From the Headmaster - 17 December 2020

Posted by MM - Thursday 17 December 2020

From the Headmaster

When Jesus was born, according to Luke’s gospel, angels proclaimed, “On earth peace, good will toward men”. This December, for Christians the promise remains the same. As this term comes to a close, let us be hopeful that we can return to our usual pattern of activities by the end of the academic year. With the vaccination programme starting in the UK in earnest this week, we can at last afford ourselves some optimism for 2021, while of course keeping up the hard work to maintain social distancing and limit the spread of the virus over this winter period.

I would like to thank all parents for the support and encouragement that they have given to their children and the School over this term. It seems a very long time since the beginning of September and a lot of hard work has been done. At the planning event for the official opening of the new Business and Enterprise Centre (currently being used to house the Year 13 bubble) I was asked what I thought the School is known for locally. It would be easy to say ‘academic results’ or ‘activities’, but I think the answer is rather more subtle. I hope we are a community that has a can-do attitude and which is optimistic and ambitious for all the young people who attend the School. We are a community that does what it does properly, professionally and with integrity, where pupils can work together to inspire creativity in each other, to develop each other’s knowledge and skills and to support each other through any challenges. I think, I hope, that whilst we have faced many challenges this term we are a community that knows it is privileged, and also knows that this period of struggle and sacrifice means nothing if we do not put our talents to good use in the world.

End of Term Test and Trace

As I write we are still undertaking detailed contact tracing in relation to a number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the School. We will always email parents indicating whether or not their child has been a close contact of a confirmed case; we will endeavour to notify individual close contacts as soon as possible. We are taking particular care with this task as we know that those who we identify as close contacts will have to isolate for 10 days from their last contact with a confirmed case and this will take some into the festive period.

As you may be aware, the Government announced last week that schools are required to maintain a six-day window for contact tracing after the end of term. I would very much appreciate parents’ assistance in helping to limit the spread of the virus over Christmas by following the guidance Gloucestershire County Council has issued this week and

  • inform the school of confirmed cases if symptoms develop within 48 hours of last being in school.
  • inform the school of a positive test result within 48 hours of last being in school.

You can contact us by email on info@strs.org.uk

Where a pupil tests positive for coronavirus having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since last being in school, the school does not need to be notified. Parents and carers should then follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.

Our updated Welcome Back Guide is still available online, with full details of the measures we have taken to limit the risks associated with the transmission of Covid-19:

https://strschool.co.uk/about/2020-11-20-welcome-back-guide.pdf

Testing for COVID-19

A reminder that the current guidance states that someone should only take a test if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms: a new continuous cough and/or high temperature and/or loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell.

I was informed by the Department for Education late on Tuesday afternoon that from January, the School may be eligible to request weekly on the spot tests to help identify asymptomatic individuals, which make up a third of all cases, limiting the spread of the virus. Additionally, we may also be able to have daily testing for staff and students who have been in close contact with a positive case therefore eliminating the need for self-isolation if they test negative. Today, the Department for Education announced some further details regarding mass testing in schools. Detailed guidance on how this testing programme might feasibly work hasn’t yet been communicated to us however, it is clear that the logistical processes will fall to individual schools. I will endeavour to keep you updated, but I would also ask you to bear in mind that whilst it is imperative that the School does everything possible to try to minimise the rate of infection, the last-minute nature of these announcements means that we are still considering how we might put these plans in place safely and effectively whilst causing the least disruption to learning. We will, of course, update you when we have further information.

Friday Finish Times

A reminder that despite various challenges, term will end as planned between 12.45pm and 1pm tomorrow. The finish times will be staggered in keeping with our new normal:

  • Year 7 - 13:00
  • Year 8 - 12:55
  • Year 9 - 12:50
  • Year 10 - 13:00
  • Year 11 - 12:50
  • Year 12 - 12:55
  • Year 13 - 12:50

Staggered Start to next term

This afternoon, the Department for Education has announced that secondary schools will operate a staggered return to school next term. This directive means that students in Year 11 and Year 13 and children of critical workers will attend school in person from Tuesday 5 January while all non-exam year groups will be able to access our remote learning offer of work set on Satchel One and Teams sessions where possible during the first week of term. If they are well, Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 will return to school in person on Monday 11 January.

Christmas Concert

Well done to Mrs Jones and all the Music Department including students for rehearsing so hard for our Christmas Concert, which is being broadcast on our YouTube channel at 7 pm on Friday 18 December:

https://strschool.co.uk/event/christmas-concert

Once again the current restrictions have not affected our desire to express ourselves creatively and come together to make music, and I very much hope the entire school community will enjoy our annual festive offering.

Success for Year 9 Mathematician

You may have seen on our news pages the recent success in the Maths Challenges. Ed Hart in Year 9 deserves a special mention. This year he entered the challenges for pupils in Key Stage 3, 4 and 5. In the Key Stage 4 challenge, Ed finished in the top 50 in the UK, a tremendous feat for someone so young and in the Key Stage 5 competition, Ed’s performance surpassed our best mathematicians from Year 13 and he has qualified for the next round.

Finally

I would like to end my final email of the year with the poem Wild Bells by Tennyson – it was suggested to me by Mrs Philips, our Food Technology Teacher, who I know is most frustrated that the restrictions mean ‘hands-on’ cookery sessions are not practical at the moment. It is, along with The Journey Of The Magi by TS Elliot, one of my favourite poems for this season:

Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

I very much hope everyone has a thoroughly deserved and relaxing Christmas break

M SR Morgan

Matthew Morgan
HEADMASTER

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SirThomasRichsSchool
Twitter: @strsglos
Instagram: @sirthomasrichs

Contact details for Heads of Year
Year 7 Mrs Jennifer Robinson jrr@strs.org.uk
Year 8 Mr Zak Hinds zfh@strs.org.uk
Year 9 Mr Nick O’Neil no@strs.org.uk
Year 10 Mr David Tilley dpt@strs.org.uk
Year 11 Mr Neil Stewart njs@strs.org.uk
Year 12 Miss Ellen Jauncey elj@strs.org.uk
Year 13 Mr Barry O’Neill bjo@strs.org.uk

Contact details for Heads of Key Stage
Head of Key Stage 3 Rhys Davies rmd@strs.org.uk
Head of Upper School Peter Daniell pmd@strs.org.uk
Head of Sixth Form Matthew Lynch mtl@strs.org.uk