Update from the Head 12th June

Dear parents and students,

I hope you are all well as we head once again into the weekend. I’m sure all of our young people are looking forward to a break from their school work—we recognise that it is not an easy task learning from home.

Return to school next week: Year 10 and Year 12

All of the plans are now in place for the return of Year 10 and 12 next week. Everyone in those year groups should have received all of the information that you need. I would like to reiterate once again that we will follow the DfE guidance to the letter. We have a very thorough risk assessment in place and we will at all times prioritise the safety of pupils and staff. I am sorry that the plans are complicated but the guidelines necessitate such an approach.

Remote Learning

Of course our preferred option would be to be able to bring other year groups in next week as well but for now we cannot. We are doing everything we can to maximise access to teams and video lessons. We realise that there have been teething problems with this new way of learning. I’ve been involved in running schools for almost a decade and during that time we have developed several new systems and initiatives. Normally you have time to plan these carefully and with great attention to detail. Unfortunately that just simply is not the case during a pandemic.

Plans for September

I know that there is great nervousness about how schools will operate in September. Believe me I share it too. I would love to be able to publish a thorough plan now but it is not possible. What I can promise you is that we are looking at all of the possible contingencies whilst also staying in touch with the professional associations and the powers that be.

Exams Accreditation

One area that I am particularly concerned about is how the current Year 10 and 12 will be accredited next year. Today I have written to the Regional School’s Commissioner, Hannah Woodhouse, urging her to do everything in her power to bring forward a plan as to how the children are to be accredited. I told her that there was great uncertainty amongst the parents and that we needed to know what the plan is sooner rather than later. My own view is that we should do it in such a way that ensures that these two cohorts are not put at an unfair disadvantage. As soon as I hear anything I will be in touch.

Whatever the plan put forward by the DfE can I just assure everyone that the school will put in place everything we can to support our young people. Over the last three years our results have been in the top 5% of all schools nationally and we have no intention of allowing our standards to slip. Please do trust us on this.

Midsummer Music

I am delighted that Midsummer Music is going ahead next Friday albeit it will be live streamed. The music and drama departments will be in touch shortly with information on how to view it and get involved. I’ve even decided to perform myself!

One of my standard lines when I’m paying tribute to the students involved in the annual carol concert is that “music is good for the soul.” I genuinely believe that and I look forward to taking the chance to relax next Friday evening as I listen and watch Midsummer Music 2020.

Young Enterprise

I would like to wish the Young Enterprise team, Memento, all the best as they prepare for the National Final on Wednesday evening. They are an absolutely superb team and I believe they have every chance of being crowned national champions. Watch this space.

Last thought

We are all of us under a lot of pressure at the moment. Living our lives during a pandemic is not an easy business. We are having to balance all sorts of competing interests—children—relatives—work and we are doing it with no certainty about what the future holds. We have to support one another through this process as best as we can. It is not easy to have confidence in the future when it seems to be shrouded in fog. We must stay positive and I can promise you that the school will continue to do everything we can to support our wonderful young people.

Dominic Burke