Wider Opening Blog
Friday 19 June 2020
We are almost at the end of the week and it’s been very different to the majority of the past few months; in a positive way of course.
As you know, we have been open since the 23rd March for our Look After provision and, whilst its been great having those students in school every day, it’s not been the same without the rest of our young people. In truth, most of the school has been silent and I don’t like it. If you can remember the video we did a number of weeks ago, that is how the school has felt for the most part.
This week, however, has been very different. I have loved it because, this week, we were able to welcome back our Year 10 and Year 12 students. 85% of our year 10s came in for face to face teaching in English, Maths and Science with their teachers and the school began to come alive once again. For safety, and in line with government guidance, we have been operating on having a quarter of each cohort in every day. The students have then being working in ‘bubbles’ of no more than 12 in classrooms allowing for a much more intimate experience I hope. Our focus has been on the student’s welfare, progress over the past months and new learning. The feedback from our first week has been incredible and I am so grateful for the support and trust of all our students and their families.
Our Year 12 students were welcomed back in a similar fashion but with an emphasis on their welfare, UCAS and Unifrog. Over 95% of them came in to school over the course of the week and I have to say that they have been amazing. The sixth form is quite a special part of our school and, again, I have loved seeing them back in the building. As a group they have engaged hugely with their learning over the weeks and demonstrated a maturity of approach that I’m not sure I would have managed as a student?
You may well be getting a sense of my excitement at having students in lessons once more because that’s how I have felt all week. I can’t wait to do it all again from Monday!
Our new, and improved (I hope) approach to Home Learning also started on Monday this week. Following whole staff training, last week, we were ready to launch, using Microsoft Teams to set work, monitor its completion and provide class feedback where necessary. I know that, as of Wednesday, we had hugely improved levels of engagement from students. Communication has increased and some teething problems for a few ironed out. Lots of you have been in touch to say how much better things are and a few have also shared some frustrations and concerns. In all cases we welcome the feedback and we will continue to evolve our provision in the weeks ahead.
For sixth form students, they have been enjoying Live Lessons since Monday. Each student is expected to log in and engage with up to six of these lessons per week and they have been telling me about how different, but enjoyable, they have been. I am very grateful to my staff for their determination to embrace this new way of delivering learning. It’s so very different.
There is a view that a blend of learning (face to face and online) will be the future for education especially at the higher levels; we’ll see. If so then there will be lots of unexpected positives from the current situation I’m sure.
Lastly, we have now completed our recruitment process for the next academic year. I was very fortunate to have done so for the vast majority of teaching staff prior to lockdown and I’m excited about the calibre of teacher joining us. We have completed all other appointments via online methods and I feel we have a fantastic group of people joining our Beckfoot family in September. All faculty areas, as you would expect, are fully staffed with subject specialist teachers; our Support and Challenge team has grown with every year group now going to have both a Head of Year and a Pastoral Manager to provide more capacity to care for our students. We have a lot to do now and when we eventually get back to some form of normality; I know that. What I also know is that our school will continue to put our students first, look after them no matter what lies ahead and be a caring environment with really high standards that expects students to enjoy coming to school, enjoy learning and crave success.
Monday 15 June 2020
Today has been great! We welcomed back to school some Year 10 and 12 students and it has been wonderful to see them. Attendance was over 90% for both year groups with only those ill or shielding not in a position to make it in.
Year 10 had three lessons (English, Maths and Science) and a lunch break outside in the sunshine. They were remarkable in their approach to learning and kept to our rules around hand hygiene and social distancing. The initial feedback is that the school was incredibly well organised, safe and they really enjoyed having a teacher in front of them again. They left smiling and happy.
Year 12 had small group sessions to check up on their learning, welfare and also some great work around the UCAS process and use of UniFrog. They too were glad to be back in the building and to see some familiar faces. They are especially looking forward to the live teaching we have planned for our sixth form students.
I have to say that I have loved every minute of this day. Having students back with us has been a real joy. We are looking forward to seeing the rest of Years 10 and 12 as the week progresses.
For everyone else in Years 7, 8 and 9 I hope you have noticed a difference in the use of TEAMs to access your work. The initial feedback into school is that it is so much better and you are enjoying engaging with staff in this way. I have, though, had a couple of you ask about June to June and not surprised that it is not happening this year for obvious reasons. So, please keep working as you have been doing especially if you are in Year 9; Options subjects will begin in September I hope.