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Headmaster’s Letter 22nd October

Posted on 22nd October 2020

Dear Parent,

End of the first half-term report

Half-term starts tomorrow for all students: I hope they, like my colleagues, have an enjoyable, relaxing and safe week away from School.

Despite all the challenges that the return presented, it has been wonderful to be part of a school community again. Working from home or in an empty school, tied to a screen, jumping from one assignment to the next is not what education is about. Having face-to face contact again – even if socially distanced – has reminded me why Schools are instrumental in determining our country’s health and well-being.

There are still many things that I miss about our new arrangements: our extra-curricular programme has been curtailed. There have been no sports fixtures, no Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Silver practice or expedition, no Macmillan coffee morning (although it was held in small groups and in homes), etc. We cannot meet as a School in assemblies and in this letter, I should be celebrating and thanking those involved in the school production – this too has been put on hold. Importantly though, we’re back in School.

We have reached this point without any year group or part of a year group being sent home to quarantine. (Just under half of UK secondary schools have experienced some disruption this half-term.) Students, supported by staff, have focused on establishing their working routine, while ensuring that they are washing hands, wiping down desks, and doing their utmost to help one another. Thank you for supporting this from home too. We are fortunate to be in this position.

Our positive return has also been marked by a high school attendance figure. This was 97.2% for the first half-term, which is higher than normal for this point in the year.

This does not mean that we can relax. Next week will be a break from the school/ home routine.  Students will be possibly mixing with friends outside their ‘households’ or school bubbles. We draw students from all parts of northern Lincolnshire (and even a few from South Yorkshire) so I recommend double checking the transmission rates in your locality as a reminder that every area faces different challenges. Please do continue to follow the guidelines that are in place to ensure that our good run of attendance and full opening continues into next half-term.

To repeat what I said last week, students in Years 11 and 13 now know that their exam start dates have been moved back to June. Some of the exams will be adapted to ensure that they take account of the time away from face-to-face teaching. I hope that there will be further clarity on this by mid-December.

In most subjects, students are ahead of where they need to be. For Year 11 in particular, it is important to remember that they are the first year group to study 10 GCSEs instead of 11. More time was added to Maths and Science. Year 11 also benefit from a supervised independent study period once a week. Comparisons are sometimes difficult to muster when you’re experiencing challenges, but I hope this offers some reassurance that the KS4 curriculum content was reduced in September 2019.

Finally, I do encourage everyone to take some time off. Younger students might find this well-being calendar useful as they plan their week away from work. [link]

Everyone’s journey this half-term term has been different. We set out to ‘look fear in the face’. Our assembly theme derived from the ‘first’ First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt:

‘You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I hope we have lived this message this half-term. I want our ‘so-called’ COVID generation to be a group synonymous with the resilience and determination to overcome any and every barrier that life presents. As demanding as that challenge is, it is an excellent message for our current students and those that come after them.

Library update

Reading is good for you! Mrs Jago continues to loan books to students through her own ‘Amazon-esque’ COVID-compliant delivery service. Who knew Ikea’s blue bags were so hard wearing!? You might recall we decided to give every student free access to our online e-book and audio book library this year. (Students who joined us in Year 7 received access as part of their induction in the summer.) We were able to ‘gift’ this to students thanks to our School fund. The borrowing figures for the initiative have been excellent with 355 e-book loans and 153 audio book loans from the end of June when we began. Library borrowing continues to be healthy with 252 physical books borrowed since we came back in September.

Beyond this, the Library Wakelet (a rolling blog) has been published via the website. [link] Also on the same page, instructions have also been updated for the Wheelers e-book service, including how to reserve and renew library books.

We will be expanding the e-book service with a stand-alone Well Being section next month.

Mr Colin Sunter

Today marks Mr Colin Sunter’s final day at CGS. He joined as Head of Maths from Queen Elizabeth’s High School, Gainsborough, in September 1995 and rapidly gained the trust and confidence of his colleagues. Highly competent and committed to giving his best, he was promoted to Senior Teacher. It was no surprise when he was then appointed Assistant Head in September 2007, with a significant responsibility for curriculum management. During his time, he has been responsible for site Health and Safety, site management, entrance examination arrangements, public exams officer, statutory returns (school census, workforce, exams data, etc.), liaising with the Friends and Town Council and spending weekends and evenings helping to run events. GCSE French students will remember him as being a regular fixture on the Paris Home Exchange visit. He would also run Further Maths lessons in his Easter holiday to ensure students were as prepared as possible.

His mastery of the timetable left us in awe. He ran SIMS, our school management software, to satisfy many students’ option choices at GCSE and A level. If the computer said, ‘No’, Mr Sunter could wrestle it into saying compliantly, ‘Absolutely, it can be done.’ His Disney assemblies were a highlight of any half-term for students and SLT – and we all hope that he will come back at some point to deliver one final assembly to as many students as possible before the end of the school year.

He was a tremendously popular colleague. No problem was too large: he always keen to find solutions in the problems. During lockdown, his work rate was phenomenal as he wrote a new timetable to support students and staff. He exemplified the ethos of going ‘above and beyond’; he seemed immune to the drudgery of ‘lockdown’. Always optimistic, his personal calls buoyed staff and students last term. His belief in achieving the impossible was characterised by his commitment to Scunthorpe United.

Mr Sunter’s focus on community and selfless service permeates our School. He was first to acknowledge others’ contributions; slow to mention his own. Similarly, his belief in the value of family will be a cornerstone of his retirement.

When I told staff, Mr Sunter was retiring this month, I attached an image of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the film Fantasia 2000. I’d like to do that again to acknowledge his contribution. Mr Sunter has sprinkled his magic around the School during his 25 years with us: we shall all miss him.

 

Thanks also to…

Mrs Jayne Merriman

Mrs Merriman leaves us at the end of this month having joined us the Learning Support Department in September 2018. Mrs Merriman worked with primarily KS3 students developing academic and resilience skills working with students in small groups. She attended review meetings and devised some highly supportive individual learning plans. She leaves us start her retirement having had a tremendous impact on the students she worked with during her short time with us.

Thank you again for your support and do enjoy this half-term,

Alistair Hopkins

Headmaster