Headteacher's Blog

 

Hello everyone, I hope you are all fighting fit as we hurtle towards the end of the most extraordinary of school years.

I would like to start by thanking every parent in the school, who in many cases has had to juggle work commitments with learning how to home school – you have been amazing.

I know that for many, the summer holiday may bring some trepidation. After being locked down for so long, to have 6 weeks of no school work will no doubt bring some worries about how to fill your children’s time, without having to apply for a re-mortgage! I fully understand this, but I have resisted the call that has come from some politicians and educational leaders that we should continue teaching over the summer period. My reasoning is that staff need a break, and actually many students do too. If we are going to be in the best shape to meet the next academic year with energy and resilience, we need to recharge our depleted batteries – I know I need to.

As for how to fill the time – I have no magic wand I am afraid, but simple things such as exercise – walking, cycling, yoga, work outs etc. can all be done at no cost. Throw in some reading (I have two sons and I can assure you I know how difficult it can be to get them to read a book!), but if you can convince them, books are a wonderful and hugely beneficial way to spend some hours. However, the time is spent, I hope that everyone benefits from the break, contributes to the ongoing efforts to beat this pandemic through social distancing, washing hands and following the rapidly changing guidance, and ultimately feels refreshed and ready to go in September.

Free School Meals

For those that need the free school meal vouchers – the following message is from Mrs Mallett in the finance office;

“As a school we have been asked to place the orders for the summer holidays at least a week prior to the end of term. I have ordered all the ones for email (and they should now be with families) and the ones that I print out and deliver I dropped off at houses on Thursday, therefore parents need to contact me ASAP if there are any problems with the codes.

If you have not yet received these or any previous vouchers or are having problems accessing the system, please send an email to finance@stowhigh.com so that this can be rectified prior to the school holiday starting.   There are currently £5,000 worth of vouchers which have not been claimed.”

Tripod Conversations

These started last week for our Year 7,8 and 9 families, and it was wonderful to see. They continue this week, and I really hope that families get as much from them as we do – staff repeatedly tell me how seeing students and parents again really lifts their spirits.

 

Uniform Sales

The key message here is that we recommend that uniform buying should be done online - however there will be sale days on the 22nd and 23rd July at school. Details regarding this have been sent out and are available on our website. I thought it would be useful to resend the uniform rules out –

 

From September 2020 – Year 7, 8, 9 and 10 only

  • Black blazer with school’s logo on breast pocket
  • Optional – Unisex black, school v-neck jumper with teal trim
  • White, un-logoed and plain collared shirt or blouse with either long or short sleeves
  • Any t-shirt worn beneath a school shirt must be plain white
  • Clip on school tie
  • Black sensible shoes, black canvas shoes or black trainers
  • Black trousers, straight legged, full length and NOT made of denim, canvas, skinny cut or have zips or studs (see example photograph)
  • Black belt (plain)
  • Black or white socks (plain)

In the event of inclement weather students should wear a traditional coat if they wish to keep warm and dry. If a student were to come to school in a hoodie, or an alternative to the school jumper/ cardigan, we will ask them to remove the garment and it will be handed to student services for the student to collect at 3.10pm. Any continued infringements will result in an adult having to come in to school to collect the item from reception. We would appreciate home support on this matter. If you are unsure of the appropriateness of a coat for school, we would be happy to advise you. It may be worthwhile keeping your receipt just in case.

The following are not allowed:

  • Footwear which is not completely black in colour
  • Boots
  • Skirts
  • Hoodies (except for PE lessons)

Hot Weather Rules (Will come into force when in the new build)

Students will be advised in school when hot weather rules apply. They are as follows:

Blazers and ties must be worn when moving around the school buildings and between lessons. Jackets may be removed when in lessons.

Blazers, jumpers and ties may be removed when students are outside at break times and lunch times.

Year 11 can wear the old uniform, as changing it for just one year would be unreasonable. (however, if they want to change to the new, they are very welcome!) For practicality and uniformity, we do expect that trousers are worn. Above is the example sent out last year that fit our criteria.

