22nd January 2021

I hope that you and your families remain safe and well.

I hoped to be writing this first blog post last week but as I am sure you are aware the ongoing developments, constant updates and endless release of documents has distracted me from much of the normal routines.  I have to say that the start to my Headship has been a turbulent and challenging one but it has been made all the more manageable by the well wishes and kind messages received from parents, students and staff.  I thank you for this, it is genuinely fortifying.

The national picture remains quite bleak at present.  There seems to be growing recognition that a full reopening of schools after February half-term is uncertain.  I can assure you that we will be ready to respond swiftly to any announcement and we will be prepared for any eventuality.  However, we need to accept that our students may not necessarily return to school before the end of February.  We will inform you as soon as we know more but in the meantime you can be assured that our remote education provision will remain strong, varied and balanced.

On a more positive note, I am delighted to see how well our students are engaging with the switch to remote learning.  Their general levels of engagement are high and we are hearing some very positive feedback from parents and teachers about the quality of work being produced.  We are conscious that remote education does often mean a lot of ‘screen time’ for both teachers and students and we are trying to manage this for the wellbeing of all concerned.  With this in mind, we are planning to use Friday 29th January as a day for our teaching staff to suspend ‘live’ lessons and to focus on feedback for their classes.  This will give their classes an opportunity to work independently on a variety of tasks and activities.  We would also value your honest feedback on our parent survey, which will be sent out to you via email.  You will find our school statement on remote education at this link https://plantsbrookschool.co.uk/covid-19/

I know that I have said it in previous communications but I would like to applaud the hard work, resilience and sheer determination of our staff team at Plantsbrook.  They truly are amazing, teaching and support staff alike.  The fresh challenge of Covid testing this week has been tackled with a clear and systematic competence.  Well done to all involved!

Finally, I want to take the opportunity to assure parents of our Year 11 and 13 students that we are continuing with business as usual as far as completion of their study courses.  Not only do we think this will help prepare the students for their next steps but it will maintain a routine and sense of purpose for them.  I would urge you as parents affected by the cancellation of exams to add your comments to the current Ofqual consultation that is open until 29th January.  Your views and the views of our students are very important in this process.  We will certainly be submitting our own comments to ensure that our voice is clearly heard on the matter.

Thank you as always for your kind support and cooperation.

Mr. Farr