I truly hope that this letter finds you all safe and well. For the first time since I started my headship at our school, I am writing to you as a family; staff, students and parents. The information that I am about to convey is relevant to all of us. I accept that it is not usual practice to share the same correspondence with all stakeholders. However, I hope that you all recognise that I have always been very transparent with our school community.
So that said, from a personal perspective, I am finding it increasingly alien to be going into school and seeing a very limited number of students and staff. I went into teaching because I loved the interaction with you, the students; being able to have a direct impact and affect a positive change. Even when I progressed up the leadership ladder, I still endeavoured to maintain the close positive relationships with students and parents. This was a fundamental reason for choosing to take on the leadership of our small community school, compared to my previous establishment. So now, things are more challenging than ever.
We are indeed in unprecedented times; all of us. Students are missing their friends, their peers – even their teachers! Parents are potentially having to act as facilitators of learning. Staff are having to work indirectly with their students, using unfamiliar technology and adapt to the current situation; going above and beyond to support their students, families and the local community.
The past week has been exceptionally turbulent and in some respects just as ‘interesting’ as the first week of closure. Following the government’s announcement last Sunday, I wrote to you outlining our initial thoughts. However, I did also explain that this would be based on several caveats; one of which was the government’s change of policy. Since then there has been varying government advice / guidelines which in essence has had significant conflicting information. The teachers’ unions and the DFE have been having firm discussions, the press have made their feelings very clear; depending on which paper depends on their particular stance. So, fundamentally, we are still very unsure of the plan. I am advised that Wiltshire Local Authority are due to make clear recommendations over the next few days and this may give us a clearer stance.
However, I have staff and parents as well as students who need to know what is happening. Whether it be to organise child care, plan for transport or for general mental health and wellbeing; people want to know. Unfortunately, I don’t have a definitive answer. This does not sit well with me as I like to be a very proactive leader.
Therefore, I would like to let you know that I have been working on a variety of plans based on different scenarios. At the moment, it seems that only Year 10 will be potentially returning to school before the Summer break. The government are suggesting that this needs to be some form of contact time with staff. We are considering different approaches; potentially appointments with teaching staff to discuss progress, meeting with mentors to help support online learning or even small working groups with subject teachers. Whichever format we choose to utilise, it will be based on not only government and local advice but also our own due diligence regarding the safety of our school community. This is paramount. I have no intention on insisting that all of Year 10 return to school; it will depend on their individual circumstances. I also have no intention of putting my staff, students or their families in significant harm’s way.
I am not corresponding with you to worry you, placate you or frustrate you. On the contrary, I am writing to you to let you know the transparent situation at the moment. I hope that there will be further updates over the coming days but I wanted to be very clear where we currently are.
In the meantime, we hope that our students are able to access at least some of the work that we are setting. Please do ensure that you are engaging with this work as it will help to prepare you for when you return to normal lessons. Parents and carers, thank you for everything that you are doing and if you are feeling a little overwhelmed, please do contact us and we can try to support. For Years 7 – 10, specific curriculum content and lessons are on the links via our website for each year group.
To access the school remote portal, click the link below:
All work is now accessed using Moodle.
As for Year 11, it is great to hear from so many of you. Your preparatory work is available either through the website on “School Life” and then “Alumni and School Leavers” or if your sixth form provider isn’t listed, then they should have contacted you directly to set work. Again, if any of you are struggling then contact us so we can help you.
Our post 16 providers are working hard to continue to look after their current students but also to provide work and events for new students joining in September. If they haven’t already then, they are in the process of putting together resources and contacting you.
In addition, there are many other sites that can be used to keep our students’ minds active and support their learning. Wiltshire Council newsletters/updates are also useful:
As I appreciate that now people are beginning to struggle. Pease contact us if you need support. Whether it be academic, pastoral or financial / resources; then we can help and point you in the right direction. I am hoping that you have had contact from a tutor or another designated member of staff. We are checking in with all families to ensure that you are well, keeping safe and to address any issues you may have. If you haven’t had a call just yet then it will be within the next week. Should anything arise, please do not hesitate to email your child’s tutor as even when staff are not in school they are online during the day and will be able to respond to you. Or if you are really concerned, call the school office on 01672 565000.
So, I will be in touch with all of you over the coming days when clearer guidance comes out. Thank you to the staff for all of the work that they are doing. Students, keep persevering. Parents – you are dong amazing; I feel your pain!
I can’t wait to see you all. We are definitely going to have a reunion when social distancing no longer exists.
Take care and stay safe.