This week finally brought some clarity to what secondary school life will look like in September following weeks of speculation. A new word has burst (!) into our vocabulary – Megabubbles. It sounds a bit like some kind of new summer toy doesn’t it? Gone are the days of normal-sized bubbles – now there’s Megabubbles! It does have a playful ring to it but, as with all things COVID, there is a serious side to Megabubbles and they will affect how we operate in September.

Government guidance, issued in full yesterday, is that we must open fully and offer a broad and balanced curriculum. We welcome this of course. The challenge is that we must do so by operating Megabubbles. In short, all the year groups are to learn and socialise in their own massive bubble and not mix with other year groups. We can all see the logic of it – if we have a COVID case in Year 9, we can lock down that year group rather than locking down the whole school. It limits the chance of mass infection, we get that too. Planning for it is somewhat more difficult to get your head around but the brilliant team at LECA has already made a fantastic start on this and we will, of course, be sharing the details with you before the end of term. We knew it wouldn’t be ‘as you were’ when we returned in September and we will ensure that the experience will be positive for everyone. Different definitely does not mean negative.

Over the last couple of weeks we have extended an invite to our rising Year 10s to come in to LECA to see us and to catch up with teachers. We have now set a date for this which is Thursday July 17th and we’re delighted that well over half the cohort have decided to join us. More concise details will follow next week. Again, due to current guidance, the session will mean that students will need to be split into small groups but this means they should all have the chance to ask all the questions they want to ask. We really can’t wait to see them and the overriding message from us will be this: don’t worry! We are going to throw everything we’ve got into plugging knowledge gaps and we have a number of tricks up our sleeve which will help them along the way including a brand new app and some new form time activites.

Of course, another key message for all our students is that we are here for them whenever they need us. Lots has been written recently about the effect of COVID on mental health, especially on young people. It’s clear that a long period of social isolation will have affected people in many different ways. Some have coasted through it; some have been counting the minutes and that must have been agonising. We also have a plan for this. We’ve committed not to formally test students until October half term with the exception of Year 7 who have will, of course, have no SATS scores. This gives all our students time to re-adjust to school life and plug some of those all-important gaps.  We’ve recruited a Pastoral Support Assistant and a Young Peoples Worker (who is also a qualified counsellor) and extended the hours of our Family Liaison Worker all to support our students and parents. We will continue to survey our students using industry-leading software to track their confidence levels and attitudes. We will continue to safeguard our students with the collective team at LECA looking out for each and every one of them and acting on every concern. Safety and well-being has never been more important and we pride ourselves on our systems to ensure every child is cared for.

Further communications will follow in the next couple of weeks so please keep checking your emails and this blog for more updates.

Scott Gaskins

Head of School, LECA