28 Feb 2020

Message from the Principal

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,

Like all of us I imagine many of you were dismayed and concerned about the EDB announcement this week to extend the suspension of classes to April 20th.  In line with this we will continue with our online learning.  Based on feedback from the surveys last week there were some questions about frequency of direct teacher contact and concerns about the volume of additional homework. We are working with teachers to ensure all students have regular face-to-face online contact. This will be for most lessons, but not for all lessons. As you will notice from our Online Learning Protocols we have asked teachers to build in ‘catch up’ lessons to allow students to manage their workload. Based on feedback this is not happening in all subject areas and so is an area of further development.  We will do another survey next week which will explore these issues further.

Some of the information below relates to Years 11 and 13 students but I am including it here for all parents/guardians as it seems to be a topic of conversation and interest across multiple year levels.


Going forward please note the following:

1)  There are a few developing issues with student engagement. There is no question that an online learning environment does not work equally well for all students. Some parents have spoken with me about very responsive student absence follow-up from teachers, which can feel intense and swift. Our Heads of Year on the other hand are increasingly registering concern that we have students who are engaging less and less in their online learning and getting a response from parents/guardians is increasingly difficult. While I am glad to hear that we have rigorous teacher follow-up, I appreciate for some families the need for flexibility in deciding when to take time away from the computer. Maintaining positive communication is the best way to do this with both staff and parents/guardians emailing and responding to each other in good time. We will continue to monitor this situation and appreciate parent/guardian support in checking in with their children to ensure they are engaging as much as they can and informing us in advance if they need some time out.

2) We hope you found yesterday’s letter from Mrs Rowlands helpful in terms of student wellbeing. We have rigorously analysed their survey feedback and it is clear they would benefit greatly from being able to get outside for 30 minutes each day.

3) Parents/Guardians have been asking the degree to which we have been liaising with the IB and the IGCSE examination boards to make them aware of our circumstances. Given the global nature of this issue all examination boards are very aware of the impact this is having on our students. In addition to the boards themselves writing to us to reassure us they are monitoring the situation, we have also been in contact with them to make them aware of our particular circumstances. At this point the examination boards have helpfully moved deadlines for the submission of internal assessment. They also remind us that we can apply for ‘adverse circumstances’ for students, which we will be doing. However what examination boards will not do is guarantee at this stage that they will make any adjustment to student grades and results as a consequence of this situation. As such the school has no option but to continue to push forward with all our Internal Assessment in small groups, with stringent health and safety measures in place, and do our best to complete everything that is required. Of course Sha Tin College and ESF will continue to press our examination boards to give consideration to our circumstances for the award of student results. For our Year 13 students we and ESF will also liaise with their universities to ensure they too, fully understand the situation.

4) Any Years 11 & 13 students who remain out of Hong Kong and are therefore unable to complete Internal Assessments should contact Ms. Kellie Fagan to see how this situation can be addressed. Parents/Guardians should not assume that examination boards will consider their reasons for remaining out of Hong Kong as an ‘adverse circumstance’.

5) You may also be aware that EDB have now allowed schools to run small group tutorials. Some schools I understand may have brought back all of Years 11 and 13 students. Our understanding of the EDB position is that whole year groups of students are not permitted back into school. Once Internal Assessment and coursework is complete for these two year levels we will look at which subjects or which students would most benefit from small group tutorials. Online learning, while providing its challenges for teachers and students, is effectively enabling the delivery, completion and revision of IBDP & IGCSE courses.

6) We will be canceling Study Leave this year so that once school resumes on April 20th we would expect to see Years 11 and 13 students back in school prior to the start of their examinations from April 28th. That said we will not be expecting students to attend classes where the course and its assessment has been completed and submitted. Visual Arts and TOK would be an example of such subjects. Equally we have surveyed senior students about their study leave and 87% of them wanted flexibility when it came to their study leave and deciding which classes to attend when school resumes. This is something we will continue to look at and discuss with our students so that they feel well supported and that their needs are being met prior to taking their examinations.

7) The deadline for the Government Grant which is now HK$3,500/student is March 20th. Please drop-off your forms at Reception or post them to the College for the attention of the Principal’s Secretary to allow us to send them in for timely processing.

As always, please feel free to get in touch with myself or any member of the leadership or teaching team if there is anything we can do to ensure the coming four weeks are productive and engaging for your child. We also continue to appreciate your support and encouragement.

In the meantime, I wish you all a relaxing weekend.

Kind regards,

Carol Larkin