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Headmaster’s Letter 23rd April

Posted on 23rd April 2021

Dear Parent,

Welcome back to a new term, and I hope, another step along the path to more freedoms as we go through the next couple of months. I mentioned this last week’s letter, but if your child is participating in the home testing programme, please ensure they take a test every three to five days. I am grateful for your support in ensuring that face to face learning continues without interruption.

Online misuse

Since students have returned to School, the pastoral team has been dealing with more incidents of online misuse. Recently a handful of younger students have been ‘approving’ an especially appalling national movement on the platform TikTok, condoning a day of sexual violence, which is mooted for tomorrow. We have reminded two-year groups through assemblies about their online conduct, their ‘digital footprint’ and appropriate use of language when communicating – I have spoken to those identified.

Our mobile phone policy means that students have limited opportunities to be exposed to this type of abhorrent material in School. Regrettably, it seems to have been happening outside of School, late in the evenings, with unmoderated access to the internet via mobile phone and tablets.

The Internet, social media, messaging platforms, etc. are an integral part of our lives. They can be a force for good, as seen in various high-profile campaigns against social injustice, or as a way of keeping in touch during periods of lockdown. However, unmoderated, these media platforms can cause tremendous distress. Thankfully, I believe this applies to a small number of students who are engaging with this type of material out of curiosity rather than intent. But with everything that is ‘remote’, there is a reluctance to acknowledge the effect this material can have on others’ wellbeing and sense of safety. Even viewing this type of material implies tacit acceptance.

We do our best in School to make students aware of the potential harm of online misuse through PSHE, etc. In my weekly Friday letter, I encourage you to look at our Be Aware page, on the School website to gain an insight into the latest developments. Please can I ask once more that you continue to engage with your child about what they are accessing, using appropriate safeguards open to you via your internet service providers to guide/ monitor/ censor the sites that your child and our students access. An open dialogue discourages secrecy and enables some mature conversations about this ever-increasing part of our lives. Children will make mistakes, but it is better we deal with these now rather than cause problems for their futures.

Working at home due to Illness

If a student is absent due to illness, in contrast to self-isolating, then they should be allowed to get better without having to complete work at home. It’s only on the third day of a student’s absence that we would send work home, if they would be well enough to complete the work as they were coming to the end of their absence.

The Big Ask

We’re supporting the new Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, in her consultation The Big Ask – the largest ever consultation with children aged 4 to 17 in England. It aims to find out children’s concerns and aspirations about the future, so that we can put children at the heart of our country’s recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Parents, care leavers and those working with children are also invited to complete the adult survey to share their views about the future for children and young people today, and what they think is holding young people back.

The results from this survey will help the Children’s Commissioner identify the barriers preventing children from reaching their potential, put forward solutions and set ambitious goals for the country to achieve.

We will be using some of our PSHE lessons over the next few weeks to enable our students to have their voice heard.

Congratulations to…

Daisy Williams (Y10) attended her first competition since last October with her two horses, Bermudez BDA and Koning Albert. Representing CGS, they beat all the other schools in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire in the 1m10 Hickstead Elite Class, coming 1st and 2nd respectively. Daisy now gets to compete at Hickstead, Sussex, in the main arena in August this year. Well done!

Best regards,

Alistair Hopkins

Headmaster