I hope this update finds you and your families well. After the initial excitement of the first full week back we now seem much more settled into the familiar routines and expectations. Our focus has very much been in ensuring the highest possible standards of behaviour to enable our staff to then deliver the highest quality lessons. Students are engaged in their learning, calm and happy to be back. We are extremely proud of how our young people have managed that return. The exemplary conduct of students post lockdown has really highlighted just how important the return to structure, familiarity and routine has been. Without doubt it is entirely right that our community is back together once again, where we belong, with a remarkable attendance significantly above the national average in every single year group. For that we are incredibly grateful for the confidence you continue to show in our processes.
It was lovely this week to (finally) hand out the Chromebooks to years 8 and 9 and barring one or two, we have provided over one thousand devices to our students. It is really important to remember that this is not a national government strategy and not funded from any other source than our own academy budget. It is a privilege to be able to supply such devices to all students and they are incredibly lucky that we have been able to do so. In providing them we have shown a considerable investment in our digital strategy. Thank you to all parents and carers for their support in attending the collection slots making the handout exceptionally easy, nearly 90% of devices were handed out in person on the allocated day. Simultaneous to this roll out, all staff have undergone a formal Google Educator qualification to ensure they are trained in the most up to date teaching technology. We hope that through a blended approach our students will be able to move seamlessly between the digital and face to face lessons locating resources and the latest research to enhance learning. Moving forward we will always have a digital classroom for every physical classroom, where lessons resources can be revisited, revised and relearned. Chromebooks will be in use every day so it is absolutely vital that they are charged fully each evening and brought in every day, treated as part of everyday equipment.
COVID-19 Home Testing
Thank you to all of those who are engaged in home testing. We have received guidance that testing is to continue throughout the Easter holidays, still twice weekly. We will also continue to contact trace where necessary if a positive result is identified. We would like to move all home testing over the Easter period to Sundays and Wednesdays (5pm to 7pm), this means that upon our return from the Easter break all students will have had a home test the very day before they return on Monday 19th April. If you do identify a positive result please inform the academy immediately via email, register the result on our COVID-19 Home Testing Portal and book a PCR test at the local COVID testing centre. We also ask that there is no sharing of LFT results on social media, in particular if the result indicates a positive outcome, very quickly those messages spread when the confirmatory PCR test may yet prove negative. Rest assured, we have fantastic track and trace measures and will always inform parents/carers through official communication only as soon as possible.
Now that the weather appears to be warming up, it has been so surprising to see that many students are still wearing their coats in lessons despite our centrally heated classrooms and the vast majority of students in face masks. I know that some students report icy conditions in classrooms, I can assure you that this is not the case and our heating is still fully powered. From Monday there will be no need to wear coats in the classroom, despite our ventilation the temperatures now are much more comfortable than December. Should the weather change we will make decisions on a daily basis rather than termly.
Bromcom App, My Child At School
During the February half term, we migrated our entire database over to Bromcom, which comes with a parent app, My Child At School. Please ensure that you have downloaded the app from the relevant app store. We aim to make significant savings from using the push notification feature (so please allow notifications) rather than texts, we will still continue to use texts for vital attendance and behaviour notifications.
We have now held our second online parents evening with a combined online attendance of nearly 75%, there are three to go and barring only one or two technical issues have gone far more smoothly than we could have anticipated. Our challenge for the next three is to continue to build our online attendance, making the most of every opportunity to discuss the progress and well being of your son/daughter, our ultimate aim is to match the Chromebook collection attendance. A reminder for those last three dates:
- Wednesday 31st March – Year 7
- Wednesday 21st April – Year 9
- Wednesday 12th May – Year 8
Finally, as with every update, my ongoing thanks go to the parents and carers of our amazing young people. We are twelve school days in from our whole school return from the third national lockdown during a global pandemic, the feel about the academy is of that of normality (barring the additional prevention measures), that feeling can only be brought about by the entire adult community, the professionals, parent and carers working positively together and must not be underestimated. If we can do that for them now, in the middle of all of this, just imagine how far we can support our young people to go when the pandemic passes. Incredible.
Mr W Monk