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Headteacher's Blog 1-4-21

Term 4 draws to a close

Another strange term in what has proven to be a series of strange terms draws to a close today. We started with the vast majority of our students learning remotely but have now been working “normally” for 4 weeks. It has been such a topsy-turvy year for us all that having the semblance of normality we have had over these past 4 weeks has been a joy.  

I am looking forward to the possibility of further relaxations in line with the Government’s road map out of Covid after Easter. We know already that sporting fixtures can begin again in the new term. The PE department are busy organising lots of fixtures with schools locally. It will be such a delight seeing the students get the opportunity to play against students from other schools once again.

Other elements we will need to wait to hear about. One significant element will be a decision on the ongoing use of face-masks in schools. That will be reviewed by the Government over Easter. If there is any change to the guidance I will communicate that to parents and students during the Easter break.

As hard as adjusting to our new way of working in school has been, there are elements of our Covid practice that I believe will last beyond the current restrictions. One of those is virtual parent evenings. We have already held a virtual parent evening for Year 11 and as part of the options process. The feedback from all involved was positive. The rearranged parent evenings for this academic year will all be virtual with the dates finalised as follows:

Term 5

  • Year 10 - 29th April
  • Year 8 - 20th May

Term 6

  • Year 7 - 10th June
  • Year 9 - 17th June

As we now have 270 students in our Key Stage 3 year groups we have decided to make a slight adjustment to the way that parent evenings operate. On days with a parent evening for Years 7 – 9 the school day will end at 1.30pm. Appointments for the parent evening will begin at 2.00pm and will finish at 6.30pm. This will allow more parents to be able to make appointments without the evening finishing unreasonably late. Full details of the Year 10 parent evening will be sent at the end of the Easter holidays.

One further calendar change to confirm relates to the planned Inset day for 2nd July. We have decided to move it to Monday 7th June. This is to enable staff to complete the standardisation and submission of grades required of the school as part of the mechanism for allocating centre assessed grades to our Year 11 students.

Two Covid reminders:

  1. The Government are keen to maintain the momentum of home testing and have asked all schools to encourage students to keep testing at home throughout the Easter holidays and into the summer term. Their message to all staff, students and parents is to:
  • test twice a week at home from now on
  • report results online as positive, negative or void. This information is critical in helping the Government to understand the prevalence of the virus across the country
  • continue to test twice weekly over the Easter holidays
  • test before returning to school or college for the summer term, either the night before, or morning of, the first day back, to find and isolate any positive cases
  1. Schools are being asked by Public Health England to agree a 6 day window after the final day of teaching to remain contactable so that they can assist with contact tracing where necessary. This means that up to Wednesday 7th April, you may be contacted by the school to tell you that your son / daughter may need to self-isolate.

The Government are keen to ensure parents and carers of children who are advised to self-isolate by their school or by NHS Test and Trace know they are now able to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment of £500, if they meet the eligibility criteria. This change is intended to ensure that eligible parents receive financial support if they are unable to attend work due to childcare responsibilities. The eligibility criteria are listed in the link above.

All schools across Gloucestershire have been asked to get as many of their students to complete the Gloucestershire youth travel survey – see link below. It is aimed at gaining better understanding of the barriers to sustainable travel for young people in Gloucestershire. It should only take a short time to complete and its findings should help the local authority to assess and improve transport across the county in a more sustainable way.

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.

We return to school on Monday 19th April. That will be a week A.

Have a very happy Easter.

Kind regards

Richard Johnson