Dear Parents and Carers,
I have mentioned in previous letters to parents and carers that I am working with other school leaders on a response to the dreadful events earlier this term. More than 30 schools across Suffolk will be participating in a Staying Safe Week later this term, but I also felt that our children needed a more immediate response. I’ve been talking to Suffolk Police about how we can reassure our students that they are safe in school and on the streets, and how we can help them develop habits which will keep them safe. All students have attended an assembly delivered by Suffolk Police this week. That assembly did not discuss the recent incident specifically, but covered the following key points about knife crime in general:
- Knife crime in Suffolk, including Haverhill, is rare
- Carrying a knife for protection does not keep you safe. In fact, the opposite is true - carrying a knife makes you much more likely to be hurt with one
- Carrying a knife in public carries a potential sentence of up to 4 years imprisonment. It is a separate and potentially more serious crime to carry a knife in school.
- Police and school staff have the right to search a young person if they suspect they have a weapon. Schools will always report weapons to the police
- The effects of a tragedy like this are widespread and long lasting – students know where to ask for help and support
- Students know how to share concerns and they know how important it is that they do so
- Our community is generally very safe. We have the power to choose to keep it that way.
- One life lost is one life too many
I thought PCSO Skeggs delivered the assemblies very carefully and very sensitively. I’m grateful for his support.
Our studio theatre and main assembly hall has been out of action for a long time while it is being remodelled and renovated. We’ve done some big structural works, removing some underused office and storage spaces to expand the size of the room. It has been stripped back to concrete and steel, then built back up to be a very modern, well equipped theatre space. We’re expecting it to be handed over during half term, so children will be using it from the first week back. I look forward to many of you seeing it before the end of the school year.
We will be opening Happy Sheds at both SWA and WPA in the coming weeks. A Happy Shed is a place where members of the school community can come to get support with day to day needs like food, toiletries, cleaning products, uniform and other clothing. We also hope to be able to help families to source bigger, occasional items such as fridges or washing machines. We have a small amount of start up funding which we will use to stock both provisions, but we would also be very grateful for any items that families might be able to donate. Coats would be especially useful. If you have something which is clean and in good condition that you would like to donate, please take it to SWA reception or for the attention of Mrs Reynolds at WPA. Details about how to request items from the Happy Shed will be shared after the half term break.
Children’s Mental Health Week
Next week we will be supporting Place2Be's Children’s Mental Health Week. There will be a number of activities taking place during tutor times linked to the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. On Friday 10th February we will be having an optional non-uniform day with the theme 'wear something that makes you happy'. If your child would prefer to wear their school uniform then please do encourage them to do so. We will be asking for a £1 donation towards Place2Be who do amazing things to support young people’s mental wellbeing. Please only donate if you feel you can do so.
I thought you might be interested to know about a new approach we are taking to support teachers’ continuous professional development. Over the course of this year, every classroom teacher who is not in the first two years of their career (early career teachers have a separate support offer) will be given six weeks of intensive one-to-one coaching with a senior leader or other very experienced teacher. That involves the coach visiting at least one lesson each week, then meeting for half an hour or so to talk through the lesson and to agree some targets for development before the next week. The targets are taken from a list we call the waterfall, with simple targets at the top progressing to much more detailed, complex targets as you move down the list. The more experienced and able the teacher, the further down the list they are likely to be working. The range of targets is such that there will be something that everyone can work on. We are in the second round and feedback so far has been very positive.
We are looking forward to the Year 11 Mock Interviews next half term. Students in Year 11 should be working on their CV’s in preparation for that. We’re also excited about Year 9 out to work day - students have until 21st Feb to return the form. Both those events will run on 22nd March.
Earlier this year we offered parents the opportunity to come and visit the school during the day to get a sense of the school your children experience day to day. Dr Geall will be offering tours on Thursday 9th March, Thursday 20th April and Monday 15th May, all at 9.30am.
If you would like to reserve a place, please contact Mrs Franks – firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a good weekend,
Samuel Ward and Westfield Primary Academies