As we bring this half-term (Module 3) to a close, I find it necessary to write to you again to thank you for your support, encouragement and dedication to the success of all our pupils, your children. I think it is appropriate also to take a moment to reflect on some of the key things that have happened this term and to outline with you the direction we will be taking.
This term saw the introduction of Covid-19 testing in schools. As can be expected, there was some initial scepticism from the population about the processes involved and whether schools are the best places for such testing to take place. At Longfield Academy, we recognised the importance of the testing process in helping to break chains of transmission and keeping our school safe. Therefore, we followed government and Leigh Academy Trust guidelines to ensure that our test centre is appropriately set up and staff adequately trained to carry out or support the testing process. I am pleased to inform you that we have, with the help of our qualified Health Care Assistants, been able to undertake weekly testing of staff and vulnerable pupils/children of critical workers attending the physical school and from whom consent for the testing have been received since 22 January 2021. Altogether 182 tests have been conducted of which there has been only one positive case recorded. As tomorrow, Friday 12 February, is an INSET day for all staff, the school will be closed to pupils and we will not be conducting any Covid-19 tests. Please be reminded that the school is closed next week, 15 – 19 February, for the half-term break. Covid-19 tests will be offered to staff and our vulnerable pupils and children of critical workers who will be expected back on Monday 22 February.
Engagement with Live Lessons
It has been pleasing to see so many of our pupils actively participating in the live lessons that our teachers have been delivering since January. Thank you for your support with this. Unfortunately, we have recorded a few instances of non-engagement with some pupils and for which my team and I have been following up via emails and phone calls. As a leadership team we have reviewed our remote learning strategy, along with the feedback we have received from parents and carers, to help ensure maximum participation of all pupils. Mr Lever will be writing to you next week with details of the plans that we are going to put in place from next half term. I encourage you to go through the expectations in the letter with your child to ensure that they are maximising the learning opportunities that our staff will be offering and also that they do not find themselves breaking any of our school rules on live learning. As I have done this week, I will follow up personally on any lack of engagement escalated to me and pupils whose engagement scores do not improve may be required to work in school under my direct supervision.
We have been made aware of some of the impacts the extended screen time associated with the live lessons is having on our staff and pupils. Consequently, we have taken the decision to introduce a ‘screen break’ period every four days to encourage staff and pupils to do something different away from their computer screens. We decided to rotate the days so that the same subject or lesson is not impacted. The schedule below represents the days and periods that we will not be delivering any computer-based lessons. We will be reviewing this schedule once we receive detailed information from the government about the plans for reopening on 8 March, as proposed earlier on in the month by the Prime Minister.
Friday 26 Feb – Period 5
Thursday 4 Mar – Period 5
Tuesday 9 Mar – Period 5
Monday 15 Mar – Period 5
Friday 19 Mar – Period 1
Thursday 25 Mar – Period 5
Our onsite provision for vulnerable pupils and children of critical workers has been hugely successful. Pupils have worked really hard and have demonstrated high levels of maturity and recognition of the challenges we are all confronted with. I am very proud of how all these pupils have conducted themselves and I look forward to welcoming them back on Monday 22 February.
Finally, I would like to mention that I have thoroughly enjoyed my first half term as Principal of Longfield Academy. All my staff have been fully supportive and have demonstrated great commitment towards improving outcomes for our pupils. I have enjoyed the support of parents and carers, and the pupils I have been able to interact with have given me enough reasons already, to understand why Longfield Academy remains a popular secondary school in the community.
I thank you for your continued support and I look forward to seeing you all in the not too distant future.
Dr F. Donkor