Academy weekly news

For the week ending: 23 October, 2020

A Parents Guide to Covid19 at Ormiston Denes Academy

Dear Parent/ Carer

We are at the end of this half-term and I am wondering where the time has gone. It has been a very successful couple of months and so my thanks to you as parents for your support. The new year group structure has worked well, and students have responded very positively to the support they have received and to our new systems and procedures. Day to day things we used to take for granted in school are now much more complex and make life difficult, so it has taken its toll, as I expected it would. Staff have also been fantastic and very supportive, moving from classroom to classroom makes teaching more complex so my public thanks to them as well.

Our system of bubbles certainly worked when we had to send some students home earlier this week. As mentioned in my letter, we must follow a strict protocol including contacting a designated Department for Education number who asks detailed questions about our systems and procedures, then give us instructions on what we have to do. The school doesn’t make the decision; they do. We then enact on that and get in contact with other key stakeholders such as Ormiston Academies Trust and the Local Authority to inform them as well. Underneath all these processes however, lies concern and anxiety amongst children, parents and staff. In conversations I have had recently, there is often a worry about other members of the family or about the individual themselves but whatever the angle, Covid is having a significant impact on well-being and it is not to be underestimated.

It is important to emphasise our procedures for Covid over half-term and to highlight a couple of key points. For two days after our students finish for the half term break (up to Tuesday 27th October inclusive), it is vital that you notify the school if your child has tested positive for Covid-19 by calling the main reception telephone number of 01502 574474 and pressing extension 0. This is because anyone who tests positive is most infectious two days prior to symptoms appearing. In such circumstances please phone the school and leave a message, as we will be checking messages regularly, then we will put our plans into operation. This will include notifying contacts and informing them they should go into isolation and not attend school until the isolation period has ended. Should a positive test happen after the two days then please let us know for attendance purposes.

You may have read that some schools are being visited by Ofsted to carry out national research on how schools are operating following lockdown. These are not inspections; the intention is for the findings from all the visits around the country to be used to support schools in returning to full education. On Thursday, two inspectors were at Ormiston Denes to meet with members of the senior leadership team going through our systems and processes, talking about the challenges COVID has brought to the school and how we were working to overcome them. Unlike an inspection they were not out and about the academy, they were based in an office for the day talking only to senior leaders. A brief letter will be published sometime after half term that reports on a few areas discussed and our comments. It was a very good and useful experience where we were able to talk about all the good work that is happening at Ormiston Denes and outline our future plans.

We are encouraging our Year 7 students to take the Awesome Half Term Challenge whereby they use their time over half term to learn a new skill or master a new hobby by committing to spend at least 15 minutes a day practising their skill or hobby. This could be something academic such as learning to count up to 30 in a new language or something fun they would like to get better at such as learning to juggle. I wish them all luck and hope that they all take up the challenge.

As I said in the opening line, half-term is nearly upon us and I am sure everyone will enjoy a well-earned rest. One thing that my family often comments upon is that even during a holiday I will still get up early as it is part of my routine. It also means I get the house to myself for a few hours which I love. Although there will be a bit of work involved during the break – the amount will be dependent on a wide range of factors outside of my control – I will enjoy my family.

I hope you have a fantastic break, please keep safe and I look forward to seeing everyone back fresh and ready to work on Monday 2nd November.

Yours faithfully

Mr Jim Nixon, Principal

Welcome to Ormiston Denes Academy, north Lowestoft’s secondary school and the first choice academy for the majority of families in the local area. We offer a rigorous, traditional curriculum; supplemented by a broad choice from creative and performing arts, technology, and sport; all personalised to the strengths of individual students. Read more…

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