The end of term is fast approaching and it is fair to say that there is a great deal to celebrate. Our whole school community has continued to work together to offer the best possible experience for our children in very difficult circumstances and we greatly appreciate your continued support. We are extremely proud of the response from our students and the resilience they have shown throughout this term particularly. We have welcomed our new year 7s into school and they have made an amazing start to their Haslingden High School career, our year 11s behaved impeccably and demonstrated a maturity and positive attitude towards their studies during the mock exams and our school has regained some of its soul, with extra-curricular activities once again delivering a much broader and richer curriculum that our students have embraced wholeheartedly.
We were delighted to be able to host the school show last week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and know that all the students involved, who have dedicated significant time and energy into this event, took a great deal from the experience. They were without doubt a tremendous credit to the school. Similarly, these events are only made possible by the hard work, generosity and commitment of our fantastic staff. The drama department, expressive arts faculty and the volunteers were all equally wonderful. Thank you and well done to all involved…. another resounding success!
This week will see a whole host of activities taking place and when looking at the wide range of commitments, I believe it serves to accurately highlight what we are all about as a school community. If I look at our school aims, I’m certain we will cover all of them in the next five school days alone. During the course of the week, we will deliver approximately 30 hampers that have been donated and packaged by our staff and students to the local community. Tuesday night will see a wide range of our talented musicians performing in the school concert and judging by the quality of the performances offered last week during lunchtimes in the school hall, we are in for a treat. We will also be having our Christmas dinner, University Challenge Final, hosting the Xmas Factor show and enjoying a number of opportunities that we are confident will bring a smile to the faces of the school community.
We are keen to recognise that there are ongoing financial pressures for many and these are not made easier during this time of year. We are therefore suggesting a voluntary £1 donation for combined entry into the schools Xmas Factor on Thursday 16 and the wearing of non-school uniform on Friday 17 December. Please could I politely stress that whilst we are keen to reward students for their efforts and attitude this term, we must insist that they still bring a mask to school as that expectation will not change and we continue to do all we can to minimise transmission.
It would be accurate to suggest that this term has not been without its challenges. Student and staff attendance has been impacted significantly in recent weeks and this has inevitably placed a huge strain on our staff and our collective capacity to meet the daily demands of running a school. It is fair to say that looking around last week, I could see many exhausted colleagues that have worked tirelessly to ‘fill the gaps’ and make sure we meet the needs of all our students and their families. As a parent myself, I also know just how difficult and at times exhausting it has been to get back in to life as normal amidst the ongoing effects of Covid on so many aspects of our life. We sincerely hope the festive break will allow our whole school community the chance to spend quality time with their families and to take the opportunity to recharge the batteries.
The new year will inevitably present some new challenges but also some new opportunities, and we will always continue to create a positive narrative for the students in our care wherever possible. You may have seen in the media that the DfE has again requested schools to test students, for whom we have consent, prior to their return in January and we have already begun making plans to facilitate this. We have received consent for students in each year group previously but politely ask that should you wish to offer your support in January and haven’t done so previously, it would be greatly appreciated. If you wish to provide consent for testing and have not already done so, please contact school directly. Testing has been identified as one of the best ways to protect our community and following a period of time where there is likely to be increased social interactions, we want to do all we can to support a smooth start to the new term.
The DfE has published guidance that has outlined the expectations placed on schools and sixth forms. We have tried to minimise the impact of the testing arrangements on our students, whilst also ensuring we do all we can to provide as safe an experience as possible, taking appropriate steps to minimise the risk of transmission. Our arrangements for the first week back are included in the table below, by year group and form. Students will be asked to attend school in full school uniform for a lateral flow test in the school gym, on either Tuesday 4 or Wednesday 5 January. Students are asked to enter via the entrance on Broadway and make their way to the gym. Once students have completed their test, they will be politely asked to return home and, provided that they are not notified of a positive result or develop any covid related symptoms, students will be expected in school the next day. It is also important to note that if your child has symptoms on the day of their test, they must not attend school and should instead book a PCR test.
We would like to thank you for your support in ensuring we have a smooth return in January. Please can I ask that all parents check the testing timetable carefully.
We know that at this time of year, whilst it can offer many positive moments, this is not always the case for everyone. We remain determined to support the emotional well-being of our students and seek to do this well beyond the school gates and school day. Kooth, the online mental wellbeing service has recently published two very helpful documents which can both be found in the emotional wellbeing section of the website. The first is entitled Kooth: A handy guide for parents and carers that details early warning signs and top tips and the second, a Top tips on how to talk to your children about their feelings. There is also advice and guidance for your child via the new-look student bulletin – Student Zone – should they need it.
We sincerely hope that you all manage to have some time away from work and the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding and we look forward to seeing you in the new year.
Russell Clarke, Headteacher