I hope this letter finds you and your families well. One hundred and sixty days after the department for education asked schools to close for all but key worker children we have this week welcomed staff and students back to a fully open academy once again. It has been a fantastic week, with incredible attendance and the behaviour of the students has been outstanding, for that I would like to thank you all. It has been really lovely to see everyone again, students have been calm, shown incredible adaptability and resilience, have been very polite and respectful and above all have looked happy to be back and seeing friends once again.
Over one thousand two hundred students have taken to the new routines and movement around the site very well and where the few (occasionally) lapse into ‘old systems’ they have responded superbly to a gentle reminder. Let us not forget we are establishing brand new habits for a large number of young people around a familiar site, but the strength of character that they are showing is making the task much easier. I ask that, in partnership with us, you continue to embed the message at home of good hand hygiene and hand sanitisation, following correct movement around site and the use of face masks on public transport for the duration of their journey.
There are two very important messages that I have used in my correspondence with parents since March, that I would like to reiterate now:
‘…it is not possible to mitigate all factors [related to COVID19]. No plan can reduce the risk of contact to zero, and therefore it needs to be clear that this is the case.’
Planning for reopening has been thorough and detailed and at all times has had the health and safety of staff and students as its sole focus since the start. Operationally, when all students return it is inevitable that small changes, adaptations and constant reminders to students need to be made. Rest assured, our staff are incredibly vigilant and the situation is under constant review. We stand in a position to be able to respond where necessary to internal changes, the local climate and to any national recommendations.
I also stated:
“It is important to remember that you and everyone around you has never been here before. There’s no playbook. Because of this, you are going to need to be as flexible and nimble as possible.”
It is important that parents and carers continue to communicate with the academy, either via firstname.lastname@example.org or via the college teams below.
Social media and communication
As the local and national situation surrounding COVID19 continues to change the role of social media as an instant ‘news’ source and its influence is of considerable importance. I ask that parents consider only official communication from our Facebook page or academy website, these remain our main line of communication alongside emails.
If you have a concern or query relating to the academy, please discuss it with us first. Mascalls Academy understands that unofficial social media groups naturally arise amongst parents with the intent to support each other and they are a fantastic resource for one another. Please consider whether the academy needs to be informed through official channels, so that we can respond and act appropriately. We are here to help, we are here to listen and together we are each other’s greatest allies in ensuring the wellbeing and progress of our young people. When communicating in the first instance with staff please begin from the standpoint of enquiry, there is understandable anxiety in the current climate that can lead to frustration, we all care immensely about the individuals who make up our wonderful community but please ensure you have all of the relevant information from staff before you react.
Mascalls Academy is renowned for its high expectations on behaviour and attention to detail with regards to uniform and equipment, I have been hugely impressed with how smart the students have looked this week on site including those arriving in PE and dance kit.
I would like to confirm that as part of our plans our behaviour structure remains in place with one or two adaptations to ensure the integrity of our COVID19 secure structures. This means that our detention system has not changed and remains in place and operational within (and in fact above) current government guidelines. I am hopeful that students will not ever require access to this system but in the event that they may, COVID19 will not prevent our drive for ever improving standards and high expectation on behaviour, so that teaching and learning, health and safety can continue to be of the highest quality.
Finally, it remains for me to thank you for your considerable support during this time. There has been a collective sigh of relief as students have returned to us, where they belong, we are incredibly happy about that.
Now begins the work to ensure that they return to routines, high quality education, calm and consistency as quickly as possible. This is not a recovery curriculum, this is simply great teaching, they will all be absolutely fine.
Mr W Monk