It has been wonderful to have the pupils back with us at school this week and to see and hear their enjoyment at being able to be amongst friends again. We were desperate to have them back but obviously only when it was considered safe to do so.
We have been really pleased with the smooth start considering the need to have all pupils tested prior to their return to the classroom. By Monday lunchtime, all Year 10 and 11 pupils were able to go to timetabled lessons, the same for Years 8 & 9 on Tuesday, and by mid-morning on Wednesday, the whole school had received their first test and had returned to normal lessons. Obviously as you know, the re-testing has already commenced for certain year groups and ultimately, all those consenting will have 3 tests in school before home testing kits and instructions are issued – we have taken delivery of these at school and will be distributing them in the near future.
I want to compliment the pupils on how they have approached returning to St Mary’s. After such a long period away, they have displayed a real mixture of maturity, resilience and enthusiasm which is to be commended. I have been so impressed with all of them and it gives a sense of great hope at St Mary’s that we will resume a sense of normality as quickly as possible. Equally, we are mindful that there will be ongoing anxieties and issues arising from the various periods of lockdown and remote learning. Alongside the academic support in lessons, we are ensuring that there are plenty of layers of pastoral support available to all pupils. We will maximise our resources to ensure that pupils’ social and emotional development is also well supported.
I will shortly communicate separately again with parents and carers of Year 11 pupils. We are yet to receive firm details from Ofqual regarding start dates for the submission of this year’s Teacher Assessed Grades, and this will have a bearing on the dates that Year 11 are with us until – we want to ensure that we take full advantage of the remaining time our Year 11 have with us and achieve a balance between ongoing teaching and assessment. Teachers of Y11 pupils are starting to share information on how they will be assessed with the pupils whilst being conscious of not overwhelming them during their first days back at school. We will be in touch soon with specific details and planned arrangements.
Finally, thanks for your tremendous support throughout this period of ongoing challenge. It is no surprise that I am able to report about how smoothly things have gone because of your considerable support, input and cooperation. We are very well-placed to make the most of the remainder of this academic year and are completely determined to do so.
Our school community feels vibrant again because our pupils are here, and I very much look forward to updating you regularly on our progress together going forward.