I hope this update finds you and your families well. This week we have welcomed back our year 10s and 11s from their period of isolation, it has been fantastic to see them all return and the academy has regained its buzz, it was quieter but we definitely missed them. It is also incredibly timely following the announcement by the Department of Education that public examinations will go ahead this summer, GCSE’s and A Level examinations will go ahead for our year 11s and 13s, with one or two alterations. It is equally important to our year 10’s as they too will only have 18 moths left until their examinations. Despite our outstanding online provision there is no substitute for face to face learning and ensuring students are prepared as possible for their public examinations. Our attendance this week as a result has moved further above the national averages, towards previous levels and as a result our students will be at an advantage in those exams.
The return of students in year 10 and 11 this week also tells us two other things: firstly, that the virus is not spreading within the academy and secondly that the prevention measures and responses are working. Had they not been we would have had further cases within bubbles and year groups. At the time of writing there is only one active case within the academy and appropriate students are already isolating as a result of our precautionary measures. As I have previously written, there is nowhere that is 100% safe, but our measures have meant we have lower rates than regional community. Our students are safe and they continue to learn. We will remain vigilant as we are painfully aware there may be other cases until the global pandemic passes, complacency will certainly not be our undoing.
A reminder to parents that if you have come into contact with a confirmed positive case or develop symptoms you are required to isolate for 14 days (10 days if you test positive). When isolating you must not be outside the home at all, still a legal requirement. Naturally when cases arise, outside of those identified for self-isolation, there is some caution and staying at home just in case, we understand. However, we would still prefer those students to attend, should those students still be in circulation in the public the risk to them remains. We must consider in those instances whether or not we will authorise those absences and whether we can continue to ask staff to provide remote provision when those students continue to circulate publicly. The academy infection rate is currently lower than that of the outside the community and at this time they are safer in the academy.
I am very happy to announce that we have now taken receipt of our next delivery of Chromebooks, these will be circulated to Year 10 and Year 7 in the coming days. Those parents will be written to separately with details of collection. We are hoping that the remaining delivery occurs very soon now that the supply chain appears to be picking up again. We will continue to pester them nevertheless.
Social media again and again
A significant amount of staff time is being spent on responding to information that has appeared on social media including WhatsApp. It reaches a peak around the times that we have experienced isolated cases. Some of the statements we have had to respond to include hiding cases, false reporting of names and that almost everyone has been in contact with any individuals who are the subject of our response. We pride ourselves in being a place of calm and consistency within a challenging and unprecedented global situation and for the wellbeing of our community member we need to encourage the same outside the academy gates. Please ask yourself two things when reading or hearing unofficial information: what is the benefit to the academy in withholding any information given that its staff and community members are navigating the same situation? And has this information come from an official academy source namely emails or website? Our strategy ensures the only pressure we feel is to prioritise well-being and safety then to ensure that students are learning, and we are doing an exceptional job.
Last week of term
There has been a growing number of enquiries regarding our last week of term, our last day remains the 18th December. Under the emergency legislation passed as part of COVID it is illegal for schools and academies to alter their term dates, this is part of the government’s commitment to keeping schools open. Other schools nationally have attempted to do so and have had their decisions overturned by the Department for Education. It is safe to say that this decision is above our heads and we will continue to remain open and expect attendance until the end of term as published.
To keep us going we will be ensuring that Christmas activities such as our amazing Christmas dinner and an upcoming Christmas jumper non-uniform day will continue to put a smile on the student faces with more information on those events to follow.
Finally, where there has been a notable increase is in the positive messages we have received and with a festive theme. It is difficult to articulate the impact that this has on our staff, particularly as we approach the weary final run to Christmas, suffice to say that it is incredibly motivational and galvanising for us as a community and unusually I would like to share one with you:
I’d like to personally thank all of the teachers who have put themselves out to make sure that … and all the other students have received a continuous education and put themselves at risk to do so. I am eternally grateful for … being able to learn from home and see the feedback from … Spanish teacher especially, as that was invaluable to see that … had been putting in a great deal of effort and it hadn’t gone unnoticed. I value being a huge part of my children’s education and being kept updated as so much of it is sadly kept from us being that it’s mainly online. The huge efforts in keeping … and others safe and all the measures taken by ALL staff including cleaners etc. in making the school sanitary has been a weight off of my mind. Finally, the immediate notifications and updates by Mr Monk no matter how small or how late at night has been greatly appreciated and quashed any questions before I have had to think of them! Well done and thank you, please keep doing what you all do and give … a happy place in which to thrive and give … the best possible environment to achieve…
In short, thank you. It is an incredible honour to lead such an exceptional staff, who are acknowledged frequently by an incredible parental community supporting each other when it matters most.
Mr W Monk