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Headteacher's blog 6-11-20

Back to school after half-term as the country enters lockdown 2.0

The first week of our new term is complete. Overwhelmingly it has been a really positive start to the term. The students have settled to their studies well and unlike the rest of the population, things are operating pretty normally for us.

Our Key Stage 3 students will be busy preparing for their forthcoming order assessments in Maths and Science. These will take place in the week beginning 16th November. Work has been set on Show My Homework by their maths and science teachers to help the students prepare for these exams. If you have any queries regarding the homework, please do email your child’s teacher. On the day of their exam every students will need two black pens, a pencil, a pencil sharpener, a rubber, a ruler, a protractor and a scientific calculator. Full details of these exams and the content to be tested has been sent separately by Mr Ball. He is also the best point of contact if you have questions about these exams. Thank you in advance for helping your child to prepare for these exams.

As predicted in my previous communication, the DfE have now mandated that all students and staff in secondary schools must wear face coverings when not in a classroom and where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. This will come into effect on Monday 9th November. It is therefore critical that all students have a face mask or more likely face masks in readiness for this. Face masks will also be compulsory to students travelling by public transport and school transport. They are also required by any student going into a shop. We do know that some individuals are exempt from wearing face masks. If you think your child is in an exempt category it would be helpful to know in advance so we can prepare for that. Thank you in advance for your support with this.

With the wider lockdown, I know that all grassroots club sport has been cancelled. That is a real disappointment for many. We are lucky that we have been able to maintain the vast majority of PE lessons for our students so we know that the students are benefitting from some physical activity each week. We were also planning to keep our after school sports clubs running during lockdown. Unfortunately, the guidance from the DfE is that these clubs must not take place. This is utterly baffling to us. Our clubs are run in year group bubbles and so are no different to PE lessons. If PE lessons are fine then why not after school sport? With grassroots club sport shut down during the lockdown it would seem even more important than ever to maintain this provision. It is with a very heavy heart and a sense of enormous frustration that I am going to have to cancel these clubs for the duration of the lockdown.

One additional requirement of the lockdown is to limit non-essential visitors to the school site. We have revised our risk assessment and have clear protocols in place that mean we can still arrange meetings with parents when necessary. However, we can only see parents by prior appointment. To meet the requirements of the lockdown there will be no exceptions to this. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Next week sees our first “virtual” parent evening. Parents of Year 7 students should have received information detailing how to make appointments and how they will be organised. This is the first time we have used video-conferencing software to organise a parents evening. We are confident that it can operate effectively. Staff will have to be very diligent when it comes to time keeping and will have to end appointments at the allocated time. We will review the logistics after the event and any feedback will be appreciated.

Finally, my weekly reminder about Free School Meals eligibility. If your financial circumstances have changed, your child may be eligible for Free School Meals. If you click on this link you will find guidance on the eligibility criteria and the application process. It's a quick process and we are notified of all FSM entitlements by Gloucestershire County Council each Monday. I would urge you to take a look if you think you may benefit from financial assistance.

We live in very uncertain times. I do hope that you and your family keep safe, healthy and are able to enjoy the weekend.


Richard Johnson