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Principal's Blog - 29/01/2021

First of all, I want to thank and congratulate you as parents/carers for surviving four weeks of homeschooling. You are surviving a pandemic, whatever your personal circumstances, and we think you are doing a great job. I read a letter that another Headteacher shared to her parents and I wanted to echo her thoughts. If your child has had lots of microwave meals, stayed up too late, played too much on the Xbox… thats ok. We know our students are safe, loved and cared for and that is the most important thing at the moment. We know that we have high expectations here and we set a lot of work each week. All we ask, is that you do your best. Please do not let school work put extra pressure on you when most of you are trying to hold down jobs, earn a living and keep your family safe. Everyone's circumstances are different and we genuinely appreciate that.


Thank you also for letting me know your stories of vaccinations; I have had over twenty emails detailing that our community/family members have now had part one of the vaccine which is fantastic.


Thank you to the 429 parents/carers that completed the survey that I sent out recently. We have collated the results and will be feeding back your comments into evaluations and our daily practice. In the spirit of our openness I am going to share the results with you below. Hopefully it will be clear to you that as we strive to meet high standards, the often polarised nuances of everyone's individual situation makes it impossible to achieve everyone's individual expectations. For example, homework; the feedback on this is very split, with 50% of the comments asking for homework to be stopped as students are doing too much work at home, while the other half are asking for more. I would like to assure you that we are working through your feedback and I will continue to strive for the very best for your child/children. Next week Mrs Bennett (Vice Principal) will feed into my blog to discuss teaching and learning as a result of your individual comments.


It comes back to my message from the first lockdown: we are all running our own race and experiencing COVID through our own eyes in our own circumstances. These circumstances will be personal and unique to every one of you. It is no different for the staff at Ormiston Rivers; in an ideal world everything would be perfect and exactly how we have envisioned it to work . However, it was so pleasing that your feedback has been so positive. 97% have recognised how hard the staff are working and are pleased with the live lessons. 99% of you are pleased with our provision during the current lockdown. Our staff, like you, are balancing working from home, delivering live lessons and ensuring their own families are kept safe. However throughout this all, they have remained committed to doing their best for your child/children. Of course we can always improve and myself and the senior leadership team will continue to refine our offer and maintain the strong positive momentum we have achieved over the last four weeks.


During half term the school site will be closed and will not be open for key worker students. This was confirmed by the DfE on Tuesday. However, I will need to be informed of any key worker student who has been on site prior to the half term who has a confirmed case during the half term, as I will need to work with Track and Trace regarding identifying students or staff who may have had contact.


On Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced that it will not be possible to resume face-to-face learning immediately after the February half-term and instead hopes it will be safe to commence the re-opening of schools and colleges from Monday 8th March. This is in response to the national public health data and pressure on NHS capacity. I will continue to keep you informed; however please be assured that our high quality remote learning offer will continue.


We know that before any student returns a test will need to be done, and it is likely that students on site will need to be tested twice a week. As you can appreciate this is a very big administrative task, so we ask that you complete the testing consent form now prior to any potential return. The form is on our website with further information. https://www.ormistonriversacademy.co.uk/covid-testing-in-schools, or a copy can be collected from the school Reception. Please do send to: [email protected] as soon as possible, as Ms Green is currently having to contact you individually to chase which is, as I am sure you can appreciate, very time consuming.


I would like to say congratulations to our Year 13 students who have been receiving offers this week from a number of Russell Group Universities. A special well done to Kate, one of our Sixth Form Leadership Team who has been our first student to gain a place studying at Cambridge University. After a successful written application and rigorous test and interview phase, Kate will study a 4 year Masters degree in Engineering at Downing College starting this September. Kate is also our first engineering alumni to attend Oxbridge. She is studying hard in Chemistry, Further Maths, Maths and Physics with predicted grades of A/A*s. She will also be entered in the engineering exam as an additional extra.


Enrichment:

As a school we strongly believe in providing our students with additional learning opportunities through our enrichment programme to allow them to develop their passions and explore new horizons. Lockdown and Coronavirus should not stop this and we continue to be committed to providing these opportunities for our students. For these reasons, we are launching our Virtual Enrichment programme on Monday 1st February.


Every fortnight students will see new competitions, challenges and clubs offered through our Evolve system. Each fortnight there will be:


  • Two House Competitions - these will be open to all year groups. Each entry will earn house points for their House and each fortnight winners will be announced who will also receive a prize. The competitions will be launched in students’ year group enrichment Google classroom.

  • Enrichment clubs - these will be aimed at specific year groups and will be run by staff in set sessions each week.

  • Subject specific enrichment challenge - these are open to all year groups. There will be a variety of subject challenges published each week in Year group enrichment Google Classrooms. Students have the option to do as many challenges as they would like in the fortnight, allowing them to choose challenges that really interest them. Completion of the challenges will earn House points.


We look forward to seeing students taking part in our new Virtual enrichment programme and ensuring all students still have the opportunity to enjoy the extra curricular offerings in their chosen areas. If you have any queries about this, please contact Miss Victory, Assistant Principal on: [email protected].


Next week is Mental Health Week, as you are aware this is something we take very seriously. On Thursday 4th February we will introduce a no screen afternoon. There will be no lesson 3 and instead the senior leadership team will set a range of activities that will take students away from their screens and support their mental health. Students will be expected to pick one activity that suits them and there will be a range of activities, for example yoga, baking, walking outside, and many others. We will share this with you and the students early next week.


I thank you, once again, for your continued support. Have a safe and happy weekend. Please see the following link to the Parental Survey feedback, as promised: https://www.ormistonriversacademy.co.uk/home-study-and-revision


Emma Baker

Principal





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