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Christmas Letter
14/12/2020

As we approach the end of our first term, I wanted to wish you and your families all the very best for the Christmas and New Year period and to thank you for your on-going support, particularly in light of the incredibly challenging year that we have all had since March.

We officially close for Christmas on Friday 18th December at 12.30 pm and return on Monday 4th January at 8.45 am. Transport arrangements are in place for those that travel on the school bus, taking students home at 12.30 pm. Food arrangements are also in place, with the students expected to eat during an extended break time which will be from 11.00 am-11.30 am, as there will be no provision on offer at 12.30 pm. Our final day will be a ‘Christmas Jumper’ day where students will be allowed in non-school uniform if they wear appropriate Christmas themed clothing; ideally a jumper.

As Christmas approaches, I just want to remind everyone of the importance of keeping up the high Covid safety standards that we have maintained so far. No-one wants to have to miss Christmas because they have to be in isolation or run the risk of transferring the virus to any relatives who may be vulnerable.

N.B. Any contact that your child has with a person who turns out to be a positive Covid case after Monday 14th December, given the amended 10 ten-day isolation rules would mean that they would have to be in isolation over Christmas day.

We would ask all parents to still notify us of cases up to and including the 24th December by either the Contact Us page on the website or the parent portal. It is imperative we do this to ensure we complete our track and trace if necessary. In respect of confirmed cases after this date, you will just liaise with the NHS Track and Trace helpline and if necessary, report the absence as we return after Christmas.

When students return after Christmas I need them to come fully prepared with masks as part of their equipment list. I am strongly suggesting that every child brings two each day in case one is lost or broken. At the moment we are inundated with requests from often the same students each day and this is causing areal strain on resources and on staff time. As I have stated in a previous letter whilst infections rates remain high in this locality, we have to do all we can to prevent the spread of the disease which leads to students and families becoming ill or self-isolating. The wearing of a mask is a key element in supporting this aim and it is our personal responsibility to adhere to the guidance for the protection of school community.

This year, despite the challenges of Covid, we have seen the need for remote learning as an opportunity to develop further our use of technologies as a learning tool. We listened to parent feedback on our original Google Classroom offer and amended it so we could use our Synergy system. This has allowed parents to track far easier the work that is set and completed by students. This has also improved communication between school and home and has allowed us to deal with issues raised more rapidly and effectively. More recently, our move to offer more ‘live lessons’ has allowed students to participate in their learning in a far more inclusive way. Whilst the system is not perfect, it is evolving and becoming more effective with time as we continue to learn lessons and listen to feedback.

We have also used this term to deliver schemes of learning which have enabled the students to catch up with any lost learning. Whilst this remains an on-going challenge with self-isolation, we do have plans in place that will allow us to identify students that require further intervention during the remainder of the academic year.

In the New Year, we are looking to introduce a similar on-line system for parents’ evenings which will allow you to have more face to face contact with class teachers albeit still through a computer screen. We are at the development stage at the moment, but remain confident that we will be able to roll it out to some year groups in the Spring.

When we return Year 10 and Year 11 will also be moving ‘blocks’ with Year 10 moving into science and Year 11 into maths. This to support Year 10 in completing their required science practical’s as part of their GCSE course. Year 11 have now completed this work. Please remind your child that they need to make their way into the correct entrance point when they return.

This term we have two colleagues leaving us: Mrs Inel, one of our teaching assistants and Ms Clarkson, our Progress Leader for Religious Studies and PHSE. Additionally, Ms Nixon our Deputy Head, will be leaving school at the end of February to take up a senior adviser role in Cumbria. We wish them all well and thank them for their service to school. We remain confident that we will be able to replace with high quality practitioners, maintaining our recent excellent recruitment record, ensuring that the students continue to receive high quality provision across all subjects and within all classrooms.

I view the next two terms with real optimism that we can begin to work again in a more normal way once the vaccine is rolled out more broadly across the country. Whilst we are continuing to work hard to ensure that each child receives a high-quality education, there is no doubt that being able to reintroduce some of the extra-curricular and enrichment that will make a huge difference to the experience that the students get at school and the memories they are able to make. I remain committed to safeguarding and keeping the children safe whilst finding imaginative ways to make learning and their school experience fun and memorable.

I once again wish you and your families the very best for Christmas and New Year.

Yours sincerely,
P Scarborough
Headteacher