I'm sure some of you are like me and enjoy a stat or two. Here are some numbers for you:
It's unlikely you'll guess how they link together so I'll explain.
4th January 2021 - The Prime Minister announced the third (and hopefully final) national lockdown meaning that schools would not be open to the majority of students. He also announced we had to start mass testing of students the following week.
222 is the number of tests completed in that first week. An incredible feat. This followed room set up, training, and co-ordination across two schools, LECA and HLA.
3103 is the number of tests conducted through January, February and March across both schools. A truly incredible collaborative effort to keep our staff and students safe and one which means we can teach uninterrupted from Wednesday last week until the end of term. So, on Wednesday, there was nothing else for it - a tea and cake celebration in the testing room which, through another fine team effort, had been transformed back into the HLA dining room in the space of just a couple of hours. Yvonne Skillern and I spoke to the group who had clearly bonded in their work since January. The message was that of being part of history, part of the great national effort to beat COVID-19, and that should not be underestimated. Well done to all of you and thank you from everyone on the campus.
With a week to go before the end of term, we look to the future and how we will operate after Easter. This week I'm pleased to tell you that we have decided to move students and teachers back to their normal classes and allow more free movement around the academy from April. Many of you will be happy to hear that we are also reviewing the use of the dining hall. Up until last Wednesday, the dining room was out of commission as it was being used as a clean holding space for students waiting for tests. Now the tests are over, we can begin to use the dining hall again and we will trial more students using it this week. Part of the vision for LECA has always been that we eat and we talk together at lunchtime (without the distraction of mobile phones) and we have really missed this part of daily life. I'm sure you'll agree that a move back to this model is very welcome. With regards all other safety measures, they will remain until the guidance changes. Face-coverings will still be required, handwashing and sanitising, continuous cleaning, social distancing and outside bubbles will stay. These alongside twice-weekly testing for staff and students mean that we can cautiously begin returning to normal. It is therefore our responsibility to continue to test and to follow the roadmap patiently. If we do, we'll be back to normal very soon.
Like all schools, LECA is now at the point of assessing where students are in terms of their progress during remote learning. This will continue after Easter and is especially important for our first cohort, Year 10, who, slightly unbelievably, will begin Year 11 in September. Where has that time gone?! It will be with very mixed emotions that I speak to Year 11 in their first assembly in September and tell them to push on for one last time and do their best. The same will be said after Easter - show us what you can do and we can work together to fix the bits you can't. One of the phrases in the school that you see as you walk into the dining hall reads, in huge letters: YOUR TIME IS NOW. Never has this been more true as they begin their next and final stage of their journey at LECA.