Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope you all had a lovely half-term break with the opportunity to enjoy the lovely weather we’ve had during lockdown.
During half-term, it was nice to have some parents join me for the Microsoft Teams meeting about the return to school. I’ve never experienced a meeting with 50+ people on a computer before, but it went quite smoothly.
As you know, pupils from Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 were given the Government’s go ahead to join us on the school site from Monday 1st June. It was a lovely feeling to be able to welcome them back. They have all been sensible about the hygiene issues and following the one-way systems around the site. They understand the new working conditions, but they all seem incredibly pleased to be back with some of their classmates.
We have roughly half of each of the classes back, with their friends at home following the same work structure remotely, so nobody is missing out. The online lessons are supplemented at school with exercise and enrichment, such as baking a cake themed around the NHS. I thoroughly enjoyed taking the St Andrew’s girls for food technology on Monday morning, with some great results.
I have been very pleased to receive nominations from teaching staff for my electronic version of the Principal’s Award. I have sent emails to many pupils throughout lockdown congratulating them for their super work and effort.
Over the half term break, I took the decision to order some ‘Star Student’ postcards, which I will use as the next level of recognition during lockdown. I will be posting out cards to those pupils nominated by the teaching staff for exceptional work and dedication to their studies during this pandemic.
I hope that you are following us on the social media platforms, which allow you to see the most up-to-date news from across the Alliance. Recently we posted some examples of fantastic artwork from our year 8 pupils, Brandon and Erik. Great work boys.
I know that there is a lot of art, design and photography work going on throughout lockdown. Certainly, I know my daughter and her classmates are taking inspiration from artist Gustav Klimt. She has produced a decorative box covered in 3D swirls based on his style of work. At the other end of the scale, I’ve seen my son in year 13 finishing off his A-level photography sketchbook, taking inspiration from artists like Josef Sudek and Minor White. I’ve also seen design technology projects being made, from initial ‘mood boards’ through to market research and then final design. I would like to thank all the staff involved in the creative arts for the ideas they are coming up with during lockdown to keep our pupil’s creativity flowing.
There have been many inventive methods that the teachers have used during this lockdown period to help progression with arts based subjects, which are really important for our pupils to enjoy at this strange time. For example, drama lessons allow pupils to express themselves in different ways. Pupils have been given tasks that have unfolded over the lockdown period, such as researching a myth or legend; making a storyboard about that myth; thinking about characters, costumes, emotions; then moving on to act out a scene or recite a monologue to share with the teacher and their classmates via Teams. Our pupils really have been very fortunate to have these opportunities. I know from speaking to my own family members in Wales that there are children simply not getting enough from school to occupy them, let alone help them progress, which I find troubling.
With the mention of progress, I have decided that pupils will still receive a progress report at the end of this term. We have discussed what this report should include and have decided that it will be based on effort shown over the lockdown period to engage with the work set and will include a brief comment from the teacher leading that particular year group. If anything, it will serve as reminder of the time they spent in lockdown.
Our annual prize-giving, on the last day of term, is a ceremony that we always look forward to. It seems wrong not to mark the accomplishments of our pupils just because Covid-19 has changed our year. I have decided, therefore, that we will still award pupils in the usual categories. This gives our pupils something to aim for throughout this half of the summer term.
Miss Nero, our Nursery Manager reports that the Nursery children at St Andrew’s have been enjoying lots of activities and the lovely weather outdoors this week.
Pre-school have been looking at how germs spread with putting their fingers on a slice of bread and waiting to see what will grow on it! Also, spraying coloured water to mimic a sneeze and measuring how far it will spread if you catch it in a tissue, your hand or just let it go!
On Tuesday, the children made elderflower champagne, cutting up and slicing lemons using fine motor skills with safety knives. They enjoyed smelling the flowers. We will have to wait a couple of weeks to taste it and see if it has turned fizzy!
Covid-19 has meant that many plans have been put on hold for us all, but throughout lockdown the governors and I have still been working on our new building. We should receive approval of our detailed planning permission within weeks. We have also been working on the legalities for the new name of the combined schools, together with the new logo. We are really looking forward to sharing these details with you, which shouldn’t be too long now. The architects are working on a 3D model of the buildings, which will be available for you to view.
Obviously, the pandemic has delayed building work actually starting on the site, but I want to look on the positive side, so I think it has enabled us more time to ensure we get everything just right, which has been helpful. It also meant that we had the time to seek planning permission for our existing sites, which makes them much more attractive to buyers, so helps to secure a better deal for the school charity in the long-run, which means the benefits of that will immediately pass to the pupils attending the new school site. We are also still in discussions with sports providers and hope to finalise plans with them for their use of our facilities shortly.
Nobody could have foretold the current circumstances that we find ourselves dealing with, but we remain positive about the future of the Alliance and the new site.
We thank you for your continued support. Please do get in touch if you have any queries.
I M Daniel, BA (QTS), NPQH