Headteacher's blog 02-10-20
It was a real pleasure to welcome our Year 9 students back on Thursday.
It was a real pleasure to welcome our Year 9 students back on Thursday. Their stop-start beginning to the year can now resume and school is once again open to all year groups.
Having experienced our first year group bubble shut down, we can now reflect and see if any lessons can be learned. It is worth re-emphasising that asking all of Year 9 to self-isolate was not an easy decision. We went ahead with the decision as we felt it was the safest choice.
It is interesting to note that we have had no further positive tests for any student in Year 9. This suggests that our mitigation strategies, namely massive attention to hand hygiene and effective ventilation that have had the desired impact. It also supports the view outlined in recently released research that it is more difficult for young people to contract Covid – the figure quoted was that young people are on average about 40% less likely than adults to be infected. We will now be able to take these points into account when we have to make further decisions in the light of future positive tests.
As I write this, rain is falling; autumn has well and truly arrived. This presents us with additional challenges this year due to the nature of our year group bubbles and the organisation of our food serveries. To maintain our bubbles each year group has its own food servery. For Year 7 and 8 these are outside. As the weather has now turned, we have had to arrange for the installation of significant additional covered areas to ensure we can maintain provision in wet weather. This work will be completed over the weekend.
The cost: circa £20,000. The cost of an additional toilet block for the year will be another £20,000. The two full-time cleaners we have on site during the day to ensure toilets and changing rooms are cleaned every lesson add a similar amount. I could add dozens of other additional expenses that we are facing as a result of the current pandemic. All of these expenses have to be paid for out of existing funds; no additional funding has been made available to any school for these kinds of expense. It means difficult financial decisions needs to be made.
This means that we do have to ask parents for contributions. You will know from a previous email that we have opened donations for this year's School Fund on ParentPay, named '20/21 School Fund Donation'. The amount on the system is up to £10 per child for the whole year. If you are able to afford this amount, we would be very grateful. Otherwise, you can donate a smaller amount through the same link. If you, or your business would like to make a larger donation to help Severn Vale, you are very, very welcome to contact to discuss ways you can help or become involved. Please email Julia Atkinson, our Business Manager for further details. I can't stress enough how important this additional funding is to broadening your children's learning experiences here at Severn Vale. Thank you in advance for any contribution made.
Last week I described the challenge we were facing balancing the competing need for ventilation, as part of our Covid mitigation strategies, and the need to keep classrooms warm. Today I received updated guidance from the LA. Their advice, which we will be following, is that when the weather allows, keep windows and doors open to ensure as much ventilation as possible. If it is cold it, just keeping a window open slightly will provide the necessary ventilation and so will be sufficient. Similar ventilation could also be achieved by shutting windows and opening an inside door. This should mean that we do not have the problem of cold classrooms as the weather becomes colder.
Amongst all of the Covid work, it is a joy to have the opportunity to work with our students day in, day out. One group of students I am really looking forward to working with are our Student Leaders. Student leaders act as representatives of the student body. This year they will be working with me and the senior team to ensure the safe running of the school and giving feedback on the views of students in other years. They will also be responsible for organising charity events and end of year events such as Prom. As well as contributing to the school, the students will benefit from some specific leadership training. They began this work this week with Mr Hockaday. Having seen the programme, I know they will gain a huge amount from the input they receive.
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.
Despite a not very encouraging weather forecast, I do hope that you and your family enjoy a great weekend.