Letter from the Head - 9th July 2021
In this issue: Hegarty success and an important update on COVID-19 measures for next year
Once again a busy week!
I want to start by sharing some very positive news. On Wednesday, Hegarty Maths revealed the top schools in the country for Hegarty Maths. There were five different categories, with the top few schools in each receiving Bronze, Silver and Gold medals. I'm delighted to share that, Holmleigh Park is officially a Hegarty Super School.
Out of thousands of schools in the UK, HP won:
The gold medal for MemRi, with students completing over 15,000 MemRi Goals
Silver Medals for total questions answered (close to 1 million in total since September) and average hours per student (around 25)
Bronze medals for amount of videos watched (around 5 months, when you add all the minutes together!) and skills well done (our students have mastered on average 73 skills)
We were the only school within the trust to win awards in all five categories, so a huge well done to all of our students! It will make an absolutely massive difference to their achievement in Maths.
Please can I also remind parents that Wednesday next week is the track and field section of the House Competition. Students selected to represent their house have been notified and should come in normal Sports Kit; otherwise students should wear normal uniform.
Moving on, the main item for this week is to update you on our plan for next year. On Wednesday evening, the Department for Education released guidance for schools to take effect from the 19th July. As you can appreciate, the Senior Leadership Team and I are taking some time to go through and update our plans, and we will share these in detail next week. That said, I know many of you will be keen to know what will be changing, so I wanted to outline the main changes here for you now.
From July 19th
Schools will no longer be expected to identify close contacts - this will now be done by NHS Track and Trace
Where students have been identified as a close contact of a positive case, they will be asked to take a PCR test and will be able to return to school as long as they get a negative result. This is a very welcome change, as it means fewer students will be required to miss school.
We will no longer operate year group bubbles for lessons. Students will be able to move around the school site and go to specialist rooms (e.g. they will attend their science lessons in the science labs). On the other hand, the feedback around each year group having its own playground area and toilets has been very positive, so it is likely we will retain this system for break and lunch time.
We have been asked to once again arrange for students to take Lateral Flow Tests when they return to school. As you will remember from last time, this is a massive undertaking for the school. I don't want this to cut into learning time, so we will aim to conduct the first tests during our staff training days on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd September, with students only coming in to school for their testing slot. Students will then be able to take their second test on Monday 6th or Tuesday 7th September. We will confirm further details well ahead of these dates.
What Won't Change
While I'm pleased about the above changes, it's important to remember that we are not out of the woods yet. Indeed, COVID-19 rates in the UK are much higher than other European countries. And while many adults might be vaccinated, most students are not. It is therefore essential that we remain vigilant. At HP, we will therefore continue to:
Ask any student who has COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home
Ensure regular cleaning - with a particular focus on surfaces that our touched regularly
Promote good hand hygiene, with students expected to sanitise their hands on entering each classroom
Ensure rooms are well ventilated by keeping doors and windows open
It is also important to note that where an outbreak appears to be concentrated in a school (as was the case in Year 7 two weeks ago), schools might be asked to take additional measures by Public Health England. These might include, for example, recommending students wear masks for a fixed period of time etc. Should this become necessary, we will of course inform you.
As I noted above, I will share some further details with you next week, but I hope that this will both give you some certainty regarding September, but also some hope that we may be able to return to a reasonably normal academic year in September.
Finally, I hope you have a lovely weekend - and of course, let's hope that football does indeed come home on Sunday evening!