Coronavirus News and Latest Developments

June 2021

Dear Parent,

I have been asked to share the following information with you from the Director for Public Health for Durham. Please can you ensure that students continue to take their twice weekly lateral flow tests and report the results to both the Academy and NHS Test and Trace, as well as maintaining social distancing and taking additional precautions outside of school. Thank you for your ongoing support with this

Be Aware, Be Safe.
There has been a larger than expected increase in positive cases of Covid 19 in the Bishop Auckland and Coundon areas and it is important to follow the rules and remain vigilant. The control measures to stop transmission remain the same as always: Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air.

The main variant circulating national (Delta variant) is easily transmitted although measures to control it are the same. The more robust you are in following the control measures, the better protected you are. It is important to exercise caution when mixing indoors, where the virus can spread more easily. Socialising outside remains the safer option.

If you get any symptoms, you must self-isolate and book a free test via the NHS website:
If you are identified as a contact of a case, you must also self-isolate and arrange to have a test as soon as you can.

Please continue to do your twice weekly Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests too. It is worth remembering that two doses of the coronavirus vaccination provide the best protection. Please attend both appointments and please continue following the latest guidance. This and information on how to access testing can be found at


Simon Whitehead


February 2021 

Dear Parent, 

Whilst it hasn’t been the start to the year that anyone wanted, I am delighted with the efforts of our students who have submitted over 36,000 pieces of work since the start of the January lockdown. This represents more than twice as much as the first 5 weeks of Lockdown 1! Thanks also goes to you as parents who have supported your children with their online work, I know the teaching and support staff in the Academy appreciate your efforts in very difficult circumstances. I would also like to thank you for all the positive messages that you have sent to the Academy; all of the staff have worked tirelessly to provide a range of remote learning opportunities for the students and receiving these comments really motivates us.  

It’s not too late for those students who haven’t completed all of their work, as next week will be a Catch-Up Week so they can complete any work they haven’t managed to do yet. Hopefully they can do this before half term and then enjoy a well-earned break. 

Although the Government has suggested a potential return to school on 8th March, we don’t have anything confirmed at the moment, and I’m sure we will all be watching the Prime Minister’s update on 22nd February to find out how we are going to get out of the current lockdown and (hopefully) move back towards normality. 

I will obviously write to all parents once we know more and provide information about how we will return to school, as well as how students will be assessed and receive grades this summer. 

Until then I hope you manage to stay safe, I look forward to seeing you again soon, and thank you again for all of your support. 


Best Wishes 


Simon Whitehead 


January 2020

The Document below sets out the strategies implemented by King James I Academy across the 2020/21 Academic Year to ensure that all students are able to catch up on any missed learning as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Covid Catch-Up Plan 2020-21


August 2020

Dear Parents / Carers

We are looking forward to welcoming back our existing students, and also to welcoming our new Year 7 and Year 12 students, to King James next week.

Well done to our students, parents and staff for continuing to support education since March.  110,855 pieces of work have been set and completed during the period of lockdown - this is a huge achievement!

Our teachers and support staff have worked tirelessly to help our students and to keep in touch.  Despite the many challenges we have all faced, the King James team has never been stronger.  All members of the school community have worked hard and have been there for each other.

As we look forward to a new and different academic year we have a solid foundation upon which to build.  We have prepared our school and we are confident and ready for the further challenges we might face.  The health and safety of our students and staff is our priority and we have put in place numerous measures to ensure that we can continue to deliver high quality learning opportunities in a safe environment.

Congratulations to our GCSE and Sixth Form students who, despite the many challenges, managed to gain credit for all of their hard work over many years and had lots to celebrate on their results days.  The class of 2020 will forever be remembered and now forms part of the illustrious history of King James.  Students will be remembered not only for their achievement but also for their resilience and determination against the odds.

We have faced and defeated the challenges of 2019-20 and we are now refreshed and ready to face, I hope, a quieter year ahead.

I would like to wish students, parents, staff and friends of King James a happy new (academic) year, when the time comes, and I hope that you and your families enjoy good health, happiness and prosperity for the year ahead.


