Dear Colleagues,

As we enter week two of the summer term may I take this opportunity to follow up your Headteacher’s contact with my own welcome back message.

With thanks to colleagues who supported in-school provision over the holiday I hope you were able to enjoy the break and reflect on what was, even without the extra-ordinary disruption, a busy but productive term.

As phase II of the lockdown begins may I re-emphasise my thanks for the support you are offering pupils, parents and colleagues and repeat our key message: look after yourself and your family first and do what you can in these very challenging circumstances.

Support for Home Schooling

Our Headteachers meet with each other and the Trust team weekly to reflect on our provision and respond to surveys as we move from reactive to a more reflective phase. There is general agreement that engagement in learning is the priority for home schooling. May I therefore acknowledge the terrific work of all teachers for the delivery of a range of strategies, and commend the dedication of our Pastoral and SEND teams, IT support, catering, out of school and class-based support teams and admin staff who are supporting families of vulnerable children and keeping our operation going in these extra-ordinary times.

There are some great innovations emerging and the value of our network is the development of best practice and collaboration. Can I encourage connection between the peer support groups we have set up over the years? Do take the opportunity to share ideas and resources and check on each other’s welfare.

Thanks also for your evaluation of the various online packages that are available to support home schooling. To help parents navigate the plethora of options we have recommended the BBC Bitesize and National Oak Academy options, both of which offer complementary independent learning and will no doubt improve over time. Our surveys tell us that pupils value contact with their own teachers best and so whatever you can do here is much appreciated.

Other Trust Support

We are responding to the DfE advice regarding testing for key workers and have registered on the employers’ website. Links, including those for self-referral are here:

We are also responding to the offer of laptops for vulnerable Year 10 pupils who need connectivity, although this is proving to be an administrative headache similar to the FSM voucher provision.

We will also work with our Heads, Governors and Business Managers to manage the speculation around school re-opening. This is clearly not imminent and we are assured of adequate planning time. It is likely to involve a phased return and probably best to think of it as ‘school – but not as we know it’. I’ll not add to the speculation by predicting a return date, but the Heads’ group will consider all the options with clear goals: minimising the risk of infection, re-engaging pupils and recovering lost learning.

Training opportunities and mental health support

In recognition of the challenges of lockdown we regularly update the archive of mental health advice and training resources available for staff, have a look at the link on the Trust website for more information

Thanks also for the regular calls that are taking place between teams, staff have told us how much such contact is appreciated. Please don’t hesitate to contact your colleagues or the Trust team or me whenever required.

This too shall pass; we remain adaptable to the circumstances and optimistic about our ability to rebuild our provision when circumstances allow.

Thanks for your mutual support, look after yourself and stay safe.

Yours sincerely
P W Rubery
Chief Executive Officer