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Headteacher's Blog - Looking Back and Looking Forward

Headteacher’s Blog  10th July

2020 vision-looking back and looking forward

Looking back….

This will be my final blog of the academic year, as next week I will be writing to all families with the detailed plans for how all children will return to school in September.  When I look back at my blogs from September I am sure you will agree none of us could have imagined how this academic year would pan out. 

2019/20 started full of promise with a fantastic autumn term.  Construction had begun on the Wilson Block and Year 7 went on our first year group residential to PGL.  We had trips to all sorts of places and raised over £1200 for Children in Need.  Students demonstrated their SPIRIT skills, with ‘The Big Idea’ STEM day in Year 8 and our school sports teams flourishing across the region. The school was full of Christmas spirit when our magical musical ‘Alice in Wonderland’ hit the stage and the staff enjoyed some treats in our ’12 Working Days of Christmas’.

 PGL 07 CakesAlice 9 Big 4


2020 began with our staff joining with over 1000 colleagues from across ATLP, at the National Motor Cycle Museum to hear a number of speakers.  A memorable moment for me was hearing from ‘Mushy’ who struggled through his childhood with a stammer but managed to speak with the support of his English teacher; what an inspirational story.  I was also inspired when I watched our GCSE dancers working with Motion House theatre in January and was amazed at the leadership skills of our Sports Leaders as they worked with hundreds of primary schools as part of our School Games events.  

Motionhouse 1Primary Festival

The month of March was one of the most eventful in my time working in schools.  It started with 60 students from across ATLP joining us for a Crystal Maze Challenge and a visit from Ofsted.  We were thrilled with the outcome of the inspection and the wonderful feedback we received from the inspection team. 


Then my blogs served a very different function…

From 20th March schools across the country closed to all but Key Worker children and we had to get used to ‘working from home’.  As I acknowledged in my blog on 27th March, this presented challenges for all of us.  My blogs over the next few weeks were all about the development of our remote learning, from the setup of online support for Oak Academy lessons to the development on Microsoft Teams for remote learning.  None of us could have foreseen how we would be adapting to this ‘new normal’ and I am grateful to the school community for adapting and supporting each other during this difficult time.  This week 70% of students in Year 8 and 9 enjoyed live maths lessons, which shows how far we have come in this new way of working.

There have been some good news stories during Lockdown though:  Noah McClarney in Year 7 raised money by selling sweet treats, the Lockdown Legends colouring book was a big hit with our Key Worker children in school, we had students sharing their talents such as Emily Taylor’s beautiful piano piece, Angus Glover’s drum solo and the wonderful drawings by Lauren in Year 8. We also had an incredible set of photos from Antarctica, where our Year 8 flag competition winners’ actual flags are flying!  

           heraldHerald 2FlagsLaura Art       

For our Year 11 and 13 students it has been a particularly challenging time, as the normal examination series and end of year events were cancelled.  It was wonderful to see over 75 Year 11 students join us for our virtual induction to Sixth Form on Wednesday and much work has been going on behind the scenes to support Year 13 with their next steps.  We will be writing to families of these two year groups about the arrangements for results days next week.

Looking forward…

It has been great to see Year 10 and Year 12 re-joining us over the last half term.  Mr Jordan, Assistant Headteacher, will be sharing some thoughts about revision and organisation, through a letter and a video presentation, in order for students to make the most of their time over the summer, in preparation for a busy Year 11.

In September we will be welcoming all of our children back to school. This is something we are all very much looking forward to and have been preparing for, following the government announcement two weeks ago.

School will look and feel very different for both students and staff in September, as we reopen within the framework of the government guidance.  I will be writing to all families next week, in bespoke year group letters, setting out all of the details and expectations you need to know, in order for your child to return.

We will be operating in year group bubbles, as per the government guidance to support social distancing, within both lessons and social times. This will mean significant changes to the way in which the school operates; whilst we anticipate that school will begin and start at the normal times the school day itself will look very different for students.

We also have the Wilson Block due to be completed over the summer holiday and so the physical space in school will have changed significantly. There are therefore a number of factors that mean we need to ensure each year group has a full induction to school, so that they can operate safely within the government guidance.  To support this students will be returning to school in a staggered approach, with some year groups beginning the term a few days later than others.  You will receive the start date for your child via letter next week, so that you have plenty of notice for the new academic year. 

End of term arrangements

School will be closed to all students from 3.10pm next Friday 17th July, as we break up for the summer holiday.

Families who are in receipt of Free School Meals vouchers will receive next week’s on Monday 13thand the summer holiday voucher of £90 will be emailed out on the 23/07/2020, to cover the full summer holiday.

Take care and stay safe

Ian Smith-Childs