This is a newsletter that I reckon I have composed at least 5 times, and then revised in light of a change of guidance. However, given that today is in fact the end of session, in light of the Depute First Minister’s (DFM) statement in parliament yesterday and based on North Lanarkshire Council’s statements posted on the school website last night, I reckon it is about time you heard directly from the headteacher.
Through the past few weeks, we have been planning a return to school in August that might take account of every eventuality we can think of. This has ranged from schools staying closed and how we might ensure the best digital learning opportunities, through a couple of ‘blended’ learning models where social distancing of 1 metre or 2 metres was in place, through to a full return without social distancing as announce by DFM yesterday. I was confident that regardless of the directives from the government, in Cumbernauld Academy we would have planned well and been able to take the steps needed to implement a return to school. This remains the case. We have planned for each eventuality, and are now focussed again on a full return, taking into account all the health and safety implications. To quote North Lanarkshire Council:
We are preparing for pupils to return full-time to school on 12 August and we will be working closely with our schools and partners, including our early years and childcare provision to establish our plans, which we will communicate as soon as we are in a position to.
On return, there will be a strong focus on health and wellbeing, and I have spoken to the Pupil Support Team who are looking at new and innovative ways of ensuring that we keep everything as calm and normal as possible, while recognising that specific support will be required for all and additional support for some. Timetables will be issued to pupils on arrival.
In previously withheld versions of this newsletter I had addressed concerns around the structure of the school week, the curriculum, uniform, SQA arrangements and health and safety considerations. This was a complex logistical exercise mainly based on a model of social distancing and therefore needs reviewing again. Although the school closes today, along with many other members of staff I will be continuing to make sure that we are prepared for our return in August and will be in contact with you over the summer period regarding the finer details of this. I think however it is safe to say, that unless I get information to the contrary, school uniform will be worn as normal next session. I do realise there may be issues with the purchasing and fitting of blazers for some families and we will be sympathetic and supportive of everyone in this position in August. In other words, if you can get a blazer for August, then do so. If you can’t we will try and make arrangements with suppliers come August to support you. All S1 students will all be gifted a school ties on their first day. S5 students can purchase a senior tie at the school office for £7. These will be available over the summer from the school office, however exact money will need to be given as no change is available at the moment. Information regarding transport and consortium arrangements will also be communicated to you as soon as I have the details. In addition to this, over the summer, we will produce information leaflets for year groups and provide additional details around SQA results and re-coursing.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank a number of members of staff who will be leaving us this year. Mr Clark (Chemistry), Mrs Magill (Biology), Mr Malley (Technical), Mr McGinness (Maths) and Mr Morrisson (DHT and RE), all of whom are retiring. I am sure they will be very happy, they have certainly earned it through many, many years of commitment to children in Cumbernauld. Mr Chainey from Modern Studies is also, sadly for us, moving on to Kilsyth Academy and we wish him every success there. We have a number of new staff beginning with us next session including 9 probationer teachers who will come, as ever, with a real sense of enthusiasm. Over the years we have been very successful at mentoring new teachers and I am grateful for the additional staff available to us next year.
Finally, I would like to thank every parent and carer of our wonderful students. Your commitment and in particular, your patience are valued greatly by me. As a parent, I have been desperate to get information about my own children but as a headteacher, I have recognised the changing landscapes from day to day. I promise, along with all the staff here, to continue to do all we can to keep your children safe and provide the very best environment for learning we can. I look forward to being able to provide further information for you over the summer in preparation for the students returning in August. I wish everyone a well-earned summer break.
Home-schooling is definitely out for summer!