Dear Parents and carers,
It seems slightly unusual to wish families a happy half term during such an in prolonged period of school closure. Nevertheless I hope that you and your children enjoy a relaxing break and that you remain as happy and healthy as times will allow.
On Thursday, I had prepared a fairly lengthy communication to you with full details of our arrangements for a phased return to school. However, there is a proverb about the best laid plans, and overnight the situation has changed considerably.
There has been growing concern that the Department of Education has not published the promised guidance on a return to school for year 10 and 12. I learnt very late last night that this is because there are considerable public health concerns regarding any social mixing of these year groups, as some students have wider networks beyond their immediate household, for example employment or use of transport to get to school. As a result of these concerns the guidance is not yet forthcoming and the national position is not clear.
Throughout the crisis, I have aimed to provide decision making which brings certainty to what is a changeable and volatile National picture. To this end, we will move back the provisional start dates for years 10 and 12 by one week. When I hope we will have a more concrete position from the Department for Education. This means that the new provisional timetable is as follows;
- Year 12 provision: to begin no earlier than 8th June 2020
- Year 10 provision: To begin no earlier than 15th June 2020
I realise that this will be disrupting to students parents and staff. I also must stress that this has nothing to do with preparations at Wollaston School, the position of teaching unions or local health and safety concern. The decision has been taken solely on the National position and public health concern about these year groups returning.
Of course, nothing has been lost in our preparations – we will continue to prepare the site, amend policy and procedures to enable as safe a return as possible, when national circumstances allow.
Please also note that this decision has no bearing on the national and local picture regards the re-opening of Primary Schools. The public health position seems to indicate that as younger children are unlikely to hold employment or use public transport to travel to school – they are less likely to mix with the larger community. It is this more general distinction which seems to be driving the differences between primary and secondary planning – but we will need to wait for the guidance to ascertain a clear rationale.
Of course, given this news, the importance of remote education becomes more acute and we will be taking steps after half term to increase the interactivity of this provision, whilst adhering to strict safeguarding policies and procedures.
Recruitment Update for September 2020
I am delighted to announce that in the last 2 weeks, we have enjoyed an incredibly successful recruitment process for a number of key posts and have benefitted from a larger than usual fields and a competitive and innovative “remote” recruitment process!
Simon Anderson joins us as Senior Deputy Headteacher from a Vice Principal role in a school in Milton Keynes.
Sarah Monsell joins us as Head of Art and Design from a similar role in a successful London school.
David Jones is our new Head of Health and Social Care, having worked previously in Hertfordshire schools.
Emily Pearce will take on the KS3 lead role in English and joins from a large school in Milton Keynes.
Simon Kong joins us in Maths, having taught and led in a number of local schools.
Kieron Dwyer will be an NQT in Geography, and has corporate experience as an energy / climate change lawyer.
Earlier in the year we also recruited:
Steve Bustard as our Exams and data Manager who joins Wollaston from a similar role in a college setting.
Charlotte Hoarau – and experienced English teacher who is returning from teaching in Malaysia.
Paul Gowler, who will join as an NQT in English.
We will conclude the process for our AHT (Inclusion) today and look set to make a strong appointment. We will also interview for a Maths teacher and a French teacher during half term which will then see us fully staffed for September.
Thank you as always for your support of your children’s education and of our school. Although we may be getting used to a new normal, we miss seeing our corridors and classrooms full of happy and dynamic students – learning and living with positivity and optimism.HEAD
Whilst we may not be able to see their days return in the immediate future, they will at some stage. In the meantime, thank you for helping to keep this spirit of education alive during such troubling circumstances.
Stay happy and safe – and look after one another.
Mr J Birkett