Best wishes

Nick Grieveson


Thursday 4th June 2020

I would like to thank our students and parents for continuing to engage with learning throughout the period during which the school has been predominantly closed.  We have faced many challenges but we seem to have established a new way of working which, although not ideal, is helping most of our children to continue to learn and grow.

The current challenges and the difficulties we have encountered have certainly highlighted the importance of school in the lives of our young people and the critical role that teachers play in developing students into skilled, knowledgeable and socially aware adults.

From 8th June we are, in response to feedback from parents, moving towards online yearly timetables for Years 7 to 9.  Teachers will also allocate set periods of time to support students from specific classes and to promote opportunities for greater interaction.

We are currently preparing to welcome back our Year 10 and Year 12 students from 15th June and we have put stringent measures in place, in school, to protect both staff and students.  We would like to encourage all attending students to walk or cycle to school to promote good health and to minimise any potential risks.  As an alternative, we are aware that many parents will be dropping their children off in the car and we will have a designated 'drop-off' zone within the car park for this purpose. 

Students will remain socially distanced in the Dining Area during breakfast and will then make their way to their classrooms.  All corridors now have arrows which are 2 metres apart and which clearly show students the one-way system.  Students will bring their own stationery and they will be provided with new exercise books and will sit in allocated seats that allow a 2 metre distance to be maintained between one another.  The teacher has been provided with a 'teacher zone' that is equipped with the technology and equipment they need to support students' learning.

Whether in-class, accessing catering, using toilets or moving around the school we have measures in place to protect children and adults.  We will also be providing appointments with support staff, where these are required, and students will be cared for throughout their day in school.

Staff will soon be visiting Primary Schools to meet our new students as they prepare for transition from Year 6 to our school.  Despite the lack of face-to-face contact at King James, we are doing everything we can to help make the return to school a happy and successful experience for new and existing students.

We don't yet know what education will look or feel like in September for all students but we will, as we already have done, make sure that we are prepared and able to welcome and support our students in the best way possible - 'the King James way'.

Thank you once again for all of your support.


Best wishes.


Nick Grieveson


Friday 22nd May 2020


Dear Student / Parent / Carer

I hope that you are all well and thank you for all of your support through recent weeks.  It has been a really challenging time and we are all looking forward to welcoming you back to King James.

As you will have seen, the Government is encouraging secondary schools to consider a partial return for Year 10 and Year 12 students from Monday 1st June 2020.  Our view continues to be that it is important that we take appropriate, extensive and considered actions to assure the safety of all members of our school community to make the right decision at the right time. 

At the moment, and following discussions with a range of stakeholders, we are planning for an earliest return date of Monday 15th June 2020 for targeted students.  We have chosen this date in response to our local circumstances and in the hope that we will continue to see a fall in the national and local infection rates for Covid-19.  This date also provides teachers with the time to prepare to enhance their support for students and for essential health and safety upgrades to be completed across the Academy. 

We have undertaken a detailed risk assessment of our site and practices and we are implementing a range of measures that will enable us to provide a safe working environment and one in which the safety of your child, and our staff, has been fully considered. The Academy will be a very different place when more students return and we will seek assurances from parents regarding acceptable conduct and compliance with our revised policies (further details to follow).

It is anticipated that, from Monday 15th June 2020, Year 10 students will be asked to attend either AM or PM sessions, within identified groups (Monday to Thursday); exact details will be provided closer to the time.  The sessions will support students' engagement with online learning and the content that has been covered over the last term.  It is imperative that all students continue to take full advantage of the online lessons and learning activities being provided for all year groups by our dedicated teachers.

Year 12 students will, by invitation, be asked to attend Subject Tutorials across the working week from Monday 15th June 2020.  Again, further details will be provided in due course. 

We will also continue to support the children of Key Workers and Vulnerable students through our established on-site support programme.

