(Posted on 09/07/20)
Welcome to this week’s blog.
As we enter the last week of the academic year, I can now confirm that we have finalised our plans for the full opening of school in September. I will be writing to parents and carers with full details at the start of next week.
In drawing up these plans, we have had to adhere to the central direction from the Department for Education; that, where possible, Year groups should not mix and movement around school should be minimised. This has meant some significant changes to the planned timetable and some compromises over the way elements of our curriculum have had to be organised.
- Key stage three students will be taught in their Form groups for all subjects and will be allocated a set classroom for all of their lessons. This will necessitate some changes to the way certain subjects are taught, for example, the creative subjects of Art, DT, Music and Drama – and the Heads of these subjects have produced an exciting new curriculum offer for the duration of these timetabled changes.
- Key stage four and five remain largely unaffected in that they will pursue their GCSE and A-level courses with the teachers originally allocated and will have access to specialist classrooms when required.
- In order to facilitate safe distancing for lunch times, not only have we had to stagger lunchbreaks, we have slightly altered the lesson allocation for sixth form students. Even though this now brings us in line with most other schools in Cheshire, it will only be a temporary measure and will be reviewed at October half term.
- We have introduced staggered start and finish times for different key stages.
We have had to make compromises with our provision - compromises that we don’t want to make. We need to remember that the virus is still circulating in our communities. It may suit the government, for economic and political reasons, to relax restrictions and social distancing rules, but our task is to keep our school community as safe as possible, adhering to the instructions we have been given, by minimising movement around school and ensuring that where possible, Year groups do not mix in close proximity.
Full details will be published and sent to parents at the start of next week.
As this is my final blog of the year, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you of some staff changes in advance of September:
- Next week, we will say goodbye to Miss Lowe, our Maths teacher, who is returning to work closer to her family in the north of the country. We thank her for her services to our students and send her our best wishes for the future. Ms Hunter will be joining us in September to replace Miss Lowe.
- Mrs Farley will be leaving us temporarily, as she begins her maternity leave and we wish her and her family well and look forward to seeing baby pictures very soon! Mr Williams will be joining the department in September.
- We also say farewell to Music tutors, Mrs Cowley, a long-serving member of staff who is retiring and Mrs Comfort, who is moving to pastures new. I’m sure there are many students who are grateful for the music tuition they have received from both colleagues and we wish them well.
- After several years of dedicated service, both Mr Hollywood and Mrs Humphries are stepping down from their commanding officer posts with our Combined Cadet Force. Having observed their work over many years, I know what impact they have had on the lives of our cadets. The annual Remembrance Day parade has become an integral part of our school life and I thank them both for their service. We are currently in discussion with the Regional Commander to recruit a new officer.
It’s been a very strange school year. There have been many highs and much to celebrate – the mini-edition of The Swan, due out on Monday, again showcases the amazing exploits of our students. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has left us all bewildered, at times frightened and sadly, for some of our families and staff, grieving. All our lives have been touched by the events of this year, but for some of our students and staff, the loss of loved ones will have a lasting impact.
My letter to you next week, will outline our plans for a full return in September – to date, we have no idea how long these temporary plans will remain in place – we will return to our full curriculum and timetabled offer as soon as we can – and all is ready for that to happen, once the government relaxes the ‘no mixing bubbles’ rules. The logistics of the return are in place, the recovery of lost learning will begin as soon as students are back – and there is time to recover what has been lost. Repairing wellbeing and mental health will take longer. During the last week of term, staff will be looking at how we will help students recover emotionally from what has happened – and for each student that will be different – as seen when Year 10 and 12 students made their return. We will be ready to welcome students back and we will do our utmost to help them settle into routines and relationships. We know it will be easier for some than for others, and we also know that we can count on parents’ support in this matter. Things will be different and compromises will often have to be made – but our ultimate goal will be the same, to ensure every student progresses and fulfils the huge potential they have – to bring their aspirations to life in a happy, hardworking and caring community.
Thank you for the goodwill you have shown to us all over the last few months; indeed your messages of support have sustained us through a very difficult period.
Whatever your plans for the summer, I hope you all have an enjoyable break, so that in September, we all come back, refreshed and eager for the challenges that we will undoubtedly face.
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