Head's Bulletin May 2021
As we settle into the term, I hope to send you regular emails to keep you updated about the life of the school and other developments. I must say that we are all delighted to be back and trust and pray that as infections in the community are lower, that we will have an extended stretch where all the bubbles are in school and everyone is learning together.
I would like to reiterate that we are very appreciative of your parental support over multiple closures and we are very pleased that everyone has generally engaged well with curriculum and learning and that as a school we have been in a position to offer extra support as needed.
For Year 11 the main focus this term is assessments, which have already begun and will go on into June. This replaces GCSE exams and is obviously a very different experience this year for our students - and for us as staff - who have to devise a range of assessments and make considered judgments in marking and grading them. Year 10 will also be undertaking final assessments for their Religious Studies GCSE. We would appreciate your active prayer support and understanding at this time. Alongside this work, Y9 and Y10 continue with their academic and Equipped to Serve curriculum, which this term will feature more outdoor activities: Y9 on the allotment and Y10 preparing for their long-awaited Duke of Edinburgh expedition in June. We continue to rehearse for our anticipated school play production in July: Little Women (see below).
Middle and Lower School are continuing with their ongoing assessments and recovery curriculum which started in March. We are working to pinpoint any gaps in learning in classes, subjects or individuals, and making time for reflection and support as pupils socialise and recover together. Pupils have made a very good start with the reading scheme that we recently introduced in Middle School. We are also planning more outdoor and some off-site activities for Lower and Middle School pupils during the second half of this term, which we hope to be able to run if the Government’s expectation that remaining restrictions will be lifted by 21 June goes according to plan.
For some pupils, prolonged periods of confinement at home with digital media as their main point of contact with peers has impacted relationships, sometimes positively and sometimes not. We are aware of and continue to address friendship and relationship issues as they arise with our young people. If you become aware of issues either on or offline, please contact the relevant form tutor or head of school promptly, with as much detail and evidence as possible. We do appreciate all those who have come to us directly with concerns, as this enables us to nip problems in the bud by providing appropriate curriculum and pastoral support so that difficulties do not escalate. We would draw your attention to our recent Guidance for parents using WhatsApp groups HERE.
The bubble system is still in operation with staggered breaks and lunches eaten in classrooms. We would remind you of the Government’s recommendation that pupils in years 7-11 should generally wear face masks in the corridors and communal places as well as in classrooms wherever 2 metre distancing cannot be maintained. The Department of Education will review this advice as we approach the 17 May milestone on the roadmap to lifting restrictions. Please ensure that your children have plenty of wipes and hand gel in school. The Risk Assessment expectations of keeping distance and wiping surfaces, as well as washing hands regularly, are still in place and these are consistent with the Government guidance. Over the next few weeks, we may make some adjustments to bubble sizes: for example Years 7 and 8 will be having break times and PE together.
Testing: All pupils in years 7-11 are eligible to have home test kits for twice weekly lateral flow testing. These kits are supplied by school every few weeks. But it is very important that testing is done consistently and reported at registration every Monday and Thursday. Most families have opted in to this system but if any parents have not yet done so, please get in touch with us and we will supply your child with home test kits. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org with any such requests. All other children and parents (or any adults) now have access to the same home test kits which can be collected from local test centres, pharmacies, or ordered online. Please note that you do not need to perform these tests if the child has recently had the virus within the last 90 days.
Close-contact tracing: Please continue to report any positive tests or symptoms to us at school as before. It is very important that we limit the spread of infections, so please continue to be vigilant. If someone does test positive, their close contacts will be asked to isolate based on proximity to that individual. In primary years this is likely to be the whole bubble because they do all play together. But this will usually mean just one class or just a group within a class in secondary years, depending on a number of factors. We appreciate your patience and support if we need to question pupils carefully to establish close contacts.
Uniform and Hair: We fully recognise that it has been difficult to address uniform and hair issues, not least because shops and hairdressers have been closed for so long, but with everything opening now we would be very grateful if parents make every effort to support school policy in this way.
Our summer uniform information is HERE. Please note that this term pupils should not be wearing coats in the classroom. Middle or Upper School pupils who particularly feel the cold may wear their PE sweatshirts (but not other types of sweatshirts) over their school jumpers.
We continue to ask Middle and Upper School pupils to come into school in PE uniform on PE lesson days. However pupils should wear their jogging bottoms (or school skirts in the case of girls) over their shorts or skorts. Pupils should not arrive at school or leave school in shorts and skorts.
We expect all pupils to be wearing school shoes now unless they have an exemption because of medical/orthotic problems. Unless your child is in this category, they should be wearing school uniform shoes as described HERE.
We would also like to ask parents to arrange for their children to have hair styles in line with school policy HERE. This means that girls have their hair tied back and hair accessories including hair bands, scarves, bobbles, etc. are kept to school colours - grey, navy or maroon. Extensions are fine, but must also be tied back. Boys’ hair should be not too long with fringes off the face.
It is important that uniform is well presented. Some parents may need to order new uniform if jumpers are frayed or trousers/skirts are worn or too short etc.
Please contact us if there is a problem with uniform or you have any specific questions by emailing Mrs Sharples email@example.com
Dates for your diaries: Over the last 18 months or so, we have started to use our school website Google diary to show when we have events and meetings. Please do check this out regularly as we are hoping to hold a number of in-person parents meetings and events mostly after half term, as well as the trips we are planning HERE
School events to which all families will be invited are:
- The School Family Picnic straight after school on Thursday 1st July.
- The School Play which we hope to perform on stage on three or four evenings during the first week of July.
Both these events will of course depend on whether we are under any restrictions at the time, but we remain hopeful and optimistic whilst maintaining vigilance.
Parking and Drop-off/Collection: Please can we remind you that you should not leave your car outside the school at all, even for a few minutes. Please make sure grandparents or others who collect your children are aware of this. We also ask you to maintain distancing from other families at drop-off and collection, leaving a clear space on the playground where the path goes round a corner so that pupils and parents can pass easily without getting too close to others. Children should not be mixing with other classes at drop-off and collection yet. Morning arrival is from 8:30am to 8:45am, with pupils arriving no earlier than 8:25am.
We are separately sending you an online safety update bulletin. Please read this carefully as there have been significant developments in recent months.
We have held several assemblies with different sections of the school during the last few weeks where we have been able to thank Mr Worsley for his tremendous contribution to the life of the school as Head Teacher over the last seven years. We are so grateful for him and honour him for his service to the school community over the years. We are delighted that he continues to teach History and Geography in Middle and Upper School and will be doing very important curriculum development work as subject lead in these subjects.
Finally, it is a great privilege but also a great responsibility to serve the school as Acting Head this term. Please pray for me and Mr Sharples, as we lead the school in these interesting and challenging times.