Given that a return to our previous way of working may not happen in the near future, it is critical that we continue to revise and improve our online teaching support.  In response to parental and student requests, we will be implementing a weekly timetable for each year group, in June, that will help parents and children to plan their learning even more effectively.  Work will be set for two to three subjects per day, according to a published timetable, and we will ensure that teachers are available for an identified hour per subject, on each day, in order to deliver a lesson and / or to answer specific questions.  We will be aiming to increase the amount of 'live' contact in order to provide greater support for our learners.

If you have any questions, or you are struggling to access online learning, then please feel free to make contact with me or our It Technicians via the school email address (

Thank you again for your support and please continue to make contact if there is any way in which we can help you or if you have any suggestions regarding our current provision.

Stay safe and best wishes.


Nick Grieveson


Update: 14th May 2020

Dear Student / Parent / Carer

I hope that you are all fit and well and in good spirits.

As you will have read or heard, the Government has now asked schools to consider the steps that need to be taken in order to support their children’s partial return to school, prior to the summer holidays.  Initially, they have suggested that Primary Schools should plan for the return of Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils and that Secondary Schools should consider the possibility of providing some face-to-face contact with students in Years 10 and 12.

School leaders, across the country, have made it clear that any return to school will need to be at a time when we can be certain that appropriate measures can be put in place to safeguard the health and well-being of all students and staff.  It should be noted that maintaining social distancing at King James, as with all other schools, will be impossible given the constraints imposed by the buildings.  We have a duty of care to our school communities that cannot be ignored in an effort to address the financial health of the nation. We believe passionately that lives matter more than money.

Please be assured that the safety of our school community is our upmost priority.  We want our parents to know that, when we open our school gates, we will have done everything possible to protect our users and to prepare the school and our staff to provide a healthy, safe and happy learning environment.

Leaders at King James have taken part in two preparatory meetings, this week, and have taken action to ensure that we are all prepared for a return to school, whenever that might be. New systems are being prepared, guidance is being created and protective equipment is being sourced. We, like you, all have children and understand the importance of the decisions we are making.  If our school wasn’t good enough for our children then we wouldn’t open it for your children. We will be ready, when the time is right!

Initial guidance from the Government suggests that the return to school might start after the half term break on 1st June.  We, at this stage, think that this is unlikely but will continue to make preparations and to follow national advice.

Please be assured that we will keep you in touch with developments over the coming weeks and we will continue to support students through our online learning and limited in-school support for the children of Key Workers and Vulnerable students.

Please continue to encourage your children to access their online learning and to make contact with their teachers who are working hard to provide support and feedback, via emails.

Thank you again for your constructive feedback and suggestions.  We have taken all of your suggestions on board and are continually refining our support for students.

If you require any further help or have any further suggestions to make then please feel free to contact me via the school email address (

Thank you, once again, for your help and feedback.  Please stay safe and continue to let us know if there is anything that the Academy can do to provide more support.

Stay safe and best wishes.

Nick Grieveson


Update: 1st May 2020

Dear Student / Parent / Carer

I hope that everyone is fit and well and coping with our extended absence from school.

As you may have heard in the latest Government Coronavirus press conference, Boris Johnson announced that we have 'past the peak' of the virus outbreak.  This is great news and indicates that we are slowly moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go. It was suggested that proposals would be presented, next week, regarding the easing of some of the 'lockdown' measures.  The re-opening of schools was specifically mentioned and so we will all be interested to hear about the strategy to support students' return to education and the timescales involved.

Governors and Leaders at King James I Academy are currently considering a long list of issues and actions that must be addressed before a plan for a return can be implemented.  Please be assured that we will continue to prioritise the well-being of students and staff, as we have throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

I would like to pass on my thanks to our parents and carers for the support they are providing to their children. We certainly know that it is not easy to facilitate the teaching of the whole curriculum. I have very much appreciated the positive feedback and the constructive suggestions that parents have provided.  Most recently, I received an email requesting that we try to increase the use of live feedback.  I have shared this with teachers who will look for safe opportunities that help students to receive personalised feedback.  Teachers are already spending a significant amount of time setting and marking work and responding to email / Google Classroom requests for support so please make contact with them if you need any help.

