Headteacher Weekly Bulletin 25th April 2020

Good morning and how are we all on this glorious Saturday morning? 

We really have been blessed with the weather of late, haven’t we?  Blessed on one hand but it is also enormously frustrating if one thinks about the things we could be doing if circumstances were somewhat different. Anyway, better to push those thoughts to the ever-expanding ‘hope / that’s for another day’ section of our brains.  For now, it’s about the ‘here and now’, one day at a time, for most people. 

When I ask, ‘how are you?’, that is a genuine question.  I am all too aware that many of us have had ‘wobbles’ (and that is not to devalue the psychological impact of lockdown) as I have heard numerous accounts from colleagues, parents and students.  Please remember (I know I say this repeatedly), we are a community and we can be of assistance.  We have 1400 students, so therefore that number of families, over 100 members of staff, a Board of Governors, associated ‘partners’, a big school site with a range of facilities including catering, a fleet of minibuses and an abundance of knowledge, expertise, love, care and compassion and you should never feel as though you cannot ask for help.  We all need it from time to time, after all.  I mention this because a number of concerns have been identified via phone calls home to students / parents by Form Tutors and others.  By the way, I have been blown away by the response of my colleagues to this request.  I know parents appreciate the lengths that members of the Wellington team go to ordinarily but the comments back from these phone calls have simply highlighted to me just how much this unrivalled bunch care about your sons and daughters.  Anyway, my point being, please don’t wait for the next phone call to raise ANY concern. We have the capacity to support you in whatever way you require or, as they say, if we can’t we know someone who can. 

I don’t want to betray people’s confidences with regard to these conversations but there have been some truly lovely anecdotes being reported back: one parent got in touch to say her son had heard from his friends that they had received a call from their form tutor and wanted to know when he would be getting his; a Year 11 student became quite emotional (in a good way) when she received a call as she thought that maybe we wouldn’t ‘bother’ with Year 11 (N.B. you’re still ours and always will be in part!); one young man, having exchanged the initial academic pleasantries, asked ‘hey sir, how do you stop your PS4 from over-heating?’.  Clearly, this is crucial information sharing during these difficult times. 

I thought I’d share with you some other little snippets of news that have come my way this week. 

Mr Tomlinson sent me a picture of a feature in The Warrington Guardian with a lovely photo of his daughter Ella, who had written a piece about Mr T’s daily Zoom PE class for her and her classmates (a Northern Joe Wickes?).  Fame at last! 

Mrs Williams reports how her Year 10 students have been sending her French music suggestions, which she has been playing while marking their work! How lovely 

Miss Challinor has learnt to crochet over the last few weeks and is part of a group across Trafford making items for NHS workers.  I believe Mrs Roe is also participating and Miss Challinor has launched a recruitment drive. 

On a similar note, mum got in touch to let us know what Elsie (7NDT) has been up to in her spare time. Mum is running a group locally called the Makers Hub –https://www.facebook.com/groups/229234815092549/?ref=share and they‘re making scrubs, bags and more for the NHS and Elsie has been getting stuck in to do her bit for the cause.  Well done, Elsie. 

Mr Eckersley has continued to produce the face visors for frontline NHS and care home workers that have been distributed variously this week to the MRI, Wythenshawe Hospital, more local care homes and to the surgery oMr Brown’s fiancée where she works as a GP.  I’m pleased to say that our services may not be required for much longer as it seems ‘we’ are beginning to get our act together nationally, with manufacturers such as Nissan churning them out in 1000’s a bit faster than our modest cottage industry effort. Well, I am proud to be able to say we ‘did our bit’ and stepped in to help when the need was there.  Thanks once again tMr Eckersley, Mr Brown and the ladies in the Main Office who helped distribute (and I believe Miss Lloyd was very much hands-on in helping put the masks together this week). 

