Frequently-asked questions

For updated information about the latest covid-related school developments, please see the NEWS page.

It is great to have everyone back.  The support of staff, students, parents, carers and the PTA has been so motivating.  We are really proud of how our students are adapting to the new routines, including hygiene expectations.  We are all getting used to new one-way systems.  We have tweaked some of our systems to make things smoother and we continue to review things regularly.  We are pleased to be able to sustain the breadth of our curriculum offer, including KS4 and KS5 options, while keeping students in year-group bubbles and minimising mixing as far as possible, within the constraints of our sites.  There are a number of questions about “what happens if …?” which is why we have produced these FAQs.

The School has implemented a number of protective measures to minimise risk.  Please watch the video about this shared in July and read the update to this shared in August and re-shared in early September.

If anyone at school becomes unwell with a new and persistent cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell, they will be sent home and advised to follow ‘stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus infection’.  This person must self-isolate for at least 10 days and must arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus.   In the case of a student, the School will contact the parent about dismissal, advice and getting a test. 

All other members of that person’s household, including any siblings, should self-isolate for 14 days from when the symptomatic person  first had symptoms. 

To arrange a test, you must go to:  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/get-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/  or simply search “NHS coronavirus test”.

You must inform the School of the outcome of the test.  Please contact the student’s Form Tutor and the Pastoral Team’s administrator: pupil-achievement-admin@stmaryleboneschool.com

If the test result is negative and the person does not have COVID-19 symptoms and no-one else in the household has COVID-19 symptoms, the person can return to school.   

If the rest result is negative but the person still has symptoms, they must stay at home until the symptoms go away.

If the test result is negative but others in the household still have symptoms and are awaiting test results, they must stay at home until the test results are also negative and no-one in the household has any symptoms.

Please inform the School of the test result.

If the COVID test result is positive, the person with the positive test result must follow ‘stay at home: guidance for  households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection’ and must continue to self isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of their  symptoms. They must only return to school only if they do not have symptoms. 

In the case of a student, the student’s parent / carer must inform the School as soon as possible. Please call 020 935 4704 and please email pupil-achievement-admin@stmaryleboneschool.com and the student’s Form Tutor and Head of Year.  The School will then follow Public Health advice, starting by calling our local Health Protection Team at the London COVID Response Cell.

Please inform the School of the test result.

If the School learns of a student or staff member who gets a positive test result, we will contact our local Health Protection Team at the London COVID Response Cell.  They will advise the School about next steps, including using the NHS Test and Trace system.  We will need to identify anyone in school who has had “close contact” with the infected person. These people will have to go home and self-isolate for 14 days.  

“Close contact” is defined as:

  • face-to-face contact with an infected individual for any length of time, within 1 metre, including being coughed on, a face-to-face conversation, or unprotected physical contact
  • extended close contact (within 1 to 2 metres for more than 15 minutes)
  • travelling in a small vehicle, like a car, with an infected person

In this situation, the School will contact all relevant parents / carers by email with information and advice.   

In some cases, the Health Protection Team might may recommend that a larger number of pupils self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure.  Since our school is organised into year-group zones, it is possible that a year-group might need to go home. We would take advice from the local Health Protection Team on this and we would inform parents / carers as appropriate.

The School’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) responsibilities include a duty to share relevant information with health authorities. This is set out in the School’s Privacy Statement which you can read here (link).  If the School is asked to inform NHS Test and Trace of the names and contact phone numbers of people who have tested positive or who have been in close contact with an infected person, we will do so, in line with our GDPR responsibilities, as set out in our Privacy Statement.   If you do not consent to your data being shared in this circumstance, please contact dataprotection@stmaryleboneschool.com.    The School will never share personal information outside of the organisation for any reason which falls outside our GDPR responsibilities.

In a situation where an individual student is self-isolating but is not unwell (for example, someone else in their household has COVID symptoms and is awaiting a test result but the student is not unwell), the student should log onto Google Classroom to see what school work they need to do. They can message their teachers via Google Classroom if they have any questions.

In a situation where a large group of students (such as a year group) is instructed to self-isolate, the School will provide school work on Google Classroom and will set up a pattern of live sessions for certain subjects at certain times of the week, which will be accessed by students via Google Meet.   Details of this will be shared with relevant students and their parents / carers as soon as is practically possible if and when it happens.  

If a student does not have access to the internet or to a computer or laptop at home which can be used for doing school work, please contact pupil-achievement-admin@stmaryleboneschool.com.  The School will do its best to lend devices to students who need them.

In instances where a teacher has to self-isolate but is not unwell (for example, because someone they live with has COVID symptoms but the teacher does not have COVID symptoms), the teacher will set cover work for their class from home and, where possible, will try to make audio or visual communicate with the class (recorded or live).  A member of staff or cover supply teacher will supervise the class. 

In the situation where a large number of teachers are unable to attend school for COVID-related reasons, it is also likely that a large number of students would also be in this situation, due to local COVID conditions or restrictions.  In this situation, the School will enable learning to continue through a mixture of Google Classroom and Google Meet, according to the circumstances.

