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Headteacher’s letter 27 April 2020

Monday 27 April 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

Hart of Gold
In amongst the inspirational stories of fundraising altruists, you may have noticed one of our Year 11 students doing her bit for the NHS. Issy cycled over 100 miles in order to raise £2000+ for NHS Charities Together after being inspired by Captain Tom Moore. You can read the full news story here and it is still possible to contribute towards Issy’s GoFundMe page.

Support Resources for Parents and Carers
I am conscious, both as a dad and as a teacher, that parents and carers are at risk of being bombarded with great ideas and can feel as though everyone else is coping brilliantly and doing wonderful things.

When I actually speak to other parents or carers, I can see that we are all worrying that we are not quite good enough and we fear that we might be letting our children down in some way. When my own children want to lie-in, stay up late, moan about ‘more work’ and look at me with incredulity when I suggest we grow some vegetables or ‘read together as a family’, I just tell myself that I am probably not alone and that all we can do is try our best and try to do right by our children.

Last week, the Education Endowment Foundation released some really good resources for parents and carers. Much of it is more useful for parents and carers of primary age children as they learn to read. However, there is also some great material about establishing routines for older children and young adults – and a short daily survey that helps children, parents and carers evaluate how each day has gone and what tomorrow might look like.

I shall show the video to my kids tonight and have started using the evaluation today. It may go well and it may fall flat on its face, but both seem a good way to remind my children (and maybe yours) of the need for variety, structure and continued communication with their friends, cousins, grandparents and in-laws.

Adapting to a Changing World
I do not know about you but I am not sure if I have taken a moment to truly consider the events of the past few weeks. Much has been a whirlwind with some poignant moments to reflect on what has happened, what is happening or might happen in the future.

As a teacher, with my single class of twenty-seven wonderful Year 9s, the pressures on me are very different to almost every single one of my colleagues. Some of my colleagues have ten classes and well over 200 students to design, monitor and assess lessons for during the period of school closure.

We are carrying out a survey of staff at CNS this week (along with the survey of students) and we are doing this to be sure that we are not expecting too much of them and accurately understand what it is like for them right now as well. Many are of course balancing their own children’s home learning, getting to grips with new technology and software and also experiencing the same thoughts and worries about the national and global situation. With this in mind, I want to pass on so many of their thanks for the gentle encouragement and thanks they have received. They are also very humble and worry if they are doing a ‘good enough job’ and feel refreshed and energised when they get that feedback from you or your children.

Below you can see some images that have been sent to me by some of my Year 9s, who are studying the Second World War and had been focussing on the home front. Over the Easter break they could choose to plant their own vegetable patch, design authentic propaganda posters, make a model Anderson Bomb Shelter, or cook rationing-friendly meals. Here are some of their amazing efforts…

I wish to express particular admiration for Tom with his two-course onion soup with toad in the hole. And to Clover, who made “Everything In” Stew (with dumplings) followed by roasted pears with honey and walnuts. Both cooked within the limitations of the day (i.e. 1941) and produced what was clearly delicious food! It’s so rewarding when you see students just get stuck in and do these things.

Staffing News
Just before all schools were closed, we completed the process to expand the Leadership Team at CNS. I am delighted to share with you the news that Mrs De Bruyn (current Head of Sixth Form) and Mrs Armistead (currently Head of Year 12 and Head of Psychology at Marlborough School) will become Assistant Headteachers here from September. Meanwhile, we have since appointed Mr Ward (currently Head of RE) to the position of Acting Head of Sixth Form as well.

We are going through a time when our current and new Year 12s will want and need an unprecedented level of support, guidance and encouragement. With this in mind, I am pleased to reflect that we retain the two former heads of our Sixth Form (Mrs De Bruyn and Mr Trainer), we shall add an experienced sixth form teacher and leader (Mrs Armistead) AND we shall gain from the energy, drive and plans of Mr Ward as well. We are ready.

And finally…
You can always drop me an email ([email protected]) if I can be of any help and I shall do my best to get back to you quickly. Meanwhile, Ms Hancock (Wednesday), Mrs Smart (Thursday) and Mr Gent (Friday) will send out their weekly newsletter as planned and between us, we hope to keep you well informed and keep our community close.

Yours sincerely,
Barry Doherty
Headteacher

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