From the Headmaster - 20 November 2020

Posted by MM - Friday 20 November 2020

In many respects these last couple of weeks have been encouraging, and a time in which to put faith in the hard work and commitment of others. News of a not one but two effective vaccines clearly should have given us a bit of a boost. However, the pandemic continues to place unprecedented demands on us all in the here and now.

Some pupils continue to have to self-isolate and, as you will be aware from my previous email to parents, this week we had to send home all students in Years 9, 10 and 12 while we carried out thorough contact tracing. While I am mindful of the impact that sending year groups home has on students and their families, it is imperative that we do all we can to stop the spread of the virus and follow Public Health England requirements to the letter. COVID-19 is still having far-reaching consequences for us all, professionally and personally. Our primary concern will always be the health, safety and well-being of our pupils, staff and other members of the school community, and we have had to make some tough choices about how we can deliver these outcomes, but equity, fairness to all involved and practicality underpin all the decisions we have made.

Learning and Teaching Update
We are two weeks in to this half of the term, and as I mentioned in my earlier communications, we have prepared a Teaching and Learning Update to give parents a sense of what students will doing to deepen their learning this term, as well as to provide an overview of just some of the many topics covered across the curriculum since September. The subject list is by no means comprehensive (that would result in a weighty tome indeed!), but I do hope that the publication gives you an idea of all the hard work that has taken place across the Key Stages over the last few weeks.

Welcome Back Guide November 2020 - Click to read

Welcome Back Guide Updated

Our Welcome Back Guide has now been updated with the latest information about wearing face coverings in school, and the information about increased ventilation around the school site and the consequent need to wear additional clothing without compromising on uniform expectations.

Welcome Back Guide September 2020 - Click to read

Parents’ Evenings
Following positive feedback after the recent Year 13 virtual parents’ evening, Year 12 parents’ evening take place next week. This year they are planned for the following dates:

  • Year 7 - 24 June 2021
  • Year 8 - 23 February 2021
  • Year 9 - 27 January 2021
  • Year 10 - 19 May 2021
  • Year 11 - 29 March 2021
  • Year 12 - 26 November 2020

I know these aren’t quite the same as meeting with teachers in person, but this really is the next best thing – in fact, a considerable number of parents of Year 13 students and teachers have indicated that they preferred this method of interaction. We will continue to evaluate all we do, so that we do not miss out on some of the potential positive outcomes of this challenging period.

Student Successes
My congratulations to Tate Franz (Year 8), Adit Ravishankar (Year 10) and Cato Pang (Year 9), who all recently received their LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) examination results. The three boys took the exams at the end of September, and achieved their excellent results despite having to prepare for the exams mainly via Zoom. The results were:

  • Cato Pang: Grade 4 Verse and Prose Speaking – Distinction.
  • Tate Franz: Grade 5 Acting – Distinction and Grade 5 Verse and Prose Speaking – Distinction.
  • Adit Ravishankar: Grade 3 Acting.

It is more important than ever that we continue to celebrate students’ successes in all areas, and I would urge all parents to let form tutors know of any achievements beyond the usual school curriculum so we can share the good news with the school community.

Remembrance
The whole-school Act of Remembrance last week proved to be a moving occasion. All staff and pupils took part in the service and two minutes’ silence, which was broadcast live to classrooms and offices around the school, as well as to alumni and other members of the wider school community via our YouTube channel. It was particularly poignant this year that amidst a pandemic which has removed some of our freedoms, we remembered those who gave their lives for what they thought was right. As is tradition, the School Captains laid the wreath, which was donated by Assistant Site Manager Leigh-Anne Boucher in memory of her late husband and our colleague Rich Boucher, at the School War Memorial, which commemorates those former pupils who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars.

INSET Days
A reminder that Friday 27 November and Monday 30 November are INSET days, and pupils will not be in school. Additionally, teachers will not set work for their classes and Teams lessons will also not take place on those days for students who are currently working from home. Staff will be working hard over the two days, attending training on subject-specific pedagogies to deliver the curriculum, exploring further use of new technologies to aid remote learning and updating their statutory child protection and safeguarding training.

Mental Health, Well-Being and Safeguarding
A reminder that there is a CAMHS helpline available for children, young people and families who may require support and advice from the NHS: Telephone 01452 894300 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday). Additionally, TiC+ counselling services can offer counselling remotely and details are on their website www.ticplus.org.uk.

The Gloucestershire Young Minds Matter scheme has also launched a free, confidential text chat service for students: YMM Chat 07480 635723.

Safeguarding remains a priority for the school. If you see, hear or read anything that concerns or troubles you about a child, please do not ignore it – report your concerns to me; the School’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), or to one of the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads (DDSLs), who are:

If you have a safeguarding concern, you can also email DSL@strs.org.uk at any time.

Finally
I have found it difficult to see colleagues at school under so much strain since half term; some teachers are poorly yet they are continuing to teach remotely, and all teachers are working at capacity to deliver lessons both in classrooms and online, and to set homework and classwork in a timely manner on Satchel One. Of course, staff are having to respond to these challenges alongside the individual needs of their own families whether it be caring for ill or vulnerable relatives or coping with changing circumstances in their own children’s schools and any logistical difficulties this may bring. Collectively, we have taken unprecedented measures in order to continue to deliver the high standard of education in which Sir Thomas Rich’s rightly prides itself.

I have already expressed in an earlier email to parents that at the heart of any robust educational philosophy is the acceptance that we can and will always endeavour to improve and learn from our experiences. In these unpredictable times, we will continue to reflect on all feedback we receive, while seeking to make considered and pragmatic decisions which balance the needs, and particularly the safety, of the whole community.

My particular thanks to all those parents who have taken the time to send me messages of support over the last few weeks. It really does make a difference to staff morale in these challenging times.

With my best wishes for a peaceful and safe weekend.

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