Headteacher’s Blog – Week 20

As we reach the end of another half term, I would like to thank our families for all their hard work in supporting their children and our teachers with remote learning. You are doing a great job and this can be seen in the high proportion of students who are attending and engaging in their online lessons. We have also been inundated for requests for new exercise books - so there must be a lot of work being completed at home. A reminder that you can request books or other equipment using the online form.

Whilst going abroad for some winter sun, or booking a week away enjoying our country is not a possibility this half term - I hope very much that you and your children manage to get some rest and relaxation from the pressures and demands of homeschooling. But most importantly, I hope that you keep yourselves safe and well. There is light at the end of the tunnel, with news of COVID rates dropping and vaccinations increasing - it’s so close now we must try harder then ever to follow the rules in the next few weeks.

Sadly, school will remain closed after half term to all students except those who are vulnerable or children of critical workers. We hope to hear from the DfE soon if we will be allowed to open our doors to all students week commencing 8th March 2021. As soon as we hear anything, we will let you know how we will be responding, including any plans for mass testing.

Here’s to keeping our fingers crossed!

When students do return, we will expect them to wear a mask as they enter the school building. Prior to lockdown, we noticed some students wearing their mask unsafely around school, e.g. tucked under their chin. In order to support the control of the virus, we will be taking a firm stance with any students who do not wear a mask in school. Please help us by reiterating the importance of wearing a mask to your children.

In response to feedback received from staff, families and students we have been working on a plan to reduce the amount of screen time and to continue to prioritise wellbeing. With this in mind from Wednesday 24th February, every student will be encouraged to move away from their screens and to engage in a wide variety of activities.

Enrichment Supporting Wellbeing will take place every Wednesday afternoon thereafter between 1:00-3:00pm. Students will be able to access a wide variety of activities under the headings of: community, exercise, creativity, headspace, altruism and ‘other’. The activities are appropriate for all age groups and cover a wide variety of interests. Activities can be completed by individuals, with friends (COVID compliant) and families together. Some activities come with external accreditation, but all completed activities will carry a tariff of merits awarded by the school. Just a few examples of activities include: Duke of Edinburgh Award, Coronavirus Capsule, The Great Exhibition and start your own podcast. There will be over 60 activities for students to select from. 

This ‘classroom’ will go live to all students on Friday 12th February so that it can be accessed and used over the half term to alleviate some of the boredom!

For those accessing the current in-school provision next half term, they will also be able to take part in Enrichment Supporting Wellbeing.

When students return to school their ''normal' school timetable will resume automatically. 

We are also delighted to launch our Seven Summits Challenge. All tutors groups, including many tutors, will be in a virtual race to conquer the top 7 highest summits in the world, by recording their daily steps. Students will need to keep track of their daily steps, using their trackers, pedometers or even counting, and then provide their weekly step information to their tutors who will submit this once a week. For students wanting an added challenge we have set a TIF where they can choose to climb stairs as well as their steps. We hope to be able to share those leading the race over the next few weeks, and hopefully some photos to keep everyone motivated.

Some news to share from last week:

We were thrilled and grateful to have received 10 tablet devices from Martin Dawes Ltd for us to issue to our students who are having difficulties accessing remote learning at home. Thank you to our colleagues at the Education Learning Trust (ELT) who helped make this possible.

Thank you to Ms Djang (SENCO) and Mrs Rouse who last week held virtual coffee mornings with families of SEND students. This virtual space allowed parents and carers to connect and share their experiences. Additionally, this feedback, alongside all the others that have been collected over the past couple of weeks, will continue to allow us to enhance and develop our remote offer.

Thank you to those parents who fed back on the success of Year 9 Parents’ Evening which was again run remotely. It seems this online approach is much favoured by parents and staff and is likely to be here to stay! All information to support Options continues to be available on the school website, but please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions. 

Virtual Student Councils were held for each year group last week. Student representatives discussed a wide range of issues and continued to contribute to the development of our school. This information will be collated by Mr Wood and responses provided shortly. Our students continue to impress us with how connected they are as a community, even at this difficult time.

On Thursday afternoon we postponed live lessons to allow staff some screen break before parents’ evening. In school, staff and students took advantage of the screen break and had a game of mass dodgeball led by Miss Pike and Mr Howarth.

Our Behaviour Support Team of Mrs Bartle and Mrs Nay have shared their hidden talents in gardening and are running a Forest School with groups of students from our in-school provision. The before shots of our quad show how wild and unloved it had been - here’s waiting for the after shots!

Dates for your diary

Date Event
Friday 12th February School closes for Half-Term at 3pm
Monday 22nd February Students return to virtual school (Blue Week)

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.

Mrs J. Lowe

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