Students are responding well to the work being set and their hard work and dedication will be showcased within the fifth edition of KJ Linked.  The sixth edition will focus on welcoming the 170 students joining us for the first time in September 2020, all being well.

I would like to thank our teachers and support staff, who have come together better than any other team, for the work they are doing to support children and their families throughout these stressful and challenging times.

As we await instructions about the submission of grades and rank order lists for our Year 11 and Year 13 students, and the outcome of the Consultation on the grading of GCSEs and A' Levels, it is great to see that the majority of our Year 11 students have started their Year 12 studies and that Year 13 students have been supported in identifying their next steps.  Gail Nicholson, Katie Lobb, Anne Goddard and Dave Shearer deserve particular praise for the way in which they have helped students to secure offers from Universities, Apprenticeship & Training Providers and Employers.

As we are hopefully moving towards the end of the crisis, it is good to reflect on the way in which people, at a time of enforced isolation, have come together to help and support each other.  I am sure that we will never forget the challenges and tragedies we have all faced but I am equally sure that we will have learnt the value and importance of positive, personal relationships and the need to value the simple things in life. 

If you require any help or have any further suggestions to make then please feel free to contact me via the school email address (

Thank you once again for your support and please let us know if there is anything that the Academy can do to support you or your family.

Stay safe and best wishes.

Nick Grieveson



Update: 20th April 2020


Dear Student / Parent / Carer


I hope that you are all fit and well and that you had as good an Easter as was possible in our current circumstances.


I have to say that this is the most unusual start to a Summer Term I think we have ever had; instead of the rush of students coming into school to share stories about their exploits over the Easter holidays, we met only a handful of students coming into school to access our provision for the children of Critical Workers.  Nevertheless, we look forward to a return to normal service in the near future and the students who have been attending have been completing their schoolwork as well as finding time to create uniform bags for hospital staff.


Yesterday, Gavin Williamson (the Secretary of State for Education) suggested within the Government Briefing that any return to normality would be subject to the meeting of five conditions and that this would not happen on or before 11th May, as might have been suggested by the continuance of the 'lockdown' for a further three weeks.  The Government are keen to ensure that any large-scale return to school takes place only when it is safe.  Gavin Williamson also made a number of further announcements that included:


1) The launch of the The Oak National Academy - A series of online lessons supported by videos have been developed and will be published on a weekly basis.  Our teachers will consider the best way to incorporate these into the online learning activities we already have planned.

2) Laptop Loan Scheme - The implication is that these will be available for those children living in disadvantaged households and for those in Care or supported by a Social Worker.  As further details become available we will ensure that these are shared with parents, as appropriate.

3) 4G Routers - As above, we will share information on the availability of these to the same target groups as have been identified for the Laptop Loan Scheme, once further information is available.


I am aware that some parents have experienced a delay in receiving their Free School Meal vouchers through the Government's Edenred scheme and I am now reassured that all issues have now been resolved.


We have now been informed that A' Level results will be available on 13th August 2020 and that GCSE results will be available on 20th August, as originally planned.


As well as continuing to do a great job of supporting students' online learning, our teachers are also providing tips and good ideas through the weekly production of KJ Linked; the third edition is now available on the Academy website.  Thank you to the many parents and staff who have been involved in the production of this excellent resource. 


I would like to thank the students in Year 11, and their parents / carers, for completing their subject choices and destinations for Year 12.  Today (Monday 20th April) marks the start of our Year 12 head start programme which will help Year 11 students to begin their post-16 studies early.  We now have information regarding Year 11 next steps choices, for almost all students, and we will provide support for the subjects students have chosen, via subject leaders and with the support of the Year 11 and Sixth Form teams.


If you have any queries regarding the work that is being set then please let us know via our normal school email address ( and we will be in touch.

Thank you once again for your support through recent times and please let us know if you feel there is more that we can do to support you and your children.


Stay safe and best wishes.


