WEEKLY EMAIL Friday 11 September 2020

Message from the Head of School

Dear parents and carers

I’d like to start by expressing my deepest gratitude to you and our students. Despite months of planning and risk assessments, we were never exactly sure how the return to school this week would be. Changes to the start and end of the school day, different break and lunch times, one way systems, year groups in different designated areas, wearing face masks indoors in communal areas, provision of personalised resources, near constant hand washing and sanitising…the list of changes for the students and staff was endless. How would students respond? How would they feel after so long, with a range of different experiences whilst away from school, coming back to so many different routines and structures? 

All the research suggests that many children have experienced considerable trauma and loss and all of them will have faced challenges. You will also be aware of reports in the media about parents being unwilling to allow their children to return to school and the consequent risk of poor attendance and a growing gap between different students’ learning. To say that we were feeling a little anxious would be an understatement. 

However all the concerns were alleviated as soon as our first set of students began to return on Wednesday. We welcomed every single one of our expected students to school in Year 7. How wonderful it was to see them arrive at Millthorpe early on Wednesday morning. Despite not having the opportunity to spend their induction day in school getting familiar with our complex site, meeting each other and their form tutors, they arrived punctually, were pristinely dressed and showed amazing resilience. They met their tutors and had their very first secondary school lessons before leaving us smiling, ready to return with all the students the next day. So, thank you to our new Year 7 parents for ensuring that the students all arrived in a timely manner and well equipped and to our new students for a wonderful start back to school. 

Then there was Thursday to await; 1058 children hopefully returning to school and much larger numbers on site. I think that it is fair to say that there was some trepidation amongst the Senior Leadership Team and the staff as we hoped that all the planning would prove successful. It was. We have tweaked some systems and made some small changes and we are really pleased with how the plans have worked so far. 

But I’m most grateful that we have been able to welcome back our students in the most positive manner that we could have imagined. They have been warm, friendly, well-behaved and positive; they have risen to our expectations and have taken all of the changes in their stride and I feel incredibly proud of them all. We are truly thankful that the whole community has responded exceptionally well to navigating the complicated one-way system, remaining in their designated areas and in their year groups and being polite and courteous to each other and the staff. We’re particularly grateful for supporting your children by making sure we can all look after one another by all wearing our face coverings in the corridors to try to minimise any risk of transmission. We have only had to supply a handful of spares to students who have forgotten theirs over the three days, so thank you again – this has really made a huge difference. 

Lessons have gone really well and student behaviour has been impeccable; we haven’t had one incident where a child has needed a formal sanction for behaviour all week! In the current circumstances, this is even more extraordinary and just shows what a wonderful community we have here at Millthorpe! Attendance for the whole school was over 98% which means that we have been able to welcome back the vast majority of our students and enable them to learn together again. 

On Thursday and Friday I have also had the privilege of visiting all Year 11 forms to reassure them not to worry unduly about their exams and to focus for now on adjusting to being back in school and making a positive start to the new year. I also spent two lunchtimes with them all on the field outside. It was a real pleasure to speak with them all, to share their experiences, worries and hopes, and to see them smiling and enjoying being back in school. So many of them have really grown up and are determined to focus on ensuring that they do the best that they can in school in their final year at Millthorpe and I am confident that they will achieve great success in their GCSEs. 

So, once again, a huge “thank you” to all of our students for making this difficult transition back to school run as smoothly as possible and making all of my colleagues smile again because we can do what we love: teach and support our young people. 

And finally “thank you” to all of our parents for being supportive and ensuring that the children have returned with the right equipment, uniform and above all attitude, so they are ready to learn and to enjoy being back in the school community. 

We are really looking forward to our first full week of school next week. 

With very best wishes

Miss Greenhalgh

 

Pastoral Structure – update for parents and carers

Following the departure last year of Mr Butterworth, there are a number of changes to the pastoral team. Mr Baybutt will now be leading the team and Ms Tapscott will become Director of Achievement for Roman House.

Full details can be found in our Pastoral Update, which outlines what we have committed to, what our expectations are, the changes to our pastoral systems and team structure, and the updated behaviour policy. We kindly ask that you read this document so that you are clear on the pastoral systems and expectations as they stand from September 2020.

Resource Packs

All students have been provided with a pack of essential equipment to avoid sharing resources. We are asking parents, if possible, to make a contribution of £2.50 towards the cost, which you will be able to pay via ParentPay from next week. Parents of students eligible for Pupil Premium and/or Free School Meals are not expected to make a payment.

Early closure – Wednesday 16 September

A reminder that staff professional development takes place every other Wednesday afternoon, on a B week. School will close early next Wednesday, 16 September. Full details about timings will be sent out early next week.

Social Gatherings

We have been contacted by North Yorkshire Police and asked to share the following information with you. We would be grateful if you could explain this to your child(ren).

As per the latest government guidelines, group gatherings of more than six people will be prohibited as of Monday 14 September. This includes the journey to and from school and all socialising outside of school such as evenings and weekends. Inspector Lee Pointon advises that groups of more than six people will be stopped by the police and dispersed.

Cycle Safety

It is great to see so many of our students cycling to school but please can you take the time to discuss safe cycling with your child.

English Literature set texts

Year 10 and 11 parents/carers

As part of their Literature GCSE, Year 10 will be studying a play called ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J.B. Priestley. If you would like your child to have their own copy of the play, rather than borrowing a school one, they are available to buy for £6.50. Year 11 will be studying the Shakespeare play ‘Macbeth’ and again, copies will be available to buy, priced at £5.00.

Having their own copy will enable students to make notes in their book and underline key quotations, which will help them when they revise. Students eligible for Pupil Premium will be given a free copy of the play.

You will be able to purchase the set texts on ParentPay from Tuesday 15 September. Unfortunately, we are not able to take cash payments at this time.

Mrs Arnold, English Department

Fantasy Football

Compete against staff and students in the inaugural ‘Millthorpe Masters’ fantasy football mini-league.

To enter simply click here and you’ll be added automatically after you’ve entered the game.

League Code: 9b88xl

Make sure you’ve created your team and entered before Saturday morning to be ready to go for the start of the 2020/21 Fantasy Premier League season. Looking forward to playing against you this season!

Mr Sloan

Family Matters courses

There are still spaces available on the following courses starting next week, all of which are delivered via Zoom:

  • Time Out for Dads
  • Time Out for Parents – the Teenage Years
  • Time Out for Parents – the Primary Years
  • Handling Anger in the Family

You can find more information about their courses on the Family Matters website.

Safeguarding

If you have significant concerns for the welfare of a child, in addition to being able to contact Ruth Cooper during school hours, you may wish to make direct contact with the York MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) on T: 01904 551900, option 3. They operate an out-of-hours service so concerns can be raised with them at any time.

For further information please see the safeguarding link on our school website.