Firstly I hope you are all keeping well and staying safe at home. It has been great to hear from students and parents over the last few weeks and, in the main, you have steered clear of the virus and doing your best to cope with these strange times. If you or your family has been affected, directly or indirectly, by COVID-19 our hearts go out to you and our thoughts are with you. 

We have now moved past the peak of the infection rate; the infamous R number is reportedly below 1 in most areas and hospital admission rates are dropping. This, of course, is good news but we are not out of the woods yet. Not by a long way. Now more than ever it is so important to do what the government says: maintain social distancing, stay at home and keep that R below one. It is clearly a fragile moment in this crisis and not one that anyone can afford to be complacent about. 

From LECA's point of view we are now planning to re-open (whenever that might be) but we know that what was normal is now no longer the case. We are planning for social distancing, smaller class sizes, changes to teaching methods, clearly way-marked movement around the Academy and many more strategies so we are ready to meet the strict requirements the government is likely to set out. Like the closure, we are well ahead of the curve with our planning so rest assured we will be ready when the call comes to open our doors again.

What's really important now is the public understanding of what schools will face when they do re-open. Classes can only be manned if schools have enough staff who are fit and healthy and not shielding. Added to this, schools will have strict social distancing in operation so that puts more pressure on staffing; if you split a class, you need another teacher! As a knock-on effect, that means that most secondary schools will likely be forced to open with two year groups in per day meaning that every class can be taught by a specialist as much as possible. We know this is not what people want - believe me when I say we don't this either - but this looks likely to be the reality of the 'new normal' while we manage the virus. We, like you, await further news and clarification when we watch the 3 week review of the lockdown on Thursday afternoon. 

Aside from contingency planning, we have continued to recruit new staff to the teaching team, despite the obvious difficulties of 'meeting' them. We have just recruited a brilliant PE teacher to complete the fantastic team at LECA and we're looking forward to working with her once we're up and running again. In the coming days we will also be advertising a number of support staff roles including an exams and cover officer, a pastoral support admin assistant, an Art and DT technician, two more Level 2 TAs and a cover supervisor. In addition to this, we will be welcoming back Lucy Davis into music in the new academic year after her rather unusual maternity leave! Look out for adverts in the usual places if you'd like to join the team at LECA - we would love to meet you.

From September too, my title will also change to Principal following the retirement of Jason Wing from the Trust. More on Jason will follow in the blog in the coming weeks but needless to say I have so much to thank him for having worked with him for 15 years. He has been an incredible mentor who has helped shape my career from its very early stages at Witchford. He will be greatly missed by all who work with him but none more so than me. Looking forward now though, I am delighted to be entrusted with LECA as Principal from September onwards. It has been my life since 2017 and I have a great team around me to continue to push the Academy onwards and upwards. 

Finally a word to all of our students - perhaps our readers could pass this on to them. You are doing brilliantly. You have been amazing throughout the closure and you just need to keep going for a few more weeks. There is light at the end of this tunnel and you will be back at with us soon. We've really missed every single one of you and we can't wait to see you again. And don't worry about anything - we will do everything we can to catch you up when you're back.

Take care and stay safe.

 

Scott Gaskins

Head of School, LECA