This BBC article helps with working out if you have COVID symptoms or not: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54145299

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), get a test as soon as possible. Stay at home until you get the result.  You must not come to school and your household must also self-isolate. 

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:

  1. Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
  2. Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
  3. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until you get your result.  Do not come to school.

Read more here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/ 

You must not come to school if: 

  • you have COVID-19 symptoms (see below)
  • anyone in your household has COVID-19 symptoms
  • you are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
  • you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days

If any of the above apply to you, you must inform the School and you must follow the advice via this link>>>.

Always inform the School if your child is going to be absent, and give the reason. You can use the MyEd app or telephone: 020 935 4704 or, as a back-up, email pupil-achievement-admin@stmaryleboneschool.com

The School is providing packed lunches for students eligible for Free School Meals.  If you think your child might be eligible for Free School Meals, visit this page on our website.

We are encouraging everyone to bring their own food and drink, to minimise numbers moving around school to collect on-site catering. If however you do want to pre-order packed lunches for the term or if your child receives Free School Meals, see the letter from Ms Swan about this or contact pupil-achievement-admin@stmaryleboneschool.com

for more information.  Lunches need to be ordered for a whole term. Students cannot decide to get a packed lunch one day but not the next. 

The pre-ordered pack lunch system is another of the School’s protective measures to reduce the chances of virus transmission.

It is highly recommended that all students and staff wear face coverings in school at lesson transitions as they move through the corridors and staircases.  This is not mandatory but we have seen clearly that our staff and students understand the importance of doing so.  There are times when it is essential that staff wear face-coverings, for example, in a first-aid situation or when working in close proximity to a student for more than 15 minutes  is unavoidable.  

We know that there are people who are medically exempt from doing this but for the majority, it is another step we can all take to reduce risk for everyone in our community.  Staff, students and parents have been very supportive of this measure. 

Staff and students are advised to put on, take off and wear their masks safely, in line with Public Health guidance which can be read in the “How to wear a face covering” section of this Public Health guidance.  Students have participated in PSHE lessons about this. 

We really miss extra-curricular clubs and activities!  They are such an important part of life at St Marylebone. However, for the time being, most clubs and activities are not happening because:

  • We are asked to minimise the opportunities for students to mix and interact, without limiting learning in lessons, so extra-curricular is reduced instead.
  • Lunchtime is now staggered in 30 minute sessions over 90 minutes. 30 minutes is not enough time for clubs to run and for students and staff to have lunch – and, because of the staggered times, the teachers who would run the club might be teaching at the time the particular year group are having their lunch.
  • We want to enable staff and students to travel home before the rush hour on public transport.
  • Where after-school activities are happening, we are prioritising curriculum-critical activities to support GCSE and A-Level students.
  • There is additional cleaning daily on site after school, so we need students to have left the site.

We do want gradually to be able to start some clubs, in Year Group bubbles.  This will probably start with PE and Music.

KS3 Science lessons take place in the Year Group Zones, rather than in laboratories, which means that the usual amount of practical experiment work is limited, for safety reasons.  

However, where practical science experiments can be done safely, they are being done.  The Science Department has planned “investigation weeks” into the KS3 Science curriculum: Y7 and Y8 started the year with an investigation week and Year 9 will complete an investigation week before Christmas. Practical skills are taught in lessons as well as in these investigation weeks. Skills such as planning and evaluating experiments are being done in lessons. 

Science teachers frequently bring demonstrations to lessons which are shown on the visualiser.  They also show videos of demonstrations that use equipment that is too hazardous to take out of the lab. If the topic lends itself to home experiments, we also set some homeworks to conduct small experiments at home, for example: giving students filter paper for a filtration experiment or sugar cubes for a dissolving experiment. The Science curriculum is still rich and robust, providing high quality science learning.  

The reasons for KS3 Science lessons not being in the labs are:

  • The Science laboratories are being used for GCSE and A-Level Science lessons, which are smaller groups, and whose access to Scientific materials and equipment is prioritised. 
  • We are trying to limit the number of times classes move around the site, since movement around the site could increase the opportunities for virus transmission.  By keeping KS3 Science lessons in the classrooms in Year Group Zones, students still get a strong curriculum   experience of Science  – and we avoid four movements of six groups of 28 students a week around the site.  

GCSE and A-Level students have Science lessons in the laboratories, so they are able to do experiments.

The School did not want to cut down the curriculum when adapting to COVID protection measures. For this reason, students still have their full range of subjects.  However, Dance lessons in KS3 take place in classrooms not the Dance Studios.  This is for the following reasons:

  • It would be very hard to enable Dance safely in our Dance Studios for groups of 28 – 30 KS3  students.
  • The Dance Studios are being used for GCSE and A-Level Dance and some Drama classes, which are smaller groups, and whose access to the Dance Studios needs to be prioritised.
  • The Dance Studios need to be cleaned between uses by the GCSE and A-Level classes, which means they are not available for KS3 classes to move to them.
  • We are trying to limit the number of times classes move around the site, since movement around the site could increase the opportunities for virus transmission.  By keeping KS3 Dance lessons in the classrooms in Year Group Zones, students still get an experience of Dance but twelve fewer movements of 28 students a week around the site happen.  

