Dear parents and carers,
A slightly more lengthy letter this year. There are some important updates and work that will start in the new year with students that I want to communicate with you. However, we all deserve this break and this Christmas period will be a welcome rest for our entire community.
We’ve managed to do many things this term that we’ve taken for granted in the past, we’ve managed to run very successful open events for sixth form and entry into year 7 - it was wonderful to welcome families back into the Academy for these events. Our geography department was able to run a field trip to Carding Mill Valley, we marked anti-bullying week with Odd Socks day and a number of activities and we celebrated Black History Month with incredibly enriching content. We had a former student talk to art students about a career in Hollywood as a concept designer and groups of students were able to access a new instrument called a pBone. We appointed Michael Evans and Madison Homer as Head Boy and Head Girl and Madison joined Mr Grant at the OAT conference in Nottingham to talk to delegates about equality, diversity and inclusion and the work we are doing at Forge. Whatever 2022 throws at us, we will do our best to keep moving forward and ensuring that our young people are at the core of all we do.
Early indications suggest that our year 7 will be full again next year and we will remain oversubscribed. Whilst I am delighted to be able to serve our local area, I want to ensure that, as a school community, we don’t get complacent.
The success of our mobile phone policy has shown that with your support and with consistency and continuity, we can make a difference and our students respond in a positive way. I have noticed that some standards have started to slip and I need to ask for your support to ensure this does not continue.
Lockdowns and covid restrictions were hard on us all but our job now is to support our young people and provide them with a framework in which they can learn. This ties into one of our core values which is respect and I wanted to write to talk about respect for ourselves, our learning and our environment. Students have had an assembly on this but there are some key areas that I’d like you to reinforce at home.
Respect For Yourself (students)
We need to ensure that our students wear their uniform with pride, this means shoes and not trainers, no hoodies (and instead plain black jumpers under the blazer), no coats in classrooms and no facial piercings. We have never allowed facial piercings or hoodies at Forge and in the new year we will be confiscating them if a student is wearing one.
We need our students to be ready to learn, they should have their equipment with them every day, they should have completed homework and they need to be on time. It’s also important to state that fizzy drinks and energy drinks are banned in the Academy - this includes Lucozade and energy boost drinks (unless there is a documented medical reason eg. diabetes).
Respect For Learning
Students need to be punctual to form (8.40am) and to every lesson. We are seeing too many students late at the start of the day and late to lessons.
Most importantly, students need to be their best in every lesson - they need to value these learning opportunities. The pandemic has taught us many lessons and one of them is that it has highlighted how important time in the classroom is - let’s ensure our young people don’t forget this. Our teachers are our experts and their job is to impart their expert knowledge; let’s ensure they can do this freely and with success.
Respect For The Environment
We have made a significant investment over the last few years in a number of subject areas. However, we aren’t blessed with brand new buildings and we’ve always felt that the important stuff goes on in the classroom. We have to look after our site. Students and staff spend the majority of our week at Forge and instances of litter and any form of vandalism will not be tolerated. I’ve been delighted with student responses recently with regard to our war on litter, they care about their environment at Forge and into the wider community. But, we need to stop the few instances of damage that are occurring. The money and time that it takes to repair takes resources away from educating our young people which is our key function.
In the new year, we’ll be working with our students on getting the basics right, you’ll be hearing lots about this and I’m really looking forward to reinforcing the firm foundations upon which this school has been built.
There are some other areas of note that I need to communicate with you.
Changes to the start of term in January 2022.
On Wednesday 5th January 2022 (our original return to school date) and Thursday 6th January 2022, we shall be operating our Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS). Consenting students will need to attend school for a test only and then return home.
Students will return to school from Wednesday 5th January 2022 but on a staggered basis, as follows:
Term starts (for years 12, 13 and 14 only): Wednesday 5th January 2022
Term start continues (for years 9, 10, 11) : Thursday 6th January 2022
Term start continues (for years 7 and 8): Friday 7th January 2022
Students will be given a specific time to arrive according to their tutor group, this detailed view and more information can be found HERE.
Parking at the end of the day
A number of local residents have asked us to message parents regarding collection at the end of the day. We recognise that we aren’t blessed with much space to cater for the huge amount of students being collected. But we urge you to be considerate to our neighbours, don’t park over driveways, don’t park over the yellow, keep clear road signage and wherever possible please leave enough room for the traffic to continue flowing. We do have three exits at the end of the day, it might be worth considering alternative collection arrangements.
Testing over Christmas
Students should continue testing over the Christmas holiday. Home test kits for the holiday will be sent home on Thursday 16th December. It is a slightly different test, please read the instruction book carefully.. Using the COVID Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test twice weekly is an important part of our arsenal in the fight against COVID-19. It is important to regularly test until we are told it is no longer needed. Please ensure you report every test result to the NHS as instructed. If you have symptoms, we recommend getting a PCR test. If a student gets a positive test, please email us on [email protected] and if the result confirms an Omicron variant, tell us that too.
It is also important to send a reminder about medicines. If your child needs any form of medicine in school, this should be administered via reception and our first aid trained staff. Please can you bring the medicine into the Academy, in the original box, with full instructions. Students should not carry any form of medicine with them at all. If you have any concerns or questions regarding this procedure, please call main reception or email [email protected].
It can be hard to know how to talk to your child about online safety. From setting up parental controls to advice on sexting, online games and video apps, you need to understand the risks and keep your child safe. These resources from the NSPCC are well worth looking over to help you keep your children safe: www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/
Thank you for your unwavering support this year. On behalf of the staff and everyone associated with the Academy, we could not have got through 2021 without you. We have been stronger together.
Take care over the Christmas break, don’t take any unnecessary risks, follow the Government guidance and keep testing. We very much look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2022 for a fresh start and the opportunity to keep moving forward.
Sending Christmas wishes and blessings for the new year.
Dr Lisa Mason
Ormiston Forge Academy