9,360* live lessons/form times later and the half term is over!
It’s been a rubbish half term in that we’ve missed having our school community together in that way that it should be. Nothing will ever replace the feeling of a thriving school. Bustling corridors, busy classrooms, laughter and tears (sometimes from students too) – these are the things that make a school what it is and we’re really looking forward to the day when ALL our students and staff can be back again, whenever that may be.
However in other ways it has been a great half term. Before Christmas, we placed a lot of emphasis on training staff and students to be ready for ‘remote learning’. At the time the focus was on hybrid lessons for those self-isolating students, but of course our collective efforts really paid off as we seamlessly moved to a full online curriculum. I cannot be more proud of all my colleagues for the education that they have delivered over these last 27 days. Their enthusiasm for new ideas, resilience in the face of endless screen time and relentless optimism when hoping/praying that a student will actually un-mute and answer a question has been remarkable. The pastoral care on offer and our provision for our students in school has been equally brilliant, underpinned as always by a fantastic support team spearheaded by the ever-helpful and all-knowing network support. Colleagues, if I ever wore a hat I would doff it right now!
My admiration for our staff is matched only by that for the students themselves. The overwhelming majority of learners have embraced the current situation and taken their studies very seriously indeed. I’ve said in recent blogs that our attendance rates have been around the 85% mark. Well, in fact, I had been uncharacteristically cautious with that number as actually the real figure is on average around 95% per lesson! Amazing stats, well done all. It says a great deal about our students as young people, about the families who support them and their whole community that education is clearly so highly valued.
There has been a lot in the news this week about ‘learning loss’ and the need for catch up. Part of me agrees, and there will of course be some students who have dropped behind and, more broadly, whole chunks of courses that need revisiting no matter how good the online learning has been. However, I am keen that we don’t overstate the issue. MHS students have done very, very well since September and as a result their learning loss will be much less than may otherwise have been the case. Furthermore, the pandemic will have accelerated skills that were otherwise overlooked. Organisation, resilience, communication skills, IT ability, time management; these are all real life skills that our youngsters have had to develop ahead of time. Emails from my Year 11 class now feel like emails from colleagues, not students. They are mature, sensible and business-like to an extent that I have never experienced before.
Last week was Children’s Mental Health Week which included our ‘Offline Day’. The response to our Express Yourself challenge has been fantastic with over 400 entries! We are going to extend the deadline for any submissions to Monday 22nd February so that anyone who wants to join in over half-term can do so. The link to all the information for students is here, please ask your child to access the link via their school log in if you would like to have a look.
Of course what we really want to know is when we can welcome more students back to school, and so we head into the half-term break with a sense of anticipation for news. We may find out more about the GCSE exam result situation AND the plans for re-opening schools at a similar time around the 22nd Feb. Speculation about both is massive and so I’m taking my usual stance of not over-thinking anything until we know what we are dealing with. Naturally we hope to see students back in school asap, and if we’re not allowed ALL students back at the same time then we are hoping for a plan that enables us to welcome some back whilst keeping live lessons going for the rest. Anything else would be a backwards step.
Until then a massive well done to each and every member of staff, student and parent/carer for their hard work this term. Thank you.
I’ll leave you with a fabulous painting by Sabina Simms in Year 10. Love it.
* give or take a few!
Our Community - Our Future
Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB
Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker