Have a good and well-deserved half-term break

It has been some weeks since I last wrote this blog. Unfortunately, I succumbed to one of the viral strains going around at the moment and have not been in school. It wasn’t COVID and definitely not ‘man flu’ as one of my colleagues joked when I was initially ill. In fact, illness and absence has been a concern this half term. Over the last few weeks, the school has seen an increase in the number of positive COVID cases for both staff and students. On Tuesday this week, 26% of teaching staff and 20% of support staff were absent through illness. This was not all COVID-related but it has placed additional pressures on the staff in school. Speaking to other headteachers, this is similar to what is happening locally and in other areas of the country but it still remains a concern. I have been in regular consultation with Hampshire Local Authority and Public Health England. We will continue to promote the importance of hand hygiene and other mitigating actions to reduce the spread of this virus as much as possible. At the moment, I am not planning to reintroduce measures such as face coverings (although anyone may wear one if they wish) but I will monitor the situation and will make changes if needed. Hopefully, this isn’t necessary but I will continue to consider any and all measures that help keep the school open and functioning.

We continue to send home lateral flow devices on a regular basis to staff and students. I would ask you to encourage your children to use these twice a week as it will help us keep the levels of COVID at a more manageable level. Your child should have enough for the half-term. Early detection of coronavirus, through a positive lateral flow test, helps to mitigate the spread of this virus.

We have closed the Parent Communications Survey- thank you to everyone who took the time to contribute. Mrs Valleley, Assistant Headteacher, and I spent a bit of time going through it this week. There were some very positive comments about the methods of communication we use. There were also some very valid points raised that we will focus on as we try to improve our communications this year. After half-term, when I have had the opportunity to absorb it fully, I’ll report back to you with a summary of the feedback. We are currently redesigning the website to help make our communication clearer- this should be completed soon so you will see some changes that I hope makes life easier for you. I only have two children in full-time education now (my eldest son is now in the world of work) but I do know how difficult it can be to keep abreast with what is going on in a child’s life. The changes that we are making, and will continue to make, are focused on making all of this clearer.

I have also written to you again this week about the COVID vaccination process that will be held on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th November and a text will have been sent today as a reminder. If you wish your child to have this vaccination, then please complete the consent form and return to school as soon as possible. We will have to confirm numbers with the local health team on Tuesday 2nd November.

I hope that your children are all able to have a good and well-deserved rest after a busy half-term and I look forward to seeing all of them back in school on Monday 1st November.