Headteacher Update

September 2020

It has been wonderful to see how well Year 7 have settled into life at John Spence. Mrs Wyllie is delighted with their attitude and reports that there is a lovely atmosphere in the year group. Today, the year group have been logging onto their school email accounts for the first time and finding out a little bit about Google Classroom; we’ll share more information on this in the coming weeks.

At the other end of the school all staff have been incredibly impressed with how Year 11 have returned to school; they have been totally focused and ready for the challenges of their final year in school. The Year 11 catch up programme is now up and running and students have really bought into what they are being offered. Mr Crowe has said, “With what must be a very daunting year ahead, they have come back in a generally cheerful and responsive manner and are already working hard in lessons.”

The start of the year is best summed up by this comment from a member of teaching staff, “Overall I am SO HAPPY with how all the kids have come back…There are so many kids eager to work, calm and happy and they have made me feel the same.” Well done to everyone!

As you will be well aware, the new North East restrictions were announced yesterday. The restrictions, whilst necessary, will place further pressures on many households and I want to again offer any support that we can if you and your family are facing challenging times. The new restrictions will shine a light on the fact that schools are fully open, which may further increase concerns about sending your child to school. I have obviously shared our measures with you to ease these anxieties as far as possible and rest assured that we do continue to modify them to keep everyone as safe as possible.

As of this afternoon we have had no further reports of positive test results for staff or students. One further member of staff has been tested and was found to be negative and 23 negative test results have now been reported for students or for a member of a student’s household. We are awaiting a very small number of results from students who have been tested in the last few days. We do have two students self isolating following a positive test result for someone in their household, but neither were symptomatic so no further action other than our normal routines is required. Finally, I mentioned last week that a trainee teacher had tested positive, but had posed no risk to our students or staff as they had no contact and were being trained in a separate area of the school; it has now been reported to me that some other trainees have also tested positive. At no point were these trainees in close contact with any of our students or staff and they have not been in school for over a week.

I will share these details with you on a weekly basis, but as I’m sure you understand we are unable to go into specific details. Please do refer to my update on 11th September for information on how we will report any positive test results for students or staff to you.

The new restrictions will undoubtedly have changed many plans this weekend. It does feel like a significant step backwards, but I am sure we will all do what we must to keep our friends, family and our community as safe as possible. As ever, if you would like to talk through any specific concerns then please get in touch.

Best wishes

Jonathan