Update from the Head 24th April

Dear students and parents,

I hope that you all had a nice Easter and that the first week of the summer term has gone well.

These continue to be difficult times for all of us and we simply have to just do our best to try to get through them.

I hope that you are all able to access the VLE and that you are staying on top of the work that is being provided for you by the teachers. It is really important that you do stay engaged in your school work during this period of time. Of course we know it is not the same as being in school but it will help to provide you with a focus and the work you are completing will help to further your knowledge and understanding.

I want to reassure everyone that when we are allowed to return to school we will of course arrange a comprehensive catch up programme to ensure that we go over all of the work that you are completing at home. This will be particularly important for students in Year 10 and 12.

Do try to get involved in the weekly house challenges that are being launched on the VLE. I have to admit that I haven’t yet largely because I fear failure….I am hopeless at juggling, dancing or kick ups!

If, like me, you are more artistically minded why not have a look at Balcarras Arts Online. I have to say that one of the positive effects of lockdown has been that I have been able to spend longer on the piano and it is amazing how fast you come on at something if you practice. Perhaps I’ll pluck up the bravery to send a recording through to Mrs Watts!

Update for examination groups

Ofqual have now published guidance on the awarding of grades although there is still some uncertainty surrounding vocational qualifications and how appeals will be heard. Early next week I will send a letter to all students who were expecting to sit exams explaining how the school will organise accreditation.

Update on the production of face masks for the NHS

I’ve just popped down to DT to check what the latest number of masks is and production has just passed 2750. I’d like to thank Mrs Swanepoel and Mrs Denyer who have led this initiative and those staff who have supported them, Mrs Daniels, Mrs Ethyimou, Mrs Harrington and Mrs Kinch. I’d also like to thank the many students and parents who have been printing masks at home and those people who have donated equipment or money to support the effort.

In a small but definite way I am convinced that this sort of activity demonstrates the strength that exists within our communities. People care for one another and they are prepared to do whatever they can to help those people who are charged with taking on the most difficult and dangerous health and social care tasks. I’d like to pass on the school’s thanks to everyone who has been involved in this initiative.

Update on speculation about a return to school

I am sure you are aware that there has been a lot of speculation about schools returning perhaps after May half term. At the moment such talk is purely speculative. I am in regular contact with the local authority, the Gloucestershire Association of Secondary Heads and the Regional Schools Commissioner’s office in Bristol. Whilst there are plenty of discussions going on about the ramifications of any return, at the moment I am not aware of any firm plan coming out of the Department for Education. As soon as I am I will get in touch.

Preparing Balcarras for next year

I want to reassure you all that our usual preparations for September are ongoing. Mr Towers is busy designing next year’s timetable and over the last few weeks we have made several appointments for September. There might well be some minor changes to how we organise setting and assessment but we will communicate these at a later date.

All of the essential maintenance  work that we planned to undertake over Easter went ahead under social distancing protocols and I am hopeful that all of the capital works in the summer, which include refurbishment of some of the schools toilets and a full programme of redecoration will go ahead.

Update on Cheltenham’s new school

We are continuing to work with the local authority on Cheltenham’s new school. I hope to be in a position to give you a further update shortly.

Stay safe

It would be great if we get the news that we can safely re-open the school but until we do I would like to wish you all well with your endeavours at home. Stay safe and do contact the school if you need any help or support.

Dominic Burke