I hope that this email finds you and your families well, it has certainly been a challenging week for some members of our academy community. As you will all be aware we experienced two confirmed cases in Year 11, one who was not on site during their infectious period and one who potentially was. We responded quickly to isolate students and our staff were magnificent in their ability to transfer to remote learning at 9am in the morning having only been informed very late the previous evening. Although there were one or two technical issues this process was successful and the transition was both rapid and smooth. Remarkably, this was also carried out when a third of our site has suffered an internet cut-out due to damage to one of our fibre optic lines, this will be repaired early next week. Our liaison with the Department for Education, Public Health England and the Local health protection Teams was reassuring in that our chosen course of action was simply ratified by those authorities and is the result of the strength of our preparation and persistence. Those who, as a precaution, have to isolate in this case or due to community exposure elsewhere must not be seen in public and follow national guidelines or risk a fine.
Naturally, communication with the academy has increased significantly where parents seek further clarification, the volume of calls at times means that we will not be able guarantee rapid responses and may have to prioritise calls in some cases. Suffice to say, the guidance we follow is the national guidance, related to education establishments and is freely available to you. The overriding principles of isolation, identification and containment for schools is no different to national guidelines. I also ask that prior to telephoning please ensure you are completely familiar with the content of official letters, communications and frequently asked questions documents already provided.
Many thanks to those parents who are insisting that their son/daughter is supplied with a facemask every day. There are still large quantities of face masks being provided which at the current rate is unsustainable. From Monday, students must continue to have their own facemask as before, disposable masks will now be available at cost, approximately 50p each and we also will shortly have a supply of Mascalls branded antibacterial fabric masks at £3. They look incredibly smart with the academy uniform and are adjustable, reusable and very comfortable.
Adherence to face mask policy within the academy has been very strong, but as an academy we want to be perfect. We have avoided until now the use of sanctions for non-compliance and forgetfulness preferring partnership, but must insist that all students follow the guidelines regardless or now risk a sanction as per the COVID addendum to our behaviour policy which states:
‘Any pupil who commits serious or persistent breach of the new COVID-19 protection rules may be sanctioned by the Principal using the full range of sanctions available, dependent on the seriousness of the breach, up to and including in extreme cases permanent exclusion.’
Year 7, 8 and 9
In order to ensure all students have equal access to playing areas at break and lunchtimes and to ensure that our year 7 are able to experience other areas of the academy site in anticipation of one day returning to normal we have decided to make a change to year group areas affecting Years 7, 8 and 9. From Monday 30th November following our INSET day on the Friday, Year 7 will transition to F Block where they will have break and lunchtimes on our multi use games area, a self-contained canteen and new classrooms for advisories and lesson. Year 9 will be accommodated into A Block with a new playground area with seating and access to the main canteen. Year 8 will move to an alternative playground with seating, basketball courts and space for ball games. The protection measures currently in place will not be changed, students remain in bubbles, class groups and rooms as before, it is felt that year 7 will become familiar with another area of the academy and other year groups will experience differing playground areas based on how we have observed them interacting during those times. Our site it entirely sanitised every evening and additional cleaning during the Friday will ensure those spaces are available and safe from the Monday. Advisors will be working with their groups next week to ensure they are ready for change.
Please can I remind all parents and carers that next Friday, 27th November is an INSET day where students will not need to attend the academy.
Finally, it is left for me to thank parents and carers once again for their support and positive messages, appreciated more so this week than ever! Our academy community never fails to inspire, our remarkable and resilient students remain safe as a result of the work of our exceptional staff and a strong partnership with parent and carers. We often remark that if you were to navigate a once in a generation pandemic with no precedent, we would not want to do it with anyone else other than the amazing community that we have.
Mr W Monk