Friday 12th March 2021

Last week we were able to give confirmation of the dates when we would at last be able to receive cohorts of students back to the building for face to face learning. Next week on Monday we welcome the whole of Year 13 and Year 11 back to school. Later in the week also sees the return of Year 12, followed by Year 10, then a day each for Year 7, 8 and 9 in the final week before the Easter Holidays, all in preparation for the planned full return of all students to schooling in the building after the Easter break.

Several correspondence have been sent home giving further detail on the return of students to school and we would like to encourage both students as well as parents/carers to ensure they are fully aware of these details before students return. Given the highly robust nature of our health and safety plans that were in place before lock down, this has meant few significant changes to existing safety protocols, however, given how long students have been absent from the building I feel it is important that they take the time to refresh their minds over the immediate details and the Home School Agreement in particular, which lays out expectations regarding behaviour whilst in school.

Recent Changes

Perhaps the most obvious change to previous procedure has been the need now for everyone to wear a 3-ply face masks in all communal areas, including inside classrooms. Medical exemptions will apply of course, and we kindly ask that you put these in writing / email to school as soon as you are able. We will then consider appropriate seating plans for those unable to wear masks.

In secondary schools in Wales, an optional further health and safety mitigation will also be available to students in Years 10-13 – a home Lateral Flow Test (LFT).  On a voluntary opt-in basis, Lateral Flow Tests will be provided to those who return the signed necessary consent form as soon as they return to school. You will have received further relevant information on LFTs via email yesterday, and this and other useful detail will be available on our website from Monday.

Adhering to Risk Mitigations for a While Longer

We cannot wait to see our students, starting in earnest next week, and we know that students are equally looking forward to being back in the classrooms with both their teachers and their peers. We truly appreciate your support and understanding in helping all students to continue to acknowledge the need for personal responsibility in following procedures to keep themselves and one another safe and well. Measures such as wearing masks in communal areas inside the building, sanitising hands, keeping to their own bubbles, social distancing where possible (we appreciate that it often isn’t!), following the one way systems in and around the building, using the correct entrances and exits and listening to all the instructions laid out by their teachers are, as we all now know, so very important. These things are once again recorded in our Risk Assessment on the school website. We are so incredibly eager to keep everyone here in the building, which is undoubtedly the best place for teaching and learning. Please contact the school if you have any questions or concerns relating to students returning.

Apprehension for Some

We all fully appreciate that whilst there will undoubtedly be an air of excitement at returning to school for many, for some this also brings a sense of apprehension and possible anxiety. With such a prolonged absence and under such circumstances, it is completely understandable that returning to school over the next two weeks, and beyond, can potentially feel a little daunting. We would like to reassure every student and parent/carer that their wellbeing as well as health and safety of everyone here is of the utmost importance and that we are all available to support and do whatever we can to help with the return. It is really important that anyone who feels any apprehension about returning speaks to their group tutor so that we can provide any support they may need.

Exam Class Assessments

For students who would have been sitting examinations this summer, but who are now in the process of completing assessments in order for their teachers to determine their grades, we also appreciate that this can add another source of potential worry. We would like to reassure all students who this may affect, as well as their parents/carers, that whilst assessments will be taking place in different subjects, there will be no onslaught of ‘tests’ thrown at students as soon as they return. Subjects will be carrying out their own assessments with some starting over the next two weeks and some after Easter. Where possible, students will be given prior warning of when this will be happening and of course they will be given sufficient time to prepare for assessments still required to be completed to allow eventual grading to be based on appropriate hard evidence only.

We will endeavour to keep an overview of assessment schedules and monitor the wellbeing of our students carefully with your support. It is essential that students continue to complete all tasks to the very best of their ability in order to provide sufficient evidence of ‘best-fit’ grades. Given that this is the system for awarding grades that the Welsh Government has decided upon, students should, however, be prepared for the fact that these assessments will be taking place and they will be ongoing. Please rest assured that teachers do have the best interests of the students at heart and will be doing everything they can to help prepare them.

Free School Meals

For families of students in receipt of free school meals, please be so good as to check the very latest arrangements in place on Flintshire’s website. This information does change from time to time and so it is worth checking regularly. All students in receipt of FSM will receive payments for the 2 week holiday.

Hockey Wales CHAMPIONS!

Congratulations everyone on becoming Hockey Wales Secondary School Virtual Welsh Cup CHAMPIONS, having last Sunday beaten local rivals Ysgol Maes Garmon in the final. Whilst all the rounds have been a close run thing, this was certainly the closest so far, with the final vote being 50.5% to 49.5% which came down to 37 actual votes in total! Undoubtedly this was a colossal effort on behalf of the PE department who have been campaigning weekly to secure votes, with support coming from quite literally across the globe, from Dubai to Australia, Florida to Cumbria.

A sincere ‘thank you’ to everyone who took the time to support the school and vote online. Whilst this might not have quite been the sporting competition we are used to taking part in, given the circumstances this has at least served as some sporting competition to keep us going until the real thing can be up and running again and we thank Hockey Wales for the opportunity. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the department now looks forward to receiving the prize money which will go towards purchasing new hockey equipment for the school. Let’s hope it won’t be too much longer before we get the chance to use it!

World Book Day

Last week was of course World Book Day and despite the current circumstances the English Learning Area, as they do each year, led a variety of tasks and activities to celebrate the occasion, which this year included writing mini sagas and a teacher ‘Masked Reader’ competition.

World Book Day took place on the 4th March and students participated in a number of competitions. Year 7 had fun writing mini saga stories from the perspective of an animal and Year 8 had to write a 100 word mini saga in which the challenge was to cram in as many book titles as possible. There were some truly outstanding entries, some of which can be seen below, and the English Learning Area has been busy judging these, not an easy thing to do looking at the standard here. The winners will be notified next week.

All students also enjoyed voting in the ‘Masked Reader’ competition where a number of their teachers disguised themselves with masks to read passages from their favourite books. From cows to tigers, donkeys to hotdogs, the masks were certainly creative! The big question on everyone’s lips was… were James Bond and Donkey the same guy?

Thanks to everyone who participated and the English Learning Area look forward to distributing prizes next week.

And Finally

I’m sure we’re all glad to see the back of winter (technically at least!). Hope is a most valuable commodity. We still have challenges to face, but let us hope decreasingly so. Somebody once said, “Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They don’t let these feelings stop them.” Living with challenge is what we are all learning to do, with ever increasing effect. We want all of our students to be successful people and they are certainly having their resilience skills stretched / developed at present, which ultimately we hope and trust will help them to cope with later life.

Please remember to talk to yourselves in these days as you would to help a loved one.

Let’s see if we can eventually bring home the Triple Crown and the Grand Slam!

Enjoy your weekend.