Dear Grey Court Community,
Ordinarily the lower year groups would have left school at 12pm today and the Y11s would be preparing for their Record of Achievement (ROA) ceremony this afternoon. In my 14 years at Grey Court I have always enjoyed this tradition. The whole staff clapping each individual Y11 tutor group as they (splendidly attired in fresh shirts and polished shoes) walk down the PE corridor to take their seats in the sports hall. Parents have already taken their positions and so begins speeches, musical interludes, introductions, and finally a compilation of photos that chart their journey from shy and timid Y7s to the confident young adults of today. We have been fortunate to have had some truly inspirational guest speakers in the past (Kate Silverton, James Nesbitt and Johnny Vegas) who have amused and enthused our young people. It is deeply saddening that the Y11 of 2020 cannot be afforded this opportunity. However our creative, determined, and resilient KS4 team are busy planning our virtual ROA which is scheduled for 12th June (date chosen to coincide with the end of the Grey Court Bridging School) and will hopefully be a fitting celebration to mark the end of their lower school journey.
In terms of our phased reopening, we are still awaiting further clarity of expectations from the Department for Education. This should be forthcoming on 28th May. As a school and a Trust we have agreed upon some guiding principles that will help us navigate what is clearly a steep learning curve in terms of operations, logistics and the maintenance of safety for all stakeholders. We are fortunate to have such an able and willing staff. Following last week's staff survey the vast majority of our personnel have declared themselves willing and able to resume some face to face teaching and are actually impatient to return.
We have taken the decision to undertake a slimmed down exam week for the Y12s which will be conducted remotely. Mr Clements gives more detail behind our rationale in the eBulletin. Ultimately, and without being disrespectful to other year groups, the Y12s have the skills and competencies to deal with remote learning with more robustness than the younger students. That said, it is imperative that they maintain their diligent approach and the examination of course content taught during this period of enforced shutdown will give them a clear goal to work towards. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Y12s and the KS5 team for putting together the enrichment quiz. It was great that so many Y12s attended and had some remote interactivity with their peers.
We want to keep our Key Stage 3 students really focussed in the final half term of the year. For this reason we will be tracking even more closely their engagement in lessons and homework for four weeks, starting 1st June - this will be known as our 'Engagement Focus Month'. Phase Leaders will be monitoring the data teachers will enter. At the end of the month we hope to award certificates to those who have really tried their hardest. In addition, we will be recognising student achievement through our class based star of the week prizes for work that demonstrates engagement, great effort and great attainment. We acknowledge that for a small number of students, working at home has been very challenging and for a number of reasons the students have not completed as much work as they could have done. The 'Engagement Focus Month' allows students who wish to start afresh and thus be entitled to affirmation and acknowledgement to be afforded this opportunity. As a school we also want to hear of and acknowledge our students who have been showing acts of kindness and real resilience during the lockdown period - please keep these stories coming into us.
The school will be open for half term for key groups of children, including the bank holiday, and we will endeavour to keep them entertained with a varied assortment of activities. Could I remind parents of the need to equip your children with suncream during this recent spell of fine weather.
Please visit the eBulletin this week for a host of information and some uplifting photos and videos. The fundraising antics of some of the Grey Court community are outstanding. The kindness and creativity of our community is abundant and we will eventually look back with pride on the role that Grey Court has played in supporting those most in need.
Finally, I would like to wish everybody a happy and healthy half term. Please do look after yourselves and, as school is open, do not hesitate to contact us if you are in need of any assistance. Hopefully, by next Friday, I will be able to be more specific about plans to reopen, but in the meantime please take care and profit from the sunshine.