Dear Parents and Carers,

It isn’t bulletin week this week, but there are a few things I wanted to share, so I’ve brought it forward.

Covid adjustments

We are gradually moving the school back towards a more normal way of working. That process is informed by the ebb and flow of infection rates in Haverhill but I’m keen that if at all possible we can mostly return to our normal ways of working before the end of this year so that the start of next academic year isn’t spent focussing on Covid, again.

The first action we have taken is to allow teachers to remain in their teaching rooms and ask students to move between lessons. With Years 11 and 13 now off site, there are 300 fewer students here, so there is a lot more space. We started that this week and it has gone well.

The next thing to change will be the lunchtime arrangements. Currently, year 7 and 8 are kept away from the rest of the school at lunchtime, staying at the west of the site by the canteen. From Monday next week, Year 8 will still need to buy food from the canteen, but then will be able to go and use the main school field.  If that goes smoothly, we will make the same adjustment for Year 7 the week afterwards. It is an important part of growing up that the younger students get to meet and spend time around the older students. We are of course ready to revert to the existing arrangements should the government announcement on Monday suggest that greater caution is needed nationally.

We have been notified of a positive case today and are awaiting a PCR test to confirm it. The arrangements we are adjusting would have made no difference in that case – the contacts will be those who were sat nearby indoors.

All of our other precautions, including wearing masks in public areas, remain in place until further notice.


Having been in lockdown for most of the summer term last year, it seems a long time since we last moved to a summer uniform. There seems to be some confusion about summer uniform. At one point, I think in 2016, it was decided to allow students to wear PE kit instead of uniform during a period of unusually hot weather. That was before my time but I’m told it was a one-off arrangement; it is not our normal summer uniform. Our standard summer uniform is that ties and blazers are optional. Shirts must remain tucked in. We will move to that at the start of the final half term of every school year from now on and sooner if the weather requires it.

Perhaps unsurprisingly at the end of a year when we have been wearing PE kit so much, some students’ uniform is not currently as smart as I would like it to be. As a reminder:

  • Students should only wear PE kit on the days they have PE. They should not be wearing PE kit all the time.
  • PE hoodies need to be either plain grey or the SWA logo hoody. 
  • PE bottoms must be completely unbranded and plain navy blue or black. 
  • School shoes must be plain black, leather school shoes. 
  • All piercings other than one set of small studs (certainly not hoops) in the ear lobes are against the school uniform policy. Any other piercings must be removed when in school. If they cannot yet be removed due to healing (no longer than 6 weeks) they must be covered by a plaster at all times.
  • No nail varnish or nail extensions are allowed at all.
  • Any student not in full correct uniform will be given alternatives which we expect them to wear for the day.

Our students are generally extremely smart and I’m grateful for your support in maintaining those standards.

Sexual Harassment, Violence or Abuse

Many of you will have heard of the website Everyone’s Invited, and some of you will have read some of the many quite shocking testimonies of young people from all over the country that are on there. The website is a space created for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories and it reveals just how widespread this issue is for young people. Since 8th March 2021, over 16,000 anonymous testimonies have been submitted and shared on ‘Everyone’s Invited’, sparking a conversation with millions of people that has been widely discussed in the press. The aim is that this conversation will help lead to the global exposure and eradication of any aspect of culture that allows for sexual violence. You may have seen yesterday that Ofsted have stated an intention to support schools in stamping out these entirely unacceptable behaviours.

Although there is no mention of SWA on Everyone’s Invited, we are not at all complacent and wholeheartedly embrace our responsibilities in this area. It is our aim to educate all our students so that they understand what is and isn’t acceptable, and how to seek help if they find that they are victim to sexual violence or abuse.  When we hear about it, we stop it.

  • Firstly, we listen. We take all complaints and concerns seriously, always
  • We have trained and experienced staff who have experience supporting individuals dealing with these issues
  • All staff and Governors complete regular Safeguarding and Child Protection training. Our Safeguarding team complete specialist training in dealing with sexual violence
  • We follow all the advice and protocols set out in Keeping Children Safe in Education
  • We promote a vigilant and supportive culture, in which the values of respect, responsibility and compassion are key
  • We work with a wide variety of different professional organisations to support students and families. We signpost students to the support they offer, ensuring we attend to the needs of our diverse student cohort
  • Healthy relationships and consent are taught explicitly through PHSE and through the implementation of the new RSE curriculum. We complete high quality Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) from Year 7 through to Year 13. Topics discussed include consent, harassment, sex and media, healthy relationships
  • We provide support for individuals through the Safeguarding team, the Pastoral team, he school counsellors and the school nurses
  • Where appropriate, external agencies are involved, such as the police, the local Safeguarding team and the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer)
  • We provide lessons, workshops and assemblies led by specialists, such as this week’s workshops on puberty lead by OM Health and Wellbeing

One of the accounts I read on Everyone’s Invited was from a girl talking about being asked for nude pictures by boys on social network forums. She ended by saying that that was just how it was – if you want to be on those forums, you have to accept that it will happen. I found that heart-breaking. No one should ever have to accept that they will inevitably be the victim of that kind of behaviour.

The only problems we can’t solve are the ones we don’t know about. If any student is subject to sexual violence, please don’t ever accept it. Tell us and let us help put a stop to it. 

Have a good weekend,

Andy Hunter