Headteacher Weekly Bulletin 4th April 2020
This is the second successive week I have decided to type a few thoughts during Saturday Morning Kitchen (Mary Berry is currently talking us through her version of Coq-au-vin – I might give that one a go next week actually). It’s a reflection of what life has become as ordinarily I would be mad busy on a Saturday morning and couldn’t possibly contemplate sitting here with my lap top but as time / days / the calendar have become a pretty meaningless construct for many, one just has to go with the flow. I’ve been in School far more than I’ve been at home over the past fortnight but I suppose we’re all falling into some sort of routine by now. As always, there’s plenty of advice out there for what we could or should be doing during this period of lockdown but it strikes me that the dynamic within any household is going to be very different and, therefore, we should do whatever works for us. If that’s a minute-by-minute, meticulously planned, colour-coded family timetable or a lie-in until midday, a bit of work and a box set with three grab bags of Walkers crisps, then whatever floats your boat.
On the subject of ‘how to survive lockdown’, we sent out an excellent piece from our school counsellor Debbie Magid yesterday via parentcall email. If you haven’t read then why not take a couple of minutes to do so; the feedback from those who have has been extremely positive. It provides a real insight into the minds of our teenagers at this challenging time (and more generally) and provides some useful tips on how we might handle our beautifully complex and unpredictable offspring. I’m sure many parents around the country have come to empathise more with the teaching profession over the last few weeks but I can also assure you there are a good number of colleagues lamenting how they are ‘so much better with other people’s kids!’. Debbie has become a real asset to the Wellington team and has been in regular contact with students since we closed. If you think your child may be struggling then please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the school admin email address or the Pastoral Managers’ email and we’ll see what we can do.
Well, it’s the end of the first week of our Easter holidays – did we do anything / go anywhere exciting?! No, me neither. Maybe we should all enact whatever plans we did have: pretend we’re by the pool in our bathing suit in Tenerife; skiing in Morzine; playing cards in a caravan in North Wales. For me and 48 other students and colleagues, it was of course the sports tour to South Africa, due to fly out tomorrow! I had put the disappointment firmly in a small compartment at the back of my mind during the turbulence and turmoil of the last few weeks but reflecting on it now, gutted doesn’t even get close! Mr Higginson and I had the pleasure of accompanying the tour party to Cape Town in 2017 and had a truly fabulous time, hence we know exactly what we’re missing out on. I sincerely, no desperately, hope we can rearrange the tour but, like everything else at the moment, this is very much up in the air.
This past week has been National Autism Awareness week and we emailed / tweeted out a link to a brilliant and moving piece by our SENDCo, Mrs Norbury, and a superb presentation by Year 12 student, Wesley Lawson. Wesley had intended delivering a series of assemblies on autism but obviously the closure put paid to that. Naturally, he was disappointed but went to great lengths to put this presentation together. It is factually very informative but also an extremely personal account and very much worth a few minutes of your time (I’m sure you’ve some spare) to have a quick read. Every child at Wellington is a unique individual and we should, therefore, take every opportunity to walk in others’ shoes.
We’ve only had two students in School this week (joined by a third on Wednesday), as most of our key workers (I hope you were all out clapping on Thursday night?) have taken annual leave. Despite it being holiday time, they were keen to complete some more schoolwork before participating in some fun / creative activities (making plasticine dinosaurs, Harry Potter Lego) and the ubiquitous sporting activities. Miss Hitchens is not a bad basketballer as it turns out!
Some great news this week as Miss Jones gave birth (finally) to baby Seb. She has a proper story to tell but most importantly mum and baby are now back home and doing well. We wish her well and hope she enjoys these precious first few weeks as a new family.
Ofqual (the body that oversees public examinations) released their guidance for schools, students and parents for the process of awarding grades this summer in the absence of exams. It is pretty much as expected and obviously a priority for us over the next few weeks leading up to the submission deadline on 29th May. It was initially mooted that results would be released at the end of July but I have since read it is likely to be a little before the usual results day in August.
It is a sign of the times that the undoubted highlight of yesterday was arriving at School to see a huge crane in situ for the removal of an equally sizeable tree that has been causing an issue with the substation on the school grounds (photo below). Credit to the tree surgeon who was fearlessly plying his trade at some considerable height.
Plans for tonight? Well, sensibly, I’m avoiding the shops and just doing an infrequent ‘big shop’ but I’ve come to the frightening realisation that I literally have no decent red wine left. I am not a wine snob by any means but I know what I like and the only bottles remaining on my rack are fine for cooking but not for quaffing on a Saturday evening. Consequently, I may have to bring the big shop forward, providing it’s not busy, and chuck a few bottles into my trolley. I’m liking the new UnitedWeStream channel that was launched yesterday and may give that a listen later (yes, I did make a donation).
I wouldn’t want to patronise anyone by reiterating the government’s advice (now an ‘instruction’) to limit the occasions we leave home, but I have heard from police locally that groups of teenagers have still been seen congregating. I’m sure none of them are Wellington students (?) but please make sure you know where your children are (i.e. at home). A hospital doctor from Bedford was just a moment ago on the news and put it perfectly and very simply; there is no cure for this – no antibiotics will work – all we can do is use the technology to help people, to keep them alive until their body sorts itself out. The only ‘cure’ at the moment is to stop it spreading and that’s down to all of us. Please stay in, if possible, and stay safe!
We were led to believe the goggles we use for science practicals would not be suitable for the medical profession. However, I’ve since spoken to a GP friend who has received delivery of gloves, masks and aprons but no eye protection. He is delighted with the offer, as his surgery is becoming a ‘hot clinic’ as of next week where they will be seeing all the patients suspected of having COVID-19. The risk to him and his colleagues has gone up several notches. We have over 200 pairs of these goggles so if you know of any surgery or other medical / care organisation in the locality that would be grateful for receipt of such equipment then please get in touch. I have been in touch with Mr Eckersley in DT and we are also looking at liaising with other schools and putting our equipment to good use to make some visors too. If you have any other ideas as to how we, as a school, might be of assistance do let us know.
The reality is that we have by no means reached the peak of this crisis yet, particularly up North, and colleagues I have spoken to in the NHS, police and other services are preparing for this but as a community we will remain positive and keep our spirits high; we owe that to our young people. There has been so much positivity, creativity, and joy to surface amidst the frustration and sadness and we must celebrate and nurture that as a springboard for the future. Please continue to share your stories and let’s not lose that connectivity that keeps us all going.
Take care and tell your children we really are missing them.