Headteacher Blog - 2 OctoberPosted on: 2nd Oct
Today marks the end of the fifth week of the Autumn term, and given the importance of managing the number of adaptions to the school to ensure our safe reopening for all students in September it is safe to say it has been a monumental challenge for everyone involved. From the Senior Leadership team to our teachers and support staff it is a challenge that everyone has risen to and never shied away from.
Therefore as I walk around the school, it makes me proud that our students have embraced those changes and that the atmosphere remains calm and purposeful, with students demonstrating a real optimism for the term ahead despite the restrictions placed upon them and the changes to their usual routines. I am also very appreciative of way that my staff have come together, working extremely hard to make the necessary changes to their everyday teaching, tutor time and assemblies to ensure that the school works as smoothly as possible and the students are kept safe. American comedian Milton Berle said: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build doors,” and I certainly feel that this has been clearly demonstrated and embraced by the whole school community. We continue to ensure clear and open lines of communication with you our parents and have been looking at different ways in which we can run our usual in-school events to make them Covid safe for our community. Over the last couple of weeks, we have run a virtual KS4 information evening for our current sixth form students and our meet the tutor event for parents of our new Year 7 students. Our next big event is the school open day which takes place on October 8 starting at 6:15pm.
Usually the school is a hive of activity, with each of the departments showcasing their facilities, a number of experiments and demonstrations taking place across the school, and a large number of our students welcoming prospective students and their parents and taking them on guided tours of the site. This year the event is to be a virtual one, hosted on the school website and via Microsoft Teams and will include a live presentation from myself, a video giving an overview of life at The Downs School, and soundbites and videos from each of our different departments to give an insight into all the subjects that we offer and our curriculum. It will clearly be a very different event this year and we will miss the buzz around the school; however this remains the only safe way to hold the event. Please pass this information onto anyone you know who may be considering The Downs School for their child and ask them to visit the website to find more information.
Whilst we were disappointed that we were not able to run our annual Sponsored Walk last week, we were delighted by the efforts of those students who decided to complete an independent challenge of their own to help raise money for the school. While some students completed 5-mile bike rides, others decided to complete their own 10k walk with their family, raising considerable funds in the process. Thank you for your efforts so far, and the monies you have raised, we really appreciate it. Remember it is not too late to complete a challenge. Also, a quick reminder that we are one of the beneficiaries of the West Berkshire lottery. It is a great fundraising opportunity for us as The Downs School Trust receives a percentage of each ticket purchased. Tickets cost £1 and you could win a cash prize of up to £25,000. Please visit www.westberkshirelottery.co.uk to find out more and to nominate us as your good cause.
Finally, we are delighted to have welcomed seven associate teachers training with us at the Downs this September as part of The Downland Teaching School Alliance. The Downs School plays a key role in working alongside a number of primary and secondary schools across West Berkshire in training the teachers of the future in conjunction with Oxford Brookes University. According to Karen McDowell, the Director of the Teaching School, ‘they have settled in very well. They have made a fantastic start to their teaching career fully immersing themselves into The Downs, being involved with tutor groups, subject classes, school duties and Train to teach events. They are truly an asset during these challenging times and have really impressed us with their resilience and commitment to The Downs and to their journey in teaching. They are the teachers of our future at the Downs’.
Thank you for your continued help and support during these unprecedented times.