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Update from Mr Mitchell (26/06/2020)

Dear parents/carers,

Sometimes, in the apparent maelstrom of current events, we may forget that the normality of life is still going on. This was brought home to us this week as Mr Brady has been struggling through the week after putting his back out. Today his back has finally beaten him and he cannot get to a computer, let alone sit and type on one.

So, I have the pleasure of keeping you in contact with what is going on at Dene Magna as the end of term starts to come into view, the end of what has been the most unique term any of us would have experienced.

The summer term at Dene Magna is an incredibly busy and happy time. We have exams, Year 11 farewells, Year 6 Induction, Sponsored Walk, Sports Day, Timetable Suspension Week, Work Experience, Achievement Evening and Timetable Roll Over. Each week has an ‘event’ and the bustle of getting things done.

Well, this year it is slightly different. Please be assured that the bustle is still there and we are working hard to make sure that the end of the school year ties up all those loose ends so that we are in a strong position to get back on track in September.

Looking forward to September is, of course, hard. Please be assured that we are doing all we can to ensure that we are ready to make the best of the situation as we find it. Over this term, we have prioritised the quality of learning at home and providing a safe place for Key Worker Children and other students to work. We have seen teachers and students develop their skills in using Google Classroom and exploring Google Meet to bring lessons even more to life.

The feedback we have received from parents has been positive and we are constantly seeking to improve what we do. Over the last few weeks, more students have been coming into school. This has been done to meet individual need and also to not impact on the provision of home learning, which is the core of what the school is doing.

This week we have welcomed Year 6 students to the (virtual school). This time has forced us all to innovate and develop new skills.  Year 6 Induction Week is such an important week for us. It allows Year 6 students to become truly part of Dene Magna and ensure that they are ready to go on their first day in Year 7 in September.

Watching the progress from that first Monday morning, as slightly wary and nervous students arrive at the front gates, through to Friday when they leave with new friends made and a spring in their step, is a real joy.

Clicking on the induction materials as they have unfolded on the website throughout the week has been a revelation. What skills we have at Dene Magna! The staff did themselves proud, the students were superb and thanks to everyone who has put this all together, particularly Mr Jones for all his work behind the camera and in the editing suite. Great to see him Infront of the camera on Thursday too! I hope that each student and parent/carer has had a real glimpse of Dene Magna and that they have that same skip in their step ready for September.

One of the phrases that have been used by the government is that students should have ‘face to face’ contact with their teachers. This connection is so important, it is about a sense of belonging and familiarity that reduces anxiety and increases engagement. We have reflected on what this means and this is one of the reasons why we have been having more ‘Live’ lessons for each student.

However, this does not really replace direct personal contact. To achieve this, we are planning something special for the last week of term. During that week each student, and their parents/carers, will be invited into school to meet with their tutor for a 25-minute meeting. The focus of the meeting will be looking forward to September, ensuring that each student feels confident for their return.

A clear focus here will be on any gaps that have appeared in learning. It is essential that no student is left behind and that no one is disadvantaged by the impact of the lockdown.

Appointments will be made via the Parents’ Evening app and will run during the school day. This is such an important opportunity for each family to make that connection back to the school building and prepare for next year. There will also be the opportunity to catch up with House staff, members of the Leadership Group and to check over any devices that have been loaned out during the lockdown.

We will be emailing all parent/carers with further information during the week, so please keep an eye on your emails and the website.

It feels as if things are changing. Over the next few weeks, as the lockdown is changing, sometimes it feels that it is hard to know what is expected of us. I can reassure you though that at each turn we are constantly focussed on striving to ensure that each and every learner achieves their maximum potential, whilst always focussing on keeping all of us as safe as possible and following the guidelines on Social Distancing and Health and Safety that we are given.

As always, stay safe,

Fred Mitchell

Deputy Head Teacher