Sometimes you don't quite know how something will go until you do it. We meticulously planned our re-opening strategy during the summer but until staff and students came into the building on Monday, we were never 100% sure it would all go to plan. I'd be lying if I said it was perfect this week- it wasn't. But it was very good and, after a couple of tweaks to student movement, we think we've created a really safe space for our staff to work and our students to learn. It's all about routines and creating good habits. These take time but we will persist and we will fine tune and they will be even better next week. The key this week was to instil confidence and a sense of safety and we did that.
It was fantastic to see students back at LECA and especially good to greet so many new Year 7s at the front of school on Monday. It's always the same: some bouncing in without a worry in the world; some looking pensive; some looking downright petrified! Then I cast my eyes at the parents, dutifully watching their children in, and some of those reactions were perfectly mirrored in their faces. I asked one parent: Who do you think is more scared, them or you? Definitely me! came the reply. All completely natural. We are all human and all different.
The other year groups arrived on Tuesday and Wednesday. How great to see our Year 10s, suddenly looking very grown up and a little nervous about starting their GCSE courses. Then the Year 8s - their first year cut short - but as jolly and funny as usual. And finally the Year 9s, the second group to come through LECA. Such a mature, resilient group of students, embarking on the most important school year of their lives. The one with the Options; the one where they start to think about the long term journey.
Below are a few reminders and pointers to parents to ensure you and your child has a positive experience of LECA, especially if you're new to our community.
* The start of the school day is different for each year group to stop students from different year groups mixing. It is therefore vital that students arrive at the correct time to prevent potential cross-contamination. Start times for each year group are:
Year 7 - 8.15am (students will be marked late from 8.20)
Year 8 - 8.20am (students will be marked late from 8.25)
Year 9 - 8.25am (students will be marked late from 8.30)
Year 10 - 8.30am (students will be marked late from 8.35)
* Please contact the office on the main number (01353 223300) with any questions or queries you have. If email is easier, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. During the school day, these will be answered as soon as possible but if you leave a message or send an email after office hours, we'll answer in the morning. Please don't contact staff members directly through social media with questions about school. Their working day finishes at 5pm and they will be spending time with their families. Equally, be very wary of asking people who don't work at LECA questions on social media! Sometimes they will give you great answers but sometimes they confuse issues unintentionally and that fuels unnecessary anxiety. Call us or email us during the school day and we will answer your query quickly and accurately.
* Students are fully responsible for their books and their equipment. A kit list is available in the Parent Handbook which be downloaded here. It includes a glue stick and a reading book as compulsory items because lending these at school increases the risk of infection. Please check your child's stationery supply regularly and replenish it as necessary. Once replenished please do not to handle any of it so the risk of contamination is kept as low as possible. Likewise, please let your child show you their work in their books rather than picking their books up. Finally, we also ask parents to help their children with their organisation on a daily basis so they bring the right books to school on the right days. Like before, it's just about creating good routines and good habits so we really appreciate your support with this.
* PE - following a little confusion this week which I do apologise for, the rules for PE from now on are as follows:
1) If your child has PE (and Sport in Year 10) they should come to school in full LECA PE kit. Hoodies are not allowed and will be confiscated until the end of the day, and leggings should be LECA leggings only. In cold weather we recommend purchasing the full zip up LECA sports top to layer on top on the LECA t-shirt.
2) If the weather is inclement, please send your child in with a spare LECA PE kit or their normal school uniform in their bag. That way they can change out of wet clothes if necessary.
* At LECA we like to be a little different. We abolished Parents' Evenings two years ago and instead we have a 24 hour system where you can call and leave a message for a teacher to call you back, or you can email the teacher you need to speak to directly. They will get back to you within 1 working day and we encourage you to do this whenever you have a question or query or just want some feedback about how your child is doing. Likewise, our promise to you is that our teachers will feedback to you regularly about your child either through a phone call, an email or a short message or Go4Schools. In addition to this, you will receive PDF data reports throughout the year which you can download and/or print from Go4Schools at your convenience. If you'd like a face-to-face meeting with a teacher, please do ask. We may be able to accomodate this on site or we can offer a video conference with you.
* For new parents, Go4Schools is your key to knowing all there is to know about your child at school. We cannot urge you enough to log in via the Go4Schools website or download the app so you can see, in real time, how your child is progressing. You can also see their timetable, attendance figures, behaviour points, homework and short messages posted by teachers. We are constantly adding information into Go4Schools and this is your one-stop-shop to see how your child is doing at school. If you're having trouble logging in, please contact us and we will talk you through it.
* The Blog you're reading now is also a great source of information. It is published every Sunday and posted on Twitter and Facebook and then emailed to all parents on Monday morning in case you missed it. The Blog is like a newsletter and it gives you a taste of LECA life each week so I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. Of course, if you really like this one, you can read the other 140-odd blogs I've written since we opened in 2017. I'll leave that with you...
* As school websites go, LECA's is one of the best out there. Do visit the website regularly and you will usually find the answers you're looking for. Not only this but the Student section has a huge amount of downloadable resources to support your child in their learning. Do check it out - it is brilliant and it is growing all the time.
* Open Evening October 6th 2020. Obviously we can't operate a normal Open Evening for Year 6 this year due to indoor 'mass gathering' rules. However, we have already started planning a brilliant, interactive online event which we think will be amazing. No more details at the moment but do check the Blog in the coming weeks to hear about what we have in store. We're really excited about it so please help us by sharing this Blog with parents who have Year 6 students planning on coming to LECA next year. Of course all our other parents are welcome to join in too!
* An important word on social distancing. With the new government guidance coming into force tomorrow it is clear that the government are concerned about large social groups mixing outside of schools and workplaces. Can I ask that you reiterate this with your child including the journey to and from school. We know that students from different year groups and families want to walk and talk together on the way to school but they should be maintaining a safe distance from each other please. We really appreciate your support with this important issue - it may be the key difference between us staying open or being forced to close.
Finally, thank you to all our staff and parents for all your support in re-opening LECA this week. We really missed the students while we were closed and it was absolutely fantastic to see them back where they belong - in school and restarting their learning journey with us. With your ongoing support we will plug the gaps in knowledge that may have opened and it is by working as a team that we can get every student back on track as quickly as possible.
I very much look forward to working with you all this year.