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Headteacher’s letter 28 September 2020

Monday 28 September 2020 

Dear Parents and Carers 

Last Week’s Letters from Mrs De Bruyn and Mrs Armistead 

I hope you enjoyed last week’s letter from our new assistant headteachers and that it allowed you to  broaden your awareness of the many ways in which we strive to be an even better school this year  and beyond. Both will bring greater capacity and reach for our leadership team and ensure we can  achieve our school improvement goals (see below) this year. 

From Open Evening to Virtual Open Evening 

The traditional open evening will have to be reimagined this year as a result of the need to maintain  safe bubbles and support social distancing. Instead of that normal open evening (scheduled for this  coming Thursday), we shall instead host a virtual open evening between 7pm and 9pm on Thursday  8 October. 

We are pretty excited about what we have got planned. Today, we have a film crew in school taking  footage of our site and they are safely filming students and staff talking about their lives at CNS. This  will lead to a promotional film that we shall ‘première’ on Thursday 8 October. 

Starting at 7pm there will be streamed talks from a few of us either side of that film and then a  question and answer session with members of the leadership team, Mrs Faulkner (Head of Year 7)  and Mrs Smart (SENCo). Whether you have children starting in Year 7 or not, the evening will be  easily accessible via our website or Facebook page on the night, and thereafter on our website. 

Thursday 1 and Friday 2 October 2020 

Our school calendar correctly indicates that we are due to finish early (12:25pm) on Thursday 1  October, followed by an INSET Day on Friday 2 October. Having given this a great deal of thought, we  have decided to continue with the early closure even though we will not be preparing for the normal  open evening on that day. 

It has been a strong start to the term, but finding time to work  

within our teams has been extremely difficult and, therefore, 

there is a great deal we can and will do on those days. 

Continued…

And so to be clear: 

School will finish early on Thursday 1 October. Classes will end  

after period 3 at 12:25pm. Buses will leave approximately 15 / 20 

minutes later. 

The school will be closed to all students on Friday 2 October for  

our second INSET Day of the year. 

What on earth do we do on INSET Days? 

Every In-Service Training Day has a different focus. Later this week we shall use Thursday afternoon  to reflect on our own professional standards over the past twelve months. We do this in an open  and frank climate so that we can all live out our core belief that everyone is a learner. 

On Friday 2 October, our time will be spent looking at the year ahead so that every subject and every  year group can agree plans to achieve our school improvement goals.  

Such conversations, if they are to possess any depth or quality, require time and space to think,  discuss, challenge and support one another – and we look forward to that opportunity. 

Our School Improvement Goals for 2020/21 

I have mentioned before that we are not content to survive the year and instead we expect to  thrive! Below is a simplified list of our six core improvement goals that are linked to the  improvement plans for each subject, year group and employee at the school.  

  1. Reopen our school safely and rapidly to restore the very best culture, practices and  opportunities that we had reached in March 2020. 
  2. Ensure a culture of excellence as standard and reduce known in-school variation in the quality of  teaching and learning. 
  3. Complete the embedding of a knowledge rich curriculum across years 7 to 13. 4. Outstanding A level attainment and progress in the summer of 2021. 
  4. Outstanding GCSE attainment and progress, with a particular focus on boys and high prior  attaining students in the summer of 2021. 
  5. Improve the way we adapt our lessons so that we make even greater gains in the engagement  and progress of lower prior attaining students and students with special educational needs. 

With the Year 11 mocks about to commence, followed by the Year 13 mocks straight after half term, we are very much up and running again and focussing on ensuring those students realise the  potential that has been so evident for many years. 

Staying Safe in School 

I do not wish to make my letters to you unnecessarily focussed on COVID-19 except to reiterate a  few points when necessary: 

When a school has a confirmed case of COVID-19 then all of the school contacts have to remain  at home for 14 days from the date that their symptoms were first noted. Contacts include ‘close  contacts (typically their close friends) and ‘proximity contacts’ (those that sat nearby in their  lessons). Such decisions are standard across the country as all schools seek to balance caution  with common sense.

It appears that if a school has more than one positive case in a single bubble or year group then  there is an increased risk that an entire year group will be sent home for the 14-day period.  Please help us by encouraging your children to step back from one another whenever they can.  

We have had to remind students regularly to stop needlessly ‘huddling’ and instead spread out  as much as possible – especially when they are outside. It is not that they feel invincible; it is  because they usually just forget or think the crisis is over unless we remind or nag them! Face coverings must always be worn when we  

are not in classrooms. There have been  

absolutely no problems with this whatsoever 

(thank you!) but far too many students have  

arrived in school without a face covering and we  

have distributed over 350 in the past fortnight.  

We stocked up in anticipation but hope that you  

understand this is not sustainable and that all  

students must take personal responsibility for  

their own and others’ safety by having at least  

two face coverings in their possession every single day. 

Washable face coverings ought to be treated like socks – used once and then put through the  wash. 

Purchasing Chromebooks 

89 families recently took delivery of the first tranche of Chromebooks. Chromebooks may be taken  into school by our oldest students (Years 10 to 13) but, typically, are not encouraged to do so  amongst our younger students – unless agreed and approved with either the Head of Year or the  SENCo. 

We have had more interest from other families keen to purchase a device for their son or daughter.  

The cost of the next tranche of devices is likely to be £225, but this will depend on the levels of  interest and the precise model available at the time of ordering. Right now, we are looking at  another Dell Chromebook 3100 with the following specifications: 

Intel Celeron N4020 (Dual Core,  

up to 2.8GHz, 4M Cache, 6W) 

11.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare  

Non-Touch, Camera &  

Microphone, WLAN Capable 

Non-Touch LCD Cover 

4GB 2400MHz LPDDR4 Non-ECC 

32GB eMMC Storage 

If you wish to purchase a Chromebook outright then email our finance team on  [email protected] to register your interest by Monday 5 October 2020. We  understand that delivery will take 3-4 weeks noting that national and global demand for devices  appears to be very high. 

Chromebook Loans 

Meanwhile, we have a stock of brand new Chromebooks that we are able to loan to students, who  are eligible for free school meals, throughout their time at CNS. We are prioritising those students  who are due to take their GCSEs and A levels in the next few years and keeping a few back for short 

term loans to our younger students. Mrs Armistead (for Years 10 to 13) and Mrs De Bruyn (for Years  7 to 9) are leading on this programme and can be contacted directly if you have any queries about  this exciting additional provision that has already begun to roll out. This has formed part of our plan  to close the so-called ‘digital divide’ and support students during these disrupted times in education.  

And finally… 

Thank you again for your contribution to ensuring your children have returned so positively. We  constantly hear so many fantastic comments about our students and how their attitude, behaviour,  organisation, work rate and flexibility have led to a widespread feeling that we are all enjoying a very  sharp improvement in all round standards. Students are working harder in class, are less likely to  submit substandard homework and incidents of serious misbehaviour are extremely rare indeed.  Attendance is not yet back to where it needs to be but is climbing each week and this makes it more  and more likely to lead to a marvellous year, against the odds. 

Yours faithfully 

Mr Doherty 

Headteacher

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