Weekly Update - 1st October 2021

I hope that everyone has had a good week, despite the somewhat unpredictable weather!  We have informed students this week of our “wet weather” arrangements for break and lunchtimes, should this be necessary.  As the weather begins to grow more autumnal, can I please remind you that students should only be wearing the Academy approved uniform.  Some students have been arriving in sweatshirts and hoodies, which are not permitted.  Thank you for your support in ensuring that our Academy continues to be positively represented.

As always, we are keen to listen and respond to parental feedback, and in this respect, I would like to inform you of some planned changes going forwards.

Firstly, I am aware that there has been some frustration over the number of different Apps currently used by the school.  Therefore, we propose to combine all of these into a single App, “My Ed”, which I believe most parents are familiar with.  This will be introduced in the next week and will include all relevant information, e.g.: school reports, absence reporting, messaging service, enrichment opportunities and more.  I hope that this will help to streamline the information sent from the school, and that you will find this helpful.

As you are aware, we have been carefully monitoring the current break and lunchtime arrangements and, as mentioned last week, I am pleased to say that, on the whole these continue to work well.  However, as a result of our observations, and student feedback, it is apparent that the current, bio-metric “thumb print” payment system does cause a back-up at the tills because the thumb pad must be thoroughly cleaned between each transaction, and because sometimes the thumb print does not register, which then means that students’ names have to be manually typed into the system, which obviously takes time and causes delays.  Whilst I can reassure you that all students are able to purchase food, move through the tills, eat and socialise during each break and lunch half-hour, I am also keen to ensure that this process is as expedient as possible.  Therefore, we will be trialling a new card system after half-term.  This will be similar to using a “tap and pay” card, and will hopefully negate the issues with the current system.  The new card system will be trialled and observed for a 2-3 week period after half-term, and will then be reviewed.  We welcome feedback from yourselves and your children on the new system and will take this into account when considering the best way forwards.

I would also like to mention the Academy’s social media accounts.  I am aware that there are several, individual Instagram accounts for different departments.  Moving forwards, we will combine all of these into a single Instagram account.  I am also aware that the number of posts and photographs on the school’s social media accounts have decreased in the past few weeks, and would like to rationalise this.  I completely understand the relevance of social media in our modern-day society, the importance of this medium in sharing students’ successes and achievements, and the pleasure that being able to instantly view this, brings to very many of you.   However, it has become apparent that this is not always the case, for example, where children are vulnerable, or indeed, just shy and do not wish their photographs to be publicly portrayed.  We must also be cognisant of GDPR regulations.  We will shortly send out a survey to gather your opinions on this matter.  In addition, regular and consistent posting of academy achievements sometimes means that important accolades are missed or not given the credence they deserve.

As an example of this, the Academy was recently awarded the “Quality in Careers” Standard, recognising our progress towards meeting all of the “Gatsby” Benchmarks (the nationally recognised career standards).  Similarly, we are currently working towards the Eco Schools Award, and hope to be able to provide you with positive news in this respect very soon.

Therefore, going forwards, we will continue to post day to day academy activities, whilst being mindful of students’ and parents’ personal preferences.  However, we will also share any bigger accolades with you on a more personal level.

Finally, I am very glad to report that the number of positive Covid cases has reduced significantly, in comparison with previous weeks.  This is, of course, great news, but as a precaution, we would ask that students and staff continue to wear face-coverings for the next week.  The situation will be reviewed by Friday 8th October, and I will provide you with a further update then.  We do, of course, continue to liaise with the Department for Education, Public Health England and Essex County Council in this regard, and will take on board their advice and guidance in any decisions going forwards.

As ever, I wish you all a wonderful, purposeful but relaxing weekend, and thank you again for your continued support and encouragement.