Making the most of Spring
This week there has been a real feeling of Spring in the air and a strong sense of renewal. The very early morning frosts have given way to glorious sunshine and the wildlife is beginning to stir. Birds are singing and nest building, rabbits are playful on the grass and the bees that have made their hive in the wall are active again making the most of the spring flowers on site.
‘It is interesting to see how closely we co-exist with nature. When I was calling a group of Year 11 pupils in for an assessment, a robin with its beak full sat patiently on the wall just a metre away from my shoulder until all was quiet again and it could proceed.’ Chiquita Henson, Headteacher
We are privileged to have such a beautiful school site and it is important that we all take good care in looking after it. This is one of the reasons why we have embraced the ‘Wild Campus Cirencester’ initiative and the creation of a wildlife corridor. In doing so we also need to improve our disposal of litter. This is everyone’s responsibility and it will be a focus for the new term when we return to school on Monday 19 April 2021.
Although pupils have only been back in school for four weeks after a significant period of lockdown, everyone is ready for the Easter holiday, which this year commences on Good Friday.
Pupils in Year 11 have completed their first round of assessments. Most have approached these with a positive mindset and we have been impressed by their attitudes and behaviour. Our advice is that they all spend some time over Easter, preparing and revising for their next assessments which start on Monday 10 May 2021, as they would have been expected to do had they been sitting formal GCSEs this summer. Engagement in these assessments will ensure our teachers have robust evidence on which to base our centre assessed grades.
From the beginning of Term 5, pupils in other year groups will be sitting assessments and it is important that they too, spend time preparing for these. These will help inform our planning and ensure that we can target the right resources to help our pupils close any significant gaps in their knowledge, skills and understanding.
Over the last few weeks, routines have been re-established and friendships restored. The slight easing of the lockdown from Monday 29 March means that more of us can meet together outside and there are more opportunities for our pupils to re-engage in grassroots sports outside of school. However, it is important that we still observe the restrictions and remain socially distanced.
Hopefully, if all goes to plan, the next milestones in the Government's roadmap out of lockdown will be reached on Monday 12 April and we will see a further relaxation in the measures we have all become accustomed to. We should receive further guidance from the Department of Education regarding the wearing of face coverings etc.
UPDATE: Face coverings will continue in classrooms and other indoor spaces until no earlier than 17 May.
Over the holiday, pupils should continue to self-swab using their home test kits and report their results. Should they display any symptoms of COVID-19 and have a positive PCR test result, parents should email Miss Brace (Assistant Head) directly, so that we can take any ‘track and trace’ steps should they be required.
This week we say goodbye to two members of staff, who over the last 20 years have made a significant contribution to the smooth running of the school, albeit behind the scenes. Both are taking retirement; we are extremely grateful to them for their commitment to the school. Frances Gibbs, our Reprographics Technician has consistently supported teachers in the production of resources and her creativity and close attention to detail has ensured these have always been of a very high quality. Similarly, Martin Doidge, Director of Finance, has helped us manage our budgets effectively. Having previously worked in the transport sector, Martin joined the staff here at Deer Park in 2003 with no management experience of secondary education and, over the last 18 years, he has become an expert in school finance and business management. Both he and Frances will be sorely missed. We wish them all the very best in the future.
We wish you all a very happy Easter.
Some images from classes during this last week of term: