Headteachers Letter – 29th January 2021
Dear Parents and carers,
We have enjoyed another positive week of education, both in terms of remote provision and those students who are continuing to work from school. I am slightly unsure if the snow on Monday was another challenge or something of a welcome break. Whilst this did enforce a closure on Monday – I also know that many students and families managed to spend time together in the snow – and we did have impressive snowmen built on Tuesday by the small number of students and staff working at school, although the snowmen had mysteriously vanished by Wednesday morning!!
Date for school re-opening
You are likely to be aware of the prime ministers announcement on Wednesday, pushing back the date for any school re-opening to only begin from the 8th March 2021. Whilst this is obviously disappointing news for us all, it does at least bring certainty to the speculation and contradictory news reports which seemed to be circulating widely in the early part of the week. We will of course continue to provide a full remote learning offer for the duration of the national lockdown as well as in school provision for eligible students.
In our preparation for the next half term we are planning for curriculum coverage which can be delivered both remotely and in person – as well as ensuring that we can easily switch between two at relatively short notice.
Mass covid tests in schools
We are continuing to undertake weekly tests for all staff, which in line with national guidance will be increased to twice weekly in the coming weeks. We have tested students who attend our LAW school provision twice, and we await further guidance on testing requirements moving forward.
In preparation for full re-opening – hopefully from 8th March 2021, we are currently preparing a testing schedule for all returning students, which would allow us to conduct lateral flow tests on their return to school. The team have now conducted over 400 tests to date and we feel secure that this programme works as it is designed to. We also now note the DfE and Government change that a positive lateral flow test is no longer requested to be confirmed by a laboratory PCR test.
Mental health Awareness – Promoting Well being.
Lockdown is a significant challenge for every member of our school community and this of course is not a form of education or a form of living which any of us would choose. We recognise that the current circumstances can have a significant effect on mental health and well being. Whilst there is not anything we can do to cancel a global pandemic or the national restrictions – there are things which we can do to support our own and the well being of others in this difficult time.
In support of Children’s Mental Health Week, Ms Walker is sending separately today a full pack of information to both parents and students filled with resources, tools and information to promote positive mental health. Miss Pickwick is leading assembles next week on Zoom to students in all year groups, regarding mental health awareness and we are also introducing a positivity wall to the school website to encourage us to share good news, positive attitudes and the importance of hope.
I would also like to make families aware of the BBC bitesize website on mental health and well being. This has some useful content on a range of topics, from lockdown loneliness to coping with perfectionism, from the importance of identity to healthy social media use.
We hope that all of these resources may be of use to watch or discuss with students to encourage a dialogue about issues which can seem awkward topics to bring up out of the blue!
Please do also remember that as a school we continue to be here to assist with all safeguarding and well being matters. If you would like some help, advice or want to discuss any concerns, please contact the relevant head of year or student manager as per the list below;
CootesA@wollaston-school.net , GuineyT@wollaston-school.net
MartinK@wollaston-school.net , JacksonM@wollaston-school.net
RatledgeM@wollaston-school.net , ReesM@wollaston-school.net
BurgessC@wollaston-school.net , StevensonE@wollaston-school.net , LydonS@wollaston-school.net
WeirsmithM@wollaston-school.net , WalkerA@wollaston-school.net
MeliaJ@wollaston-school.net , MillsT@wollaston-school.net
Ms Walker is our safeguarding lead and she can be contacted on WalkerA@wollaston-school.net if you have any concerns about your child’s physical or metal health please do also contact your GP for further support and if you feel there is a risk of immediate harm please make contact with the emergency services.
Holocaust Memorial Events
As a regular part of the school calendar, we remembered Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday, and this week, assemblies were on this theme. In more usual times, these are delivered by Holocaust Ambassadors and overseen by Mrs Correa-Humphreys and Mr Hopkins. At the end of the assembly, we ask students and staff to lay a stone as a symbol that we will remember.
This year the theme was ‘Be the Light in the Darkness’. As a symbol of remembrance, and along with many other people across the UK, students and staff were invited to light a candle at 8pm (this was being asked as part of the National Day of Holocaust Remembrance). We also linked this to our core values of respect and compassion, as well as a commitment to remembering those who died in the holocaust and committing ourselves to build a better world. There is a photo montage on the website of the images received back from members of the school community which can be found HERE
Thank you to all who contributed and who listened so carefully in the assemblies. Thank you also for supporting our continued mission of Holocaust remembrance that our school community and our holocaust ambassadors are determined to continue, in order that we may shape a better world for one another.
Free school meals and donations to Northampton food bank.
We have now fully switched to providing supermarket vouchers to all students who are eligible for free school meals. During the period that we were providing food parcels, we had a number of eligible families ask that we donate these parcels to the local food bank. We have also donated all excess stock to the Re:Store Northampton food bank. Thank you for your incredible generosity and ability to think of others in such difficult times. There are pictures on the school website HERE of the food they delivered and the food bank were delighted with the donation.
Physical activity : Lockdown League
Last week we achieved 819 hours 20min in online exercise hours, we had well over 300 hours of additional exercise logged by 87 pupils and staff outside of PE lessons. We are encouraging all KS4/Sixth Form/Staff to indicate their exercise hours on the weblink https://www.northamptonshiresport.org/lockdown-league
We remain top of the local lock down league table run by Northamptonshire Sport. We estimate that over 80% KS3 of pupils are engaged in exercising for 1h 30min or more in their core PE lessons.
Year 11 Recognition and Excellence Ties Evening
We have taken the decision to postpone our recognition awards for Year 11 students, until such time as we are back in school and able to appropriately recognise and reward the achievements of our excellent Year 11 cohort as they prepare for the final stages of their Wollaston School Career. Whilst we remain likely to host our excellence ties evening remotely, we do want students to be back in school when they have taken place, in order that they are able to wear their ties with pride, and also in order that we can provide appropriate celebration for all of our Year 9 students who are showing such a wonderful level of engagement and dedication to wish every success in their GCSE qualification.
Year 9 Curriculum Choices and 4th February 2021
Our virtual information evening can now be found on the school website HERE We trust it makes for perfect lockdown viewing for Year 9 students and their families!
A reminder that all live lessons are suspended on the 4th February 2021 and we will ensure that students are prepared in advance for the independent learning which they will be undertaking on that day. We want provision to remain as successful as possible and for all students to have meaningful work to complete, which may of course be tasks for formal assessment where appropriate.
Booking slots during both the day and the early evening for parent appointments with subject teachers are now open, and all meetings will be facilitated through zoom.
Once the day/evening is complete we would appreciate any feedback on the format, as we are likely to continue to need remote provision for events which would usually need large numbers of parents to attend in person.
Thank you as always for your continued support and I hope that you enjoy a relaxing weekend.
Mr James Birkett