January is over and I am optimistic.

I am not a great fan of January. I guess it’s because I really like Christmas and the arrival of January signals its demise. Maybe!

We are in week four of lockdown and I am hoping that the manner in which we are trying to educate our students is working for most of you. I know that our provision is demanding but I am determined that we try to maintain standards and routines because that will help when we return to full opening once again. Of that I am sure.

I want to thank you for your continued messages of thanks for my staff. I cannot tell you what a difference they are making to us all as we navigate our way through the pandemic. I am also grateful, for the various bits and pieces of feedback we are getting and that too is helping us to evolve our practice. The reduction in the duration of lessons is once such example.

This week my Leadership Team and I have been talking to Year 9 students about their option choices. It has been a joy! I spoke with forty young people since Monday and I have been amazed by their maturity, resilience and optimism. They want to do well, and they see things as being temporary not final. They understand the need to continue to engage with school and also to remain ambitious for their futures. They spoke to me about their ambitions and dreams and how their choices for GCSE study would help them do amazing things with their lives. It was humbling. We also managed to have a giggle as we talked, and it has been the highlight of my week. Thank you, Year 9.

We have been working with a former HMI Ofsted inspector for the past two weeks who has been putting us through our paces around our curriculum. This is an incredibly important aspect of our work since I came back to the school because it is the one thing that, if you get right, can make an enormous difference to what you teach, how you teach it, when you teach it and why. Getting the sequencing of the curriculum right can make things more logical for students and help them to know and remember more. That is what learning is all about and I am excited about our progress in this area. I am also grateful to those staff who have been involved in supporting this work.

I attended a Beckfoot Trust virtual recruitment event last night and had the pleasure of talking to over 70 attendees, all of whom had a strong desire to work for the Beckfoot Trust. They asked questions about our school, our students and many wondered how they could get a job working here. I love these things because I get to talk about Beckfoot and its community. I was a very proud Headteacher last night (as I am always!)

Next week in Place 2 Be Children’s Mental Health week and we have lots lined up to share with our staff, students and families. From Monday, schools, youth groups, organisations and individuals across the UK will take part. This year’s theme is Express Yourself.

Expressing yourself is about finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity. This could be through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography, and film, and doing activities that make you feel good. It’s important to remember that being able to express yourself is not about being the best at something or putting on a performance for others. It is about finding a way to show who you are, and how you see the world, that can help you feel good about yourself

I have always been interested in wellbeing for both myself, my family, and our school community. It is so important to be happy and look after yourself. At times, with work especially, it is easy to feel that you don't have room for anything else and that is a mistake. For me, sport has always allowed me to escape from whatever pressures I am facing. For years it was playing sport myself but more recently, as I get older(!), it has been through watching sport and my own two sons who play football and rugby. I also like puzzles (I know!) and they provide a stimulus for my brain as well as helping me to switch off. Lastly, I like doing DIY at home and watching a little TV, though I can easily get bored of that. The most important thing though is family and talking for me. All those things help when I need them to. I really hope you get involved next week and that some of what we will do will help.

As you know, I am also consulting with you about our school uniform. One or two of you have been in touch with me about this, which is great and felt that this was a decision I had already made; it is not. The issues of school uniform have come up a lot since I returned to Beckfoot 16 months ago. I want your views because Beckfoot is your school, and it is important to me to know what you think. So, make sure you complete the consultation form and thanks to the hundreds of you who have already done so. Finally, please be assured that I will base any final decision on what the consultation tells me.

Finally, I listened to our Prime Minister last night and felt very hopeful that we would be able to open again on Monday 8 March. For that to happen, we all must play our part in keeping the virus at bay. I cannot tell you how desperate we are to get our students back and for us all to be together again and begin the process of returning to routines and some form of normality.

Take care.


Simon

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