Update from Principal | 6 July 2020

Dear parents/carers,

The excitement of last week for schools nationally was the release of the guidance to schools about reopening fully this September.  There is a sense of pragmatism and flexibility in the advice and we are allowed to take into account the important detail of our local circumstances and environment, which I think is good news for us.  There was some unhelpful speculation earlier in the week about how option subjects were going to be reduced and that there would be a focus only on core subjects – this was a false rumour.  The ideas of ‘bubbles’ have quite literally been expanded and we do not have to try and teach all students in the same groups, which of course would have been incredibly difficult in a secondary school context.

There are of course considerable challenges and considerations and we are busy working on our plans for September.  Of paramount importance is, of course, the safety of all.  We do need to minimise the interactions of students between each other, consider spacing where possible, and minimise the mixing of students of different year groups.  We need to be very diligent with hygiene, cleaning and minimising risks of transmission.  This will involve considering routines and procedures and we will be looking at the feasibility of staggered starts and ends to the day, plus staggered breaks and lunches.  We need to consider separate social areas for year groups, movement rules and, in particular, food outlets and the canteen procedures.  I will let you know of our plans as soon as I can but I am very confident that we can get our school running successfully with everyone in from September, provided the external conditions don’t change.

It may seem like we are coming to the end of the remote school experience but we have to accept that next term, when we hopefully have everyone back in, we will still need to be ready for shut downs of single year groups and even the whole school again if spikes of the virus occur in our school or the local community.  Regardless, as a school, we need to think carefully about what we’ve learnt from this experience and how we build on it.  There is some interesting research emerging on how some students have actually learnt better and worked more effectively from home.  I would, therefore, be very grateful if you could take five minutes to complete another online survey about how your child/children have fared in their learning during this period of remote school.  I know we as a school have certainly been on a journey and have been adapting our provision and delivery.  Please be honest and constructive with your feedback which you can give here, and thank you in advance for doing so by next Monday, 13 July.

I haven’t seen much more of our deer, sadly, but I assure you that I have not been feasting off venison this last week!  As I finish this, I am just off to the kitchen to face the results of my sons making a cake for their mum’s birthday (which is a first).  I think that they’ve used it as an excuse to eat a kilogram of chocolate and the kitchen looks like the aftermath of a nuclear explosion!

Best wishes,

James O’Connell