Heads Blog – Welcome Back!

Welcome back everyone.

I hope you had a good half term and managed to get a rest from the everyday pressures of school and all the preparations that go with it.

We return to the news of a second national lockdown and that’s not easy on our young people and their families. I’m sure I would have struggled as a teenager, especially with the loss of sport and the freedom my childhood gave me. I am proud of our students for their resilience and determination and the fact that our school is open and intends to remain so throughout this pandemic. School, for me, is the best place for students to be. They are safe, well looked after, well-educated and can be with friends and enjoy a sense of normality every day. Having said all that, school is not without its challenges. We are constantly navigating our way through new challenges and it’s not easy. We have dealt with several confirmed cases this week, all of which have had minimal impact I’m pleased to say, and we are working tirelessly to reassure our students with the facts regarding Covid-19. Our Risk Assessment and the plan we created in the summer allow us to be very specific in terms of who must self-isolate and why. In all cases this week I have been so grateful for the support from all parents and carers we have contacted. We have phoned everyone since we had to start sending students home as I feel the personal touch is important in trying to reassure students and families. That will continue.

Period 6 began this week for our Year 11 students. It is an extra lesson provided by our staff on a voluntary basis, to support students to achieve the best outcomes in their GCSE exams next summer. We had 90% attendance this week and we hope to ensure those targeted students maintain this dedication in the weeks and months ahead. It is not easy for them, but this provision is designed to encourage them to invest time into their futures now and, in doing so, help to ensure they will have the choices they need at post 16 to lead happy and successful lives.

We had our second Virtual Parents’ Evening for Year 13 last night and again it was a huge success. I feel it’s so much more personal that a written report and, despite the time being limited to just 5 minutes, we intend to stick with this provision for the foreseeable future. Our next Virtual Parents’ Evening is for Year 9 on Thursday 19 November.

Our Blended Learning Strategy is really developing, and we have had just two bubble closures since September. In both cases we have facilitated Live Teaching for all 25 lessons in the week. The staff and students have embraced this new way of teaching and learning, and it is so much better for everyone. For Post 16 lessons we are also developing our ability to deliver lessons with some students physically in school and others accessing those same lessons whilst self-isolating. We will monitor the effectiveness of this dual system in the hope that the technology will allow us to operate in this way for all lessons.

In other news, we have some sporting successes to celebrate:

Scarlett in Year 8 has been selected to represent Team GB in cheerleading.

Charlie in Year 8 has been selected to represent the North East England u13 in Hockey.

Annie in Year 10 won Gold in the 60cm competition at the West Yorkshire Equestrian Championships and silver in 70cm competition on a horse called Charlie.

We are very proud of all three students and their commitment and dedication to their sport to achieve such elite honours.

We have also learned this week that Genevieve in Year 13 has achieved a Duke of Edinburgh Certificate of Achievement - Gold Award (Covid version). This is incredible and testament to her dedication, resilience, commitment and courage over the past few years.

In all cases our students are to be admired and congratulated on how they are managing themselves in these times. We must never lose sight of how special and unique each of them is.

Have a lovely weekend.
Simon

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