2nd November 2020
I am writing to introduce myself – and to try and explain a little bit of our thinking about the coming weeks and months as we all try to adapt to life as it is at the moment!
Firstly I want to say how proud I am to be joining Kingsway Park High School as Headteacher. This is not my first headship and I have worked in senior leadership in schools for almost fifteen years now, eight as a Head. I have worked in a variety of circumstances – always challenging for one reason or another – but in Kingsway my challenge is to create an outstanding school for this community. It is something I am excited about – but also realistic, as despite KPHS being in a very strong position in recent years, we now face the particular challenge of managing continuous education through a pandemic, and one which is affecting Rochdale particularly badly. This makes our task difficult and quite complex in some ways and there are a lot of things we must balance if we are to come through safely – and with the education of our children intact.
I am deeply committed to ensuring all young people have the best possible opportunities in life – and, like the staff at KPHS, I will do everything in my power to make sure they are given the best education possible whatever the circumstances. I am a loyal northerner and will admit to carrying a small chip on my shoulder about the difference in opportunity for young people in the north, compared to the south, of England – however, I have two daughters myself and I cannot let those assumptions define their future – just as I cannot let it define the futures of your children. Sometimes we have to look past those assumptions and convince our students – by every means possible – that they can have the future they want and I give you my word I will lead a culture at KPHS that shows every child the success they can have. But to do this I will need your help.
Young people are the most successful when they have a clear routine in place – and at the moment that is hard as we are frequently having to close to various bubbles when there are positive test cases in order to halt transmission. But the principle of attending school remains – when it is open to your child, it is the best place for them to be. When a bubble is closed, we will be delivering learning online and by resource pack – and the more your child studies, the more successful they will be, regardless of whether that was at home or at school – so the first thing I must ask of you is to help us make sure the children stay in the routine of learning, even if they are at home.
The second thing I must ask of you is that you work with us to make sure that the students make the most of every lesson and don’t just do the bare minimum… Often headteachers will talk about the importance of good behaviour in school, and I agree, this is hugely important. But – if we can all lead a culture that convinces them that every lesson, and every learning opportunity, matters, then by definition they will behave well. This year, more than any other, this is extremely important and for some will mean the difference between the future they want – or one they have to settle for.
Finally, I want to say that, more than anything I want the school to be open to your children this year so that they can continue with their education safely – and everyone at Kingsway will do everything possible to make sure this is the case. We will only ever close to any student or group when we believe that it is necessary to do so to be sure of safety. To help us avoid this, it is really important that we all follow the guidelines set nationally and locally.
To remind you, as we are in Tier 3, this means
no mixing outside your household or support bubbles, indoors or in gardens,
reducing your use of public transport where possible and,
if you are meeting with others outside in public places (eg parks), you must not be in a group of more than 6.
It also means we must all follow the Hands, Face, Space guidance wherever possible:
wash your hands regularly for more than 20-30 seconds or use sanitiser,
avoid touching your face and cover it where social distancing is not possible and,
try to keep 2m from others wherever you can.
I am often asked why it is that we must follow these measures in life when in general, in schools, it is not possible to have these measures in place all the time. It is true that there is some mixing in schools – this is the reason for having “bubbles” so that we can track any transmission – and in classrooms, students cannot always be 2m away from each other, but we mitigate these risks by having them face the same way, for example. Ultimately, these measures are effective in some way and if we can follow them, we should. Put simply, there is a balance – but the more we can follow these measures, the better the chance we can control the virus and keep children in school in a meaningful way.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and we will do all we can to help. Don’t suffer – or worry about anything – in silence, we are here if you need us, just drop us a line or pick up the phone.
With best wishes,