Head Teacher’s Blog 14th May 2021
Happy St Julie’s Day everyone. Ah, qu’il est bon, le Bon Dieu!
We always celebrate St Julie’s Day on the Friday closest to her feast day on 13th May. In previous years we have often had things such as the inflatable bungee run, ice cream van and other activities to make the day a bit special. It has also usually been the last day in school for Y11 students who would be going around signing shirts and enjoying their last normal school day together as a year group.
I always love the sense of joy and community on that day and believe that it really does help to connect us to the inspiration of St Julie who is known as the smiling saint. Despite incredible hardship in her life, including very poor health and an experience of threats and violence, St Julie was a joyful person, lifted by the goodness of God.
This year, things are a bit different in the way we’re able to mark St Julie’s day, though I did reflect that unlike last year’s St Julie’s day, at least we are all here together in school. We pray that next year, many of those traditions that we have had to adapt or put to one side will be picked up and anew.
Yesterday was also the feast of the Ascension and I would like to thank the staff and students of St Marie’s school, along with Fr Chris, who led yesterday’s mass which they streamed so that students in Catholic schools across the city could join. Our students who attended virtually were excellent and, while we miss having those live liturgies, it is great to be able to stay in touch with the life of the church and find new ways to engage in prayer and thanksgiving.
Other parts of school life are also beginning to get going again. This week Mr Randall, one of our Chemistry teachers, shared a message about an allotment club that he has started on Thursdays with Y7. He has had a great turnout so far, with more than 20 students coming to dig flower beds, sow seeds and plant beans. I share this both as a bit of a glimpse into school life and also in case you have a child in Y7 who you think would enjoy that activity. Please do encourage them to go along.
Change in guidance about face coverings
You may have seen in the news that from Monday, as part of the road map to ease Covid restrictions, face coverings will no longer be recommended for students in classrooms and communal areas in school. Students will still need to wear face coverings when on school busses or public transport.
As has been the case since the start of the year, we recognise that some students feel reassured by wearing a face covering and so students may choose to continue to do so. We will be explaining this change to the students on Monday and reminding them of the importance of respecting an individual’s choice to wear or not wear a face covering.
We will also be reminding the students that the other measures that have been in place since September will remain in place. The government guidance has not changed on this as the virus is still present in the community at levels that are not dissimilar to those in September. While the numbers of cases and, most importantly, hospital admissions and cases of serious illness continue to fall, public health teams are mindful of the need to proceed with caution to give us the best chance of continuing to be able to safely reduce restrictions.
We will therefore continue with the increased frequency of cleaning in school, the day is organised to reduce the amount of mixing between different groups of students and we are careful to maintain seating plans that help us to identify contacts of anyone who tests positive. Students will continue to be reminded to sanitise and wash hands regularly and, of course the biggest protective factor is remaining at home if the student or someone in their household has Covid symptoms or tests positive with one of the home testing kits.
Thank you once again for your support in this.
End of term planning
We are in the process of looking at how we can run some of the things that happen in the summer in a way that is in line with the guidance. Normally by now we would have news out about a number of these events, but I hope that you will understand the delay as we respond to the changing Covid situation and guidance.
We are looking at what can be done with regard to leavers’ celebrations for Y11 and Y13. It is a priority for us to do what we can to help the students mark and celebrate this milestone together, especially following such a strange end to this part of their school lives. We are in the process of checking risk assessments and are aiming to get information to students and parents very soon both about plans for leaving celebrations and provision to support transition on their next step from after the half term break.
We are also working hard to confirm plans for induction events for students joining us in Y7 and Y12, which we hope to be live as far as possible. Again, however, we need to ensure that we are working within the appropriate guidelines to do so safely.
Finally, we continue to investigate if we can run Sports Day in some way at the end of term, as a way to end the year really well. Again, whether we can do this and if so, how, is all dependent on how we can apply the guidance. We will share information and plans as soon as we are able.
Free School Meals Vouchers over the half term break
Sheffield City Council are again coordinating vouchers for those students eligible for Free School Meals during the half term holiday week.
They are sending out letters containing voucher codes during the w/c 17th May. Please look out for this.
The City Council have also produce a video that goes through the process of redeeming the vouchers. The video can be downloaded here:
(Please note you need to open this in Chrome browser to download)
You can also link directly to the video on Youtube - https://youtu.be/-vrJxjFDBjk
That is everything for this week