Principal’s Blog

February 2021

As this first half of term draws to a close, I would like to say thank you to the pupils for the effort they have shown in keeping up with their online learning. We know it is incredibly difficult to remain motivated when having to stare at a computer screen day in and day out. We know that some of the pupils might be finding it more difficult this time because they are missing their friends, but we hope that our online provision has not only given them the chance to learn, but also to maintain a good level of interaction with their classmates.

Wellbeing is a key focus in the media during this pandemic, but it has always been a key feature at Rushmoor and St Andrew’s Schools. Our reputations for more than 100 years have been built on our ability to cater for the individual child, to know their needs and to provide excellent pastoral support. Just because we are in a remote situation doesn’t mean that pastoral support has stopped. This time during lockdown, we have maintained the timetable and provided practical subjects, which allow the pupils to express their creativity and also subjects which support their fitness. For example, it was lovely to see our Key Stage 1 pupils enjoying baking and then joining their classmates and teachers for an afternoon virtual tea party, where they enjoyed the story of ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’.

The Year 7 girls have been creating their own artwork inspired by Michael Craig Martin’s work. Well done girls!

Year 4 had a DT challenge of searching for normal household objects to create the alphabet. DT overlapping with literacy!

Year 8’s bakewell tarts looked absolutely delicious. I am sure they enjoyed baking them as much as they enjoyed eating them.

All creative tasks that are good for their wellbeing.

I personally do not like the media reports about a “Lost generation”. Our pupils are not lost! They are doing extremely well, despite difficult situations. We have seen the majority of our senior pupils show a great deal of maturity when studying their GCSEs and dealing with online assessments. They have as much potential to do well as any other year group I have dealt with in my 32 years of teaching. We have worked hard to cover new content and keep the curriculum rolling forward, whereas other schools did not do this from the outset, so our pupils are actually likely to benefit from this situation in the long-run. They do not need to hear the negative mind-set of press reporters who don’t know much about teaching and learning. Given that wellbeing is a topic that the press keep bleating on about, they are doing this nation’s resilient children a great disservice by concentrating on negatives. Throughout the Alliance, we prefer to concentrate on the positives. Rest assured, if we identify any gaps in an individual’s learning, we will work with them to help them reach their very best.

As well as the normal curriculum PE and Games, I hope that you have enjoyed the wellbeing challenges that have been suggested by the PE Department. It is pleasing to know that it’s not just our pupils who are taking part, but mums, dads and siblings too.

Well done to everybody who has taken up the challenges. Another wellbeing incentive was provided by Miss Cripps, from our DT Department, who recently asked for baking and creative tips to be put on our social media pages to give the pupils some ideas of things to do away from their screens. We were pleased to receive a photo of baking from the Clayton family. Please send in your photographs if you decide to make anything. You can see the full list of suggestions on our FaceBook page.

Despite lockdown, the school year is still rolling ahead as it normally does, with the usual events taking place. Year 9 pupils are still considering their option choices for the year ahead and our Year 11 pupils are considering their lives after GCSEs. We had our Sixth Form taster evening on Monday this week, with the highest number of attendees (both internal and external) tuning in remotely, which was great to see. Mr Woodward, our new Head of Sixth Form, introduced himself. He is joining us in April and he knows exactly what he is talking about, as he is currently Head of Redborne School’s Sixth Form. It was wonderful to hear his views on just how lucky our sixth formers are to have a unique provision, where they are truly known to all the staff as an individual and not just a number on a mark-sheet. It was thought provoking to hear his comments. I already know that a small sixth form offers many benefits, particularly during this pandemic, but to hear somebody else talk about its benefits was very interesting. I hope that the pupils and families who tuned in for the taster evening found it informative. Please contact us with any questions you may have.

Well done to all those who have received an Award from me recently. They are: Leo Mehmi, Zarah Sheridan, Jack Miller, Hugo Auton, Matheus Costa-Hale, Christina Kaguda, Eliani Hashemi, Kieran Kirkham, Ruby Stoughton, Lawrence Johnson, Alex Thompson and Thomas Frazer.

I know that with all the worries that lockdown has caused, the need to get the children back into the classroom is the main concern. The thought of our new combined site might seem inconsequential in the current climate; however, we are battling to move forward. Inevitably, there have been delays due to circumstances outside our control, but everything we are able to do during the pandemic has been done, such as branding, trademarks, uniform, etc. The governors appreciate that our families will want to be updated and once the immediate issues of lockdown have subsided, we will do so. This venture is still an exciting opportunity, albeit extremely frustrating that we need to wait for further input from the Local Authority before we can push ahead with the main part.

I am sure that all of us are looking forward to the half-term break, if anything to allow families to recover from the extremes of online learning when also juggling work-life pressures. I do hope that you have the opportunity to find time to relax and unwind with your children. As ever, thank you for your continued support throughout these trying times.

If you have any Covid-19 related issues during the half-term break that you need to advise me of, please use (for both schools) and I will contact you by return.

Kind regards

I M Daniel, BA (QTS), NPQH