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5 November 2021

Posted on: 5th Nov 2021

MTHPrincipal's Blog

Welcome to my new weekly blog! This is designed to improve communication with parents and carers, and replaces the weekly letter sent to parents following feedback.  This format should be easier to read on devices, especially smartphones. 

Each week, we will email the link to parents but you will always find the latest edition here on the website.  The intention is to provide you with key notices about events in the academy, as well as celebrating the successes of our wonderful students. 

I hope you enjoy the new style; if you have any comments about the format or what you'd like to see in the blog, please email me at principal@tla.woodard.co.uk 

M.P.Thomas, Principal


Covid Update: In the name of openness and transparency, I wanted to keep you informed about the covid situation at the school.  The latest data shows that we currently have 71 students in self isolation after testing positive for covid.  

Once again, I have spent time on the phone with Public Health England and the advice is as follows:

  • Keep classrooms and the main building well ventilated.
  • Operate a one-way system wherever possible. 
  • Encourage regular, twice-weekly use of LFTs by all staff and students.
  • Emphasise the importance of sanitation, especially hand-washing and the use of hand sanitiser at regular intervals. 
  • Avoid passing objects and items from person to person - especially in practical subjects like PE, science and food technology.
  • Wiping down of desks before lessons is a sensible precaution.

I would like to assure you that we are already doing all of these things and they have confirmed that, at present, there are no additional steps that we are recommended to take.  The use of face coverings is discretionary and was not formally recommended; therefore, that remains a local decision.  Should we reinstate face coverings, it was clear that this would need to be in adults and children, not one group or the other.  I will monitor the situation before making a further decision on this.   

In the meantime, please continue to use LFTs twice a week and to reiterate to your children the importance of hand hygiene at school.  We will do the same here.  

As a reminder, the NHS is running student vaccination programmes for flu and covid on-site next week, Tuesday 9 November.  We are hosting this event but are not running it and it is strictly on a consent-only basis.  

As always, I will keep you informed of any changes to the situation.  


Staffing: Further to the notice above, we currently have five members of staff in self-isolation due to covid.  We have also experienced severe staffing pressures this week due to other seasonal illness as well as covid, meaning that nearly 20 colleagues have been too ill to attend work this week.  We have relied on supply teachers as much as possible but there is high demand because the situation is very similar at other schools across the county.  Many colleagues are covering lessons in-house; we also have support staff who are unwell including in pastoral positions and this is also being covered by colleagues. 

Lessons are still being delivered in full but it does mean that staff are being taken away from other work to cover for absent colleagues.  We always prioritise safety and learning above all else; we are working hard to keep our service levels as high as possible and are deploying all measures to avoid closing the school to whole year groups, although this remains an option if the situation deteriorates.  We appreciate your patience while we navigate through this increasingly difficult national crisis.  


Road Safety: We have received a number of communications from members of the public and parents about the attitude of some students towards road safety. These concerns have included crossing busy roads without looking, being rude to drivers, and cycling in the middle of the road. Year 7 and Year 12 students recently heard from the police about the subject of road safety in special in-school events, and Year 8 are due to follow shortly. However, it would be immensely helpful if you could remind your young people about the importance of using the roads safely and responsibly. In addition, we would ask parents picking up and dropping off students at the academy at busy times to be mindful of the amount of students crossing the roads or cycling, both from the academy and the local primaries. 


Attendance Update: The academy attendance remains well above the national average for secondary schools in England. This is good news and students and families deserve huge credit for this.  However, this half term and next are often the most challenging for attendance due to the increase in winter bugs, notwithstanding Covid-19 infections, as the post above demonstrates.  We are monitoring attendance incredibly closely and we are continuing to ask parents to send their children to school if they are well enough to attend. ‘Perseverance’ is an academy value and I would ask all students demonstrate this by coming to school if they are able to, and not missing out on their learning. Thank you for your support.


Punctuality Raffle: Punctuality has been a key academy target in the first half term and I’m delighted that it continues to improve across the academy. A reminder to parents/carers that if you child arrives late to school, they will have a 20 minute detention at lunch time. If there is a valid reason for them to be late, please can parents/carers contact their respective year leaders to inform them. Alternatively please call the absence line on 01903 711120 (option 2). This week’s raffle was held on Monday and my congratulations go to Sol Yates 8ASC, Jake Lawson 8CRU and Lewis Ridgley 11SGE. Enjoy spending your vouchers!


Christmas Card Competition: The Creative Arts faculty will be launching our Christmas Card design competition next week. The winning design will be made into an electronic card which I will send to lots of other schools, outside contacts and companies. The theme this year is 'stars'.  


INSET Day - reminder: Friday 26 November 


Virtual Assembly:  As you will be aware, we have taken our whole-academy assemblies back online as a covid precaution. This week's assembly on the theme of 'fire' can be found below.  Well done to Abigail and Sheleigh, our Sixth Form President and Vice President respectively, who contributed their thoughts to this assembly.  

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