We’ve made it – almost!
If you’re reading this then I’ve decided to upload this ‘end of term blog’, a piece I’ve been adding to for a few days but didn’t know when to send. Normally this would go out on Friday of course, but with the ever changing situation every time I wrote something it ended up being out of date. As we have now miraculously managed five days without notification of a case it seemed as good a time as any (I know, I’ll regret that sentence I’m sure!) Aside from a quick mention at the start about the current Coivd situation, the majority of what I write below is about the half term in general rather than the latest update on how we’re getting on coping with the virus.
We’re in the eighth week of term and so far we have had seven confirmed cases within the school community, five of which have led to some wider level of student and/or staff isolation. We hope and believe that all affected students or staff are recovering well. I remain amazed how quite how low this figure is for such a big school, and of course I’m pleased that by adapting to new advice we are able to keep disruption to a minimum. I am sorry for all those students and staff who have had to isolate for even just one day but believe that we have a good plan in place, bolstered now with a developing offer of hybrid lessons, and hope that it will see us through to Christmas. Our response to receiving news of a positive case is now well practiced and we can manage the necessary steps promptly and with confidence. This will continue over the half term, and so if notifications of positive cases are received by families please continue to report them.
However, moving on – the half term in general:
- We have been very impressed with the attendance, attitude and behaviour of our students. Well done to them all. They have coped well with the changes put in place in September and the vast majority are following all of the rules all of the time. Hand sanitiser, masks, one way system, ventilation, specific canteens, social distancing for all staff, teachers in ‘boxes’ at the front of rooms – all the protocols are strange but they appear to be working, and that is 100% down to the behaviour of students and staff on site. Restrictions are only as good as the level of compliance, and I have been really encouraged by what I have seen in school. I shouldn’t be surprised of course, as if lockdown taught us anything it is that pretty much all adults and students absolutely hated being off school and therefore have returned enthusiastically.
- Students have in the main returned to school with showing more independence than usual. They are taking more responsibility for their own learning and communicating better with adults, who in turn are able to pass more responsibility to students and make use of technology to keep in touch with learners more effectively. We are determined not to lose this as a school and have plans to build on it in future months and terms.
- I am full of pride and admiration for each and every one of my colleagues. This term has been tiring and challenging in many ways, but I am greeted every day with positive energy and smiles (when I can see them) from every member of the team. Staff are following the rules themselves, taking the virus very seriously, isolating when they need to and returning as soon as they can. Tempting fate I know, but so far staff attendance has been amazing for a school our size. I know that it is mainly random, but some schools in the borough have been hugely affected by staff absence with cover lessons taking place perhaps 3 or 4 times a day for some students. That simply hasn’t happened here yet and the students are benefitting a great deal from it, and so I say an enormous thank you to the entire team.
- This term may have been dominated by the impact of the worldwide pandemic, but we are not letting Covid ‘win’ every day. Our school is determined to keep to what we believe in and just ‘getting through it’ is not good enough for us. That is why we have had our first Trial Exams for Year 11 this week, why we have followed the full curriculum from day one, why we are tentatively planning a return to limited extra-curricular activities after half term and why certain events have still taken place. For example, Dan Wilkinson and his fellow student leaders, supported by Mrs Wilson and the network team, were able to host a Q+A session with local MP William Wragg on Friday last week. Around 40 students from across Year 10 and Year 11 quizzed Mr Wragg for over an hour on a full range of topics, thanks to the magic of video conferencing. The students grilled Mr Wragg on the environment, Covid responses, actions on drug use, the Rose Hill train line…and what he had for dinner. Well done to Dan and my colleagues on setting this up, thank you to the students who took part and of course a big thank you to Mr Wragg for taking part.
- I have been humbled and very grateful for all the messages of support that we have received from parents, especially in the hardest of moments. Sending the dreaded late night text about students not being in school the next day, we are always incredibly conscious of the chaos we may be putting some families into with very little notice. At these times, and others beside, parents and carers have taken the time to thank us for the efforts we are taking and I cannot tell you how motivating that is. Therefore my final ‘thank you’ today goes to all the parents, carers, grandparents and family members who support our school and our students so well every day. Thank you.
Overall this has been a challenging term for everyone in so many ways. But – it is a million times better than not being open, and I know I speak for the whole team when I say we have a determination to keep our school fully open for as long as possible. We can do this, the students can do this and given the chance we will crack on for as long as we can.
Wishing you all a great week when it comes,
Ps…cue the next positive case…