Headteacher Letter 30th Nov 2021
Dear Parents and Carers
I hope that you have had a good weekend and that your children have made good use of their additional day at home whilst staff at Ansford were engaged in a training day. We had a really useful day which was largely focused on developing our understanding and practice when dealing with challenging behaviours. We also spent time learning more about coaching so that we can further enhance our provision for students, hopefully making this unique and important element of life at Ansford even more productive.
We are really grateful to the parents and carers who completed our first survey of this academic year. In total, we received almost 100 responses from families in our community. It is really pleasing to hear that the majority of parents and carers say that their child is happy at school, feels safe and they would recommend Ansford to other parents. You said that you really value the caring, nurturing environment that Ansford offers and the strong pastoral care that enables children to flourish. You have identified some key areas where you would like to see improvements and you will be pleased to hear that they are ones that we have already identified and begun working on: the way that we manage consequences for disruptive behaviour; the way that we communicate about learning and progress and our strategies for challenging our students to achieve their potential. We will be surveying you in more detail about some of these aspects and hopefully, if COVID control measures are relaxed in the future, conduct some in-person focus groups on these topics.
COVID Extension to Control Measures
I am sure that you will have seen the various Government announcements over the weekend with new guidance for secondary schools in relation to COVID testing in January and national control measures with regards to the wearing of face coverings.
As you know, secondary schools in Somerset have been working with these, and additional, control measures for a number of weeks and on Friday the Directors of Public Health across the South West met and agreed that, given rates of Covid-19 in this area remain the highest in the country, it is appropriate to continue with current Covid-19 control measures in Somerset until the end of this term. In case you need them, a reminder about the current control measures can be found at the end of this letter.
We do appreciate that this is frustrating for families who were hoping that restrictions would be lifted at the end of November. However, it is important that we are all working together to keep our community safe, particularly in the light of the new variant and the additional government announcements about the re-introduction of tighter controls. Please can you 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.
COVID-19 Vaccination Programme
Last week, we hosted the COVID and flu vaccinations on behalf of the School Aged Immunisation Nursing Team (SAINT). If your child missed their vaccination due to absence, illness or because they had a positive COVID-19 test within the extended 12 week window from the date of the positive test, we have been asked to remind you that you are still able to book vaccinations online. You can book through the National Booking Service online or by calling 119.
COVID-19 Testing: Christmas Holiday
During the holidays, all staff and students should test in line with national guidance. This means testing if you will be in a high-risk situation that day, and before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19.
COVID-19 Testing: January Return
At the end of last week, schools were notified that on site COVID testing must be set up for students when they return from the Christmas break. We will notify you of specific arrangements before the end of term but understand that, on this occasion, only one test will be needed on return to school. After this test, students will continue to test twice weekly in line with government guidelines.
Reminder about Current Control Measures
As stated above, we will need to continue with our current control measures which means to:
- Unless exempt, wear face masks in both communal areas and classrooms
- Keep windows and doors open at all times to maximise ventilation (as the weather is now becoming colder, students will be able to keep their coats on in the classroom and could wear extra layers under their uniform or PE kit if needed)
- Continue the adjustments to the school timetable to allow for an extended break and lunch so that year groups have specific slots for use of the canteen
- Keep the changing rooms closed which means that students need to arrive in PE Kit on the days that they have PE. A reminder that this should be our school PE Kit, details of which can be found on the school website
- Pause whole school assemblies and risk assess any activities involving students from different year groups or whole year groups
- Risk assess any planned extra-curricular activities and either making the necessary adjustments to ensure safety or stopping the activity
- Stop any external fixtures.
We will also continue to encourage students and staff to:
- Continue with twice weekly LFD testing and reporting results
- Maintain good hand hygiene, sanitising or washing hands regularly
- Take individual responsibility for socially distancing and avoiding close contact with each other (i.e. to maintain a more than 2 metre distance)
- Avoid the sharing of drinks bottles, lip salves or anything else that touches the lips.
I would like to finish by sharing my congratulations for our Year 11 students who organised and baked for their first cake sale on Friday 25th November. Staff and students were spoilt for choice with so many fantastic cakes to choose from and Year 11 raised almost £200 towards funding their end of year prom. What a great start to their fundraising! We are all looking forward to their next fundraising events which are planned before the end of term.
As usual, if you have any questions, queries or concerns, please contact the school by email to email@example.com or by phone to 01963 350895.