In our busy lives, most us complain about not having enough time. We rush around and work hard and react to challenges and find time for each other somewhere in between. Suddenly though, most of us have a load of time. So much, in fact, that the challenge we are now faced with is how to fill it. Days in isolation seem longer and there are only a certain amount of box sets you can plough through in a day before your brain goes numb. Likewise with gaming. We're sure some of our students were secretly celebrating last Thursday when told them that school would be closing indefinitely. More time to game and relax and do whatever they wanted. More time to waste time in our opinion. This time should be celebrated. It is a time for families to come closer together; it is a time to share experiences; it is a time to try new things and learn new skills. My humble advice: embrace it and stay positive because times like this happen once in a lifetime, if that. When you do go out, smile at the empty streets because those empty streets signify love. Love for our families and for our communities because what we are doing is saving lives. I firmly believe we will all come out of this as better people.

Of course our hearts go out to everyone who has been directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19. It is a complex virus that seems to affect people in many different ways. For most it is a mild illness, for some they show no symptoms at all; for some, especially those with underlying conditions, it is deadly. That is why the Prime Minister took what must have been the most difficult decision of his life to lock the country down and close all schools.

At LECA, we started planning for closure two weeks before it happened. Resources were compiled and created and saved in shared drives; hard copies were created; IT loan sheets were printed; help sheets for students were drawn up and the all-important Contingency Plan was written and shared with staff. It was a colossal effort from every single member of staff to get ready and all the time we were never sure when the doors would close. Some staff looked at me strangely when I shared the plan and told them to do it 'now, today'! I'm glad that sense of urgency permeated though, because what we delivered has been widely praised and the feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. We thank you for that. It means so much to us knowing that you are happy with what we have delivered.

Of course for a small minority of students, those from Key Worker families and those who are considered vulnerable, the school stayed open and will remain open. Our planning now is for Easter as the likelihood is we will be asked to be open for those same students right through the Easter holiday and on the two bank holidays. That provision will be exactly the same as it is now - some schoolwork, some creative time and some PE so we all stay active. More on this will follow in the week ahead as soon as the Government shares its plans with us.

While we open last week it was good to get the students into a routine. We started the day quietly getting on with work on laptops and then Joe Wicks got the heart rates up for while with his workout aimed at children. Then a bit more work was followed by something creative  - some drawing, some music and my personal favourite session, Ready Steady Cook. I have to say I was pretty confident going into this session and quickly settled in to cooking one of my family favourites  - the Gaskins Chinese Chicken Makeaway. Finishing first, I tidied up and watched the other students put their dishes together and how wrong I was! Taneesha cooked up a red-hot meatball chilli, Ruby made a meatball pasta topped with cheese, Aithne made a lovely, gooey rich chocolate brownie and Keiren made a fantastic chicken pie. For me, that was the winner but all the students did a fantastic job and we all had a lot of fun. Well done to all of you.

At home, students seemed to be cracking on with the work we had set. Teachers 'zoomed' in in their classes and form groups and Mrs Radcliffe turned into a Youtube starlet with her video on reading. My highlight was catching up with the senior law group on Thursday - it was great to see them and they seemed in good spirits, talking a lot of nonsense most of the time but laughing a lot too. Stay positive all of you and keep in touch. Oh, and if you run out of work, you just let me know! 

A word now on Options. We have now re-released the Options booklet and, following some further recruitment on Friday I am delighted to be able to offer Engineering as an addition to the options noted in the booklet. I know that some people were disappointed by the omission of a business course too but until we find someone who can teach it, that will not run. IT and Business teachers are notoriously rare to find but please rest assured I will working hard to secure someone so we can run a business course. At this precise moment in time, though, it would not be fair on students to offer it and then have to withdraw it. It was not a decision we took lightly: if we are going to do it, we are going to do it properly. Another comment we had was about the lack of 'academic' subjects and GCSEs. Currently we are offering English Language and Lit (2 GCSEs), Maths, Science (2 GCSEs or 3 if you take Triple), RE, Geography, History, Spanish, Computing, GCSE PE, Fine Art, Photography and Music - all are 'academic' GCSEs. This is competitive with all other schools. The rest are high quality BTECs which are give equal weighting to GCSEs by most colleges. In fact a Distinction+ in a BTEC is the same as a Level 8 (A*) in a GCSE. We firmly believe this is well balanced mix of subjects which offers something for every single student at LECA, something we are very proud of.

Finally, Transition. Of course we are now planning to 'do' Transition without a school that is open! To our Year 9 parents - remind you of anything!? To Year 6 parents - we've been here before and we can do it again. I will be writing to primary schools and new parents this week outlining our plans and we promise that your child's transition to LECA will be brilliant. Much more information will follow soon but please rest assured that we will make the process as pain free as possible for you.The planning has already started and we promise that your child will thoroughly enjoy what we have in store for them. 

To all our parents and students - stay positive and stay in touch. Keep checking the emails for more updates and we will see you just as soon as we can.

 

Scott Gaskins

Head of School, LECA