Dear Parent/Carer,

I hope that this letter finds you and your families well.  Again, this week the students have been remarkable making the environment feel familiar in routine and expectation.  I always believe that the potential for vulnerability is greater when there is familiarity, so we will keep on reminding students about the need to follow systems and structure and to sanitise hands regularly, please help us by doing the same at home.

We have continued to invest in our environment this week to ensure that there are adequate seating areas for students as we are encouraging more to be outside at break and lunchtimes, where distances between bubbles can be greater.  Today is certainly a stark warning as to what the weather can do, to that ends we have made a considerable investment in large marquees to ensure all year groups have adequate cover in inclement weather, these will arrive shortly.  These marquees have been risk assessed for storms and snow loading and can seat 200 students each.  Each marquee will have seating so that students can sit, eat and be under cover whilst getting some much needed fresh air from the fixed bubble classroom arrangements.

Coats, coats coats

I ask that parents/carers ensure that their son/daughter has a suitable coat with them as the weather turns. We are in the unenviable position of having to balance the need for ventilation in classrooms with the impending cold, we do have central heating, contrary to the inevitable reports of freezing conditions in our buildings likely from some of our young people.  Our staff will make sensible decisions and where appropriate allow students to wear them indoors if necessary, they need only ask.  This directive refers to coats only and not hoodies.  Students will also not need to have their hoods up in class at all.  This morning it was remarkable to see the number of students who arrived at school without coats and therefore when walking into the academy and across our large site were wet before the academy day had even started.  I reiterate, please ensure that your son/daughter leaves home with an appropriate coat for the conditions.

Masks, masks, masks

It is now illegal for anyone from the age of 11 to not wear a mask in shops and for the duration of their journey on public transport.  I have met with local business leaders, transport officials and the police and have agreed that I will work with the necessary authorities to ensure compliance.  We remind students of the need to follow national guidance and ask that parents help us by reinforcing that message at home also.   Students can expect members of the public to challenge them and must respond appropriately at all times as representatives of our school community. Where that message is not getting through, we will work to ensure that it does.

We continue to monitor the local and national picture and are ready to respond rapidly to any changes, whilst rising local rates remain relatively low.  At this stage we have no positive cases recorded within our community. I thank you all for the confidence you have continued to show resulting in a rising attendance over the last two weeks, we were already above national averages which is excellent news. Our students will be at an advantage educationally as a result.  There are reports in the press of a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, earliest indications are that this is actually most likely to be during the entirety of our two-week half term and therefore will not affect the educational plans we already have in place.  Should it overlap term one or two in anyway, we will be able to provide remote provision for all students through Google Classroom, in line with the school timetable. So unfortunately, students will still need to be up and ready for a period 1 start!

Once again thank you for your messages of support and encouragement, you may have seen in the press the detrimental impact that some parental communication in other local schools can have in shifting staff focus from the task at hand: prioritising the wellbeing of our young people and ensuring the highest quality education.  I feel very fortunate that at a time when our partnership is most important, our community is proving to be supportive and united, we truly have the most amazing staff, students and parents.

Yours sincerely,

Mr W Monk

Principal