Dear Parents and Carers,
We close the 2019/20 academic year with a range of contradictory feelings. Sadness for those who have lost their lives, health and livelihoods to this terrible virus. Pride in how we have all functioned together as a school community and supported one another throughout. We can also feel positivity for the future – not only to deliver the best education possible in the safest way possible, but also to ensure that Wollaston School comes back even stronger than ever in September, with a re-doubled sense of the vital purpose of education and a commitment to achieving our individual academic and personal potential.
I would like to pay tribute to the way that students, parents and staff have coped with the current situation. It is impossible to have imagined us working together in such circumstances – and I am enormously grateful for your understanding, positivity and generosity. We have all needed to make significant compromises in terms of the way in which we have functioned and lived our lives. The messages of support and positive feedback that you have given to us have been appreciated more than we can say.
Thank you also to all who have been able to work and study on site in totally different circumstances. We do have some students and staff who have been with us almost every day through both term time and holidays. Thank you to everyone who has enabled this provision to work so successfully, and I hope that you all enjoy a relaxing summer break.
I would particularly like to recognise those who are leaving Wollaston School this summer; whether in Year 11 or Year 13. Boris Johnson has posted a message to all school leavers HERE and I also would like to take the opportunity to give a brief message to those whose Wollaston School journey has ended this summer.
I am so sorry that you were not able to enjoy the exam season and the traditional leaving activities, but of course, there were circumstances completely beyond our control. However, a pandemic does not reduce our recognition of the hard work that you have undertaken throughout your time with us and the positive impact that you have had on our school. You have truly made your mark and thank you for everything that you have given our school during your time with at Wollaston. We do remain committed to providing an opportunity for us to celebrate collectively as soon as it is safe to do so, but in the meantime, let me wish you every success in the future, whether at our VI form, at University, in college or employment.
I did not have the chance to speak with you in a final assembly, but I would have finished by asking you to take what you have gained from Wollaston and apply this to the rest of your lives. Be positive about what you can achieve, believe in yourself and remember that even the most epic of journeys begins with a single step. Be brave when facing challenges or difficulties. In life, no-one can avoid facing obstacles. It is how many times we get up, rather than how many times we fall that defines us. Work hard at everything: academia, career goals, leisure activities and personal relationships; little of great value is achieved without focus and effort. And finally, be kind to everybody around you. We are defined by what we do in life, and the mark that we make on the world is left in the impression that we make on others.
I believe that these qualities were also perfectly embodied by Mark Wade and the way in which he lived his life. In all of the sadness and loss, there is also a great legacy and I know that students, staff and parents have been inspired by working with such a great teacher and a truly generous, kind, positive and good humoured gentleman.
For our students in other Year groups, your chance to make your mark is just beginning. In looking forward to September, we do so with great positivity and hope, even in such uncertain times. We are looking forward to having all of our students and staff back in school, although in some very different routines and ways of working. We will need to work hard and work intensely – but will continue to do so in an environment rich in pastoral care and enthusiasm for our work. A reminder again to read carefully the arrangements which can be found HERE prior to September. A reminder also of the start of term arrangements which are:
Autumn Term 2020/21 Academic year
1st September 2020 – Staff Professional Development Day
2nd September 2020 – Year 7 & Year 12 Induction Day
3rd September 2020 – Year 7, Year 12 and Year 13 Induction Day
4th September 2020 – Year 8, 9, 10 and 11 Induction Day
7th September 2020 – Whole School Return
There are also just a couple of points of clarification arising from the guidance which I sent earlier this week.
- The arrangement regarding just a change of footwear for PE is likely to be only for a short period of time. Students will still require a full PE kit next term. The level of exertion in these initial PE lessons will be limited, but will still be of physical benefit. Once we have a fuller understanding and appropriate guidance regarding safe operation of changing rooms we will introduce these as soon as possible. It is also worth noting that wearing a PE kit to school does not solve this issue, as unless students have PE at the end of the day, they would then be in close contact with other students, in their worn PE kits. You will be aware that the Government is cautious about group exercise and currently mandates against contact sports in school, because of the way people breathe and exhale droplets during physical activity, including onto clothing worn in heavy physical exertion. Changing is therefore the right thing to do – but I want to ensure that we can do this safely, hence the need for an initial week or two of more limited exertion with just a change of footwear.
- It is also correct that some year groups will only have access to the canteen at break time, although there will be a full range of hot food on offer. There would be no way of having all year groups access the canteen during a single lunch break. Staggered lunchtimes are not possible with our timetable structure, as they would result in a large number of periods in the middle of the day being taught by non-specialist staff. I recognise that this arrangement is a compromise, but a necessary one if we are to avoid year groups mixing with one another. As per the guidance, we do encourage students to bring a packed lunch if canteen times are problematic. As with all measures, we will keep these under review and would consider swaps of canteen access timings if this way of operating is required in the longer term.
Virtual End of term Arrangements
The close of the academic year usually sees a range of celebratory events, which are obviously not possible in the same way this year. However, not to be defeated, we have hosted a number of virtual events and there are links to each of these on the school website
There are the winning entries to our virtual Wollafest 2020 Performing Arts festival to enjoy as well as details of the winners of the Virtual House Sports day!
Year 7 and 8 have also created last day video assemblies. All are worth watching and we have a talented team of students and staff!
Thank you again for all of your incredible support this term. It is a source of great pride to lead such a wonderful and supportive school community. We hope that families, students and staff enjoy a restful summer break and return ready for whatever awaits in September!
Mr J Birkett