I hope this letter finds you and your families well. Welcome back and welcome to the start of a new academic year which, even in such times seems to be coming around quicker and quicker each year.
It has been wonderful to see our young people return to the academy and hear the ‘rumble’ of students navigating the site. Students have been remarkably settled and focussed on lessons, without a shadow of doubt it is exactly that focus which will continue to ensure our students are successful in the face of ongoing challenges. I would like to especially welcome our new year 7 students to our community, they have already shown themselves to be incredibly respectful and impressively resilient to the challenges of transitioning to a secondary school, they have been simply superb.
As the government announced the final stages of the roadmap, students returned to school with some of the mitigation measures removed. Measures such as bubbles and one-way systems are no more. However, split break times, regular sanitisation of high traffic areas and increased focus on ventilation remain. As much as 90% of our student traffic is outside due to our large site which has been a blessing over the course of the pandemic. Last week we conducted nearly 1200 on site COVID tests and this week we will continue with each students’ second test. Testing remains one of the biggest factors in reducing COVID transmission and we ask that from this week students return to twice weekly testing at home on Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings. Should your son/daughter test positive at home, please inform the academy and seek a confirmatory PCR test. From that point please follow all of the current government guidelines.
When considering the current local situation in the surrounding areas of Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Malling and looking at the return to school across the UK and beyond it is clear an everyday risk remains. We do not intend to formalise a response to every positive case that may be identified, in our experience that has proven to raise anxiety amongst our community unnecessarily. By the same rationale social media has also been shown to heighten concern when cases are falsely reported or over communicated. We will follow all existing guidelines and take all appropriate action in a timely manner as we have done throughout the previous two years, any steps or precautions will always be communicated clearly to parents/carers from the academy and not via any other media.
With the return to testing and the reports of a potential vaccination programme for students in the national press, although no formal communication has been shared with this academy, it is prudent to discuss consent. As we have done with testing, in the event of a vaccination programme, we will seek parent/carer consent. No student has been tested without such and no student would be vaccinated without consent. This firmly places the decision and responsibility for consent with the parent /carer. There are some support sites that encourage communications to schools and academies that are unnecessarily confrontational and miss the point that consent lies with the parent/carer. We will always encourage the following of national guidelines and in the seeking of consent there is no need to communicate additionally should you wish to not give it.
I am delighted to welcome a number of new staff to the academy. In July I wrote to parents with details of those who have left to pursue promotion or just a new life adventure. Following a very successful recruitment period we are delighted to welcome:
- Mr Stamato – Assistant Principal and Deputy Head of Luther King College
- Ms Fowler – SENCO
- Ms Dey – Business teacher
- Ms Cooper – Maths teacher
- Ms Shead – Design & technology teacher
- Mr Shearman – Science Teacher
- Mr Auty – Science teacher
- Mr Nolan – Science teacher
- Ms Goymer – Science teacher
- Mr Allen – Social Sciences teacher
- Ms Beckett – PE and Science teacher
- Ms Thomas – Learning Mentor
- Mr Qureshi – Computing teacher
- Mr Ferreira Cortês – Cover Supervisor
- Mr McPhail – Cover Supervisor
It is incredibly exciting to see such strong new staff joining our academy and help us on our journey to Outstanding.
Finally, from me, when considering the previous two years in education and the fact that our wonderful students have been so impressive you can expect a further raising of expectations from staff this year, stronger relationships with our community, sharing in more success and dare I say even more work to do! We are well placed from experience and resources to meet any challenge thrown our way this year, together. It is going to be fantastic! It’s lovely to have you all back.
Mr W Monk