A message from Headteacher Chiquita Henson
I am sure I am not alone in saying if I had a magic wand I would wave it and wish for everything to go back to normal. But sadly, I don’t have one so I can only wish everyone the best Christmas possible this year. Please take care of yourselves and each other and, if you have a quiet moment, please listen to the delightful Christmas album put together by pupils and our Expressive Arts Team.
It has been a turbulent and exhausting year. We have all had to learn to live with uncertainty and we all know how difficult this has been. We have all had to adjust to new routines and new ways of teaching and learning. I am extremely grateful to all members of our school community. The resilience that has been shown has been tremendous. This has enabled most of us to move seamlessly between teaching and learning in school or at home.
Staff and pupils have continued on a steep trajectory. In putting together our remote learning plan for any eventuality, we have built on the excellent practice of pupils and staff during the first period of lockdown from March to July.
Teachers have been creative and innovative and pupils, engaged and responsive. This has enabled us to maintain the rhythm and momentum of learning. When necessary we have continued to provide access to high quality learning sequences through Show My Homework and in MS Teams. I have been impressed by the readiness of pupils and staff required to self-isolate to stay connected with us and each other.
Parents of one of our Year 7 pupils said this week: ‘We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and your colleagues for the fantastic work you have done this term. Our daughter has had an incredible first term at Deer Park. She gets ready for school each day with enthusiasm and arrives home excited to tell us about everything that has happened. We know that this has been an incredibly difficult term for teachers and yet despite all that you have been dealing with, you and your colleagues have kept this stress away from the students. We understand the hard work that has gone into this and want to thank you all for your professionalism. You have all turned a light on inside our daughter, she is glowing with confidence and as parents of a Y7 starting a new school we want to thank you for making that transition so smooth and enjoyable for her. We wish you and all the staff at Deer Park a safe, merry but above all restful Christmas.’
We are sorry that we have not been able to meet with all parents in person, but since September we have endeavoured to maintain key events in our school calendar by doing things differently. We have moved events online; our open mornings and evenings were replaced by our ‘out of hours’ tours and our sequence of short promotional 'Creating Futures' films.
We persevered with our learning conferences and hosted celebration events in MS Teams, and most recently, we live streamed our GCSE Drama performances ( see Latest News).
On Thursday 17 December, we held our annual Christmas Jumper Day, in support of Cirencester Foodbank and the Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day appeal. Staff and pupils alike showed real effort, support and generosity in backing the event. Thank you. Read more...
This term we say goodbye to a number of colleagues who have served Deer Park and our pupils exceptionally well. I am grateful to Miss Lillington, Mrs Buckley and Miss Ellis who leave our Humanities Faculty and Mrs Hoole-Jackson, who has taught Computer Science and ICT, as well as Mrs Reynolds, our Attendance and Support Officer, Mrs Sinden, Senior Teaching Assistant and Mrs Dixon, Teaching Assistant. We wish them all the very best for their futures.
Currently the school and the school’s leadership team remain responsible for any track and trace in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19, this includes up to and including Christmas Eve. Therefore, we politely ask parents to advise us at the earliest opportunity if their child experiences the onset of symptoms over the weekend of 19 and 20 December and to let us know immediately if they have a positive test result by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other parents should be aware that they may receive a text or email from us during the first few days of the school holiday asking their child to self-isolate should they be identified as a close contact.
Year 10 parent: 'Please could you pass on our thanks to all the staff at the school for their hard work and efforts during a very challenging term. We have been hugely impressed by the level of dedication and professionalism shown by everyone at the school in ensuring that a high quality of education has been maintained. We have been particularly impressed with the efficiency of communication regarding potential contact with people with Covid-19 and the measures taken to ensure the safety of everyone.'
We are looking ahead to 2021 and, while optimistic, we know we will all face fresh challenges in 2021. Please read our Start of the New Year, which takes into account the staggered start to the term.
Happy New Year.