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Weekly Update from Mr Brady (05/06/2020)

Dear parent/carer

Where has the time gone?  I hope you all managed to have a restful half term and that you are all staying safe and well.

It remains a busy time at Dene Magna and I have a few updates for you.

Firstly, I am delighted to announce that our new Head Girl is Evie Llewellyn and our new Head Boy is Dan Stewart. We spent two days interviewing our candidates and were blown away by their passion for our school and their ideas for how we can continue to make a difference. Interviews are currently taking place to select the House Captains and other senior student roles. A particular highlight of the interviewing was that we were joined by Maisy and Cobi (2019/20 Head Girl and Boy) and they did a superb job in asking searching questions and giving their thoughts.

I met with Mrs Mellor (careers) this week and she will be contacting any of our current Y11 students who we feel may not have a secure plan for next year.  She will be in school one day each week over the coming weeks and will be offering advice and options at this crucial time. We are aware that some of the plans students may have for apprenticeships or courses may be a little uncertain during the pandemic. If you are worried that your daughter/son may not now have a secure idea on what to do from September then drop Mrs Mellor an email at and she can arrange a discussion about that.

Students moving from Year 9 to 10 have now been sent their amended timetables that mean they will be following their Year 10 options from Monday.  We were very aware that some were excited about narrowing their studies and so we felt this was a good time to do this. Please bear with us on Monday as I am sure there will be a few students who cannot find their letters that say which option block they are in. Can I thank Mr Mitchell for putting that together so quickly and to Mrs Evans for getting the information out there and answering the questions that I am sure are about to come!

We have been trialling our Y10 provision this week in readiness for the 15th June and staff are exploring ways of increasing the use of Google Meet for some more lessons. This will be a gradual process as some people are more comfortable with this platform than others and there is more training coming up for staff. Mrs Balmer has been in touch with our Y12 students to also arrange the increase in face to face provision for them. Her feedback has been excellent and I am so proud of how you have managed to stay motivated. Stick with it, we are going to get through it. She has been working hard to ensure that when we do return, you will all have the chance to get your preferred place for your next steps.

I had a look at the attendance of students to our 'online' school and I was delighted.  I do have to take my hat off to all of our students who have got themselves into a routine and stayed online with focus and determination.  It is not easy and it is certainly not like a normal school, but you have been superb and I thank you all for getting stuck in. I know that technology has been an issue for some, but it has been great to see emails from students who have submitted work when they couldn't get online that day. Well done!

I do need to thank all of you parents/carers/family members who have supported our online learning. We know that it is not the same as school and your efforts in answering questions, checking on learning and also in letting us know when you may not be able to log on to school have been so helpful. As I have said before, it will really help us if you can check in on your son/daughter to see what they are doing as this makes our job of chasing far easier!

It is really sad to look at the calendar and see the events that are coming up that will not be happening in their normal way. One of these is Year 6 Induction. We have been working really hard to put together a package of online activities that we hope will be informative, fun and memorable. I have written to all of our new parents/carers to let them know the plan and we have published the Y6 parent/carer induction booklet. I wrote to the primary schools as well to ask for their support in our plans. It feels a bit odd doing it like that, but we have said that we will meet ANY parent/child who is still nervous and they can come up to Dene Magna for a socially distant tour if they want to. Staff will also be making their usual visits to primary schools to talk about transition and I must thank Mrs Hoare for her sterling efforts in this.

I have been keeping an eye on our current Y7 and 8 students this week. I am aware how strange this must all still be to them, but I would like to reassure them all (and every student) that we are working hard on what school will be like when we do return and we have some exciting plans!  Stick with it, you are doing a great job.

Switching on the TV or reading the news is certainly not a positive experience at the moment. The current events in America have raised many questions in our house and it has been a feature of our discussions. It's hard to find the right words in these situations and I know that many of you will have read this famous quote from Nelson Mandela, but perhaps it can help with your discussions about what you are seeing and reading in the news. It can also remind us of the power of education and the hope that our children bring to our future.

‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love’ 

Stay safe everyone and thank you for your continued support.

Steve Brady