Headteachers Letter – 9th October 2020

Dear all,

Thank you for all of the well wishes following the news of the positive test result yesterday. We have been in touch with the family and the student affected is recovering well. Although of course any positive test is a significant event, our control systems are working as well as possible and there have only been just over 20 students and no staff who have been required to self-isolate as a result. This is of course mainly thanks to the student themselves following all of our processes and guidance so thoroughly. In light of this, we would appreciate all parents discussing with their children, the need to maintain adherence to the rules at all times.

Thank you particularly to those parents and students involved directly in the actions following the positive test result yesterday.  We appreciated that the parents who suddenly had to pick up their children were able to do so in a calm and orderly fashion. Whilst we do have a well-planned response to this scenario, the timely action of parents ensured that we completed all actions quickly and without disruption to the overwhelming majority of the school community.  Public Health and the Department for Education were also available quickly throughout the day for consultation, and it is probably fair to point out (at a time where there is significant negative media coverage) that their response was immediate, practical and helpful.

These do remain worrying times and I know that the situation locally and nationally is causing concern. We will continuously stress to students their need to be self sufficient and avoid all unnecessary contact as well as ensuring that our bubble system works as well as it possibly can. Please do also be assured that it is only the close contacts of the student affected that need to self isolate – although please do contact the school if you think that your child is an unidentified close contact. It is also important to note that it is only the close contacts themselves who must isolate.  The rest of the family can continue to attend work or school, providing that no-one in the household displays symptoms of coronavirus or tests positive for Covid-19.


Parent Governor Vacancy

Wollaston School’s Governing Board are currently running with a vacancy for a parent Governor and would welcome interest from anyone who would like to find out more. This is a chance to play a major role in  strategic decision making for our school. Our composition allows for significant parental representation and we are committed to ensuring that our Governing Body reflects the full range of stakeholders. At the current time, most meetings are held via Zoom which means that most Governors attend from home. If you would like to know more – please contact Fitzhughj@wollaston-school.net .Any parent interested  can also attend a Governors meeting as an observer, with no commitment if  you would be interested in seeing how Governor’s operate before formally putting yourself forward! Again please contact Jade if you would like to arrange this.


Year 10 Success at GCSE Information

Although we are unable to welcome Year 10 parents into school for this event, Mrs Lydon (Deputy Headteacher, Academic Standards) will co-ordinate a launch of a dedicated area on the school website from 14th October 2020. Year 10 parents will receive a letter with more detail – as we will include a video introduction as well as numerous subject resources designed to help students plan for excellent academic outcomes from the outset of their GCSE courses.  More information is available from the Year Team Bevanp@wollaston-school.net or from Mrs Lydon Lydons@wollaston-school.net

Open Evening 2020

Our 2020 virtual open evening videos are now live on our school’s Youtube channel. Thank you to all who assisted with the filming and for some wonderful student and  staff cameo appearances! I think our tour video gives a genuine feel for our school and our traditional Open Evenings as well as  visiting each faculty in turn. The videos have been live since last night and are already attracting a fair number of views!  In addition to the tour video, there are also some inspiring speeches from our Head students as well as from a new Year 7 student. I have also included an introduction from myself and for those who have previously heard me speak on Open Evening, you will be relieved to note that I  have managed to shorten my usual lengthy monologue into a 3 minute version!  All of the content can be viewed HERE

The final elements of the Virtual Open Evening will take place on each night next week, with members of SLT  hosting zoom based Q&A sessions with prospective parents. School admissions forms then have to be filed with the Local Authority by the 31st October 2020.


Assembly and Pastoral Work

During a meeting with one of our VI form students, it was suggested that some of our excellent assemblies would benefit from continued thought and discussion beyond their initial time slot. One idea which we will try is to build tutorial and pastoral sessions around the ideas in assemblies. Another was to promote the content of assemblies in my weekly updates and suggest links to further resources which parents and students may wish to explore at home.

It is particularly important in the current climate, for us to use our tutorial and assembly time to bring a window on the world to Wollaston School and invite students and staff to consider  how we all have a role to play in creating an equitable, just, diverse  and inclusive school and wider society.

Mr Braham- Nicoll has led all Year groups in an assembly on Black History Month, which also explored the Black Lives Matter Movement with older Year groups. Students have been set a challenge to research and discover historical black figures and the contributions they have made to Britain and the world. Details of the challenge can be found here with some examples, including Walter Tull, who was the first black professional footballer, playing for Spurs then Northampton Town. He later became the British Army’s first black officer.

There is a Black History Month Website HERE

BBC iplayer also have a series of programmes on Black History HERE

During this week’s assemblies, Mr Fennell led on the theme of Pride and Inclusivity. It is of course of vital importance that our school and society is a place free from discrimination of any kind, including the need to make thoughtful choices regarding the language that we use. We are proud that Wollaston School is a place where you can be yourself and we aim to work and learn in a culture in which every individual is valued. However, homophobia remains a particular problem in society and of course it would be naive to assume that this is never the case in our school. We know that some students fear discussing sexual orientation because of uncertainty regarding  how this will be perceived by others.  If as a parent, you would like more information on LGBT+ issues, Stonewall have published some FAQs for parents HERE

Careers Advice and Guidance

Parents will be aware of the significant impact of Coronavirus on the economy, but we are aware that some sectors are thriving despite the current circumstances. This make it a crucial time to have access to bespoke careers advice and Mr Myers continues to work with students in a range of year groups on their pathways into employment.

Year 11 students were ‘zoomed ‘ by Lizzie Forbes of Balfour Beatty limited this week. Lizzie , an ex Wollaston student informed students of the wide array of occupations within the construction industry and explained her role as a communications and public relations officer. It was also pleasing to hear the news that a Year 13 student has an interview with Bloomberg regarding a degree apprenticeship vacancy.  Finally all students in Years 10-13 are invited to attend the forthcoming webinar on Monday 12th October organised by Dale Willis of My Great First Job about creating an effective C.V. More information can be found HERE


National Covid-19 Advice

A gentle reminder to ensure that our students follow all national Coronavirus guidance when not in school. We would be grateful if you could continue to promote this advice with your son and daughter. We are aware of some reports, both locally and nationally, that social gatherings of young people are the source of some clusters of positive cases. Please see HERE for FAQs regarding what you can and cannot do.

Thank you, as always for your support and cooperation in these matters and of Wollaston School. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via email on Fitzhughj@wollaston-school.net

Yours sincerely,

Mr James Birkett