Headteachers Newsletter 1.1a – 17th February 2023

Dear Parents & Carers,

Although it seems like no time at all since Christmas, we are about to enter Lent and begin our preparations for Easter. I hope you have a chance to spend some time with your children over the half-term break and, as I’m sure you can imagine, I’m very sad that this year I’m not making pancakes for all of our children.

Preparation for Industrial action: Tuesday 28th February

I expect our school to be affected by the planned industrial action by members of the NEU, and so once again I am asking parents to be prepared for disruption. It will probably be a very similar pattern to last time, however due to staffing timetables, the Year 1 class will be unaffected on this occasion. Therefore, I anticipate on Tuesday 28th February, the following arrangements:

  • Daycare and Nursery will be unaffected
  • Year 1 and Year 6 will be unaffected
  • Reception, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4 and Year 5 will have attendance restricted to children eligible for Free School Meals and children of key workers (namely those working in NHS, public services and transport). We will expect all eligible children, including those of key workers, listed last time. Parents only need to contact, if they think their children may be eligible to attend but did not confirm a place last time.

I will confirm the final arrangements when we return on Monday 27th February.

Parent – Teacher Consultation

Thank you to all parents who have attended face to face or joined online for parent-teacher consultations. There are still a few scheduled and those for Year 5 are being re-arranged. If you are yet to have a meeting please contact school to arrange a suitable time. 

It would seem that learning in the most part has recovered, both in terms of pace and attainment, to pre-pandemic expectations. We are seeing some residual delay in aspects of early learning and most especially in presentation and handwriting across the setting. This is most likely due to the extended period – almost two-years – when public health guidance limited the direct contact between teacher and child, which is essential to model and perfect cursive handwriting. We are very grateful for the encouragement you are giving children and can see improvement through the children’s efforts in presentation. And, from my observations and conversations with them, children seem to be thoroughly enjoying learning and lessons.

However, the greatest effects of the pandemic are still being felt in socialisation and well-being. Self-regulation of good behaviour, seen in the care children would show to each other and the self-respect and decency of their attitudes, has not yet returned. Indeed, anti-social behaviour seen in the community and country is impacting the lives of all our children. The levels of anxiety and stress, whether caused by cost of living fears, exposure to over-sharing on social media, or peer-pressure, not to mention the prevalence of drugs and tolerance of associated crime, is damaging the lives of our children no matter how hard parents and teachers try to minimise its impact and mitigate its effects. If we are truly going to recover as a society, each and every one of us needs to decide to change: to recognise our own self-worth and the respect owing to everyone; to treat each other the way we would want to be treated ourselves; to demand a better world, a fairer world, a world in which everyone belongs, a world worth inheriting by our children.

As an educational setting, we are doing our best to ensure every child achieves their potential, which research seems to suggest is one of the best ways to build resilience in children and enhance their well-being. However, this only makes sense if realising your potential is valued by children and their parents. The gift of education, that we take for granted is fragile. In many parts of the world, it is neither free nor widely available. And yet, learning lifts more people out of poverty, improves the physical and mental health of more people and ultimately leads more people to enjoy happy and fulfilling lives than any other human endeavour. Don’t waste your children’s lives: send them to school ready to learn.

Indoor shoes

Another aspect of school life that changed in the pandemic was our tradition of changing into indoor shoes or slippers. Over the half-term we are having new carpet fitted in corridors and areas in school, so our student council has discussed this in each class and they have together decided we should change our footwear to keep these carpets fresh and clean for as long as possible. So, as one of the children said: “Oh good, we can wear slipper again!”

School Holidays

The holiday pattern for next year, 2023-24 has been set by our Trust and is on our website. Please notice that the October and February half-term weeks as well as Easter and Christmas breaks are not aligned with the holidays being taken by other schools in Hartlepool.

Warm space and soup

As I hope most people know already, we have a ‘warm space’ – the room adjacent to the main entrance – open every afternoon during term time from 1.00 -4.00 pm. During Lent we are also going to host in the room a Lenten Lunch – soup and a roll – as part of the Lenten Fast, each Wednesday, beginning on 1st March.

I hope you all enjoy a restful week and have time to read with your children. Remember World Book Day is Thursday, 2nd March, this year. During the holiday week I hope you all enjoy a pancake or two before Lent begins. Mass at St. John Vianney Church for Ash Wednesday is at 9.00 am and will include the distribution of ashes. As ever, can I ask you to include the school in your prayers and please offer a special prayer for several members of our community, parents and staff who have suffered recent bereavements.

Yours sincerely,

John Hardy

Head Teacher