Head Teacher’s Blog 2nd October 2020
Here we are at October already and as I write, it is a beautiful sunny day and I am feeling so energised by lovely conversations with the students at lunch time and the end of the day and also by the continued drive of staff trying to find the opportunities in the different way of working. Not for the first time, I feel blessed to be part of this community.
One of the things that has been particularly evident this year is the way that students are greeting staff and each other around the site. Every day I am on duty on the gate, the number of students who smile and say hello and the number who thank me and other colleagues as they go into lunch, or stop to ask how my day is going. This has been a feature of the community induction programme and the work, particularly of our form tutors and I must say that the students are responding wonderfully.
On a related theme, you will shortly be receiving a letter from Mr Neal, Assistant Head in change of Ethos, to tell you about plans for the upcoming ‘Hello Yellow’ day. This is a day all about promoting mental health awareness, a topic that we know is more relevant than ever as we deal with continued uncertainty and change to our natural way of relating to one another. A key theme we will be picking up on is the power of gratitude and kindness in supporting our own mental health and that of other. You will read more about what we’re doing in the letter from Mr Neal.
Black History Month
October is also Black History Month. I wrote to you earlier in the year about our commitment to the principle of being anti-racist. This is ultimately about helping all members of our community, students, staff and parents to hear and understand the experiences of racism in our own community and beyond. We want to take the time to understand better the changes we can each make in our own knowledge, bias and behaviour that will be needed to see racism ended once and for all.
While Black History Month is just one month and many rightly point out that to end racism will take more than just one month per year, it is still an important time to mark as part of our ongoing efforts in school. This month, some of our students, working with members of staff, have put together resources with a focus on Myth Busting, helping to challenge some of the unhelpful and untrue stereotypes about black history. At a form tutor meeting on Monday, students who had worked on the resources with members of staff presented training for all teachers, to help us to be informed well enough to lead the sessions. It was one of those moments which reminded me why I came into teaching, seeing young people empowered to teach their teachers, to help us educate others.
My thanks to those students and to the staff who are working with them to develop resources. While I know she won’t want me to single her out in a team effort, I do also want to celebrate the work of Mrs Bayley, who has developed training on education for anti-racism which has been booking out around the country, not only in schools, but in hospitals, financial institutions and many other organisations. She has shared her training with our staff and is fully engaged with the staff and students working on the educational resources used in school. We are blessed by her drive and by her expertise in the mission of anti-racism, which is so central to our ethos as a school.
Thank you to those parents who have provided feedback on the experience of home learning for those students who have had to isolate for a period of time. There have been many really positive and encouraging responses and it has been helpful to hear and understand where things have not worked as we would want them. In these cases, I am grateful to parents for the understanding you have shown for the size of the task that teachers are working with and have been since the beginning of lockdown, having to constantly re-invent the way we teach.
As we have put plans into action, as always we have learned things that we can now use to revise and improve those plans. The next Blog will focus on Home Learning support and also the wider Recovery Curriculum, to give you an overview of our plans at the moment and how they are evolving with experience.
Y6 virtual open school
Last week we launched our virtual open school, with a virtual open evening. My thanks to our IT team who enabled everything to run smoothly and to the students and staff who have produced and are still producing material to add to our website. We have an ever growing set of videos, including a recording of the presentation from the open evening available for children and their parents to view at any time. We hope they help to give a flavour of our school to help anyone who is deciding about the right secondary school for them.
If you or anyone you know has a child who is considering applying to join Notre Dame in Y7 next September, please do visit our website and look for the virtual open school link. https://www.notredame-high.co.uk/index.php/community-news/item/1485-virtual-open-school
Public Health Measures
We have recently published an updated version of our risk assessment, which is available via the school website by following the ‘Covid Updates’ link (you can follow the link below).
This is a live document, constantly under review as the situation changes and we welcome feedback and suggestions, which you can share most easily by sending a message through the ‘general enquiries’ link on the contacts page of our website.
That’s all for this week