Headteacher Blog - 15 January

Posted on: 15th Jan

I hope you and your families are safe and well and wish you a belated Happy New Year. Firstly, I would like to thank you for all the supportive messages I have received regarding remote learning, it really does mean a lot. Parents say that their children are feeling engaged and enjoying this way of learning and that the process of moving to online learning has been a smooth transition. Of course this is not possible without the hard work and dedication of my teaching staff.  I would like to thank them for not only committing to providing meaningful and ambitious work to all our students through either live lessons or completing tasks independently, but also for demonstrating our values of resilience, courage, creativity and responsibility when dealing with the challenges of last week.

Remote learning does of course mean that our students are potentially going to be sat in front of a computer screen all day. To ensure that we are taking account of students’ mental health and wellbeing, our KS3 students will not be set homework. KS4 students will continue to be set homework and this will be centred on guided revision.

Please can you share with your children the behaviour we expect during this period of remote learning:

  • It is really important that students understand that their teachers have the same high expectations for student behaviour when students are learning remotely as when they are learning in school. This is clearly explained in the Blended Learning Code of Conduct
  • Students should be particularly aware of the importance of only using the Teams chat function as directed to do so by their teachers.
  • If any student misuses Teams they will be excluded from taking part in Teams lessons for a fixed period and will have to complete alternative work.

Children who have difficulty accessing remote learning are now classified as vulnerable, with the DfE promising places for them in schools. Unfortunately, the issue of heightened expectations, number, capacity and safety has become a perfect storm. In comparison to the first lockdown, the widening of the vulnerable and critical worker categories has led to a countrywide surge in the number of children attending school with many schools struggling to cope. While the DfE seem to be reluctant to move on their ‘take as many eligible children as present’ mantra, they did issue amended guidance stating “If critical workers can work from home and look after their children at the same time, then they should do so”.  I am asking you to help us by keeping your children at home if you can. I appreciate that this brings challenges, but my priority is to ensure the safety of those students who need to be in school, my staff and their families. Thank you.

We have now established our Covid facility, which is set up in the school hall and where tests are both administered and processed. Students and staff are tested on a weekly basis, students on a Monday and staff on a Tuesday. We have a fantastic team of school volunteers processing the rapid-result tests. They have all received comprehensive training, and results are delivered within 35-40 minutes of a test.  Students and staff are self-administering the tests, and we are proud of how the students have coped. In line with our school values, they have shown true resilience and courage. We are not obliged to test on a weekly basis, but continue to do this so that we can keep our students and staff as safe as possible. This has been a grand undertaking and we are hugely proud of all those involved in making this possible.

Over the Christmas break I received emails from parents of two of our Year 8 students who have both raised fantastic amounts of money for charity. The first is Max V who spent his Christmas break setting up a Covid safe electric lights ‘Winter Wonderland’ in his garden with his brother. There were donkeys, socially distanced carol singers, snow machine blizzards, Father Christmas and mulled wine for the adults! Max welcomed over 40 families to the wonderland over two evenings and raised £507 for Operation Smile and the Salvation Army.  

Meanwhile Martha PG asked her family and friends if they could help her fundraise for The Little Princess Trust charity and make a pledge in return for her donating her hair. The charity makes wigs for children undergoing treatment for cancer, and Martha provided them with an incredible 17 inches of hair. At the time of writing, she has raised £160, in excess of the original target she set herself of £100. Congratulations to Max and Martha for thinking of others and for embracing our core values of responsibility, creativity and ambition.

We will of course continue to keep you updated with any developments, particularly for those students who were due to take their GCSE and A Level exams this summer as we await clarity from the Government about how grades will be awarded in the summer. In the meantime, stay safe and look after each other.

Mr Prosser




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