Headteacher’s Newsletter 20th April 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians

A new term is upon us! I hope that everyone in your household is safe and well and that you were able to make something of the holiday period.

There has never been a term quite like this one before, but we are determined to make the best of things. We want pupils in Years 7 to 10 to enjoy the equivalent of five lessons each day, to receive good feedback on the work they do and also to continue to feel part of a community that cares about them. We recommend that they start their school work at or close to 9am each day and that they spend about five hours studying. Teachers should now be distinguishing between “Core” activities, which everyone should try to do, and “Additional” activities, which may only be suitable for quicker workers!

Pupils in Year 11 will also find activities available online, both via the school website and elsewhere. We will be providing some more subject-specific advice shortly, but it remains important that they make themselves as ready as they can for whatever courses they will be picking up in September.

We also think that it is very important that pupils do not worry about school work.  Some of them are lucky enough to have brilliant internet access, a quiet room where they can study without being disturbed and parents who have time to help them when they get stuck. Some of them don’t have these things and so it would not be fair of us to conclude too much on the basis of the work they are able to do during the lockdown. Please reassure them that we understand they can only do their best and that we will not be making irrevocable decisions about sets, or exam entries, while the school is closed.

As I said before Easter, it is hard for us to meet the individual needs of every pupil in every household – every family is different and so is the level of supervision and support that each parent can provide.  We have become increasingly aware of varied levels of expectations between families and we are doing our best to provide activities that are accessible to all, alongside reassurance that pupils will not be penalised if they cannot finish everything.

As such, the best single piece of advice remains that they should be studying for about five hours each school day – not much more and not much less.

 IT access

We think every pupil needs internet access at home using a device larger than a phone. We have lent nearly 40 laptops out to families that we knew needed them; we have also helped a smaller number of families with wifi access. We hope that everyone is covered, or soon will be, but we might have missed someone. If your son/daughter cannot easily access the online learning on Show My Homework, please email me and we will see if we can help.

On-site pastoral care

During term time, there is always an experienced and trained member of the pastoral or welfare teams on site. They are available to help any pupil who is struggling with their school work or the wider pressures of the lockdown. While they are not trained counsellors, they do have contact details for a variety of support agencies; they are also wise and kind people, who want to help. If any parent or child wishes to speak with the member of the pastoral team on duty on any given day, they can be contacted via the main school telephone number, or in a genuine emergency, by coming to school reception.

Visiting school

While we are normally very pleased to see parents, please do not visit the school during the period we are closed unless there is an emergency. Technically, we are closed; while there are in fact some staff on site every day, we are conscious that people should only be leaving their homes for essential purposes.

If you need to speak to us, please call 01962 861161.

Yours faithfully

Matthew Leeming