Update from the Head 7th May

Update 7th May 2020

Dear students and parents,

I hope everyone is well. Here is my usual weekly update.

A tribute to the young people of Balcarras

I wanted to start this week’s update by paying tribute to our young people. I think collectively you have done an amazing job of completing your work on the VLE and staying up to date. As many of you will know I live locally, and so I bump in to many of you around the village…every time I do so I’m met by a friendly cheerfulness.

It is one of the constants of human history that young people tend to get a bad press. For some reason humans are drawn to the idea that things always tend to get worse and every generation seems to think that they are in some way superior to the next. We have the privilege of educating remarkable young people at Balcarras and they have convinced me that the opposite is true.

I know I’m generalising but I think that collectively they deserve enormous credit for quickly adapting to this ‘new normal’ and in the midst of this disorientating experience to show such diligence and determination to keep up with their school work.

Situation going forward

Like everyone else we await to hear the government’s plan for easing lockdown restrictions. I am in regular contact with the school’s governors and we are ready to put in place plans to re-open when we receive instructions and guidance from the DfE.

Governance of the school

I wanted to reassure everyone that the school’s system of governance continues to operate during lockdown. All of the usual meetings have taken place, albeit in a different format, and we have arranged a two weekly ‘teams’ meeting between myself, the Chair of Governors and the Chairs of the 4 sub committees of the school’s governing body. I would like to place on record my thanks to the governors for their unswerving support during these challenging times.

Cheltenham’s New School

A decision on whether to authorise plans for Cheltenham’s new school will be taken by Gloucestershire County Council’s Planning Committee next Thursday. As soon as there is any news I’ll be in touch.

Face Mask Production

Mrs Swanepoel and Mrs Denyer have again been in this week making facemasks for the NHS and coordinating a community effort to make scrubs. Production is now being scaled back as national supply chains recover. Once again my thanks to everyone involved.

Year 11 and Year 13 Ball

One of the great frustrations of the sudden lockdown was that it meant that all of the usual events arranged to mark the end of Year 11 and Year 13 had to be called off. We did our best on the last day to swiftly put together final assemblies so that the occasion was properly marked. At both of those assemblies I said that we would do our best to put on an event for Year 11 and Year 13 when it was safe to do so. That commitment still stands although we are not yet in a position to make any plans because of the lockdown and because we don’t yet know when such gatherings will again be permitted.

VE Day

You might have thought that lockdown meant that you escaped school assemblies but no—technology provides a way…..if you go on to the VLE you’ll find a short video clip of me explaining some thoughts I had about VE Day. If we’d been in school we would certainly have marked the occasion. If any of you are walking past Balcarras tomorrow you will see the Union flag flying from the flagpole to mark the occasion. It’s a small gesture on behalf of the school—a mark of respect to that generation of people who met adversity and hardship with a steely determination, not just to win the war, but to build a better and more equal society afterwards.

I do hope that you all have an enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend.

Dominic Burke