WEEK 4 - Friday 1 October 2021
Yesterday evening I had the great privilege of welcoming prospective Year 6 pupils and their parents to our school. Our Open evening is always a real highlight of our calendar; a chance for us to show off the best of our school. This year - for obvious, very-bored-of-it-now, reasons - we had to limit the extent of the tour and ask parents to book a slot. Despite this, we were delighted to welcome almost 200 families to our school over the course of a wonderful (albeit long) night.
It was great to welcome them but equally pleasing that so many of our current students (over a hundred of them) volunteered to stay after school to help out, acting as tour guides, demonstrators or performing their music, dance and art. That so many of them wished to participate for no more than a sandwich and a bun speaks volumes about the pride they have in their school.
New parents now have until the end of October to apply for a place and we will learn by December of the number of applications. This information then allows us to assess our staffing needs for the year ahead. We have been fortunate in the past couple of years to recruit some very talented colleagues to our school and, by starting early again, we hope that will continue.
This week, I have spent some time in our morning Assemblies and, along with our students, celebrated European Day of Languages. There are over thirty different languages spoken by students and staff in our diverse school community and we heard some of them spoken by our staff during these assemblies, including Mrs Davison (who is from Poland), Mrs Groak (who, before marrying the Headteacher, used to live in Spain and now teaches French and Spanish) and from Mrs Taylor, who bravely demonstrated some of her O Level French (although she reckoned most of it came from ‘Only Fools and Horses’!). We are incredibly proud of our languages curriculum and I have also heard excitedly from some of our Year 8 students who are enjoying learning about Mexican culture whilst simultaneously learning Spanish.
Our initial problems with technology and food seem to have abated as we come to the end of Week Four. A week ago, our canteen staff were running short on supplies and had to be quite creative with the published menu; now, it seems that things have steadied somewhat. However, there are still challenges for all catering and hospitality organisations due to the nation-wide supply chain issues and so please bear with them if we are unable to deliver our published menu for students every day.
Likewise, the ParentPay admin team is reporting to us that their problems appear to be fixed and we are certainly seeing fewer problems reported to us by students and parents. If you do encounter any problems with loading up or using your child’s account, please contact the finance team on 01482 469838.
Finally, the suppliers of our communications system ‘SIMS Parent’ have recently changed their name from Capita to ESS and we are learning from parents that messages from them are being filtered into junk mail rather than your inbox. Please ensure ESS is added as a safe sender in your inbox and you should continue to receive communications from us.
The first month of a new Academic Year is intensely busy for students and staff alike and yet despite some of the challenges detailed above and the continuation of ‘you-know-what’, we are delighted with the way in which students have returned to - or started - school. Our young people are showing incredible resilience in the face of so many difficulties and we should all be very proud of them.
Thank you for your support with our reintroduction of face coverings. The compliance with this has been exceptionally high and, as we reach the end of the week, the trend in terms of reported cases is already beginning to go down. We are far from the end of this pandemic so it is reassuring that our community is prepared to flex and adapt as we make changes in response to the situation we find ourselves in. Which brings me to the subject of the vaccination programme. We have been informed by the company contracted to provide the vaccines that they will not now be able to start the programme next week and instead we have accepted their alternative dates of 8, 9 and 17 November. This is available to children who are aged 12 to 15 on the 8 November and we will be in touch shortly with more information on the consent process.
Finally, a confession to perhaps put a smile on your face. Just before Open Evening yesterday, I walked over to the sports field opposite our school to watch our Year 7 football team playing their first game of the season against Wolfreton. My son happened to be playing in the game - for Wolfreton. As I stood on the touchline watching the game and urging on Hessle, my son broke through and played a wonderful pass into the path of his teammate who slotted it home. In my excitement I punched the air, only to remember that I was there to support Hessle. Oops.
As I write this on the first day of October, through my office window I can see glints of sun, rolling clouds and swaying trees. It is Autumn. Despite everything else going on in our crazy world, it is reassuring to see the arrival of such typically seasonal weather. Whatever you are doing this weekend, stay warm, dry and safe and enjoy the company of your loved ones.
Mr V Groak