Dear Parents and Carers
I hope this letter finds you and your families well. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year. It is so lovely to have everyone back after the Christmas break and three weeks into term it’s wonderful to see our students continue to impress us with their determination and resilience in the face of the current national backdrop with regards to Covid.
After what has felt like a considerable amount of time, I am extremely pleased to be able to share our final OFSTED report from the inspection that took place in December. Although the inspection took place through some testing times with the pandemic, it is extremely pleasing to see the recognition we have received in the report which highlights our many strengths as an academy. I would also like to extend a thank you for your feedback and contribution to the inspection as parents and carers. It is wonderful to be recognised for the hard work that all staff and leaders carry out daily in order to support our students in achieving their very best.
The full report can be found on our website and I would like to share a quote which reflects the culture and ambition we all have for our students.
‘The principal advocates a culture of high expectations, aspirations and traditional values. Leaders’ high expectations are reflected in the ambitious International Baccalaureate curriculum. This provides a global perspective which encourages pupils to be inquisitive lifelong learners’
There are many other positives within the report which confirms that the academy continues to be judged ‘Good’ and is very strong in many areas. Naturally there are areas for improvement as there would be for any institution and in every OFSTED report, in fact very few (just two) which demonstrates our continual ongoing journey towards excellence. Needless to say we are incredibly proud of the achievement of staff, students, parents and carers and the part each played in the inspection, not simply on the inspection days but as a continuous effort from everyone over a sustained period of time.
We are grateful for the feedback we received during the inspection and aware that there is further work to be done in continuing to engage positively with our parental community. As senior leaders we would welcome further opportunities to work with you and plan to invite parents in the summer term when Covid restrictions hopefully continue to ease. This will enable us to further strengthen our whole school community.
Absence and Covid
I am sure parents and carers will be more than aware of the current challenges faced nationally by schools and the impact of the latest stage of the pandemic.
Our biggest challenge this term, like every other school at present, is arising through staff absence for those who test positive and/or are isolating. Our intention is not to send any students home unless absolutely necessary, it is a last resort. In fact, staff absence will never be uniform and in many cases may only affect one or two lessons out of a five period day. We are planning a back up to the issues with absence and cover by housing multiple teaching groups, supervised in a large well ventilated designated area, so that they are able to access remote teaching from their class teacher live from their isolation (assuming they are well enough). Class groups will have their own dedicated section to sit in silence, on headphones accessing their remote lesson. This is only possible through the significant investment in Chromebooks by the academy and access to Google Classroom. We do of course continue to have our usual cover staff and the combination of the two adds a capacity that we hope will allow us to maintain on site provision and not send groups home. The classrooms continue to be well ventilated and if we have to move to a large area with multiple class groups, there will be designated sections with students continuing to wear facemasks.. We will continue to monitor the experience of the students but do bear in mind staffing needs will change on a daily basis. Parents/carers are able to help by providing headphones for their son/daughter as this allows students to hear the live interaction with their class teacher without disturbing others. Please can we also ensure that your son/daughter are also provided with a facemask to wear throughout the day as many have had to be provided with disposable ones and we are limited to replacing these everyday. I would like to reiterate that most students will continue to be taught as normal in their usual lessons and this provision will only be used as a last resort.
Testing at home
As COVID cases continue to rise in the community I would like to thank parents/carers and families who have continued to proactively test at home to ensure that, where there are positive cases, those students are able to isolate and prevent further transmission in the academy. We ask that you continue to test on Sunday and Wednesday evenings uniformly and also if you develop symptoms. This has helped significantly in keeping numbers low in our academy but we are aware of rising numbers this week.
Finally, my thanks again to parents/carers for returning so positively this new year, supporting the guidance and the academy so that our students are able to continue with accessing the full curriculum on site despite the obvious challenges. Your confidence in us and messages of support to staff are always gratefully received, our community remains as strong as ever supporting our young people to achieve their full potential.