Update from the Head 5th January

Dear parents,  

Welcome back to the start of a new term. First of all I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!   

2021 has not started in the way that we would have wanted and I am very sorry that we are not welcoming back all of our young people today. You have my word that we will do everything we can to ensure that education continues as best it can under the circumstances.  

Although we know that nothing beats being in school, we will do our level best to ensure continuity of education through our remote teaching offer.  

Critical Worker/Vulnerable Students  

The school remains open to the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. I imagine you have already contacted us if you need your child to be in school but if not then please do email 

Free School Meals 

If your child qualifies for Free School Meals and is not in school then we will provide a food box. If you would like one please contact Miss McCarthy: 

Remote teaching  

The school’s timetable will continue to operate and the majority of lessons will be delivered through Microsoft teams. It might be that certain resources will be made available via the VLE as well.  

There were a few technical issues this morning, external to Balcarras, and probably due to the fact that millions of young people were trying to access the internet at exactly the same moment. Please do be patient with us as we continue to troubleshoot things.  


We have decided to suspend the homework timetable until further notice. We think that five lessons a day at home might well be enough for now. 

Public Examinations in the Summer  

On Monday we received an email from the Department for Education which summarised the Prime Minister’s announcement. It contained the following relating to public exams:  

In these circumstances, we do not think it is possible for exams to go ahead fairly this summer. The Secretary of State for Education will be asking Ofqual to consult rapidly on an approach for alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.  

We will continue to cover the content for each course so that our students are ready for whatever arrangements the DfE and Ofqual put in place. It is crucial that students who are due to take their exams this year continue to stay up to date with their work so that we are prepared for all eventualities.  

Next week our Year 13 students should have started their mock examinations. We have decided to postpone this series of exams for at least another week so that we can redesign the examinations to be more easily completed at home, rather than under exam conditions in the exam hall. I know that this is not ideal and I am sure that the students want to just get stuck into the exams after all of their hours spent revising. However, I think another week of preparation on our behalf will make the exams more meaningful and useful to us going forward. 

A decision on Year 12 mock exams will be made shortly. 


The government has decided that those public exams that were already scheduled for January will go ahead as planned. For Balcarras this only affects Year 11 and Year 12 Health and Social Care students. Mrs Corinaldi will be in touch with these students about our plans for these examinations.  

Year 12 Parents Evening 

This will go ahead as planned on Thursday 7th January. The school will re-send the details about this via an email. 

Evolution of our plans 

The government have not yet published their guidance for how schools should operate during this lockdown period. We might well have to adjust our plans as we move forward. I will issue regular communication via email and the website. 

Finally, I just wanted to say how reluctant we are to take these measures. We would much prefer to be teaching our students in person and, contrary to what you might read in the press, it is a much easier job for us than organising remote learning. Having said all of this we understand that keeping people safe is the most important responsibility and, even though we might not like it, we appreciate why these measures have been introduced.  

We will do everything we can to support our young people during the weeks ahead.  

Kind Regards 

Dominic Burke