Disclaimer – I’m posting this in the morning and as yet we haven’t had a confirmed positive case since Tuesday…I hope that this doesn’t change today!
We’re well passed half way through the first half term now; it’s been full-on but absolutely fantastic compared to the dark days of national lockdown. I know I say it every week but it’s so heartening to see the school thriving again. We were of course really sad to not have Year Eight with us for 4 days recently and it’s been great to have them back, although that was of course tempered by the fact that 17 Year Seven students and a number of colleagues are now also in self isolation. I know that we have fared better than some schools and that we should in many ways count our blessings, but I’m only truly happy when the school is fully open.
The experience of two positive cases have enabled us to learn a great deal about what to do. As you can imagine contact tracing and, if necessary, arranging the early departure of students can be a complex and pressured task. Beyond that, we have now fully tested the remote learning platform and we are really pleased with it. Year Eight received over 140 live lessons across two days, and teachers reported brilliant behaviour from all students. I sat in on a few lessons; the level of engagement was strong and it seemed so natural. Attendance was around the 90% mark which is phenomenal and we know that some families had technical issues whilst others don’t have regular access to devices, issues that we are keen to support with for next time. All students will see another narrated assembly on Monday where we will share what we have learned from remote lessons, ready for any further closures. We’ll upload the video to the website too so that parents and carers can hear the same message.
One big focus at the start of the term was to promote wellbeing amongst staff and students, and our main vehicle for doing this for students has been through an extended form time every morning except Monday. 40 minutes four times a week with form tutors, taking part in a carefully planned wellbeing programme (designed by Pastoral Director for KS3, Bryony Cook) that is so good it’s now being used in many schools across Stockport and Greater Manchester. The sessions have covered exploring students’ experience of lockdown, self-care, self-belief, where and how to seek help when needed, looking to the future, coping with the uncertainty of the current climate, the amazing teenage brain, an introduction to mindfulness and the impact of sleep, gaming, food and social media on wellbeing. Also included were sessions on support groups running in school, Seasons for Growth for grief and loss, Signpost Young Carers and mindfulness as well as opportunities to join the student Wellbeing Leaders group. In addition, the Year Eights had a specific wellbeing session to check in with them on their return after self-isolating which will also be used for any future self-isolating students. We committed a great deal of time to this programme and I know it’s been really useful, particularly for the younger students in school. However, the time is right for us to revert to the usual school timetable and gain back an hour a week of lesson time spread across Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (Thursday is the regular form time slot and that is going to stay). If I can get the blog to behave then you’ll see an image of the new timings below!
As we look to the final three weeks of the half term I am increasingly confident that our covid-precautions are embedded and becoming habitual, earlier than I had thought would be the case. Of course we will be subject to further positive cases and lock downs – that’s inevitable – but I see no reason why we cannot keep learning moving forwards and (I hope) start to consider reintroducing some extra-curricular activities soon. In the meantime a reminder that as of Monday we will be raising the bar in terms of face coverings for all those who are not exempt. If students don’t have a covering then we will give one out but, at the same time, a uniform sanction will be issued. The same will be the case if a student isn’t wearing one inside the building. 99% of the students are absolutely on top of this 99% of the time…but we are aiming for perfection!
Our Community - Our Future
Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB
Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker