On the 16th December, our Y7 students were lucky enough to meet Stacey Copeland, an ex-International footballer and professional boxer. Stacey took some time out of her schedule to speak to our students and tell them all about her incredible journey as a professional sportsperson, overcoming the challenges and adversity associated with a woman wanting to be successful in male dominated sports.
Stacey’s journey has taken her all over the world, from playing for Doncaster Belles and Tranmere Rovers in the English Premier League to representing her country in football, gaining scholarships in the US and playing for the Swedish outfit, Vasalunds IFC.
As an amateur boxer Stacey won a European silver medal, multi nations gold medal and three national titles. As a professional she earned the opportunity to fight for a title and went to Zimbabwe to face Mapule Ngubane. Stacey won the historic match up and became the first ever British woman to win the Commonwealth title.
Stacey is deeply passionate about making a difference to others and uses her love of sport to have a positive impact wherever she can.
Her community and charity work, activism around progress for women in sport and gender equality and involvement in encouraging sport for all has led to much recognition both within and beyond sport.
Stacey was in school to help us launch a project designed to encourage our Y7 students to become better independent learners. To show how greater independence will improve their determination, their planning, their resilience, their focus, their ambition, their targets, their reflection, (all qualities shown by Stacey throughout her career), and WILL determine their success!
There will be more on this in the coming months. Suffice to say that today our Y7’s saw what success hard work and independence can bring.
I hope that everyone is well. It’s been a little while since I sent a Covid update and given recent announcements it felt like now was the right time.
School leaders in Stockport have received guidance on the likely spread of the Omicron variant and what this means for schools. In this update I’ll cover what I know and what we are doing as a school to try to keep things going as normally as possible
1) The spread of Omicron
The information we have received reinforces the suggestion that this variant of covid is spreading very rapidly. It is likely that as of today the variant is not all that common in Stockport, but that this will change soon and cases will rise.
At school level we have not yet seen any marked rise in cases. In fact, in the past three weeks the average rate of cases amongst students has fallen. However, we must not be complacent and have been advised to make some changes to our covid plans to try limit the spread.
2) Covid measures in school
Some things are changing as a result of the need to protect against this new variant:
All adults have been reminded of the need to be distanced from each other and from students. This means that teachers must stay at the front of rooms and Learning support assistants cannot offer one to one support.
All classroom windows and doors will be open, regardless of the weather. Good ventilation is the best protection against Omicron. I spoke to students in a virtual assembly yesterday morning about how they can keep warm, and reminded them that the core expectation of shirt, tie and blazer has never changed.
Some events are being altered or cancelled. For example, some of my assemblies are going online. We are not yet cancelling every event and hope not to get to that stage.
Unless exempt I have remined students of the need to wear ‘masks on the move’. Again as I said in assembly, we are not yet bringing back masks in classrooms.
All other in school covid measures are staying the same for now
Any vaccinated member of staff and person under the age of 18 who is identified as a contact of someone with Covid, whatever the variant, must now do lateral flow tests for 7 days before leaving the house each morning, MORE ON THIS BELOW
3) Self isolation rules
As you know school no longer does contact tracing for positive cases as this role is carried out by the national Test and Trace system. There are changes to what happens if a student is named as a close contact of someone with Covid.
New National Guidance for contacts:
a) Anyone with a confirmed case of covid must self-isolate for 10 days
b) If a person under 18 (or a vaccinated adult) is identified as a close contact then they must have a negative lateral flow test every day before leaving the house, for seven days. This is different to an unvaccinated adult who would need to isolate if identified as a contact.
c) If a person develops symptoms whilst isolating or has a positive LFT result then they must isolate and book a PCR test
Existing MHS request for household contacts:
d) On top of the national guidance above, as a school we are requesting that household contacts (ie those students who live with a person with a positive PCR test) take an extra precaution before coming to school. Ideally we would like them to take a PCR test to ensure they are negative, and then carry on with daily LFTs each day before coming to school. As I have said before I cannot in any way enforce this but we believe it helps to keep transmission down.
4) Hybrid lessons and staff absences
We maintain our commitment to offering hybrid lessons to everyone who is off school due to having covid or having to self isolate. This provision can be disrupted by staff absence, which has been very high recently but is showing signs of improving. We will carry on doing our very best.
5) End of term
We have no plans to end the term early. The expectation is that lessons will continue to 12.20pm on Wednesday 22nd December
6) The new term January 2022
Term will start with one round of in-school lateral flow testing on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th January. Further information has gone out/is coming out to all families about this later this week.
