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Headteacher's blog 20-11-20

The reality of operating in a pandemic was brought home with both Year 8 and 11 impacted by confirmed cases. 

This has been an unusual week in school as we have had 1½ year groups self-isolating due to a number of positive Covid cases in Year 11 and Year 8. We always knew that given the increased prevalence of the virus in the community, there was a high probability of it affecting Severn Vale. Looking at the impact across the county, it would appear that we are currently experiencing disruption at the lower end of the scale. Fingers crossed that continues to be the case!

With students being asked to self-isolate we have had to put into place our remote learning plan. This has seen students provided with a combination of contact with their teachers, high-quality curriculum support resources and learning tasks to be completed independently. My Year 11s have engaged very well with their learning tasks and their live sessions with me. As good as Zoom is, it is no substitute for face-to-face contact and I think we are all counting the days down until we can welcome all of our students back. A reminder that our Year 8s self-isolating return to school on Wednesday 25th November; Year 11s return on Monday 30th November.

The move to remote learning for Year 8 and Year 11 does bring into sharp focus the need for IT access for our students at home. For some we know that can be a real challenge. The DfE did promise an excellent scheme providing laptops to schools for just this scenario. Initially we were allocated 95 laptops. Sadly, the DfE reneged on this initial offer and our school’s allocation has fallen to 19. For a school of our size that really is pitiful. We decided to purchase some laptops independently of the DfE scheme for this purpose. We also have access to wireless routers to provide internet access. These are available should your child be required to work remotely and IT access is an issue. Please do contact your child’s Head of Year if you think this might apply to your child.  

This last week saw Year 7 and 9 students tackle their Order A Maths and Science assessments. Overwhelmingly the students responded very positively. They adopted a mature attitude both to their preparation and in terms of their conduct during their tests. Given half of our Year 8 students were self-isolating, we took the decision to postpone their tests. They will take them when all students are back in school next week. As always, any questions regarding the Order assessments should be directed to Mr Ball.

Next week we are beginning the collection of donations as part our plan to support the Salvation Army with their annual gift drive. Full details have been sent out by Mr Hockaday regarding this fabulous project. If you are able to support this project, we know it will make a real difference to the recipients. A further reminder that Year 10 student Molly-May Newman is working on a project to support Gloucester Foodbank as part of her DofE volunteering work. She has been collecting selection boxes to pass on to the foodbank so these can be distributed to families in the run up to Christmas. If you think you could support this fantastic cause, we will have a collection point in our reception. Thanks in advance for any support for these projects you are able to provide.  

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.

I hope you and your family have a great weekend.

Richard Johnson


NB Next Friday 27th November is an Inset Day and school is closed to all students.