Headmaster’s Newsletter – 23 April 2021

Dear Parents,

This week we are thrilled to have all the children and tutors back in school and the buildings are alive again with activity and the sounds of excited pupils. The sun has been shining and with the gradual lifting of restrictions there is a sense of positivity in the air.  There is so much to look forward to in the summer term. 

There are several drama productions throughout the term. Upper Delta and Kappa will perform Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on 12 & 13 May. Upper Beta and Gamma will bring us a Shakespeare Festival between 25 and 27 May with performances of The TempestRomeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Senior Musical Theatre Gala has four performances during the week of 21 June and a choral festival with Captain Noah and his floating zoo as the centrepiece on 30 June.  The annual John Betjeman Poetry Competition will be on Monday 24 May and will be judged by the Irish actress Brigid Shine and the Speech Competition will be held in the last week of June.  The summer Art Exhibition will be in Founders’ Hall on 5 and 6 July and then there is the annual wonder of Field Day this year on a Wednesday – 7 July.  In between all these events there will be no less than fourteen music showcases in Founders’ Hall and invitations for these will go out as soon as the limit on numbers attending is relaxed from 17 May. 

Music teaching begins this coming week with both individual and ensemble lessons.  Every pupil is issued with a Lesson Card detailing the times of lessons and the work to be practised between each lesson.  Success comes from a little practice regularly every day not a lot of practice once or twice a week or at weekends.  Practice = Progress = Pleasure is the motto.  We do ask that parents read the card and sign it each week.  There is also a column for parents to send back messages to the tutors.  There is absolutely no need for musical knowledge yourself to help with practice – all that is needed is patience and encouragement.

We are delighted to be back swimming once again. You will have received an email from Mr Hastings yesterday detailing the various protocols each swimming pool is putting in place. To comply with these protocols and to coincide with the timings of the bookings there have had to be a few adjustments to the timetable. As things stand regrettably we cannot yet accommodate swimming for Upper Beta and Gamma.  As restrictions are lifted further we hope to be able to add them back into the swimming timetable. For the time being they will have a regular Games lesson instead.

We had hoped that the requirement to wear ‘face coverings’ might have been relaxed for the summer term but as things stand we are in the same position as the end of last term. This goes for all our Covid protocols such as touch point cleaning, social distancing, group bubbles etc. I have included below part of one the emails we receive from the Department for Education on this matter.

It is expected that face coverings will no longer be required to be worn in classrooms, or by students in other communal areas, at Step 3 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than Monday 17 May. At that point the next stage of easements, including increased social contact indoors, will be confirmed following a review of the latest data on infection and vaccination rates. It will also allow time for the vaccination programme to reach everyone in priority groups one to nine with their first dose before any change is committed.

All changes will be confirmed with one week’s notice and all other safety measures will remain in place, including regular asymptomatic testing, smaller group bubbles, increased hygiene, ventilation, and social distancing where possible.

We look forward to the next step of the ‘roadmap’ and hope that we will be able to have live audiences to our showcases, restart our weekly Assembly in St. Columba’s and of course welcome you all to Field Day. 

Tomorrow there will be a Second-hand Uniform sale in Founders’ Hall. A flyer is attached to this letter. The shop will be open between 10am and 1pm. Please wear a mask and follow the queuing system in place. 

Best wishes,

Richard Townend