Nick Grieveson



Update: 6th April 2020

Dear Student / Parent / Carer

We received notice from Ofqual late on Friday afternoon indicating that schools will be asked to submit grades to Awarding Bodies, not sooner than 29th May, to indicate the grade that their teachers feel students “would have achieved if they had sat their exams this summer and completed any non-exam assessment” for GCSE or AS / A’ Level subjects. Teachers have been asked to rank students within each grade to indicate what they feel are the strongest and weakest students eligible to achieve a specific grade. Schools are not permitted to share this information with students and have been asked to ensure that they hold evidence to support the decisions they make. 

At King James we will use evidence drawn from mock examinations, as well as other internal assessments and school work, to support the decisions we make.  Staff are aware of the significant improvements that many students have demonstrated and typically demonstrate prior to final exams, and will make a professional decision about the trajectory being followed by all students in all affected subjects. The moderation exercise that will follow will take into account the prior performance of students (in Key Stage 2 or Key Stage 4, as appropriate) as well as the grades provided by teachers and the performance of previous cohorts.

We are still waiting for specific guidance from Awarding Bodies and it is suggested that this will be published after Easter.

There has been an indication that results for GCSE and AS / A’ Level subjects will be released earlier, this year, than the published results days.  This will provide students with the time required to secure their next steps placement in education, training or employment.

GCSE and AS / A’ Level students will have the opportunity to sit examinations in autumn 2020 should they so wish, in order to improve their grades, with the better of the two grades counting.

Students in Year 10 and Year 12 will not sit their exams and will also not be disadvantaged.  They will be given the opportunity to sit their examinations in summer 2021, or sooner

Given the fact that students are not required to produce any further evidence, then we feel that our decision to begin Sixth Form preparation, after Easter, for Year 11 students is both sensible and justified.  Thank you to the majority of students who have provided Mrs Nicholson with their preliminary subject options; if you have not done this already then please urgently contact Mrs Nicholson ( to indicate your provisional choices.

We will contact students individually to outline their revised timetable for subjects for the rest of the academic year.

Further evidence is available in the attached letter and guidance to candidates and their parents.

Date Issued Letter Name PDF
06/04/2020 Ofqual - A letter to all GCSE, AS and A level students this summer PDF
06/04/2020 Summer 2020 grades for GCSE, AS and A level,Extended Project Qualification and Advanced Extension Award in maths PDF

We will share any further updates with you, as they become available, and we would like to stress the fact that the Government are making every attempt to ensure that no student will be disadvantaged by the decision to close schools and to cancel final examinations.

I hope you and your families are all well.

Stay safe and best wishes.

Nick Grieveson



Update: 31st March 2020

Well done to all of our students who are accessing online learning at home and many thanks to our teachers for being so diligent in setting work.  Again, if you have any difficulties accessing this work, or any constructive suggestions, then please let us know by emailing  If you are having any difficulty accessing specific resources or materials then please indicate the subject, your child's teacher and the difficulty you have encountered, within your email.

Heads of Year are in the process of contacting parents, where students have struggled to complete work, in order to provide support.  It is clear from discussions with parents that their children are making the best progress where they have a clear routine to follow.  We would recommend setting aside 2-3 hours per day for academic work, split into 30 minute sessions devoted to specific subjects, with breaks between.  We are aware of the challenges involved in working from home and teachers are more than happy to offer support, guidance and reassurance where it is needed.  We are currently looking into the use of video calls / conferencing to support students through the coming weeks.

We are still waiting for further information from the Government regarding GCSE and A' Level results but we have been promised that we will know more before Easter, so I will update this section of the website when the information becomes available.

Teachers and students have contributed to the development of "KJ Linked", a new publication which aims to further strengthen the positive connection between the Academy and the local community.  Issue 1 is on our website and is full of good ideas and suggestions that will help children (and parents!) to think about creative ways to support each other and those within the wider community.

I hope that you and your families are in good spirits and, like me, using the time to develop new hobbies and interests.

Stay safe.

Best wishes.

Nick Grieveson



Coronavirus - Parent / Carer Update (25th March 2020)

Many thanks to our parents and carers who are now supporting their children at home.  I hope you have all been able to access the learning materials that are being regularly provided by teachers.  All work for your child is highlighted on Class Charts, to give you a single point of reference, despite the fact that there are links to a variety of learning sites and activities beyond Class Charts.  If you have any difficulties accessing this work then please let us know by emailing  Please indicate the subject, your child's teacher and the difficulty you have encountered within your email.


