Principal’s Statement – 14th May 2021

Dear Parents/Carers,

I hope this letter finds you and your families well.  Many of you will be aware that the government announced some changes to the recommendations regarding the use of face masks in schools. We have been incredibly fortunate to experience a remarkably low number of cases within the academy and as such will follow the recommendation that from Monday 17th May face masks will not be required in classrooms. The guidance also states that:

The reintroduction of face coverings for pupils, students or staff may be advised for a temporary period in response to particular localised outbreaks, including variants of concern.”

We will continue to monitor available local data and reverse this decision if necessary. May I also point out that no student has been disadvantaged as a result of being exempt from mask wearing and conversely, should parents/carers wish to maintain the wearing of face coverings in the academy for their son/daughter we will support this entirely. Our measures have been successful purely based on community cooperation and we hope that that will continue. Face masks on public and school transport will still be mandatory as will the requirement to wear face masks when moving around the academy site outside of classrooms, please ensure your son/daughter is aware of this and that this decision will be reviewed at half term.

All other measures within the academy will remain in particular ventilation, high frequency cleaning, hand sanitisation and social distancing with staff members.

Some changes after half term

Following half term as we say goodbye to our year 11 and 13 students we are keen to begin the process of preparing our students for September 2021 when 240 new Year 7’s will join us. So far, we have maintained specialist subject teaching in all year groups but the lack of access in Years 7 to 9 to specialist teaching rooms has limited practical curriculum access. With 300 fewer students on site it is our intention to ensure that students will begin to move around the site to specialist areas including design workshops, art rooms, science laboratories, catering, music, IT facilities and other specialist equipment within departments that are not transportable over our large site. For year 10 and 12 this represents no difference but for the younger year groups more movement between classes and a fuller curriculum will become a reality, but so will more practical activities within the curriculum and a more traditional secondary school experience. Please note that the class bubbles will remain along with split break and lunch times, approximately 90% of site movement is outside of academy buildings and one way systems will continue to support prevention along with other measures.  Given our experience in the last 18 months, and were we to experience further cases, our track and trace numbers are highly unlikely to be any different to those experienced in previous cases due to existing measures.  We believe these changes represent no further increase in risk to our students, are safe and will benefit all students by them accessing more specialist areas and resources in the academy.  Over the next two weeks we will be working with students to redistribute timetables with new rooming’s, ensure they are clear on site movement measures in new areas of the academy and reintroduce the college system that currently prevents our small school model from being at its most efficient.    

End of Year Exams

 As I first wrote about in my statement of 30th April, the end of year examinations are fast approaching.  Please continue to talk about this with your son/daughter using knowledge organisers from the entire year, Seneca Learning and class set work to revise little and often each day.  There is evidence within the academy that the more involved parents and carers are with revision and learning the higher the grades, individual tests scores can be as much as 11% higher which at GCSE can represent an entire grade.  We are also aware that some students worry about examination periods, that is entirely normal and part of our learning experience in preparing them for similar experiences as they grow older such as driving tests, further study and presentations or meetings at work.  We will be working in advisories to support this and there is support and advice available here.  If you are concerned at all, as usual our advisors and college teams are here to help via the usual reception email.

Holidays and the green list

As the government releases further information on international travel, holidays that have been lost or are rearranged as a result of COVID-19 become inevitable.  Considering the huge disruption to education the last eighteen months it is unfortunate that we will not be in a position to authorise any holidays during term time.  Our students are making incredible progress but must be here to continue their amazing work.

Absences and illness

Our attendance continues to be fantastic and well above national averages, if due to illness your son/daughter will be absent please ensure you contact the academy first thing in the morning, furthermore if your son/daughter does not feel well during the day we have the systems to ensure they are supported.  There has been a small rise where parent/carers arrive to reception to collect their son/daughter when they have been contacted directly by mobile phone, please ensure in these instances that your son/daughter informs a staff member and the attendance manager is also informed before you arrive at the academy so that we can monitor appropriately.

Finally, as always, our ongoing gratitude is again extended to all the parents and carers who continue to support the academy through their positive messages and reinforcement of academy policies and decisions at home. Parents, carers and staff continue to show that we are indeed each other’s greatest allies, because we all want the best for our young people. Only through that close and mutually supportive relationship between the academy and the parent or carer can we provide the optimum environment for our young people to reach their potential. Every conversation, every interaction at school and in the home shapes young minds and opinions. And they are doing exceptionally well.

Yours sincerely,

 

Mr W Monk

Principal