I hope this letter finds you and your families well. I certainly think, when this is all over, there is a book to write although I’m pretty sure it will not be a bestseller! Each and every week throws some new challenges our way, this week we received our first ‘false positive’ notification in year 10, investigated thoroughly with Public Health England and NHS test and trace it has come as somewhat of a relief and leaves me very proud to state we are currently COVID free within the academy and that all students can return to on Monday. I am always painfully aware, despite our current good fortune we must continue to be vigilant and work like we ‘expect’ cases in order to ward off complacency.
In amongst all of this, our students have been incredible, resilient and most importantly happy. Parents have been extraordinarily supportive and vigilant using isolation where appropriate when there has been a close contact with a case outside of the academy. The new normal is not so new anymore, in fact at some point when we do return that may well feel like the new normal but what a relief it will be. However, the continuing joint effort from our community has kept us all safe. Thank you.
It’s not all doom and gloom
Whilst navigating this pandemic we have undoubtedly all faced challenges but there have also been plenty of positives as a result of innovation through necessity, for example:
- Split break and lunchtimes alongside year group areas have resulted in a calmer and positive atmosphere at break times and lunchtimes.
- Less movement around the site has meant more space and as a result calmer transitions between lessons.
- The arrival of students at school in PE kit has resulted in more time spent being active in PE lessons.
- Students have become more self-sufficient, organised and motivated.
- Virtual parents’ evenings, although we are yet to hold our first (coming in January) look like they will be more efficient and engaging for parents.
- Technology investment has grown resulting in significant improvements in blended (online and face to face) learning, three year groups now have Chromebooks (two more to go) and every member of staff now has a personal visualiser to provide even more effective instruction, explanation and modelling. I think this may well signal the end of the traditional ‘snow day’ if it arrives!
We’ve been in this together from day one and as a result, behaviour and relationship throughout the community have improved. Our community cohesion has grown, many innovations or changes may well remain beyond COVID and perhaps our next new normal will not be so new after all.
One of our most successful strategies has been to ensure appropriate ventilation in all communal spaces and classrooms. We have had one cold spell, with more to follow later in winter, we know that some students may feel the cold more than others. We have stated that students can wear coats (we have even seen a blanket) inside to help, our central heating is running at full capacity and the assessment is that only in one or two classrooms is the temperature noticeably different. We will continue to monitor and strike a balance between ventilation and heat or cold and COVID, if your son/daughter is feeling uncomfortable please ask them to speak to the teacher.
Christmas Jumper day
Today was our non-uniform day and Christmas jumper day where we raise money for Save the Children, at the time of writing we had raised over £700 with more still to count. A hugely useful donation to an incredibly worthy cause, thank you to all who donated and to those who pulled out some ‘lovely’ Christmas jumpers.
Early closure, not
Undoubtedly you will have heard many reports that schools can place an additional INSET day on Friday 18th, this follows a media furore about schools and early closure which I wrote about last week. We plan to remain open as normal and will finish, just like other year on Friday 18th at 12.30. It is the opinion of the academy that only genuine and total self-isolation can prevent exposure, and if schools were to close and students were to circulate freely in shops and with each other the risk would remain exactly the same in the community, here our students are subject to prevention measures that have so far proven effective.
Finally, as with every letter, my thanks continue to go to you, our parents and carers who have simply been fantastic. Student success is only as strong as the partnerships between parents and carers and teachers, if that is not strong it is always the student who ultimately suffers. In a time of our greatest challenges we have stood shoulder to shoulder to support our wonderful young people, that is our new normal and that must never change, ever.
Christmas is just around the corner, keep going, so close. Stay safe. And vigilant.
Mr W Monk