Some people are asking me for a statement on what we will be doing in September.
I think I will still be trying to form a new, sensible relationship with food and alcohol whilst walking round and round the school field. Beyond that I have gazed into Boris’s crystal ball and found thick mist alongside repeats of The Shipping Forecast. The contradiction that is Michael Gove says that everything is groovy, cool and absolutely safe. Gove has influence on the sadly extended Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson.
The Daily Mail instructs me that we won the world war, we have Got Brexit Done and schools should use aerodromes, deserted warehouses, fields where it never rains and sports halls to “do” lessons in very large groups.
Nick Gibb, who has been Schools Minister for so long he should have picked up some knowledge along the way has said something like this, “There’s lots of kids falling behind because they don’t have computers and so we are going to offer them ONLINE 1-1 catch up lessons.” He also says that having ordered by mid June the 200,000 computers we were promised in April counts as the government delivering their target on time.
We don’t know what knee-jerk, world-beating measures will be demanded or suggested for September. However, I’m hoping for a vaccine and all the kids being back in school. I also dream of social distancing at White Hart Lane
We cannot house all the students at one time in classes of 15 because we would need twice the number of classrooms and twice the number of teachers.
So this is what we are doing now, and we are doing what we can:
Working with 214 Year 6 children to make their transition to Chauncy as easy and motivational as possible. We have made lots of videos, emailed and done some online work, including launching The Shields. We will invite them into Chauncy in July. Year 6 is bubbling nicely along. I did three days of appeals on the phone for places at Chauncy and 4 were successful. We have 30 or more on the waiting list.
Lots of lessons for Years 7,8 & 9 on line and increasingly on Zoom and Google Classrooms. Around 70% of children are working but 30% are doing very little or nothing at all.
Pastoral staff have contacted children and parents and there are Zoom form periods going on. I have contacted 45 students who have done all we have asked of them and there are more than 100 others I could ring.
As I write, we are teaching Year 10s in the hall and we have had 80% attendance of happy but subdued children doing Maths, Science and English.
We are running a great Link course for Year 11s joining us in September and they are doing A Level and BTec work months earlier than in most years. We have 98% co-operation from these ambitious students. 15 external candidates are working well with us and it’s not too late for students from outside Chauncy to contact Mr Ardiles for an interview.
Year 12 practical subjects are going well this week in their classrooms and the A Level students are performing brilliantly.
I am surrounded by teachers (2 metres away) wanting to teach live in the hall. This is especially true for teachers stuck at home with their own kids. We have appointed some more trainee teachers and will be meeting all our new and training staff next Thursday.
I am still trying to get more Zoom lessons, more kids in school and more staff realising that they are doing a great job and that one day they will be allowed to share their world, their school and their skills with children who really, really want to be here in school.
Are we perfect? Not Quite.
The Merry Men are releasing “Cold Old Fire” soon. It is a desolate song so I’m filming in the building site, which our ‘builders’, Honeybourne, have kindly left in an appropriate state for a song of desolation.
I so look forward to meeting kids, staff and parents within the school.
Dennis O’Sullivan (Headteacher)