Parental Update 14/01

Dear Parents/Carers,

Following some discussions, I just felt it was important to give an overview of what the Rainford High community has continued to do during the pandemic.

As a school, during the pandemic we have never closed our doors to the children, we have embraced the challenges that we have faced and have maintained a focus on our student’s learning and well being. I am pleased that by working with our school staff, they all feel supported and are happy to come to work in the school and deliver live lessons without issue and are happy to come into, what they see as, a safe and supportive environment. This is not the case in all schools.

We have ensured that students and families have been contacted and supported and tried to answer and resolve all queries and issues. The school team has made thousands of calls and many more email responses to our community’s questions. I have had staff attend a number of significant safeguarding issues through lockdown, at students homes and outside of school hours, to maintain their safety and well being. We have continued to support our less fortunate families when there have been issues with free school meals and other challenges the pandemic has created.

I am delighted that, unlike the national picture, our SEND students have been happy to return to the school environment and families are supportive of the school, to such an extent that the most vulnerable of our community, with the highest needs, continue to attend school, as they and their families appreciate the commitment and support they receive within the school building, even during a national lockdown.

School staff have trained and set up a lateral flow testing centre, within three days, to support our community in remaining safe and reassured, with no consideration of the additional risk, however flawed or inaccurate the tests may turn out to be. As a school, we have tested all staff and students on site, who have wanted a test, with no positive results so far. As a community, people are supportive of the greater good.

As a school, we have provided over £80,000 worth of IT equipment, from the schools resources, above that which has been provided by the Government, to ensure students’ learning can continue during periods of lockdown. We have acted swiftly to ensure we have received the full entitlement of Government funded devices that our students are entitled to. This means we are now able to consider which families have multiple students attending our school and try to provide more support to make their learning and progress easier and more effective, rather than them having to share a single device and pick and choose which live lessons they are able to attend.

We are committed to the Mental Health and Well Being of our students and take the view that being in a virtual environment from 9.25 to 3.15, with 50 minutes break across the day, 5 days a week, is in our opinion unhealthy and detrimental to students physical and metal well being.

We are also committed to developing students who have the skills of independence, resilience and personal organisation. By viewing the lockdown and the challenges of the pandemic as an opportunity to give them an amount of flexibility to manage their study and practice these other skills, in my opinion, is a step forward and an opportunity to prepare them adequately for the next stages of their education and life.

Through lockdown one, the school continued to consider the wider needs of our student community, running virtual reading weeks, careers weeks and a mental health and well being week, as well as providing an online Aspirations week last week. As well as running a charitable effort to support our wider community, before Christmas, that saw our school deliver over 30 hampers to various good causes, along with significant contributions to food banks and other local charities.

Our offer of remote learning provides 5 hours of remote learning a day for every child who attends Rainford High. The percentages for live lessons we lay out are minimum expectations for staff and for students. Our offer meets and exceeds the criteria set out by the Government and the teaching staff are committed to develop how they deliver online live lessons as effectively as possible. Part of our rationale has considered the challenges of running a live and a virtual school and parts of those considerations have been the school staff, as without their support and professional commitment, the offer would be poorer by far.

Our ethos of Everyone Matters, Everyone Helps and Everyone Succeeds applies to the entirety of our community and we continue to try to deliver this for all our community in these continuing times of challenge.

To the school team of staff, students and parents, I would take a moment to breathe, reflect and to have a well deserved collective sense of pride for what our community has and will continue to achieve during the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for your support and positive spirit, even when things have not gone according to plan.

Have a good weekend.

Ian Young