You do not need to contact us if you do not give consent for your child to attend school for the covid testing or if your child is unable to be tested due to having recently had covid. If your child does not attend the testing site in school, for whatever reason, they should log on to live lessons as normal whilst home learning is taking place.
Thanks for reading all this and thanks for all your ongoing support, we really appreciate it!
This time last year was a particularly difficult time in schools. We were contact tracing most days, asking students to self-isolate when identified as contacts, coping with the effect of rapidly rising cases in the community and dealing with the uncertainty of when the end of term would come and when/if schools would re-open after the break.
This year is different. Less challenging in some ways but more so in others. It’s great that the lack of contact tracing means that far fewer students are having to miss school. Our student attendance is on a par with or just above the national rate, and our number of covid cases are remaining steady at the moment without being particularly high. Seeing students in school every day and making the most of their opportunities is heart warming and reminds us what this job is all about.
On the other hand we are experiencing a much higher rate of covid amongst staff members, coupled with more staff absences in general than at any point in the pandemic. We are regularly managing with 10-15% fewer staff per day than usual. I am very aware that this puts pressure on the team and disrupts the experience for students, which is why I am doubly grateful for my colleagues’ continued dedication and for the student’s continued compliance and good nature.
Both were put to the test on Wednesday when torrential and persistent rain meant that virtually all entrances and exits to Bradshaw building were impassable for 90 minutes. The staff worked hard to direct students and clear the way, and students remained calm and sensible despite the terrible conditions. It makes running the school so much easier when we can take these mini crises in our stride. The good news for sports fans is that despite the downpour the new pitches remained playable and water-free at all times. The old astro would have been a lake!
Parents and carers can expect the usual ‘end of term’ letter soon, which contains a reminder about the arrangements for lateral flow testing and the mini staggered start back to school in January.
Before I start this update I’ll remind parents and carers that school is closed to students on Friday 3rd and Monday 6th December. We look forward to welcoming all students back with us on Tuesday 7th.
This update is dedicated to current and future covid plans in relation to recent national announcements, following news of the Omicron covid variant.
1) Face masks are now compulsory in all secondary schools in England. Obviously this is no change for us, but we will be encouraging students more than ever to wear ‘masks on the move’. Compliance is generally good around school and rates of student infection are not rising at the moment, but I would appreciate any support that parents and carers can give to ensuring non-exempt children take mask wearing seriously.
2) Ventilation remains our biggest weapon against infection. There have been some cold days recently and I know that this can be uncomfortable, but having visited many classrooms over the last few days most are warm enough and certainly so when students wear coats. Students are welcome to wear coats, school jumpers, white t-shirts under their shirts etc but hoodies and non-school jumpers will be confiscated as usual.
3) Staff absences. Over the past two weeks we have consistently had the highest level of staff absence compared to any point in the pandemic. This has significantly affected both teaching and support staff. We are confident of keeping going as normal and are grateful to the students for their patience when lessons are being covered. However, staff absence does seriously impact on the provision of live lessons on Teams. It is not possible for cover teachers to deliver live lessons whilst simultaneously catering for students in the classroom, and so I have to ask for some understanding when the usual full suite of hybrid lessons cannot be provided.
4) We have been asked to arrange for a full round of lateral flow testing in school before students return. Our initial plan is to conduct these tests on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th January. This will mean that there will be a staggered start to the new school term as follows:
Monday 10th January:
Tests will take place for students in Year 11, 10 and for one half of Year 7. These students will come into school for the test at a given time and then return home. Teachers will deliver lessons on teams to all classes, years 7-11.
Tuesday 11th January:
Year 11 and 10 will be in school for face to face lessons
Years 9, 8 and the other half of 7 will come into school for their test and then return home. All classes in Years 9-7 will have live lessons on Teams for all subjects, including all of Year 7 regardless of when they have their test.
Wednesday 12th January
All students in school for face to face lessons
We believe that we may have to ask for renewed parental consent for these lateral flow tests. If so we will do this electronically via edulink.
5) Second vaccines
I have seen in the news that there is a chance that the over 12s will be offered a second vaccine in the spring, and a couple of parents have been in touch asking about this. All I can say here is that I have had no official communication about this at the moment.
6) End of term dates December 2021
There are no plans to alter the end of term dates this year, As it stands school will close to students at 12.20pm on Wednesday 22nd December.
That’s all for now! Please make a note of the plans for January above,
Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB
Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker