Principals Statement – 11th September 2020

Dear parent/carer,

We have only had seven fully open academy days, but I must admit it already feels much longer.  Our students remain very calm, focussed and respectful of the restrictions that are in place. The message from Mascalls, alongside parents, is to continue to educate our students and create the correct habits to remain safe in the current climate, they are doing remarkably well and I am immensely proud. Thank you.

We continue to review our current practice and improve systems keeping the health and safety of our young people at the forefront of our plans. We have significantly increased our availability of hand sanitiser and invested in additional fencing to reinforce and enhance the directional systems that we have on site. This process will never stop; the priority will never change.

Face masks

Following the government’s latest announcement, largely regarding the ‘rule of six’ we have reviewed our recommendations around face masks. The change in national guidance was in response to the increasing infection rate.  We are fortunate that in our community, the transmission rate remains relatively low, we do not however wish to wait until it rises to make a decision, if the rate rises we will be too late, we must be pre-emptive.  The demographic showing the largest increase in transmission rates is 17-24 years.  Therefore, from Monday 14th September we require all sixth form students to be wearing a face mask when inside the academy buildings, the exceptions are simply when they are eating or when they are in a lesson, lessons have small numbers and adequate ventilation.

Parking – drop offs and pick ups

We are aware that there is a frustration surrounding adequate parking, particularly at pick up time, we share your frustration.  This was made more difficult by the decision of Putlands to refuse parking at those times.   A few parents have queried whether we can open the school field for pick up.  This cannot happen for a number of reasons, namely: lessons take place on the school field, it is a teaching space, significant damage and cost will be incurred by the frequent use of vehicles, we only have one entrance (which is also our exit) for vehicles on our site, traffic will not be alleviated, we have nine buses that require access to site for safe pickup and finally we must limit the movement of vehicles on site while in excess of one thousand two hundred students arrive and leave to ensure their safety.  Our students are reminded that road safety is of paramount importance at all times, in line with the government message we encourage students to walk and cycle to school where safe to do so and ask that parents consider alleviating some of the local traffic by dropping off or picking up further from the school site.

Social media and communication

Mascalls values the importance of the community we stand in and our partnership with parents.  We aim to work with parents in the best interests of all of our young people.  The role of social media in creating a calm and positive environment is vital, as cases nationally continue to rise parents will be made aware of all instances of confirmed cases through official channels.  We have robust procedures in place for the identification of community transmission and potential transmission on the academy site.  I ask that where unhelpful and unofficial announcements are made that as a community we remain calm; you will be informed in line with all available government guidance.   I can confirm, that as a result of unconfirmed community transmission we have asked three members of our academy to self-isolate as a precaution and to pursue a test, no members of our community have presented with symptoms and there remain no confirmed cases within our academy.

We also want to work with parents to continue to improve systems and structures, your opinion is important.  Our staff and their families are present in the same global situation as the rest of our community, I ask that you support our staff in your communications with them by ensuring that you initiate an enquiry calmly and pursue a practical resolution.  Undoubtedly emotions can run high in the current climate, but the best interests of our community are served in a positive partnership. We care hugely about each and every one of our students and their families and will work to ensure that they remain safe.

Finally, it is left to me to thank parents for your support in continuing to educate and encourage good habits amongst our students.  The combined efforts result in a remarkable community of which I feel immensely proud to lead.

Yours sincerely

Mr W Monk