Contestants on the climbing wallAs we stop now for the half-term break it seems appropriate to reflect on the last seven weeks and where we are. I think we broke up for the Christmas holiday wondering what would come in January after last year’s experience. Would it be remote learning? Would there be rotas of students in school? Would we have enough staff? Would we have to double up classes? It all felt very uncertain. At 7.12am on Sunday 2nd January I received an email from the Secretary of State for Education informing me that face coverings would be mandatory in all parts of the school with immediate effect. As I left home on Tuesday 4th January I wondered what the term would hold.

As we now know, it has all worked out OK. That doesn’t mean that members of the school community haven’t had to isolate at times or that there hasn’t been some disruption but we have worked together to operate as normally as we can throughout January and February. An interesting barometer of our school has been our students’ approach to wearing face coverings. They were simply brilliant – there was almost no nagging and certainly no need for sanctions, it was about collective responsibility to each other and this shone through.

Things are clearly looking different now and we move forward with our priorities as a school – supporting our exam years, further developing outstanding teaching and learning, ensuring that our extra-curricular and enrichment offer has something for everyone and that every student feels well-supported. It would be foolish to predict the future after the last two years but there is a tangible sense of excitement in school that we are close to some sort of normality.

A highlight of a more “normal” week has been the Ninja Warrior competition on Wednesday with the final today. It is a great event for a number of reasons: it is competitive – there will be winners – but is also about participation; it embraces a range of skills and abilities; and it is fun – fun for the participants and fun for the spectators. It takes place in a great atmosphere – the participants are highly focused as intense concentration is required; the audience are supportive and encouraging; and winning is celebrated while failure (it’s pretty tough) is greeted with a smile and a shrug. In short, a great school event and thank you to our fantastic PE department for their organization of it.

Thank you also to all the parents and carers who have taken the time to complete our annual Parent and Carer Survey over the past couple of weeks. We will outline how we are using the feedback to inform our priorities as a school after half-term.

Finally, we know that the school newsletter is very popular with families. We have made the decision to produce three longer editions each year at the end of each long term so the next will be published just before the Easter break and we very much look forward to it.

Student leaping from an obstacle Walking over a narrow beam

Walking across a narrow beam Student taking a tumble