I hope this letter finds you and your families well. As we await the next government announcements for actions in schools we now begin the process of reflecting on the last eighteen months and begin to build for the future. There are still some decisions ahead and these will be shared with you at the appropriate time. We have managed remarkably well, since September there have been just twelve reported cases within the academy, and none currently within our community, far below national and local transmission rates. Entirely as a result of the combined efforts of our parents, carers, COVID-19 prevention measures and the fact that approximately 90% of student movement is outside of buildings due to the campus style and sheer size of the site. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has reinforced our clear messages and adhered to our measures.
About the next steps…
Every change made as a result of COVID-19 is being reviewed for 2021-22, there are indeed many positive measures that are likely to remain. We have found that having separate break times and lunchtimes for the upper (Year 10+) and lower school (Years 7-9) have resulted in calmer and more confident students with more space, it is our intention for those to remain. The different year group break time and lunchtime areas have been more difficult to maintain staff supervision and are likely to be slightly reduced for the next academic year to support our staff duty rota.
Whilst students have looked smart in PE kit on PE days, the impact on the PE curriculum has been felt and limited by ensuring students are comfortable for the entire academy day by any weather related issues. We intend to return to full school uniform everyday and there will be PE changing facilities in September. It is also our intention to return to College bases rather than Year group bases to inspire the competitive college ethos that has eluded us this academic year as a result of the pandemic. Alongside that, we want students in all years to access not just specialist teachers but specialist areas, which will involve students returning to site movement lesson to lesson and accessing all areas of the academy rather than just one block.
As for our co-curriculum, we will be relaunching an exciting series of new clubs, activities, performances, lectures and trip opportunities over the coming months to ensure our students will have the opportunity to extend their learning far beyond the academy day. We are very excited about that.
In the face of social distancing, our parents and carers have become closer, strengthening our community and benefiting our young people. We will continue to work hard to enhance that through regular communication and positive messages and rewards. We ask that you continue to work positively with us, with full involvement in your son or daughters learning and support for our systems and structures. We have developed ‘behaviour as a curriculum’ balancing our SWAT policy with rewarding the character and community traits that we prize so dearly resulting in more attentive, respectful, resilient and determined young people. Virtual parent’s evenings have been successful and are likely to remain in some form, although we would also love to see parents/carers face to face when it is right to do so.
It is certainly no surprise that we find that academic performance is significantly higher when our parents are the most positively engaged with events, systems, structures and learning, highlighting the strength of community and partnership in ensuring the best possible opportunities for amazing students.
We know that many have asked about some of these measures and as time passes and those decisions are made, we will let you know at the earliest opportunity. Of course, any changes will always be subject to change as a result of the national and local COVID context.
Year 11 and 13, nearly there.
Our students across the academy have worked so hard in their return, none more so than our Year 11 and 13 students who in the face of examinations uncertainty have worked relentlessly to ensure that we have been provided with the best possible individual work showcasing their excellence across all of their subjects. We are incredibly proud of them. We intend to continue to provide the opportunities for further evidence towards Teacher Assessed grades for as long as possible, for our Year 11 students their last day in the academy will be Wednesday 26th May and for our Year 13 students the last day in the academy will be Thursday 27th May. We will write to all of those students regarding their results on the 10th (Year 13) and 12th (Year 11) August when we will be open to provide your final grades. For those remaining with us in the sixth form, details of our induction programme will be with you in due course. For those leaving us, there will be an opportunity to say good luck and farewell on those days, but for now, keep giving your all in pursuit of excellence.
Finally thank you, as always, for your ongoing support and positive communications. As we (hopefully) begin to wave goodbye to an incredibly challenging phase we are both excited and inspired to build on and build for an incredible future for all of our amazing young people.
Mr W Monk