Update from Principal James O’Connell | 22 June 2020

Dear parents/carers,

It has been wonderful to welcome back Year 10 and 12 students last week.  They came in to meet their tutors, to discuss how they’ve been doing over the last three months and their work and progress.  Students had a wide mixture of experiences to relate but were universally positive about coming back to school.  It was truly impressive to see and hear how resilient, optimistic and resourceful most are.  In the last week you may have heard discussion of the ‘lost generation’ and the terrible blight on young people of this time out of school.  We all certainly have concerns but I would like to reassure you that of course, young people can catch up and ‘recover’.  Some have actually benefited in some ways from this experience.  We have a lot of work to do but young people are incredibly adaptable and resourceful and it is important not to let some of the recent, bleak headlines influence us too much.

Some good news is that last week the government adjusted the guidance to schools and we are now allowed to bring students in Years 7 to 9 into school in order to give them some face to face contact.  We still have restrictions on the number of students we can have in school at any one time and we can’t have year groups other than Years 10 and 12 in for lessons, but we are planning to get Years 7, 9 and then 8 in over the coming weeks for one-to-one appointments (Learning Review Day meetings).  More details will follow about your child’s appointment with their tutor in separate letters over the coming weeks.

We have further developed our online, remote education provision with a series of training sessions with staff over recent weeks and you should be noticing that your son(s)/daughter(s) are receiving more direct teaching and face-to-face contact opportunities.  Details of our timetable and basic commitment to your child/children can be found here.  Please encourage your child/children to attend the online lesson and Q&A opportunities.

It seems likely that we should all be receiving more information about future plans for schools and wider society this week.  In particular, we are waiting for clarity to help us prepare for September.  We of course really hope that we can have everyone back in school from the start of September, provided that it is safe to do so.  Whatever the advice, we will adapt and overcome whatever hurdles arise and we are pleased and excited to finally be getting more students back into school.

The booking sheet for our provision for vulnerable students and the children of key workers for the last three weeks of this term, from Monday 29 June, is here.  If relevant, please book your child/children in by Monday 29 June.  We will take this sheet down on this date and if you then need to change or request a booking, please send an email to: studentservices@teignmouth.devon.sch.uk.

Finally, I hope that you are all able to stay positive about the way ahead and were perhaps lucky enough to enjoy Father’s Day this weekend and a bit of sun?  This doesn’t normally feature much in our household but I think my wife is feeling unusually sympathetic toward me at the moment.  We managed a cooked breakfast and my younger son seems to have used his Art GCSE time last week making a 3-D card showing me falling off a surfboard – this is apparently my default stance.  Sadly, he’s largely right but we did manage a quick surf (or flounder in my case) too.  Have a good week, and let’s look to the future with optimism.

Best wishes,

James O’Connell