Dear Parents and Carers,

Start of next term

I’m sure you’ll have seen the latest announcements from the DfE yesterday about the start of next term. They want us to put in place a system which will protect schools and limit the need for people to isolate. As I understand it, there are two parts to this. Firstly, we will need to test every member of staff every week. Secondly, any student who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive can, as an alternative to isolation, attend school as normal providing they have a test every day for seven days, and that those tests are negative. We are going to have to convert some rooms to create our testing accommodation and recruit some staff, all at very short notice. We are thinking already about how that might work. We will also need to obtain consent for testing from you. Once we have worked out how to do that, I’ll write again.

The immediate impact for many of you is that the start of term will be disrupted for the majority of children. We have been instructed to allow Years 11 and 13 back to school on Wednesday 6 January as planned. We will set work remotely for Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12. There will be five hours’ worth of work a day for pupils in KS3 and KS4, set according to the timetable. We may be able to offer some live lessons though we appreciate that in households with more children than laptops of tablets, that becomes very difficult to manage. If you need to borrow a laptop from us for those three days, please let me know today, as soon as you possibly can, and we will aim to have one available to collect on the morning of Wednesday 6th, if not before.

Key Workers’ children and vulnerable children

We will be open between Wednesday 6th and Friday 8th January for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. Those children will be following the work set by teachers that everyone else is doing at home. Vulnerable children will be invited by their year teams. If you are a key worker and feel that your child can’t work safely from home alone so would like them to attend school on those days, please email Miss Powell – – to let her know. That is the case whether they attended the last key worker school or not.

Students in HC6 will be set work according to their timetable and expected to supplement it with independent study. We are currently expecting all students to be back in school as normal from Monday 11th January.

Covid over Christmas

I’d like to remind you that if you need to inform us that your child has received a positive covid test after this afternoon, you should contact us via the Unity Schools Partnership central team at  or by calling 01440 333400 – option 8 (until 7pm on Friday 18 December, then between 8am and 5pm 19th – 24th December). You only need to inform us if your child was in school during the 48 hours before the first symptoms or positive test, whichever was sooner.

Christmas Concert

There were nearly three hundred people in the audience at the Christmas concert last night. Like always, it was wonderful. Unlike always, it’s still available to view on You Tube. Search for the Samuel Ward Academy channel – you’ll find it on there. Thank you to Mr Russell, Mr Radford, Mrs Ryan and the rest of the team for organising that.

Community Secret Santa

Amidst many frustrations this year, it has been good to see how people have rallied around. An initiative called Haverhill Secret Santa have organised donations from members of the community to provide gifts for children who might have had to go without otherwise. We’ve received lots of them to distribute and the generosity of the donations has taken us all by surprise. I’m sure some of you were involved in that. On behalf of the children, thank you.

Some more Thank you-s

Speaking of the children, they have been wonderful this term. Attendance is slightly higher than it was before covid. Behaviour is excellent, with fewer C points than at any time since I joined the school. Whatever new rules we’ve had to put in place, they have adapted to them with remarkably little fuss. I hope you are as proud of them, each and every one of them, as I am.

I’d like to finish my paying tribute to all the staff at Samuel Ward. I am very lucky to work with so many capable, determined, caring people. They have worked incredibly hard this term. They have managed to create an atmosphere of calmness and normality in circumstances that are neither, and that takes a lot of effort. I hope you’ll join me in wishing them all a relaxing and well-deserved break over Christmas.

Whatever you are doing over Christmas and however restricted it is, I hope you have a really lovely, relaxing time. Maybe we’ll get more enjoyment this year from the little things we might sometimes take for granted.

Merry Christmas,

Andy Hunter