Friday 3rd July 2020

As I know so many of you appreciate, a massive amount of careful planning and preparation went into the reopening of school this week. We can only thank everyone involved in this tremendous team effort. Though far from a normal school week, it was wonderful to see our students back in the building, enjoying time with their peers and teachers, and we truly hope that national announcements will soon make it possible for many more of our students to return to in-school formal teaching.

Since Welsh Government announced that schools in Wales would be re-opening, the site has undergone quite a transformation, with corridors and classrooms looking really different from the last time we were all here in March. Both outside and in, social distancing markers have been laid out, guiding students to the new procedures for entering, leaving and moving around the building. Classrooms have been set out in a similar fashion, carefully ensuring that students and staff are seated safely. Hand washing and sanitising regimes have been military style also, whilst ensuring of course that staff had smiles on their faces and encouraging words for all students at all times.

From their arrival to their departure, our students responded as expected, the epitome of excellent behaviour and attitude to learning. In and around the corridors, inside their designated classrooms and at break time, all of our students enjoyed their sessions and adhered to the measures so carefully put in place, helping to keep our school the safe environment it needs to be.

As laid out in the letters and documents we sent you as far in advance as we were able, Welsh Government and Flintshire LA told us that the focus of our return to school should be to check in and catch up. In class, welcomed by their respective group tutors wherever possible, students embarked on a series of sessions starting with the new procedures put in place, a wellbeing session, some PSHE content and a check in on Google Classroom. There was, of course the really enjoyable opportunity to simply catch up, with students having not seen their group tutors and each other for over three months. Students also readily shared their experiences of lock-down, and gave us some really helpful feedback on what has worked well for them and what they have found challenging with regard to their distance learning.

We genuinely appreciate that views differ on the meaningful nature of catch-up sessions, and while some parents / carers have been extremely keen to see their children return to school, others have perhaps been a little more anxious or would have preferred a direct return to standard lessons. In all we have done, we have placed the safety of our students and staff at the heart of our planning. We do however, welcome your feedback and endeavour to both listen actively and act upon your views as appropriate.

England has now made plans known for the September restart, and we sincerely hope that Wales’ announcement will soon follow in order for us to work out which of our proposed alternatives is most suited to the directives given. Of course we will continue to give due regard to health and safety at all times, and in that context we are eager to welcome back as many students as possible. Staff are continuing to develop their approaches to ‘Blended

Learning’, that is to say, delivering learning experiences in a greater variety of ways, whether face to face or online. Our distance learning curriculum (Continuation of Learning Plan) will carry on as long as is necessary, and staff may suggest suitable activities which could be of interest to students and their families over the summer.

We will provide you with further information as soon as we are confident that it will not undergo further significant change!

Thank you for your support, good will and general feedback. This week has been a fantastic and heart-warming start to our phased return!

Have a lovely weekend.