Maths has probably been the most discussed / commented on subject since we closed (primarily due to the fact that it is the subject that parents seem to struggle with most) but there have been lots of ‘success stories’.  By way of example, this from Mrs Nolan: 

Mrs Nolan has been absolutely blown away by the work her pupils have been completing on Hegarty Maths. Special mention to Meerab Ahmed in 10Y1 who has completed 35.4 hours of work on Hegarty Maths. The class average for 10Y1 (without hers) is 2.17 hours. She has completed 90 extra tasks! Also, Ashleigh Morris who has completed almost 5 times more work than her 9Y4 class average and has been requesting extra tasks on subjects that we wouldn’t normally be covering until Year 11. It’s fantastic to see so many pupils taking the opportunity to perfect some of their mathematical skills, and great to have a micro chat with some of you on Hegarty. 

Mrs Moorhouse has been very active on social media on behalf of the Music Department during the lockdown, setting daily challenges as well as organising sing-alongs and rehearsals, and she has a few things to report. 

Year 10 Eoghan Quinlan’s mum has forwarded a video of him playing Yellow Submarine. His family have been setting him challenges to listen to something then learn to play it (he is blessed with perfect pitch, the lucky thing!). His mum has asked if I wanted to challenge him to play something. I’ll have to get my thinking cap on.  Mrs Moorhouse challenged him to do the Back to the Future theme tune!  

Year 7 Ben Winstanley has also been very busy learning the ukulele and completing music challenges as has Adam Greenway, also in Year 7, who’s been learning to play the guitar (Mrs Moorhouse has put their videos on instagram and twitter). There have been lots of students tagging us into their homeworks on Instagram but we’d love to see more music making. 

Incidentally, I noticed Ben also appearing on Twitter having made a torch for one of the PiXL Science activities for Year 7.  All this new knowledge and skills that students are developing is amazing! 

Mrs M is also in the process of making teaching videos for Sing to learn some new songs and will be asking them to forward their recordings to try and make a montage but she feels her technical skills are somewhat lacking at the moment!  Watch this space! 

A number of students have opted to continue with instrumental Music lessons remotely and many of these have begun. Thanks must go to our peri music teachers for providing this service. 

Please do keep me informed of what you’re up to during this time; we are genuinely interested and, by keeping in touch, it will certainly help when we return. 

The first four days of this week were particularly busy (2 of them actually spent interviewing), so I was very much looking forward to the weekend.  Yesterday, we had our weekly SLT Zoom meeting and then I worked through to 3 o’clock on my laptop.  Then, the weekend started. Evidently, I am never home on a Friday (or any day) by 3 o’clock ordinarily but I decided to join my three children in the garden with a cold beverage at this time, and I have to say it was lovely, an absolute unprecedented (an over-used word, I know, at the moment) joy!  We sat and chatted and had a quiz (which cost me £40 incidentally as I offered an incremental cash prize for every question they got right as we moved up the scale in a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire quiz book!  I’m counting on them forgetting).  Then the current Mrs Beeley returned home from work, we had dinner and the hardened members of the family (my 19 year daughter and I) remained outside absorbing a glass or two and some classic Manchester tunes until midnight.  I wouldn’t say this outweighs all the negative aspects of this current period but there must be lots of things we have all done for the first time over the past five weeks.  We should cherish these things, celebrate them, be thankful for the small and not so small mercies and find time to make them more the norm when life gets back to something like the way it was.   

I do have to pinch myself sometimes and force myself to reflect on how my own children view me; am I Dad or am I that Headteacher who comes home late, often tired and grumpy?  Do they see the caring / loving side?  Do we have enough fun together?  I’m not sure I have the balance right and many of you may, with our well-meaning yet work-obsessed waysfeel the same.  Don’t think for one second I have any intention of abandoning the young people of Wellington School, far from it, but little tweaks can make a huge difference, and perhaps now is the time to reflect on that. 

Well, after over-doing it last weekend, my back was telling me ‘thanks but no thanks’ to exercise all week but it’s settled down now and a quick session is calling, particularly after last night’s extravagance.   

Enjoy the weather while it lasts (I’ve been trying to source a table and chairs for the back garden but everywhere seems sold out!) and, as always, stay safe.