It hasn’t been the end to the school year that I was envisaging two weeks ago and it has again been a bit of a rollercoaster. The low was the rise in coronavirus cases that led to Years 9 and 10 being switched to remote learning for the last 3 days of term; the highs were the Summer Arts Festival last week and the Year 11 prom yesterday, the latter of which was held at Chilworth Manor. As always, this was a memorable night but this one was particularly special because it was touch-and-go over the past two weeks about whether or not it was going to run. The Year 11s all looked incredible in their prom wear, enjoyed a sit-down meal, and then danced for the remainder of the evening. I have been to 24 proms in my career (with last year being the only time I haven’t attended one) and this was definitely in my top three. I am hugely grateful to all the staff who came along, even though I know they must have been exhausted this late in the year, and particularly to Mrs Roome and Miss Cambridge who organised it. What a great end to this crazy, unpredictable year.
I’d also like to take the opportunity to say goodbye to three members of staff. It’s always a bittersweet moment when staff leave- you’re pleased that they have a new opportunity but it’s difficult to see good colleagues leave. We have had very little staff turnover this year, for which I am always grateful, but these three members of staff have accumulated 15 years of experience at this school. Miss Carr, Head of Design and Technology, has only been with us for a year but has made a big impression in this time. She is relocating back to another part of the country. Mrs Webb, Teacher of Maths, has been with us for five years. During this time, she has been a Lead Practitioner, leading teaching and learning initiatives, as well as coaching members of staff. Mrs Gaine, 2 i/c Modern Foreign Languages, has been with the school for 9 years and there will be many students who will have fond memories of being taught languages by her and taken on trips (so important to developing a child’s cultural capital). I’d like to wish all three members of staff every success in their new roles.
The next six weeks will see a lot of work being carried out across the site. We are having a third canopy erected opposite our Tokyo block; our catering facilities are being refurbished (and we have two new catering outlets that are being constructed and will be set up by October half-term; the ovens are being replaced in our Food Tech room; some essential drainage work is being completed; new bike racks are being fitted; two more water fountains are being installed; and the site (as always) is being deep-cleaned. Mr Stone, our site manager, will be working incredibly hard over this period to help improve the school site for the arrival of 240 new Year 7 students on September, increasing the school roll to approximately 1150 students.
Understandably, I have been contacted over the past week about what the school’s plans are for coronavirus in September. The plans at time of writing are the same as the ones I outlined a couple of weeks ago, with the school planning for things to be largely back to normal, with a few adjustments. The one-way system will continue because it reduces congestion around the school; year-group zones will still operate during break and lunch because it has created a more settled environment; hand sanitizer will be available for those who want it; and some staff (and students) may continue to wear face coverings. The biggest change is the staggered start to the new year, which is because of the requirement for schools to offer 2 lateral flow tests before students come back- separate letters have been sent about this. Apart from that, we are hoping for a more normal year, with assemblies allowed and extra-curricular activities re-starting. All of this depends, of course, on there being no changes to government guidance over the next month and I will write out to all of you two weeks before the start of term to confirm the start-of-term arrangements.
Whatever your plans are over the summer period, I hope that you are all able to have a restful holiday. Seemingly every student and member of staff I have spoken to has talked about their plans for a holiday in Cornwall so do expect to see many of the Hamble community if you are travelling that way over the next six weeks. During this time, I am encouraging staff to stay off their emails so they are properly rested for the new year, so please be aware that it may be difficult to contact the school during this time. We will, of course, respond to urgent communications but it is unlikely to be immediate.
Have a good summer.