Dance lessons in KS3 are still varied, high quality and creative, with students learning about a wide range of dance styles and skills.

As explained in the September Re-opening Plans (see the top of these FAQs), the School has worked hard on maintaining the full range of curriculum subjects, while keeping students in Year Group Zones as far as possible.   The Year Group Zones are our way of organising students into year group bubbles, as advised by the Department for Education.  The reason for this is to try to limit the transmission of the virus and, within reason, to be able better to identify contacts of anyone who tests positive.

Students do move within their zones, and they move for specialist subject room access, for example, to Art, PE, Drama, ICT and Music and they walk to our Blandford Street site for Design and Technology, Textiles and Food Technology.  

The School has very limited outside space.   We do not have enough outside space for all year groups to be outside at once, when we are also trying to keep students in Year Group Zones and bubbles. 

We could not enable staggered breaktimes outside for each year group without extending the school day and complicating the school timetable significantly.   We have made it possible for all year groups to have a lunch-break outside and to be able to move within their zones at breaktime.  Students also still have PE lessons, a number of which take them outside.  As explained above, students do move to specialist subject classrooms and rarely spend the whole day in their zone.  

The School is following the Department for Education’s instruction to open full-time for all students, as set out here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools

We cannot halve class sizes without doubling the number of teachers.  Even if there were a large, affordable, school-appropriate office space nearby to take over (with the budget, ICT-systems, safeguarding set-up, proximity, longevity and all-round feasibility), we would still need to have double the number of teachers if we were to halve all the classes.  Halving classes means doubling the number of classes and each needs a teacher.  This is not a feasible option.

The toilets for Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 are in one block along one corridor. This is a rather constrained area of the school site.   If we open the toilets at breaktime, all students from all these four year groups would be able to enter this corridor at once.  This would undermine our attempts to keep students in year-group-bubbles. 

Students can ask to leave their lesson to use the toilet during lessons. They can also go before school, at lunchtime or after school.  Only one student per class can be dismissed at one time. This helps limit the numbers who can gather in the toilets at any one time.  

At lunchtime, we have no more than two year groups on the staggered lunchtime at once, in separate areas of the school, with senior staff on duty in the toilet corridor, and the relevant year-group toilets at least more spread out physically.

In the Headteacher’s letter to the community on Friday 24th September, you will have seen the contingency plans for a range of scenarios.  This information is below. 

The School has to plan for a range of possible scenarios, though we also have to be realistic about how unpredictable the next few months might be.   Below are plans for four possible scenarios, all of which are subject to change. 


What would this mean for students? 

1. Whole year group cannot attend school as a Public Health precaution, in response to confirmed case(s) of covid in school: year group does not attend on-site for 14 days

  • School work will be a mixture of live online sessions via Google Meet, activities set on Google Classroom, interactive activities and independent activities.  
  • Live online sessions will happen at the time that the lesson would have happened live in school. The live sessions schedule will be posted on each student’s Form Group Google Classroom.   
  • Students should follow their school timetable in order to structure their time and manage the work set in the order that it is set.   
  • Google Classroom and Google Meet enable students to ask questions of their teacher and each other.   
  • 8.30am morning registration with Form Tutor checks attendance, welfare, shares important messages or support with the students.

2.  Local or national restrictions take school to Tier 2 of the Contain Guidance

Tier 2 guidance here

  • Two-week rota system introduced: 
  • Each year group would have two weeks on-site followed by two weeks at home, so that fewer students are on-site and travelling to / from school at once.
  • Students off-site follow their usual timetable, with a blend of live sessions, interactive learning activities, independent study – all facilitated by Google Classroom and Google Meet, as per (1) above
  • Contact with notably vulnerable students maintained through appropriate pastoral contact when not on-site

3.  Local or national restrictions take school to Tier 3 of the of the Contain Guidance

  • All students learn at home, with the exception of:
    • particular year groups as specified by the Department for Education 
    • students categorised as vulnerable
    • children of critical workers, where needed 
  • Learning is sustained at home for everyone else through a blended provision across the curriculum similar to (1) above
  • Pastoral support via phone and email provided by Form Tutors, Heads of Year and Assistant Heads of Year.

4. Local or national restrictions take school to Tier 4 of the Contain Guidance

  • All students learn at home, with the exception of:
    • students categorised as vulnerable
    • children of critical workers, where needed 
  • Learning is sustained at home for everyone else through a blended provision across the curriculum similar to (1) above
  • Pastoral support via phone and email provided by Form Tutors, Heads of Year and Assistant Heads of Year.

We know none of these scenarios are ones we want to contemplate.  By sharing the plans, our intention is not to alarm you but to give you a sense of what would happen.