11 June 2021
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope that you had a good half-term. It is clear that students and teachers alike have come back refreshed having enjoyed the recent improvement in the weather.
We made a number of changes to our routines prior to half-term and it is encouraging to report that that they have proven to be very successful. One example of that relates to our ability to host (risk assessed) physical assemblies again for individual year groups. Year Leaders have greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet with students collectively and there have been some fascinating assemblies about the need to be aware of our digital legacy (in light of the recent coverage relating to England cricketer Ollie Robinson) and mistakes that we should avoid. We prioritise E-Safety at school and phones are not allowed to be seen, heard, or used on the school site, but we know that outside of school students regularly make decisions that can have very negative consequences for themselves and others in terms of their social media use. We also know that the vast majority of our students do not engage with others in this way. Year Leaders have also discussed issues around bullying and the fact that those claiming to be involved in ‘banter’ are actually just using a more unpleasant form of bullying, as they are saying unacceptable things but then implying that it is the other person’s problem for not being able to take a joke. These are important things that speak to the lived experience of our students and all young people nationally. We will continue similar discussions in form time, lessons and additional sessions during this half term.
I am also meeting with groups of students from Year 7 through to those who have recently left in Year 13. We will discuss their experiences both in schools and more broadly, so that we are aware of the things that have both helped and hindered them as they grow up and engage with the school. We intend to work with parents in a similar way from September onwards, as I genuinely feel that there are very important conversations that all schools need to have about how society has changed in recent years. All schools need to adapt and it is important to consider how wider societal trends are influencing and impacting upon school life.
The expectations associated with schools and the role that they can and should be fulfil within society is also worthy of greater consideration. Since March 2020, politicians and public figures have suggested a huge number of things that schools should start to do, need to do much more effectively or should be responsible for. This has led to regular comments that schools represent a 4th Emergency Service. In simple terms, to do more, we need greater capacity. To have greater capacity, we need better funding. To use that funding wisely and appropriately, we need to be able to access greater external provision. Those things require a greater financial commitment from central Government, which made last week’s funding announcement extremely disappointing. After years of austerity and a damaging pandemic it seems surreal that a coherent plan to support children in the years ahead has either been rejected or not fully considered. Schools and education services might not require £15 billion pounds, but they do require a coherent plan, additional funding and a sense that support for the young people of the UK is an essential priority for the future success of society.
Thank you for your continued support.