Headteachers Blog 1 MayPosted on: 1st May
I hope that you have all had a good week and that Mr Johnson’s announcement yesterday, that ‘we have passed the peak and on the downward slope’ has cheered you up and given you hope that there might be some light at the end of the tunnel. We have already started to plan for the time when we do reopen, so that we can rebuild routines and habits and allow for the process of resocialisation, to ensure that all children are appropriately supported, stretched or challenged to pick up from where we left off on Friday, 20 March.
This is an extremely strange and difficult time for all of us, but I am conscious that the impact of coronavirus has fallen most heavily on Year Eleven and Thirteen. Please know that we are thinking of you, that we know how shocking it was to finish school so abruptly, that we know how hard it is to come to terms with not sitting your final exams, and that we know how hard it must be dealing with the months of uncertainty. We are still here to help you. If you are finding things really difficult, please get in touch with us, emailing your Heads of Year and tutors.
My best advice is to try to make the best of the lockdown, using the time you have to prepare for the next stages in your education. Keep on checking your school emails and keep on checking Show My Homework, as school staff will continue to use these platforms to communicate with you.
For Year Eleven, use your time to prepare for your Year Twelve courses. Read the texts on the Sixth Form reading lists, engage with the super-curricular tasks and the induction work your teachers have been preparing for you. We don’t yet know if we will be able to run the Induction Days that mark the beginning of your entry into the Sixth Form, but we hope we will, and will provide you with more information when we know if schools will reopen. Next week we will be sending out the recommended textbook list for Sixth Form subjects, as well as a list of additional resources that students may wish to use in preparation for their Sixth Form studies. Each subject will also be asking students to complete some summer work in further preparation for September and this will be published in the Sixth Form area of our website in the week commencing 18 May.
For Year Thirteen, use your time to prepare for university and the world of work. Mr Hogan has been compiling activities set by your teachers to help deepen your understanding of your subjects: use your time to engage with this work. Explore the wealth of MOOCs that are available, taking courses that will help you with university courses or specific career pathways; also take courses that you just find interesting. Mrs Waller has been communicating with you about university applications; please make sure you read her messages carefully and get in touch with her if you have any questions.
We have all really missed the events that normally mark the end of Year Eleven and Thirteen. There need to be times when both Year Groups can meet again to say goodbye. We will make it a priority to ensure that this happens when it is safe to do so and will be in touch with you, when the time is right to finalise these arrangements.
Remote learning – further guidance Year 7-10 and 12
Since remote learning began, I know that a number of parents and students have expressed concerns about feeling overwhelmed at times, both by the volume of work set and not always being sure how to navigate the Show My Homework platform effectively. I’d like to emphasise again that the main thing at this extraordinary time is that everyone should just try to do their best and be kind to one another. That said, I will be asking staff to make some changes to how we set classwork from Monday the 11th May which should hopefully makes things a little easier for everyone. For further guidance on the setting of work please click here
Teachers will endeavour, wherever possible, to make themselves available to students during regular timetabled lesson slots to assist with work and offer support, however please be aware that the nature of this assistance and how it is presented may differ from teacher to teacher due to individual circumstances. To make communication between students and their class teachers easier, please encourage your child to contact staff through the Microsoft Teams software wherever possible. A quick guide to using this software is here should you need it:
Good news stories
A huge thank you to Dawn Peppiatt who has been making scrubs for NHS workers and to Suzanne Ross who has been making NHS Wash bags and masks. Her daughter, Lauren is an ex pupil and a staff nurse on an Acute Medical unit so very much on the front line and she has received some of ‘our’ shields. Our DT team led by Tanya Edwards also continue to support our NHS workers by making more visors and now using their talents to make scrubs with materials and patterns provided by a local Compton community group. They are all truly inspirational and a credit to The Downs School.
Year 10 GCSE Design Technology classes have won awards in the National School Starpack Design Awards. The Starpack Awards was created to introduce young people to the design process and provide them with an early introduction to STEM industries. Please click here for full report.
I would like to leave you with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, which I feel encapsulates the way that we as a school community have approached these challenging and strange times,
“We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down”