Headteacher Update

November 2020

It is difficult to believe that we will be entering December next week and that Christmas is only 4 weeks away today! Obviously, all our celebrations will be looking different this year, but in school the Christmas trees are up, we have school Christmas Dinner being planned on 9th and 10th December and we will be launching our 12 days of Christmas form group challenge later next week as well. Please note that on the last day of term the school will close at 2pm.

In other updates, you will have noticed over this term that you have been receiving information about Google Classroom and we have also been speaking to students about access to technology at home. The reason for this is that we are developing our use of technology to support learning both in school and at home as research tells us that this will really help students to make the progress they are capable of. To ensure no child misses out you will receive an online survey in the next week or so asking about the devices that your child has access to, or sole use of, at home so that we can put in place a loan device scheme over the coming months. Initially this will be for Years 10 and 11, but we do intend to do the same for all students early in the new year. Please do complete the survey so that we can distribute any devices that are needed after the Christmas holidays.

We now have 100% permissions for our remote learning policy and the vast majority of students are now signed into their new Google Classrooms. Thank you for your support with this. If your child is, for any reason, still unable to access their Classroom then please ask them to speak to their form tutor in the first instance.

Despite yesterday’s announcement that we will be in Tier 3 next week, we still do need to keep looking forwards and in the light of the expected vaccine and mass testing we do need to start thinking about a return to normality in school. Whilst it is too early to start thinking about disbanding bubbles we do need to re-establish routines and expectations for some students in school and one key area is uniform. Due to Covid we understand that there are additional challenges regarding uniform, but the uniform standards are clear and should be followed. In particular, students should not be wearing hoodies to school (even on a PE day) and John Spence leggings should only be worn on PE days and no other leggings are permitted at any time. We will be focusing on this with students from next week and thank you to those parents who have already been very supportive and brought the correct uniform in when their child has slipped out of the front door with the incorrect uniform on! We are also reviewing our risk assessment meaning that coats will no longer be worn in classrooms as windows will be open for shorter periods of time; this will not increase the risk of transmission as our heating system draws air directly in from the outside.

I do appreciate that the cost of uniform may be an issue for some families due to the financial consequences of Covid. If this is the case, please do not be embarrassed and contact your child’s Head of Year and we will explain how we can help. Additionally, there is a Local Authority fund to support with uniform basics such as outdoor coats and school shirts so again please do get in touch if you need any support.

On a positive note I am delighted to announce that thanks to the hard work of Miss Howard the school has again achieved the Healthy Schools Award. This is a rigorous application process where the school is judged on all aspects of a healthy lifestyle from mental health support to physical activity so we are delighted to have achieved this award again. On the subject of awards a number of non-teaching staff have been recognised by the school and UNISON for their unfailing hard work and support for our young people. The award could have been given to many more members of our support staff who do such an amazing job every day. Congratulations to the winners!

Finally, we were hoping to have the full school back today following the return of 17 students from self isolation, but unfortunately we have had another student test positive in Year 8 earlier in the week so we are still not quite at capacity. We continue to be fortunate that cases remain very low and the numbers of students self isolating also remain low compared to other schools locally and nationally.

I hope that you all have a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.

Jonathan