Headteacher’s Weekly Newsletter (24.4.20)

Dear Parents

As we seem to settle into the current way of running the school, I hope everyone is safe and well. Engagement across the school has been good in the work being set and I thank you for your continuing support with this. Families are learning to adapt to new routines and new ways of working, which I know will not be easy for many.

We have been very active contacting parents and students where engagement has not been taking place this week, to ensure that students don’t fall behind their peers and this will continue in the coming weeks. Catching up on lost work will be a difficult task when we return to school, if students do not keep in sync with what the rest of their peers are doing.

I am asked on occasions about what we know about schools re-opening. We know nothing more than the general public, is always my reply. I do expect the Government in early May to map out a potential timeline for re-opening and my personal opinion is that we will see students back on site at some point after the May half-term. Whether that is in a phased way and whether we will have to have new routines for social distancing, are all questions we cannot answer, as the parameters will only be laid out when the decision to plan for that is taken. So, for now, we will continue to support our students remotely to try and ensure we keep them interested and occupied in their learning. We will concentrate on what we can control and leave the speculation to others.

Assemblies

This week saw our first assemblies delivered online, which after a few technical difficulties with mics on mute, went surprisingly smoothly. These had good attendance and we hope they helped students to break up their days a little and it was good to see the year group teams engaging with them. We will be scheduling them each week for 12.30pm. The change in the time is due to some live Year 11 and Year 12 lessons taking place in their “normal” timetabled slots. We will send the link to the assemblies out both the night before and the day of the assembly and it would be great to see every student tuned in this week. Please note that during assemblies only the teaching staff delivering the assembly can be seen.

Information, Advice and Guidance for Year 11

Year 11 Assembly on Monday will be of particular interest to students not considering of the Sixth Form in September. Alongside the general aspects of the assembly, we will be joined by the person responsible for Apprenticeships at Carlisle College, who will also be able to talk about general courses. We will also have information to pass on from Newton Rigg – all of which will help our students ensure they are as well informed as possible at this time. We are interested in getting feedback from students who are doing bridging work, as they embark on Teams lessons.

School Trip Refunds

We wrote to all parents who had children due to go on residential trips in the summer term, when we returned to school after Easter. We took the decision to cancel all of the trips and have since then been working with the relevant parties to recover the trip costs. This has been successful and we have confirmation that all deposits and all money paid for these trips, will be fully recovered. It is our intention to now start to return this money to parents, through ParentPay where we can, as it will return direct to bank accounts, or by cheque where that is not possible. We are working through the trips methodically and we will get money returned as soon as we can.  With such a large program of trips that had been planned, this could take well into May to complete, as we have limited resources within the team to complete such an unprecedented piece of work.

House Challenges

The House Challenges on the VLE continue to have positive engagement from the students. The entries are fantastic and I would encourage as many students as possible to take part. There is a real variety of tasks and challenges for the students to do and to take part in. The more entries the better and we look forward to sharing some of the students work, as well as the outcomes of the staff House challenges in due course.

Year 11 Bridging Lessons

The timetable for bridging lessons is now on the school website. Students who expressed an interest in joining the Sixth Form have by now all received email invites to join Teams lessons. These are delivered live to the students by the member of staff and it is essential that the students read the associated guide about how they use this platform. If any student or parent has any questions about the program please do get in touch with Ms Ledger via email sledger@williamhoward.cumbria.sch.uk.

Year 13 and Year 12 Seminar Program

On Thursday and Friday this week we started our Seminar program for Year 12 and Year 13. A series of lectures given through Teams on interesting topics and by specialists in their area. We started off with a Social Sciences talk on the Subjugation of Women, followed by a session with a Lawyer serving a rural community. Friday saw the Marketing Manager of Adidas talking to students, followed by a Scientist from the Antarctic survey. The list of seminars, all in the afternoon, will be published each week. We are hoping they give Year 12 and Year 13 some real insights into jobs, experiences and just wider debate, that we might not otherwise have the time to explore with them.

I look forward to the students continuing their positive engagement next week and wish everyone the very best. Stay safe.

Yours sincerely

Mr Chris McAree

Headteacher

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