Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope you are all well and looking forward as much as we are to welcoming students back onto the site to re-commence face to face teaching next week.
I think this is a time of opportunity. We have a chance to reconsider what we have done in the past and re-evaluate it. Is normal necessarily best, or do we need a new normal? Many of us in education are interested in exploring the way we assess students – lots of countries around the world use a system similar to the one we will use this year and with good results. I am increasingly interested in how we measure students’ engagement with our teaching. I’m also very keen on the idea of access to enrichment being a right not a privilege. There is a lot of good that could come of this situation.
Consequently, I’m getting a bit tired of hearing people in the media competing with each other to describe how disastrous this pandemic has been for all us of us but in particular for children. In my experience children are remarkably resilient; I’m sure many of us can remember injuries we sustained when playing as children, from grazed knees to broken bones and black eyes, and generally we thought nothing of it. We just bounced back.
Of course, it is going to take a while to readjust to coming to school every day and we will have a lot of support in place for those that need it. However, I am absolutely confident that the wonderful young people who attend SWA will go to be as happy and successful as they would have been had none of us ever heard of Covid. I intend to focus our efforts on the long-term wellbeing and academic success of our students, not on scrambling to pack months of learning into a few short weeks. Our students’ future is too important to rush.
Thank you to all those of you who have completed the consent form for testing. Testing isn’t a legal obligation, but I encourage everyone, staff and students, to take part for their own sake and everyone else’s. Details of the testing times have been sent out to you. Please do try to stick to those. Although testing for an individual is quick and easy, processing and logging hundreds of tests a day is time consuming and complex. It will help us enormously if students come at the times requested. If you haven’t yet given consent and you want to do so, the form is here: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=flzQy2QFTEapyFTpF1Os7hsdvorm5d9IpG6J35gaqU5UQTNENEVIMFRDRk5CT0JNT1NZMldSTUpORy4u
There are privacy statements concerning the handling of data from both in-school tests and, afterwards, home tests available on the website here: https://samuelward.co.uk/covid
We’ve made a video to help students know what to expect when they come in for their tests next week. It’s on the website and on our you tube channel here: https://youtu.be/9WzerArswwM
Adults in households with school aged children are also now entitled to free home testing. Anyone in a household with school aged children in it and who is aged 18 or over can pick up two boxes of seven tests from any testing site. If you cannot get to a testing site, it is possible to order online. I don’t yet have the details for that but I’ll share them when I do.
Years 11 and 13
Students in Year 11 at SWA and Year 13 at HC6 will be told early next week what the arrangements will be for calculating grades for them over the course of the next few months. I will of course share that information with parents as well. As a rough guide, we will continue to teach for as long as we can, and use data from a range of activities, some of them already completed, to arrive at a grade. The deadline for us submitting those grades is 18 June.
I know there has been some dissatisfaction among parents with our current uniform supplier for a while, and I share that. To exit our contract, we would have to buy out all of their stock of our uniform. That would currently cost us much more than we can afford, so we will run that contract for another year and try to reduce that stock. As we do that, they will inevitably run out of certain items in certain sizes and won’t restock them, so not everyone will be able to get all their uniform from there.
With that in mind, we will continue to accept almost all aspects of our uniform from other suppliers, as long as they are in the same colours and styles as our official uniform. Please don’t buy skinny trousers, or even trousers you think might be on the borderline. If we can find somewhere that sells a similar jacket to our uniform jacket, I’ll share that link with you. We know that trousers which match ours can be found at Next and john Lewis, amongst other places. I hope that will help you get the best quality uniform for the best price you can.
Relationships and Sex Education
Due to changes in government regulations, we are now required to have an updated Relationships and Sex Education Policy. It represents virtually no change for us because we have covered those topics for a long time. However, it is a requirement that we consult parents on our policy, which I’m more than happy to do. The policy can be found here: https://samuelward.co.uk/files/2020-12/rse-policy.pdf?45d25b5e9a
If you have any comments, please let me know during this consultation period which will close on Friday 26 March. Until then, the policy on the website will be considered a draft policy.
Tools for Uncertainty: Parent Workshop 60-mins. Psychology in Schools Team.
Life is always unpredictable but over this last year we have been living with a much higher degree of uncertainty than is usual. This workshop will introduce strategies that parents/carers can support their young people to use to help them cope better with uncertainty now but also in the years to come. Being able to adapt in situations by learning to tolerate emotions and cope with change reduces stress levels and is a great skill for life.
This workshop is suitable for parents/carers of all children who are struggling in the current pandemic who would like to learn strategies they can teach their children for managing difficult thoughts, feelings and situations.
Dates: 22nd March 1pm or 6pm, 23rd March 6pm or 7.15pm
Families can book themselves on for free through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tools-Beechwood1@to-manage-uncertainty-parent-workshop-tickets-142489504945
Thank you for all of your support over the last year and thank you for all the work you’ve done to support your children since January. It has been a real community effort. As parents, you’ve been able to see more clearly and easily than ever before what it is that we are teaching your children. We’ve received much more feedback from you than usual, most of it positive, all of it helpful. I feel we have all got to know each other better, and that’s’ one of the things I really don’t want to lose as this period of home-schooling draws to a close.
Have a good weekend,