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Hessle High School

WEEK 17 - Friday 21 January 2022

It has been another exceptionally busy five days at Hessle High School. The past two weeks have seen the highest number of positive Covid cases reported to us since the start of the Academic Year and this has also included a sizeable number of staff. This week, at one time or another, around a fifth of our staff have been absent due to having Covid themselves or because one of their own young children has the virus. This has placed a strain on those staff in school in terms of covering lessons, duties and following up the normal day-to-day issues that arise every day in a large school. It is likely, at the moment, that your child may not be taught by their normal teacher in every lesson and, in some cases, we are also relying on external supply staff to cover lessons. This is far from ideal but we have no choice in order to keep the school open for all students.

Despite this, the students have risen to the challenge and behaviour and attitudes remain very positive. I am delighted that the staff team are also ‘mucking in’ and doing their very best to support one another. Nevertheless, it is not possible for us to function at our very best under these circumstances and I apologise if you have experienced any problems with communication etc. and hope you will bear with us. If you have concerns of a serious nature, please continue to contact us and these will of course be prioritised by our staff.

Having outlined the context we are working in (and we are not alone amongst schools in the area) it was frustrating to hear the Government’s sudden announcement regarding the relaxation of Covid measures in schools, especially when it was made at such short notice. This announcement takes no account of local issues and, as I outlined earlier in the week, we have decided not to follow this guidance for now. Decisions like this show no recognition of how schools are run and how we communicate and explain changes to parents and students. When we have asked students to wear face coverings, we have explained the reasons for doing so i.e. doing your bit to keep yourself and others safe. So how on earth could we now say to students that they’re not necessary when they know full well that many of their peers and staff are absent with Covid? It would totally undermine the relationship of trust that we have with students and parents. So we are not making the change and will take a close look at the number of cases we have in school next week before making a decision. It has been clear from the messages and feedback we have received from parents and students that we have your overwhelming support in this, so ‘thank you’.

I have also written to parents this week to remind you that, next Friday, it is our highly anticipated Mock Interview Day for Year 11 students. This is a huge event in our calendar and one that is of great value to students. For those that are not familiar with it, over forty different employers join the staff in the school (some in person, some remotely) to interview our students for hypothetical jobs within their organisation. The students are coached, interviewed and given detailed feedback and, at the end of the process, one student is chosen to be appointed to each ‘job’. Not only does it help students with interview practice but it is a time for reflection and for celebrating what they have all achieved in life and the students really shine. As they arrive at the start of the day, it is like the opening credits for ‘The Apprentice’ with students dressed smartly in business attire. As nervous as they are at the beginning, they visibly grow as the day goes on. It really is terrific.

And then, in the afternoon, the students go into different departments to work with staff in small groups on areas for improvement. 

In order to make this work, the rest of the school will be working from home. Students in Years 7 to 10 will be provided with work on Google Classroom and your support in providing your child with an appropriate place to work and a structure for the day would be greatly appreciated.

Returning to the Covid situation, our experience has been that the number of positive cases that are affecting our staff, students and community tend to come in waves lasting between 7 and 10 days.  For that reason, I remain hopeful that we will soon be through the worst of this current situation and thank you again for your support.

Take care and have a lovely weekend. 

Mr Groak