Coronavirus Update - 16:00 - 19/07/20

Dear Parents,

So after 18 weeks of weekly letters, here is my very last one of this academic year and of this crazy, strange time. It has been the hardest one to write; so much to say and yet almost out of words...never in living memory has the school faced such challenges and it has been so humbling to see how our students, staff and families have risen to these extraordinary challenges.

'How are we gonna do that unless we give it a shot and hope for the best.' Dory, Finding Dory
We are delighted that we are starting September with a gathered school once more rather than a dispersed one. Our September plans were sent out this week and the response from you has been overwhelmingly positive; you have appreciated that we are tied by the guidance but that our response has been reasonable, sensible and understandable. In September, we will review, adapt and amend the plans when we see how they work in action.

'It means you can do whatever you put your mind to.' Jenny (Dory's Mum), Finding Dory.
With the full opening of the school, it is hoped that you will not have to continue to be a substitute teacher/cover teacher/home tutor, whichever word you have used throughout this time and that you will instead be able to simply be Mum, Dad, Grandparent...what a relief that will be. We celebrated at home on Friday when our last home learning tasks were completed...the relief for us all was huge. We know (having lived it too) how hard it has been to balance working from home, managing home learning and keeping family life ticking over. I don't know how you feel about how things have gone at home but what I do know is whatever has been managed, attempted, completed, is good enough; no-one can or should expect more. Thank you for your partnership with this, I suspect this has been the hardest part. We are extremely proud of your child(ren) and have created this short film just for them

'Yes, trust. It’s what friends do.' Dory, Finding Dory
When reviewing this experience, it may be easy for us all to look at all the opportunities that were cancelled, missed and to think about how this period of time has been unfair.
We are determined that our focus, our language and communication over the coming months will be around coping with change as positively as possible. For our students, it is important for us to be as calm and reassuring as possible; managing the display of our own emotions communicates masses. We will not be able to remove all challenges that lie ahead for our students but we will work hard to support them to navigate change constructively in the hope that we are able to build far stronger adults in the future.

'The best things happen by chance because that's life' Dory, Finding Dory.
This is true to some degree as who could have predicted that we would have to spend so much time with our loved ones. Whilst there were some hard times (possibly linked to home learning), we have been so lucky to have had almost 5 months watching our children grow up, something that we wouldn't have had the opportunity to do in the past.

We mustn't forget the very different opportunities and experiences that lockdown has brought our students, broadening their horizons and building a rich tapestry of new learning from looking more closely at nature, baking, reading, creating to helping out at home. Once more these are things that perhaps our students would not have had time to do in the old normal.

At the end of every year we sadly say goodbye to valued colleagues; we wish Harvey Byrne, Symon Blowers, Niki Paterson, Jen Knight, Sarah Giller, Jamie Pike and Liz Lea every success in their new roles and thank them for their great work.

'When something is too hard...There is always another way' Charlie (Dory's Dad), Finding Dory.
Looking towards September, there will be many of our students who are excited to be starting back to school but also are anxious because not only will things feel and look a little different but they have been out of the school routine for so long. We will be there for them to support them through the process and ensure that there is time to reflect as well as look forward.

As always we are here to help, do please get in touch if you need us. This is very important so please do not think that you cannot or should not. Anything that we can do to aid the transition back to school or to support a change in family circumstances is very useful to know. What we have seen over this time is that our Year 10 students have settled well back into school routines; their behaviour and attitude has been impeccable and therefore we feel that the rest of the school will also manage this transition well once it gets underway.

'My friend, Sigourney, once said, "Rescue, rehabilitate, release"', Dory, Finding Dory
And finally...this letter was not supposed to have quotes from Finding Dory which we had watched several weeks ago but from Christopher Robin, a wonderful film about hope and reminding ourselves that we need to live for the moment, as Evelyn Robin said "Your life is happening right now, right in front of you". If this pandemic has taught us anything it is that we cannot take the future for granted as we do not know what is around the corner. However, Finding Dory seemed more apt in the end as it is so much about being positive no matter what obstacles we are facing and Dory has faced so many difficulties in these two "Finding...' films. The well known saying, "When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming," perfectly sums up our current experience; in whatever way, we have kept going, doing what we can in the face of adversity and we have arrived on the other side.

I want to thank our staff team for all their adaptability and willingness to work differently over this time, balancing their own family situations alongside the work they have provided for our students. I know from conversations, just how much your child(ren) matter to them and us all and decisions made and actions taken are always done with the best interests of every student at its heart.

However, we couldn't have done this without you, our parents; with your support, positivity and co-operation we have been able to navigate the tricky times together; simply thank you.

Have the most wonderful summer, be it a staycation or to more foreign climates, please continue to stay safe and enjoy the sunshine (fingers crossed it continues). I want to leave you with two quotes sent to me by some of you that I think are apt as we look to the future..“After all tomorrow is another day” Scarlett O’Hara, Gone With The Wind and"Ha, see what a little wishing can do?" Jiminy Cricket. I will write again at the end of August to confirm the plan for September or whether based on any alterations to government guidance, we have had to make some tweaks.

Until then, take care and thank you once more for your unfailing support.
Best wishes

Ceri Oakley
Headteacher

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