I hope this update finds you and your families well at the end of the first full week back in the academy. There has been a remarkably settled feel to the week as we finished off our lateral flow testing centre. My sincere gratitude goes to the parents, carers and staff who worked in the centre ensuring that we processed approximately 3400 COVID tests over a 9-day period. It really was an incredible feat. In addition, your confidence in our return has resulted in incredible attendance across the entire academy above national and local averages. Thank you. In returning to us our students are at an advantage, slipping seamlessly back into routines and familiarity continuing the outstanding progress that was made during lockdown. We are delighted with how they have handled their first full week. Keep note, they will be tired, re-establishing physical routines can take its toll, they have been great, they definitely deserve a rest.
This morning we distributed two home testing kits to every student within the academy, the packs each contain three tests and with twice weekly testing, as recommended in my previous update, enough for three weeks. Instructions included with the testing kits explain the process clearly, students having completed on site three times. The processing of results has also been demonstrated twice to each student conducting a test on site. Please note, that the guidance suggests a throat and a nasal swab, it also highlights for those that require assistance swabbing of both nostrils is sufficient, this is the process we have used with all students and is absolutely fine to continue with. Before you begin your first home test please visit our COVID Home Testing Portal for all the relevant steps and actions by clicking the link below:
Student conduct has been exemplary since our return and there are many smiling faces, happy to be back, albeit many behind face masks. I would like to take the opportunity to thank parents and carers for their support in following Department for Education recommendations, your support and compliance from the students has been overwhelming. It is understood that this advice will be reviewed at Easter, in the meantime, we will continue to follow those recommendations and update you should anything change.
Following the previous lockdown, we noticed an increase in the number of disputes between students that stemmed from an increased reliance on social media as a source of communication throughout lockdown. Once more we have noticed a similar pattern. It is entirely understandable that online communication replaces face to face interactions during a period of lockdown and is important. Much of the time the consequences are unintended and often the result of the ease at which the written word can be misinterpreted combined with a lack of non-verbal cues that indicate intent, such as facial expressions. As our students return to us, revisiting those conversations is not necessary and can be inflammatory, please ensure that you keep an open dialogue with your son/daughter discussing and deescalating interpretations of the written word on social media. Any concerns should be shared with the relevant college team who will be able to support and reconcile differences. After all, it has been a challenging twelve to eighteen months, we have been a magnificent community supporting our young people as a collective. We are stronger together.
Over the coming weeks we will continue to ensure that our expectations remain high, that students are recognised and rewarded for their efforts in class and that they continue to make excellent progress. It is also exciting, following an absolutely agonising wait, I have personally seen the Year 8 and 9 Chromebooks on site, they will be distributed next week with more information sent to those parents shortly.
This year, as you know the Year 11 and 13 GSCEs and A Level Grades will be decided by teacher assessment and referred to as teacher assessed grades. Our staff have already begun work on collecting assessment information and will be accessing examination board resources as they are released after Easter. We have not yet decided on a final day in the academy for those students, we want to give every possible opportunity for them to provide work of a creditable quality before the deadline. The message is a simple one, not merely for those students in year 11 and 13, but for all. Every lesson counts. Every piece of work counts. But didn’t it always? We ask no more of all of our students but to give us their very best, in every lesson and in every piece of work, whether there are examinations or not. In turn we will work tirelessly to give opportunity after opportunity to be your best, supporting the setbacks and celebrating the successes with you.
You may have heard the desperately sad news that Scott Opstad, Principal of Paddock Wood Primary Academy passed away unexpectedly this week. Mr Opstad was a popular and well respected Principal, colleague and friend to many, our community is devastated by this loss. He was instrumental in forging a strong partnership with Mascalls Academy, strengthening our community. Our sincerest condolences go to his family, colleagues, students, parents and carers. We will do everything we can to support our friends at PWPA and any who are affected by this news. If you or your son/daughter have been affected, please do not hesitate to contact us via your college teams.
Finally, as always, my ongoing gratitude to all parents and carers who continue to contact us with messages of support and positivity as staff step counts return to pre-lockdown levels and we reach our match fitness, through the fatigue your messages inspire. We are lucky to have you.
Mr W Monk