WEEK 25 - Friday 9 April 2021
I hope that you and your family have had an enjoyable Easter break. Whilst our opportunities for socializing and relaxing are still very limited, I am sure that the extended bank holiday offered some opportunity for relaxing (and eating chocolate!).
The school has been relatively quiet this past fortnight with most staff taking the opportunity to recharge their batteries ahead of what will be a very busy term. In the past few days, a few teaching and non teaching staff have been in the building preparing for the return of students and especially for the upcoming work that will be done with Year 11 and 13 students to ensure that they can achieve the best grades possible this summer.
Amidst the announcements from the Government about the pathway to the easing of lockdown, you may have noticed a reference to the wearing of face masks in school. This continues to be part of the guidance to schools and for that reason, we are expecting all students and staff to continue to wear a suitable face covering when inside the school buildings, including classrooms, and on any public or school transport. This has been supported emphatically by all concerned and your ongoing support with this is greatly appreciated.
I try not to express frustration with Government announcements where they relate to education but a speech recently by the Secretary of State really did rankle with me. You may have heard the comments from Gavin Williamson reported in the news and discussed on talk radio stations when he commented on ‘out-of-control’ pupil behaviour and the impact of lockdown on ‘discipline and order’. Once again, the man at the top of the education system shows himself to be utterly out of touch with the reality of what the vast majority of schools have experienced. While of course there will be some young people who will have experienced terrible periods of time under lockdown and who have needed additional support to return to the routines of school, these are a very small number indeed. For the overwhelming majority of students in our school, I can only offer huge praise for the way in which they have conducted themselves in school and how they have adapted to the new circumstances with maturity and admirable resilience. To suggest otherwise is hugely disrespectful to them and, by implication, to parents who have done an incredible job in maintaining routines and learning at home, often in spite of a lack of leadership and clarity from the Secretary of State. Mr Williamson rarely makes public statements and so, when he does, to hear him turn his focus onto an imagined behaviour problem in schools, is frustrating to say the least. It would have been so much more useful to have heard him praise the Year 11 and 13 students who are coping with an uncertain assessment period, or the Year 6 pupils looking forward to their final year of primary schools before starting ‘big’ school or to thank the millions of other children who have supported the Covid effort by entering into self-isolation for periods of time. And so an opportunity to uplift schools, students and families was missed. Anyway, rant over!
At this time of year, we tend to find ourselves in the recruitment market for teaching and non-teaching staff to join the school next year. In recent years, our staff retention has been exceptionally high with only the odd colleague departing - usually to a promoted position. As our student numbers continue to grow, this means that we are currently looking to add new colleagues to our teaching team. Last term, we appointed a new English teacher and, in the coming weeks, we will be looking to add teachers of Computer Science, Technology, Maths and another English teacher. If you know anyone who may be interested in applying to join our growing and successful team, please direct them to our website. Securing, and developing, the very best team of teachers is THE most important part of my role and I look forward to the coming weeks as we meet and appoint new enthusiastic staff to the school.
Finally, as the country comes gradually out of lockdown, it is vital that we all continue to behave safely and sensibly in order to keep the transmission rates low in our area. Your support in reminding our students of the importance of appropriate behaviour is greatly appreciated. With this in mind, I confirm that further LFD test kits will be issued to students early next week.
Take care and stay safe.
Mr V Groak