Teachers will be assessing engagement and progress in a variety of ways, after the first week, and our Heads of Year will be making contact if we are struggling to get a response to these assessment activities.


We have significantly scaled back on-site operations, in response to the advice from Government, and currently have a small number of students attending our Key Worker / Vulnerable Pupils provision, supported by a number of teaching, site and transport staff.  I would like to pay tribute to these staff and also thank those parents / carers who are supporting our essential services for all of their work and for helping to support us through this crisis.


We are still waiting for further detail from the Government in relation to systems that will be used to generate results for our Year 11 and Year 13 students.  We expect that teacher assessments will be at the core of this system and that there will be a process for quality assuring the work already completed by students (mock exams, assessments, externally sat units, papers etc.).  Students should follow Mrs Stead and Mrs Nicholson's advice and should use the time now to strengthen the body of evidence that will support the grading decisions we will have to make.


I hope that you are all making the best of a difficult situation and I would like to wish you and your families all the best.


Stay safe.


Nick Grieveson



Updated 20th March 2020:

Parents / Carers, please follow this link to access national advice on school closures and identifying those who are eligible to access ongoing education for their children, if they are essential workers and are unable to keep their child / children at home:


Updated 18th March 2020

Following this evening’s announcement by Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Education) on behalf of the Government, King James I Academy will be keen to continue to provide the best possible support to all of its students.

From Monday 23rd March all students, other than those who are the children of Key Workers and other identified ‘vulnerable’ students, will not be required to attend the Academy, but will be supported online by their teachers, as defined within the letter parents / carers received outlining the teaching strategy for students in Years 7, 8 and 9.

We will use the website to provide further details, as they become available, and we will contact specific students’ parents/ carers where they will continue to be offered the opportunity to attend school.

The following summarises the key points from the announcement this evening:

Schools will close from Monday 23rd March other than for the children of Key Workers and ‘vulnerable’ children.  

Summer Examinations will not take place but students will not be disadvantaged and will be awarded the qualifications they will require to progress to the next stage of their education, training or employment.

Schools will issue vouchers for supermarkets to cover the cost of free school meals for eligible students.

Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

Please contact if you are a Key Worker (someone who works for the NHS, Police, a delivery driver etc.) and would wish your child to continue to attend the school site during the coming weeks.


Updated 18th March 2020 - 2:40pm

Please note that we are continuing to follow the advice being provided by the Government through the Department for Education's daily bulletins and we will use our website to update you regarding any change in advice. The Government has also produced a Coronavirus Action Plan which is available from the following website: At this stage the published advice is focused on the delay of the virus. All services are well-prepared for any change in circumstances. It would be helpful if you could encourage your child to follow Public Health advice regarding basic health and hygiene good practice. Further information is available by using the following helpline details:

The Department for Education has launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687


Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)

Having previously highlighted a range of proactive measures we now need to inform you of the next stage in our response to the pandemic.  Current student and teaching staff absences will require us to partially close the school with effect from Thursday 19th March.  At this point only Years 10,11,12 and 13 will be expected to attend the Academy.
The range of measures which have so far been implemented include:
•  Operation of a triage system to support students
•  Educational visits cancelled to limit exposure to others
•  Visitors (non-essential) / meetings cancelled to avoid exposure to others
•  Assemblies cancelled to avoid non-essential mass gatherings
•  Handwashing / hygiene advice issued to reduce potential contamination
•  Additional cleaning of the site and site facilities to maintain a safe working environment
•  Teaching staff preparation for distance learning

If there is any further change to the Academy operations then we will highlight it on the Academy web page.
All students attending the Academy will receive a letter confirming plans for the continuation of their education and all of the affected students / parents / carers will receive a text message asking them to visit the relevant section of the school website and where they have not received the letter, asking them to download it.

Many thanks.

Nick Grieveson