Headteachers Letter – 23rd October 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
Thank you for all of your help, positivity and support during the first half term of this academic year. I know that there were many questions and concerns in the summer regarding how a full return to school and education could possibly work. However, as a school community, we have managed to both survive and thrive in these unprecedented times, and I am clear that we have achieved this because of the way in which we have worked together. Thank you.
So – congratulations to us all for making it to the end of a marathon 8 week half term. This is the longest half term of the academic year, so it is downhill all the way from here!
The focus this half term has rightly been on making the bubble system work effectively and ensuring that we can function as safely as possible. It does now look as though we will need to be ready to work in this way in the longer term as national and local signs are not encouraging.
Of course whilst we need to maintain the emphasis on safety, we will also start to push ahead with curriculum recovery and the important priority of securing great academic outcomes during the next half term as students in all year groups approach their winter assessments and progress reports. Our aim will be to ensure a sharp focus on high standards of work, both in lessons and for homework as more formal assessments take centre stage, particularly for Year 11 and Year 13.
Year 11 Parents Evening
Thank you for a really successful evening with our Year 11 students, parents and teachers last night. We trialled a new way of working, with Zoom or telephone consultations proving to work very well, with close adherence to appointment times from all parties! A couple of small practical issues which we can improve on, but overall a resounding success. Parents, staff and students were incredibly grateful to have the chance to discuss progress face to face and found the set up simple and useful. We are likely to continue with this model of parents evening in the future. A few comments from parents below, and as always, we appreciate your feedback on all aspects of our work.
“I just wanted to say how impressed I was with tonight’s parent’s evening set up.”
“From a parent’s point of view it worked extremely well and every zoom meeting was exactly on time and I felt just as well informed as if the appointments had of been face to face.”
“We just wanted to email you and thank you and your team for all their hard work and dedication over the past months and to acknowledge how smoothly and efficiently the parents evening went tonight.”
“Please pass on our huge thanks to all the wonderful staff at Wollaston.”
Update from Northamptonshire Public Health
Please see HERE for a link to a letter from the Director of Public Health in Northamptonshire. Students are encouraged to avoid having sleepovers during half term in order to ensure that the risk of Covid-19 transmission is minimised during the holidays.
Thank you again for the support regarding this serious and distressing incident. We have taken decisive action to protect our school and have also handed over our findings to the police who will take their own next steps. We have also appreciated the messages of support from parents and I know that the staff who were on duty have valued the recognition that their rapid and calm action protected others from potential harm. Thanks also to the entire school community for ensuring that we have quickly returned to normal and it would seem as though this behaviour has been treated quite rightly by all in the school community as the aberration which it was.
Nevertheless, we have absolutely no room for complacency in being clear in our school rules and regarding our expectations of all students. We will ensure that we publicise the rules and consequences of bringing prohibited items on to the school site and will also develop an anonymous way for students to anonymously report any concerns. Mr Anderson and the pastoral team are also working on significant promotion of kindness, care and the importance of living by our values in the run up to Christmas.
In terms of preventative measures, we also appreciate that no parent expects their children to bring prohibited items into school. It is impossible for us to screen 1500 students every day, and we do value the role that parents have in checking what their son or daughter may be bringing into school. The Department or Education defines as prohibited items as the following: knives or weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs, stolen items, tobacco, vapes and cigarette papers, fireworks, pornographic images, any article that the member of staff reasonably suspects has been, or is likely to be, used: to commit an offence, or to cause personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any person (including the pupil).
Further Wollaston School specific information can be found in our behaviour policy HERE
Update on Positive Covid-19 Case in Year 7
It is pleasing to report that the student who tested positive for Covid-19 has returned to school and is fully recovered. All 20 students who also had to self-isolate have also now returned to Wollaston School and there was no forwards transmission as a result of this case. This is of course excellent news and is due to how carefully the guidance was followed by the student themselves and also by all those teaching and learning in the Year 7 bubble. Whilst this does give us confidence in the systems of controls which we have in place, we do also feel that there are areas in which we can make the school even more Covid secure and some of these arrangements are detailed below.
Seating Plans and Numbered Desks
Over the half term break, we will be numbering all desks in all classrooms. This is to make seating plans and arrangements simpler to arrange and easier to record. Clarity of seating arrangements is crucial in identifying close contacts in the event of positive tests. It will also make the process of identifying desks slightly more simple in rooms where the seating configuration is irregular.
We are also encouraging a formal dismissal routine (e.g. desks 1-8 first) which should make it more straightforward to ensure that all desks and workspaces are free from paper and equipment prior to dismissal.
I will talk to students about these new arrangements in the first assembly after we return and stress the need to ensure that all systems are followed as carefully as possible.
Heating and Ventilation
Our site team will be igniting the boilers over the half term break – ready to take on the winter weather! In a change to more usual advice on energy saving, we will keep as many windows and doors open as possible. Ensuring adequate ventilation is an increasingly important protective measure and has been given much greater emphasis in the latest iteration in the DfE guidance for schools.
Admissions to Year 7 and Year 12 in September 2021
A final reminder that the deadline to apply for a school place is 5pm on the 31st October 2020. Parents of current Year 6 children can apply HERE
We are also beginning the process of admissions to our successful VI form. To sign up for information and updates, please see the Wollaston School Website HERE
Mrs Worger says farewell to her role as Senior Assistant Headteacher at Wollaston School after 22 years of exceptional service. Karen has been both a tower of strength and a voice of reason for our school for decades and she has helped innumerable students, staff and even parents during her time at Wollaston. One could never hope to work with a more loyal and committed colleague and both personally and on behalf of all of us, I would like to thank Karen for her outstanding and dedicated service of Wollaston School. Thankfully, retirement from senior leadership does not mean retirement from teaching! Karen is going to remain with Wollaston as a rather brilliant teacher of Food Technology.
We also say farewell to Nicky Nicholls who has worked at Wollaston as a Learning Support Assistant since 2016, we wish her all the best for her new role.
After the break we will be joined by Tom Guiney, our new Head of Year 7. Isha Qazi will also be joining us as a cover supervisor , and Julie Wescott will be joining the cleaning team. Congratulations also to a number of staff for their internal promotions including Mr Brookes who has been appointed as a teacher of Maths from 1st January 2020. Aili Ayling has been promoted to Key Stage 3 lead for Maths and Evan Fennell who has been appointed to the role of numeracy co-ordinator. Congratulations also to Megan Downs on her recent appointment as Head of History.
This week we have welcomed Matt Cutlack as a Senior IT Technician.
Have a wonderful half term and I look forward to seeing you in November! If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via email on Fitzhughj@wollaston-school.net
Mr James Birkett