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Half term letter to parents

Dear Parents/Carers

We have almost reached the end of a very busy half-term at St Mary’s, and I am sure that both you and your children are looking forward to a well-deserved break next week. I think that this term more than ever, we have been doing everything possible to make up for the time when our pupils were not able to come to school and the focus has been very much on assessing what stage our children are at across all year groups.

It has been a productive period at St Mary’s and one where all of us have had to get used to doing things a little differently. Thank you for your understanding with events such as Parent Consultation Evenings and Options Evening which have had to follow a different format and be conducted remotely. We are conscious that this is not necessarily the same as being able to come into school and discuss your son or daughter’s progress or next steps, but the feedback we have received suggests that you have still found the alternative approaches to be useful. We have recently been able to lift some of the restrictions in line with government guidance, but for the time being, we still have to adhere to pupils working and learning in year group bubbles and having separate areas for social and eating arrangements. We have managed to get to this point in the pandemic with minimal disruption to learning, and with only having to request that a very small minority of pupils self-isolate. We now have to strike the right balance between opening up further ‘normal’ school activities and events and maintaining the safety of staff and pupils at school. It has been lovely to see our pupils getting the opportunity to take part in after-school sports clubs again and this is something we want to continue with for the rest of the summer term.

Thank you for continuing to carry out the self-tests for Covid at home and letting us know the results. We are sending the pupils home with a new set of kits today which should keep them going for a while and help to keep our community as safe as possible.

As the end of their time with us approaches, I would like to wish our Year 11 pupils every success and happiness for the future. They have had such an uncertain and unsettling time of things in their crucial final year, yet they have handled themselves with a real sense of maturity. As a substitute for taking GCSE exams, our Y11s have been working tirelessly on what has been almost continuous assessment in recent weeks and months. They have applied themselves fully and we are now in the process of assessing and moderating in order to arrive at their Teacher Assessed Grades for 2021. We are overseeing a very rigorous process in order that the pupils get the results they deserve and help them on their way with post-16 courses.

It has been very rewarding watching how much the Year 11s have enjoyed their special activities in recent days, and we hope that they go some way towards making up for the things they have unfortunately missed out on. Please keep our Y11s in your thoughts and prayers as they embark on the next stages of their lives; they are a credit to themselves, their parents and the school and we will miss them dearly.

The rest of the summer term will include some assessments for Y10 as we are keen to ascertain exactly where any gaps might be and what needs to be done to address these prior to them starting Y11. We will also be offering study skills support which will help the Y10 pupils to prepare and to develop effective revision strategies.

Transition work will also begin in earnest after the break as we begin preparing for our next incoming year group. I sincerely hope that for them and for your children the next academic year can be a more settled and normal one than we have experienced of late.

I wish you all a relaxing and peaceful break and look forward to working with you and your children for the remainder of the summer term. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Yours faithfully,

Stuart Wetson