It was a great pleasure for the staff to welcome all the pupils back on Monday 8th March. Due to carrying out mass Covid-19 tests on the Sunday morning for secondary pupils, we were able to get straight back into the normal school routine, allowing everyone to make the most of the first day back. We had our second round of testing this morning and all tests on both days were negative, which is reassuring. Thank you to all the pupils who came along to the testing on Sunday and early this morning. A huge thank you to all the parents, together with Madam Thiebeaux and members of staff, who came along to help with the mass-testing. It meant that we were able to speed through the proceedings and get the children into their classrooms as quickly as possible. Your support is truly valued. The final test to take place at school is on Monday 15th March and then home tests up until Easter, when we will await further instructions.
The extra-curricular clubs commenced immediately on Monday, with being active and wellbeing in mind, so please encourage your child to take part.
We are planning to run the Duke of Edinburgh Award challenges in the summer term, subject to Covid-19 regulations easing. The expeditions will certainly be a great way for the pupils to enjoy the great outdoors with their friends.
As I have advised in numerous letters throughout the lockdown period, wellbeing is extremely important now more than ever, so it is something we are discussing with the pupils and will be focusing on throughout the weeks ahead. If you have concerns you wish to raise then please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss how best we can support your child. We will be displaying posters around the school to tell pupils who they can ask for help.
Mrs Barnes, who has worked for Rushmoor School for many years in a senior capacity as Assistant Head (Pastoral), will be stepping down from the Senior Leadership Team at the end of this academic year. I would like to thank Mrs Barnes for her contributions to the leadership of Rushmoor over the years I have been Principal, she has been a valued member of the team. Mrs Barnes will continue to teach biology to GCSE pupils at the Rushmoor site and will continue to demonstrate her passion for teaching.
Mr Pugh, Head of PE and Games at Rushmoor, will be taking on the additional role as Assistant Head (Pastoral) from September 2021. He will work alongside Mrs Stott, who is Assistant Head (Pastoral) at St Andrew’s as we plan for the formal merger of the two schools and move to the new site. Mr Pugh has already been heavily involved in organising wellbeing initiatives and I am sure he will bring plenty of ideas to the Senior Leadership Team. We wish him well in this new role.
During the lockdown, Mrs McLoughlin left her role as Cover Supervisor and Mrs McLester is the new Cover Supervisor at Rushmoor. We would like to thank Mrs McLoughlin for her contributions to Rushmoor School during her time with us and we wish her the very best for the future.
A reminder that our new Head of Sixth Form will be joining us after Easter. Mr Woodward’s latest position has been Head of Sixth Form at Redborne School in Ampthill, so he brings a wealth of experience to the role.
PTFA Summer Fete
We are planning to hold the Summer Fete at St Andrew’s on Saturday 3rd July 2021, subject to Covid-19 restrictions being fully lifted, so please make a note in your diary. All pupils from across both schools are expected to attend this event as it is actually deemed part of their school year. Usually it is a lovely event with parents, grandparents and friends coming along. It would really be great to have the opportunity to join together once again after this terrible year, so let us hope we are allowed if Covid-19 numbers keep dropping and they don’t have to change the goalposts again.
Proposed rail link – East West Route E through North Bedford
We know that some parents are worried about the proposed rail link from Bedford to Cambridge. We are following the case closely, voicing our concerns through the correct channels. Whilst we cannot afford to be complacent, we understand that currently there is just the decision and financing in place to complete the rail section from Oxford to Milton Keynes, with any court cases on the compulsory purchase of the necessary land in our area some way off. It is envisaged that a tunnel will have to be constructed, which may skirt our land, but should cause minimal disruption to the School, as the main part of our development is higher up to the opposite side of where a tunnel might be located in years to come.
Unsung Heroes Virtual Awards
We fully appreciate that times have been tough for our pupils having to keep motivated throughout the remote learning experience. I know we did well to provide a full timetable with live lessons, but it is not the same as being in the classroom. Therefore, I would like to thank all the pupils for keeping up with the lessons, good naturedly and enthusiastically. I have decided to give some small awards out at the end of this term to pupils who have been nominated by their teachers for special recognition. Each of those awarded will receive an Easter egg as a small token of their achievements.
World Book Day
Despite pupils being at home for World Book Day this year, we still celebrated and we were very pleased to receive pictures showing the junior pupils dressed up as their favourite book characters. The children found some interesting places to read their books!
Alliance’s Got Talent
It was also lovely to see the video of the pupils from across the Alliance who took part in the Talent Contest. Well done to you all for taking part and thank you to the staff who organised it. There were a full range of talents, from golf tricks by Oscar, to dancing, singing, talented musicians and a make-up demonstration. Congratulations to Lydia Shortland, who won the competition.
Parent’s Council Meeting
Please make a note that the next Parent’s Council Meeting will take place on Wednesday 24th March at 4.15pm using Microsoft Teams. If you would like to attend the meeting, please email heads_PA@rushmoorschool.co.uk (for both schools) so that we can send you a link to the meeting. Everybody is invited to attend and we will be discussing curriculum issues as we start planning for the next academic year, with timetabling commencing during the Easter break.
The governors and I are currently putting the final details into a letter regarding the formal merger of the two schools. The letter will be sent to you by post on the 24th March announcing our exciting future. With businesses subject to different working conditions, Covid-19 has hit every aspect of planning the new school. However, we still have everything in place from our end and are ready to build at the earliest opportunity, subject to a box ticking exercise out of our control, which is holding things up a bit.
During the past lockdown, I have been delighted to receive such kind words of thanks and support from many, many of our families. I would like to thank you all as I know it has not been easy having to juggle work and home commitments as well as supporting your child through online learning. The comments in the survey we conducted about our online provision were extremely positive too, which was pleasing. Your huge level of support really has kept the staff motivated throughout the past twelve months. I am proud of the level of teaching and learning provided despite the challenges. Let us hope that we do not have to revert to remote teaching again! However, we have all seen the value of online provision in terms of parental meetings, consultation evenings and setting homework, which will continue and really is our new normal.
The excellent attitude of our pupils has been so positive and it is wonderful to have them all back on site with us.
I M Daniel, BA (QTS), NPQH