want to see students more involved in key events and decisions.   On this note, we have had our most successful Open Evening in recent times on Wednesday 6th October, with well over one thousand visitors to the school. 

One of the key factors was the role that the students played, as tour guides and department helpers.  We had over 400 volunteers from the student body, all devoted their energies to making sure the evening was a success.  One of the evaluation forms after the event stated:

Dear Mr Campbell and the JPA Team, my son and I visited JPA on Wednesday, for the Open Evening. I just wanted to send you our thanks. It was a great opportunity to look around the school, and we really enjoyed it. We had some very helpful conversations with many of the teachers, who gave us an excellent insight into how things work at the school. We also had the opportunity to see many of the school's fantastic facilities - though they are so extensive that we didn't manage to fit in everything! The school has a lovely bright, uplifting feel and felt very welcoming. The students we met were very polite and friendly. Congratulations on the great work you are doing. We are looking forward to joining the JPA family next year. Best wishes,

On a similar note, I have been taking groups of Year 7 students back to their Primary Schools, to talk to Year 6 students about Jesmond Park Academy. As teachers, we are used to speaking to large groups of students, but for a Year 7 student it is a new experience.  I was in awe of the confidence shown by the students and by how well they answered all the questions that were put to them.  I will be writing to parents individually to thank those students who volunteered for this. It shows me what a strong school community we have when students are so keen to talk to others about their positive school experience.

Live TEAMS Parent/Carer Information Presentations and SchoolCloud Parent/Carer Evenings

As many of you will already be aware we have recently held a number of live TEAMS information presentations for the parent/carers of our students in years 7 to 11. They have consisted of key messages, information and calendar events throughout the year from our senior staff in school, associated and working with each year group. In addition we have also implemented the ‘live chat’ function so that we are able to answer questions and queries throughout the duration of the presentation. The feedback has been very positive from these evenings and we intend to extend them further throughout the duration of the academic year to subject specific presentations and presentations prior to key events such as the Year 11 mock examinations. We will communicate in advance of any future presentations via a pupil post letter and a text message and email to parent/carers with the live TEAMs meeting link on it.

In addition to these, we recently held our first Year 13 parent/carer evening with subject staff and our Year 7 ‘Meet the Form Tutor’ evening via SchoolCloud. Again, these have been well attended and the feedback has once more been positive. We have held only two of these evenings so far (we trialled a Year 10 parent/carer subject evening last July for our current Year 11 students) and we are responding to the constructive feedback that we have received from parents/carers in order to make the process as smooth as possible. All of our remaining parent/carer subject evenings this academic year will take place via SchoolCloud and you will receive information via letter and email approximately four weeks before each evening, regarding how to log on and make your appointments. If, once you have received your initial letter about the SchoolCloud parent/carer evening, you need any support with making the appointments on the SchoolCloud website or support with the hardware required to participate in the parent carer evening please contact the school and we will do whatever we can to help. Mr Holmes oversees all parent/carer events for students in years 7 to 11 and Mr Costello oversees parent/carers events for the Sixth Form.

As a reminder, the remaining parent/carer subject evenings take place on the following dates:

  • Year 7 parent/carer subject evening Wednesday 2.03.22
  • Year 8 parent/carer subject evening Wednesday 19.01.22
  • Year 9 parent/carer subject evening Wednesday 9.02.22
  • Year 10 parent/carer subject evening Tuesday 30.11.21
  • Year 11 parent/carer subject evening Tuesday 14.12.21
  • Year 12 parent/carer subject evening Wednesday 23.03.22
  • Year 13 parent/carer subject evening Monday 4.04.22

We will write to you nearer the time regarding our Sixth Form Open Evening (Tuesday 7.12.21) and Year 9 Options evening (Wednesday 2.02.22) determining whether these events will be held in school, virtually or a hybrid of the two.

Year 11 Preparation for the January Mocks

Mr Holmes will be writing to all parents/carers of Year 11 students with full details of the support in place in the lead up to the January mocks after the half term break. You will also receive a copy of your child’s Progress Assessment 1 grade card. For advance notice for parents/carers of our Year 11 students we will begin our compulsory period 7 programme of revision and support on Monday 8.11.21 for six weeks.

Period 7 sessions will take place every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday up until Thursday 16.12.21 and on these days, school for year 11 students will not finish until 3:35pm.

Compulsory School Coats/Fleece After Half Term 

After October half term, all Year 7 to 11 students must arrive to school wearing the school coat or fleece. This will be compulsory until February half term to ensure that students arrive to school warm and dry. Please note that no other coats or outer school items are allowed to be worn or brought into school.

The vast majority of students will by now already have a coat or fleece for school, they are however still available to order from our suppliers Emblematic. You can contact them through their website at or by telephone on 0191 270 1449.  If you are having difficulty providing a JPA coat or fleece for your child, please contact their Year Team directly.

Finally, wherever you are, whatever you are up to over half term, here’s hoping you get some time to relax and recuperate. I wish you all a good and safe half term and look forward to welcoming everyone back on Monday 1st November.

Warm regards.

Yours sincerely,