And so here were are, the end of another school year like no other. 2019-2020 was unbelievable, 2020-2021 even more so.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year with tight covid-protocols for the first term, but ‘only’ 26 covid cases in school. Then there was a full lockdown for seven weeks after Christmas complete with over 10,000 (yes, 10,000) live lessons delivered in that time alone. Following this (and over 3,000 lateral flow tests administered in the sports hall), we had 10 glorious weeks without a single case of Covid darkening our door. Finally, and I guess that you don’t need me to tell you this, we’ve gone through the sting in the tail of the Delta variant, release of lockdown and the resultant spike in cases. 21 in total in the last three weeks alone.
It’s not been the end of term that I was hoping for a few months ago, but we have stayed open, stayed learning and the students have kept on attending. Here’s the comparative data for the past fifteen weeks between MHS and the national attendance rate for secondary schools. Ours is the true daily average, the national is a snapshot of attendance one day a week each week. Well done to the students for sticking with it, well done to those accessing hybrid lessons from home (great attendance to those, too!) and thank you to parents and carers for the trust you have shown in us to keep your children safe and learning.
I am of course very grateful for the support of parents and carers these last 17 months, and also hugely in awe at the work done by the whole staff body. I’m not sure if this is the done thing, but I’d also like to give a special mention to the senior leadership team too. Their unblinking dedication at all hours of the day, 7 days a week, every week has been as impressive as it has been humbling to watch. Thank you.
But… I don’t want my last blog of the year to be all about covid! Instead, I want it to be about the future…
Like most schools we’ve had a busy to-do list this year keeping the place running and sorting out the centre assessed grades for GCSE and other qualifications. However, the team and I also agreed early on that we would not let covid stop us doing our real job, which is to improve the school bit by bit every day. We’ve stuck to that doggedly, sometimes making good headway and sometimes not. Here are just some of the headline things in place for next year and beyond.
1) Teaching staff numbers: By harnessing the budget as effectively as possible, we’ve been able to employ more teachers for next year. This will mean slightly smaller classes on average and more time for teachers to plan lessons, assess work and give quality feedback.
2) Teaching rooms and specialist resources: We’re upgrading a number of teaching rooms over the summer as part of a 3 year project to renovate every teaching space. Our 60 year old building needs TLC and the students deserve pleasant places to learn and socialise in. In addition, we’re investing £20,000 creating a new classroom in Bradshaw building and £80,000 on a new classroom in Isherwood building, plus a brand new specialist science lab.
3) As you know, we’ve been working on a new website launched last week. I think it shows off our school values much more positively and hopefully is fresher and easier to use.
4) Finally, I can now officially state that the school and Local Authority are investing £500,000 on state of the art sports facilities. It’s not made it into the local press yet, but here’s the press release on the council website. £300,000 of school money and £200,000 of local authority funding will see a brand new floodlit multi-use sports area, a new 70 space car park for visitors and a completely rebuilt full size 3G playing surface replacing the old astroturf, complete with new lighting and all the trimmings. Students will have seen that work started a few weeks ago and the project should be fully complete by the end of September. It’s a great boost for the school and for the local community who we hope to invite in to use the pitches asap.
Exciting times, and all part of the drive for MHS to become one of the very best comprehensive schools in the country. After all, your children deserve it.
Best wishes and take care,
Our Community - Our Future
Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB
Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker