WEEK 3 - Friday 24 September 2021
Yesterday evening I wrote to all parents to explain the new measures that we have introduced to tackle an increase in the number of positive Covid cases that we are experiencing in school and this morning I have spoken to all students to outline the same to them. It was great to see so many students coming into school already with their own face covering and, for those that didn’t have them, more than happy to take one from us and wear it as requested. It was quite something to see our students so willing to support others by making these small adjustments to their lives. Hopefully this, along with other measures, will see our case numbers drop again and we can review whether this is necessary in a couple of weeks.
One of the consequences of this uptick in cases has been an incredible increase in work for our Attendance team. Ordinarily, each morning they would deal with around 50 or so students who are absent from school, listening to messages, making and receiving calls to parents. We have always felt it was very important to contact parents swiftly as soon as your child is recorded as absent, even though this is not standard practice in all secondary schools. This week, their daily contact log has been close to 200 and this has meant a delay in informing some parents of your child’s absence. If this affected you, I apologise for the inconvenience and hope you understand the reason why. We are addressing this by increasing the staffing capacity of the team as well as looking into how we can use SIMS Parent to communicate absence. Nevertheless there will still be some challenges and we will endeavour to return your call or contact you if your child is absent but this may not be as immediate as we would like. Please continue to stress the importance of good attendance with your child.
We are still waiting to hear from our local Public Health teams about the vaccine roll out for 12-15 year olds. Once we have specific information on when this will take place and how it will work, I will contact you. Please be assured that you will be kept fully informed about this programme as I know there are a range of views on this matter.
We are all aware of the pressures that the UK supply chain is facing at the moment and this is now beginning to creep into school. This morning, I met with our catering manager who has outlined the problems that she is facing both in terms of securing stock and also with staffing. At this stage, we are still able to provide a full break and lunch service for all students but the team is finding it very difficult to offer the full range of items and so this may affect the choice available to students for a period of time. We are working with our Trust and the Catering Contractor, ABM, to secure enough stock but so is every other school which is only adding to the supply chain pressures.
We will explain this to students and your support and patience is appreciated.
Finally, let me end on a high note. On Wednesday morning, I led the weekly assembly for Year 9 students. This year, we have raised the bar of expectation with our students and expect them to file into assembly in silence and wait respectfully for their peers to enter and be seated. We then greet one another formally and politely. They did this impeccably and then, as they listened to our school nurse introducing herself and her work, they sat attentively and respectfully throughout a minor ICT glitch showing exceptional manners. Mr Leckenby and Mrs Newman, the Year leaders were incredibly impressed and showered them with praise. This standard is expected of all students and all year groups are rising to the challenge but Year 9 this week raised the bar even further.
This has been a difficult week in school. We are all royally fed up of this virus now and are desperate to get back to something like normal but moments like the one I have described still make us smile and focus on more positive times ahead.
Take care and have a lovely weekend.
Mr V Groak