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Headteacher's blog 22-1-21

The inauguration of a new US president signals a hope for a more decent future

I, like many of you, watched the inauguration ceremony for Joe Biden with a great deal of interest. American politics fascinates me but even the most ambivalent observer cannot fail to have been appalled, bewildered and captivated in equal measure by what has happened in America over the past 4 years. The Trump years will certainly provide historians with much material in the coming years.

At a time of darkness, the inauguration provided some moments of light. There was the hope and dignity demonstrated by both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The promise of a return to civility and decency. The inspiration of the first woman Vice-President, the first person of colour and the first person of an Asian-American heritage to hold this office. Then there was the inspiration of the performance and the power of the words of the amazing inauguration poet, Amanda Gorman. If ever students say why do we have to study poetry, there was all the evidence you need.

For me the most insidious elements of Trump’s years in power have been the lack of decency and civility and the promotion of what appears to be an anti-science agenda. As a school, we seek to promote a set of values which we believe in deeply; values which we feel will make a difference to each student’s life and the lives of those they come into contact with. We seek to promote courtesy, compassion, honesty, integrity and perseverance. It is made all the more difficult when the most powerful man in the world shows a total disregard for these and promotes an agenda that seems to actively embrace intolerance. I genuinely hope that President Biden can deliver on his inauguration promise and that this new administration places the premium on the key values that we all want to see.

From the rhetorical heights of a presidential inauguration to the more prosaic reality of life in lockdown. Week 3 of lockdown home schooling is now complete and from conversations with staff, students and parents it would appear that a new normal has been established and for the most part everyone is settling into their new routines. Once again, I have been hugely impressed with the levels of participation from students across all year groups. What has been a real delight has been reading the little messages from staff when they have passed on their nominations for Zoom stars. It is so heartening to see quite how impressively so many of our students are dealing with these challenging circumstances.

There has been much confusion regarding the use of Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) in schools. Currently, we are testing staff regularly and have begun the weekly testing of those students in school as part of our key work provision. This has gone well and I must say that the students concerned have conducted themselves in an extremely mature fashion. How this testing programme might develop when students fully return to school is anybody’s guess at the moment. We do know that the use of LTFs for contact testing has been abandoned….. for now. There is still talk of school’s undertaking ongoing mass testing although how that can be undertaken at the necessary scale for a school of our size has not been made clear. 

Talking about the potential return to school, we were given another set of apparently contradictory guidance through the media on Thursday. In the morning Gavin Williamson explicitly stated that schools and parents would be given two weeks notice of a school return date. That seems an eminently sensible proposition and would help all plan accordingly. Unfortunately, by Thursday afternoon Downing Street were far less specific and were saying that schools would be given “as much notice as possible”. Then there was the entirely unhelpful talk about the date of a school return and the potential for this being later than originally planned. I fail to see how anybody can make an informed judgement of this kind. Since little can be gained from this kind of discussion and with 3 weeks still to the February half-term, surely it would be better for all concerned to avoid discussions of this kind.

We do know that a number of our students are finding the current situation really difficult. That is only to be expected. Please remember that our staff remain available to support the students. The best points of contact are always the Tutors or the Heads of Year. There is also a wealth of well-being material and links on the school website here.

As always, I include 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.

Once again I will end this piece by sharing some of the Zoom stars identified by our staff over the past week. These are a selection of the students who have absolutely excelled in terms of their engagement and work produced. So, this week’s Zoom stars are:

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Abbie Nicholls

Beatriz Silva De Faria

Alana Phelps 

Adele Smith

Aleksandra Czamara

Ade Popoola

Finley Hopkins

Anja Brotherstone

Amelia Neate

Amiya Ryan 

Brooke Jones

Georgia Ashby

Ben Brockbank

Archie Hall

Ayesha Diallo

Charlie Ward

Isobel Brotherstone

Dilawar Oriakhail

Candice Townsend-Jones

Calum Preece

CJ Moroney

Jake Smithers

Dylan Bhatti

Chloe Boulton

Cassie Biggs

Corben Merrett

Julia Telesinska

Ella Toms

Conor Preece

Chloe Sharpe

Dominic Barnes

Kaitlin Cave

Evie Murphy

Ellis Brayshaw

Daniel Robbins

Emily Skipp

Kye Bingham

Grace Harmer

Emily Wadley

Ellie Bundy

Ethan Redding

Lily Gardner

Harrison Page

Eve Rasdell

Harriet Moore

Evie Bell

Luize Rubene

Izabela Stec

Freya Ryland

Harvey Fawlk

Filip Skiba

Maddie Tracey

Jacob Kelly

Holly Thompson

Hetty Dando

Fin Wilkes

Maddison Woodger

Joe East

Immy Williams

Iliana Tsipi

Grace Dyer

Maja Burkacka

Josh Loveys

Jacob Thorpe

Isabel Harrison

Grace Grimmett

Myleigh Tea 

Justin Newton

Joseph Nicholas

Jahyquan Vidal

Grace Taylor

Oliver Leonard

Kiana Male

Katy May Watson

Jake Hipwood

Harvey Moor

Oliver Rea

Lewis Chisholm

Keira Penrith

Jarod Grimmett

Jack Greene

Ollie Bond

Lilly Kennedy

Laksh Virk

Joe Robinson

Jacob Pilkington

Phoebe Adshead

Logan Chew

Leona Greene

Kacey Bayliss

Jaiden Brown

Sam Mulligan

Melanie Torres

Louis White

Kallie Porter

Jayden Jefferies

Sam Turner

Olivia Daglish

Matthew Jones

Leaha Meredith

Jenny Jones

Sophie Massey

Olivia Prosser

Millie Maycock

Lucy Whitmore

Josh Day-Webb

Sophie Page

Pippa Anderton

MJ Salih

Marley Oliffe

Josh Moroney

Szymon Beeger

Renato Gomez

Nikol Kalfova

Max Wheeler

Keana Barnes

Thomas Adams

Ruby Ashmore

Phoebe Ford

Megan Gibbs

Lauren Carne


Ryley Beacham

Ruby Cole

Olivia Long

Lily Symonds


Shanaya Taylor

Ryan McQullian

Oliwia Krawczewska

Lucas Prewer


Sienna Mack

Sitranan Pulong

Rasool Jabarkhiel

Maisie Harlock


Thomas Bingham

Skye Clarke 

Sam Seville

Martha Parry


Tom Greenaway

Taylor Eadie

Theo Gibbs

Mason Fawlk


Wiktoria Wisniewska

Tom Taylor

Tom Anderson

Nadia Lazar


Zunairah Cross


Wania Imran

Nevaeh Ryder





Pheobe Day





Reece Weston





Riley Jackson





Rose Marsden-Denney





Rosie Meikle





Sam Green





Sasha Ridler





Sebastian Brockbank





Sophie West





Tommi Brooks





Zakir Ali






There will be even more Zoom stars next week!

All this left for me to do is to wish you a safe and a healthy weekend!

Kind regards

Richard Johnson