WEEK 31 - Friday 21 May 2021
As you may be aware, The Department for Education has pledged £200m to fund summer schools during this year’s summer break. This is designed to help to plug the gap in learning lost during Covid. Whilst the intention here is noble and the funding is thankfully substantial, the likely overall impact of such an initiative is debatable. As a school, we face the usual quandary of offering additional learning and enrichment opportunities to students in the full knowledge that the students most likely to attend are the ones least in need of the support. This is always the case with any scheme such as this.
Furthermore, I am not sure that ‘summer school’ is what the majority of students want. After fourteen months of hardship, I would rather that they spent the summer weeks enjoying friendships, family time and, hopefully, some UK holidays or short breaks.
Secondly, our staff also need a break. I know there will be some reading this who will roll your eyes at teachers complaining about workload when we get ‘all those holidays’. I get it. I haven’t always been a teacher and, before I came into education, I used to say the same myself. But the reality is that teaching is an intense occupation and without a proper break over the summer, teachers will be less equipped to come back in September to deliver the magic that you want from them. So I have to look after the workload of my staff.
Nevertheless, we have incredible creativity amongst our staff at Hessle High School and so we are currently consulting amongst our staff both on the needs of students and the best way to deliver some meaningful activities that will be engaging and enjoyable for all concerned. I will keep you posted.
I have written about Year 11 a great deal in recent weeks and I wish to finish this piece with more reflections on them.
Although they have spent today signing their shirts (and mine!) and saying their goodbyes, most will return to complete their assessments next week. As we get closer to the end of this cycle and the likelihood of disruption recedes, we have informed students that they may leave the site on Monday lunchtime (12.15) to study at home, unless they have an intervention session in the afternoon. If you are unsure whether this affects your child, please contact the school.
Finally, last year as the previous Year 11 cohort began to work from home after the first lockdown, I wrote to them and shared this;
“... keep yourselves safe and do everything that you can to support your families and those vulnerable people in your community. If I could wish one final thing for you it is this: when you look back, in years to come, at the unprecedented events of 2020, be proud of yourself for how you behaved, how you responded and what you did to help others.”
Whilst that was the wish that I had for the 2020 cohort, I can say in all honesty that the cohort of 2021 - our current Year 11s - have also lived up to that expectation completely. From the moment they returned to school in September, through various lockdowns and isolation periods, they have shown resilience, maturity, common sense, stoicism and, perhaps most endearingly of all, really good humour. I thoroughly enjoy all of the time I have had the privilege of spending with them; they never fail to bring a smile to my face and it is a real joy to be their Headteacher. As we bid them a kind of farewell today, we know that we will miss the Class of ‘21 just a little bit more than usual and I will especially cherish my signed ‘leavers’ shirt’. Click here for the photo.
Take care and stay safe
Mr V Groak