School Update 25th June 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I am writing with some news about the end of this term. Firstly, I want to very sincerely thank you for the way in which you have responded to the last few months. We know that people have a range of perspectives and reactions to the Covid-19 pandemic. At times it has felt almost impossible to navigate this and make the ‘right’ decisions. As a school we have tried to make informed choices that have probably sometimes been a little too cautious – but preferring that to acting recklessly. I know that we will not have pleased everyone all of the time. However the support, understanding and constructive comments from you have been tremendous. I know from many colleagues that this is not the case in other schools. So thank you very much! The Hotspur community is very special and makes my decision to leave all the harder – which I shall return to at the end of this letter.
I wish that I could tell you more about what will be happening in September – and I completely understand why many of you keep asking. We are as informed as you about arrangements for schools. The current thinking is that, if the circumstances remain as they are now, all children will return to school in September and bubbles will become groups of 30 – or classes! This is not quite as simple as it sounds as there may still be a need to keep these groups of 30 separate – but I will update you about what we know before the end of term. I will also let you know about class teachers for September at this time.
In the meantime, here is some information about the end of term.
A few babies have been born to members of staff during the lockdown period!
We have some staff who will be leaving at the end of this term:
- Cheryl Outterside has been at Hotspur for 33 years, most recently as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant, and is now retiring. Her contribution has been enormous and our last ‘bulletin’ of the year will celebrate this more fully.
- Pauline Hogg has been a teaching assistant here for the last 9 years after a career as a teacher in other parts of the City.
- Hannah Travis, our current PE/Sports Mentor, is moving on to specialise in young women’s football in Sunderland
We will be joined by some new staff in September:
- Ryan Redford, who is well-known to children from his two years as PE/Sport Mentor, will be covering Jennie Mackay’s maternity leave
- Catherine Cook, a former School Direct Trainee, is joining us as a teacher for a year
- Michael Skoyles will be taking on the PE/Sports Mentor role
Annual Reports and an Opportunity to Collect Them!
All teachers have now completed the annual reports for children and they are being checked and signed. They are different to recent years as children have not been able to contribute to them as normal.
We would like to invite you to come and collect them from school on Thursday 9th July. We shall allocate each family a half hour slot on this day. Everyone will enter school from the bottom yard and will be guided around a pathway through the grounds, including the play structure which has just been completed. The ‘tour’ will end at the top yard where teachers will each be at a desk and ready to hand out reports. Each teacher will have about 5 children in each half hour so there will be an opportunity to chat to children and families – but it is not a consultation. It is intended to be informal and conform to distancing measures. It will give everyone a chance to say goodbye to their teacher and to visit school before the summer holidays.
We tried to design a simple system for people to book in a slot but found this very tricky so we will allocate a slot next week. They will be between 10:30 – 12:00am and 1:00 – 2:30pm. If there are reasons for you needing a morning or afternoon slot please complete the form – otherwise we will inform you of your time slot. Further details of the one way system into school will also be circulated. There will not be any toilets available during the half hour slot and it is all weather dependent!
Year 1 and Year 6 bubbles will not operate on this day to release members of staff – and we would appreciate it if key families were able to keep their children at home – but we will have provision for those that cannot manage this. Reports that are not collected will be sent out in the post.
We are very aware that the lockdown has been particularly stressful for Y6 children as leaving primary school is such a rite of passage for them. It has been fantastic to have so many of them in school in recent weeks. We have planned some things that are different this year that will hopefully enable them to have good memories of their time at Hotspur:
- We have paid for all Y6 children to have their Leavers’ Hoodie
- We have employed a professional film maker to make a Leavers’ Film over the next couple of weeks as we won’t be able to have an assembly this year
- We are creating a Year Book which is being printed with their own recollections and photos
We are also planning an event on Thursday 16th July for Y6s and their parents/carers which will include a very brief outdoor assembly and a picnic on the field. We’d love all Y6 children to be able to come to this if at all possible.
Last year we had our first Celebration Evening for Y6 children, with various awards decided by staff and children. It was a lovely event to mark the children’s moving on to secondary education. We are planning to hold this in the Autumn Term and will invite current Y6 children back for this.
Due to the current circumstances we are not able to run our normal holiday clubs. We are in the process of designing an alternative summer ‘thing’ which we will give a name to and further details will follow shortly. It will combine elements of Thrive with activities and smaller events such as bubble blowing in the Ouseburn or picnicking on the school field.
Treehouse will be available for childcare and can be booked and paid for in the normal way.
School Site and Grounds Projects
We are pleased and excited that our new play structure has now been completed. Thank you to everyone who helped raise money towards this. Over the summer, a number of projects will also be undertaken:
- Parts of our roof will be replaced and a ‘man-safe’ will be installed to help with the clearing of gutters that have caused leaks for many years - I think it is also safe for women!
- Our play yards will be resurfaced and new football goal/basketball posts installed on the top yard
- A new classroom is being created for the additional Y6 class
- Unit 3 classrooms will be refurbished – similarly to Unit 1 last summer with the window seats being removed and new flooring
- The library shelving will be relocated to the current music room
- A music resource base will be located in the community room
- The Stratford Room will be refurbished with proper windows making it more suitable for teachers’ PPA (Planning, Preparation and Assessment) and counselling sessions for children
Finally! It seems a lifetime ago that I announced I would be leaving at Christmas – which I still am. The process for appointing the next Headteacher will start at the very beginning of September with the interviews being held in the penultimate week of the half term.
New Play Structure
Staff babies born during lockdown:
Claire McGrath's (Dance Teacher) baby Wilf
Matt Crow's (Business Manager Maternity Cover) baby Arlo
Jennie Mackay's (Y4 teacher) baby Marley
Louise Downing's (Supervisory Assistant) baby Khloe