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Headteacher's blog 11-12-20

A virtual Awards Ceremony for the class of 2020 and a virtual parents evening for Year 11; it must be 2020!

It has been a challenging week with confirmed Covid cases in both Year 8 and Year 11. I know that this will have caused concern to parents, students and staff. Unfortunately, there appears to be a sense of inevitability regarding positive cases when the virus appears to be so prevalent in the community. Given this, I remain thankful that the impact on Severn Vale continues to be relatively small.

I have been asked by a number of parents and students why our response to cases has changed. More specifically, why are we asking fewer students to self-isolate? We always take advice from the health authorities. We also look at the particular circumstances of each case. Public Health England are clear in their latest advice: only those who have had direct contact with the confirmed case are required to self-isolate. Those who have not had direct contact do not need to self-isolate. We have also learnt from our previous experiences of dealing with positive cases and the experience of other schools locally. It is worth noting that at Severn Vale we have had no in-school transmission from student to student or student to staff or vice versa. All of the confirmed cases we have experienced have been the result of transmission in the community. Finally, we also want to ensure that the disruption to the education of our students is minimised wherever possible. In summary, our decision is in line with the latest health guidance and does not put at risk the safety and well-being of the students and staff which remains our primary consideration at this time. 

Thursday saw our Year 11 parents evening. This was our first “full” parents evening with 50 plus teachers operating simultaneously. Overwhelmingly it went smoothly. The technology held up and as a teacher I found it very easy to operate and to manage. Indeed in many ways I found it had many advantages to “normal” parent evenings. Post pandemic, we will have to give some real thought to whether we keep this way of operating. I’d be keen to hear your views on this so please do contact me if you feel strongly either way. 

Year 11 mocks in Science and English have been taking place this week. I have been incredibly impressed with the mature way the students have dealt with this. Their conduct and attitude has been first class. These exams are a key milestone for the students and will give both them and the staff are key idea of where they are and what they need to do in terms of preparing for summer exams. The full mock exam series will take place in Term 3.

This week we welcomed back students from the class of 2020 to collect their GCSE certificates. It was a delight to catch up with them (in a socially distanced way of course) and to hear about how they have been making their mark in their Sixth Forms and apprenticeships. We also launched our virtual awards ceremony for the class of 2020 which can be viewed here. We wanted to mark their successes and this felt like the least we could do in the circumstances. Obviously, we would have loved to have had all of the students back and hear their stories but such is the way of 2020.

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