Headteacher Letter 13th Dec 2021

Posted on: 13/12/2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope that you are all well and that you are beginning to look forward to Christmas and the opportunity it presents to spend time with family and friends. It certainly feels much more like Christmas and we are looking forward to our Christmas lunch in school on Thursday 16th December and hope to see our students in a wide selection of Christmas jumpers on that day too. I have quite a lot of information to share with you as we approach the end of this term and look towards the New Year.

Student Achievements

Every day our students do something to make us feel proud and I would like to make a special mention of some recent achievements:

  1. Trial Exams

We have been really pleased to see the way that our Year 11 students have handled their trial exams. They have been really well focused and have approached the formality of the exams with maturity. Well done to Year 11!

  1. Christmas Creativity in the Art Department

Many thanks to Mrs Reddick for organising two Christmas themed events for students at Ansford. Firstly, students have been using their Friday lunchtimes to create a wealth of intricate paper decorations to adorn our school entry to the annual Christmas Tree Festival in Castle Cary. The finished tree is a very colourful and bold creation showcasing the talent at Ansford and we are waiting to see what the judging brings! In addition, students placed entries into a Christmas card competition and staff voted for their favourite design from an impressive standard of entries. Jack W's design was awarded first place and this was made into cards which are available from school reception. Erin H and Aiden S were runners up. A very creative well done to all involved for their artistic efforts.

  1. English Speaking Union Competition

Last week, three Ansford students took part in the first round of the English Speaking Union Competition which was held this year on Zoom. Hani L was the main speaker and, after a superb speech and challenging questioning, the judges picked Hani as the best speaker of the competition in this round. Ella H took the role of Chairperson and Emily W held the role of questioner and she also won an award for the best questioner on the evening.  So, Ansford and Millfield are through to the next round. Many thanks to Mrs Hardy-Stewart for supporting the students with this event; she is rightly very proud of the Ansford Team.

  1. Cricketing News

We are all really proud of Jamie O in Year 10 who has been selected for the emerging players squad at Somerset County Cricket. In addition to this, he has also been selected to tour Sri Lanka with Somerset's Under 15 team next year. We look forward to hearing all about it!

End of Term Reminder

Friday 17th December, the final day of term, will be a half day for students. We will be operating an adjusted day with students spending time with their tutors and in assemblies during Period 3. Due to the early finish, food will only be available during break time and the buses will arrive for 12.30pm.

Return to School in January and Lateral Flow Device Testing

As you may know, secondary schools will once again be providing on site Lateral Flow Device testing for students on their return to school in January. The testing programme is for all students without COVID-19 symptoms. If your child has symptoms then please book a PCR test by phoning 119. Testing your child for Covid-19 can help us to reduce the spread and rise of cases. You will have received information about the testing programme via email at the end of last week with details about how to give your consent. Further information can also be found on the school website.

We will slightly stagger the return to school in January to enable us to run the in school testing programme effectively which will mean that on:

  • Tuesday 4th January ONLY students in Year 7, Year 10 and Year 11 will attend school and, where consent has been given, testing will be conducted in school for these year groups
  • Wednesday 5th January ALL students will attend school and, where consent has been given, testing will be conducted in school for students in Year 8 and Year 9

The timings of the school day and school transport will run as normal on both days.

COVID Control Measures on Return in January

It is not surprising that the Directors of Public Health across the South West have agreed that, given the spread of the Omicrom variant and the introduction of tighter control measures nationally, it is appropriate to continue with the current Covid-19 control measures on return to school in January. It is important that we are all working together to keep our community safe.  Please can you continue to support us by ensuring that your child arrives at school with a face covering as we have recently had to distribute large numbers of face masks on the gates in the morning.

School Uniform on Return

As you know, the additional control measures mean that we are unable to use our PE Changing rooms and students are able to wear their PE Kit to school on days that they have PE. I would like to remind you that students are only able to wear school PE Kit. On non PE days, students should be in their full school uniform. Where students are not wearing the correct uniform, our pastoral team will follow up with families in the New Year. If you have any questions or need any support regarding school uniform, please contact your child’s Head of Year.

Tuning into Kids: Programme for Parents

We would like to share information about a programme for parents of teenagers which is run by one of our PFSAs, Cassie Reynolds. It is called Tuning into Kids and is a six-week group programme. It can help you to teach your child the skills of emotional intelligence and support you to help your child understand the different emotions they experience, why they occur and how to handle them. The course runs on Thursdays 6pm till 7.30pm (starting on 13th January, and will run online via Microsoft Teams. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. For more information, please phone Cassie Reynolds on 07841 015264. To book a place, please email CReynolds2@educ.somerset.gov.uk.

Farewells

At the end of this term, we say farewell to Sarah Wright who has been part of the Ansford community for the last 2 years, working as a Design and Technology Teacher. We also wish Rachel Brown, who plays an important role as one of our main receptionists, the very best as she moves on to a new role. Sadly, we also say goodbye to some long serving and highly valued members of our admin team. Firstly, Sam Elsworth who joined Ansford more than 10 years ago and, in that time, has held many varied roles including leading on staff cover, student admissions and support for the exams and data team. Finally, Verity Smith, who has been a huge part of life at Ansford for almost 20 years and has probably completed every role within the admin team in her time here. Verity plays a leading role in many aspects of school life and her wisdom and experience will be hugely missed by all in the school community. We wish all of our staff leavers well in their next steps.

If you do have any questions or concerns, please contact the school in the usual way: by email to mailbox@ansford.net or by phone to 01963 350895. However, please note that the school office will be closed from 12.30 pm on Friday 17th December until the morning of Tuesday 4th January so we will not be able to respond to any communications during the closure period.

Although the academy is closed over the Christmas break, there are still agencies working to support you and your child.  If you have an urgent safeguarding concern about a student at Ansford or another young person during the break, please contact one of the agencies below:

  • Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224
  • Police on 101
  • NSPCC on 0808 800 5000

Alternatively, If you are seeking help and support as a parent of a young person around Emotional Health and Wellbeing, please use the links on our website to help direct you to a range of external agencies who can provide help and support at this time.

I wish you a peaceful and relaxing Christmas break, when it arrives, and send my best wishes for the New Year.

Yours faithfully

Rachel Purnell
Headteacher

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