Staff Leaving us

 

Miss Uttley

Miss Uttley, our Director of Inclusion and SENCO, has transformed our work with those with more challenging learning needs, and we are very sorry to see her go, however I understand the need for her to move on when she is offered a similar post in the Cayman Islands! I tried to keep her by offering to put pictures of beaches and palm trees on the video screen, but even this most generous of offers was not enough to tempt her to stay.

 

Mr Ewing

Mr Ewing has been one of the key reasons our maths results have improved so significantly in recent years, so it is no surprise that Claydon High School spotted his talents and awarded him a Head of Maths position. A thoroughly deserved promotion.

 

Mr Wallace

Our Futures Coordinator, Mr Wallace has made a significant and positive impact on our school in a short amount of time. His work has helped add a defining feature to our provision that few other schools are able to bring. Mr Wallace is off to continue his work at the very prestigious Wymondham College in Norfolk.

Mr Salmon

One of our site team, the ever friendly and supportive Mr Salmon has decided to concentrate on his other business as a landscape gardener.

 

I would like to thank all four colleagues for their work and commitment to the young people of Stowmarket and wish them all the very best in their new roles. Whilst I am sad to see them go, change brings opportunities for others, and keeps us growing and building. All four vacancies have been filled, and I look forward in September to introducing you to our new colleagues.

September Opening

Below are the broad plans of how we will operate in September, unless the government guidelines change. We will issue more detailed guidance about the first day closer to the time, as we have to remember the school will be brand new to many students, and we will need to control entry into the building.

 

We are hosting a special transition day for the new Year 7 on Friday 28th, so that will hopefully help the running of the school when all students arrive on Wednesday 2nd September

The guiding principles:

  • Every year group in the school will be taught the full curriculum
  • Lessons will be one-hour long
  • The timetable that teachers have in draft form remains the same
  • The structure of the day will alter:
  • Tutor period is moved to after period 2 so that breaks can be staggered between year groups. Every member of staff will have their breaktime at the same time every day.
  • Period 4 and lunchtime are staggered – so Year 7, 8 and 13 have lunch at 12.30 and Year 9,10 and 11 start lunch at 13.30. Staff lunch times may vary each day – this is dependent on the year group they are teaching. There is an opportunity for a 20 minute clean between each lunch sitting.
  • Most of the timetable will be taught in the rooms which are used as form rooms by each year group (see below)
  • Year 7 & 8 are based on the Second Floor, Year 9,10 and 11 on the first floor, Year 13 in the Sixth Form building
  • We will try to zone the rooms by subjects, so that staff can leave textbooks in these rooms – this will not always be possible.
  • Art, Design, ICT and Science Faculties will teach in their specialist rooms – this means that different year groups will be taught in these rooms during the day.
  • Not all subjects will have their usual ICT access – ICT / Computer Science will always have priority to these rooms.
  • Year 10 may on the odd occasion have to be taught in Year 9 rooms.
  • Students will be asked to contribute to the cleaning of items and tools that they might come into contact with. There will be a five minute zone at the end of each lesson for sanitising of desks etc.
  • Students are asked to bring all their own equipment with them – pens, pencils, calculators, rulers etc. as we will not be loaning these out.

 

Results Days

We are pleased to be able to say that our plans are to give our students their results face-to-face in a similar way to how we have done so in previous years. This means that we will expect students to come into school to collect their GCSE and A level results. A Level results will be available on the 13th of August with GCSE results coming out on the 20th of August. Results will be available for students to view on Go4Schools from 9.00am on these days.

 

However, because of Covid-19 there will be some changes. If social distancing measures are still in place, then students will be given a time slot within which to collect their results. This will reduce congestion and help to keep us all safe. We will also seek to give students their results outside which will aid social distancing measures.

 

I cannot give you the plans for these two days now because government guidelines are changing and will continue to do so. However, we will aim to confirm arrangements within 2 weeks of each results day. Please watch out for an email nearer the time which will give details of any arrangements as well as checking our website and Facebook page.

I wish you all a safe and positive summer. I am personally looking forward to a break, however it is quite clear the world is going to keep changing around as, and therefore I am fully expecting to be required to update plans at short notice. I will most likely use Facebook and Twitter to keep you informed, so do keep an eye on those sites.

Thank you for your support during this year, I think we can all be very proud. Stay connected, stay apart, stay safe.

 

Mr Lee-Allan