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Message from the Headmaster: Snow Days

Dear Parents, I imagine that, however much you enjoy snow, you are as frustrated as I am with the current weather and its impact on our lives. From the school’s point of view, I would like to thank you for your patience and understanding throughout the last couple of weeks.

As you know, where appropriate, my colleagues have been keeping in touch with your children over recent snow days and sending in work that can be carried out at home. I hope that, in the main, the work set has been pertinent and purposeful. I appreciate that many of you will have been more involved with the education of your children than you might have expected during this time. Trying to clear snow and maintain your professional lives at the same time as supporting your children at home will no doubt have made these few days quite a challenge for most of you.

The teachers have used some of their time working on developing their skills in the use of Moodle, an on-line learning platform. With the development of the school-wide use of Moodle, and the use of Nord Anglia Education’s Global Classroom, this should enable us to all work much more efficiently on-line. We hope to have this all set up for September 2015.

Regarding plans for ensuring our students’ learning is not affected by these missed days of school, my colleagues and I are currently reviewing several options and, I imagine a mix of solutions will be proposed according to the specific needs of the year groups. Students preparing for external examinations (Year 13 with the IBDP and Year 11 with the IGCSE) will require specific support as they prepare for their examinations. We are also talking with the examination boards about giving additional accommodations for these two groups of students.

Meanwhile, some of the ideas being considered by the team here are:

·         Reviewing the start and/or finishing times of the school day

·         Returning the current PTC day (Friday 17th April) for to a full school day and rearranging parent-teacher interviews for other times

·         Adding additional days to the final week before 4th July (the current last day of term is scheduled to be Tuesday 30th June)

·         Running school for some students on selective Saturdays through the remainder of the year

·         Offering enrichment lessons after school for year groups that may require it (for example, Years 11 and 13) by different subjects each day

These are just some preliminary ideas and we will work towards an appropriate mix or menu according to age group and need. We will also be consulting both the Parent-Teacher Group and the Student Council on their views regarding the most sensible and effective way forward.

I know there may be some concern regarding the weight of snow on school roofs. We have checked on this and are fortunate in that, due to our hill-top location, the wind has blown the majority of the snow off the roof, although it has created the large drifts at the rear of the building. We are aware of the publicity of the roof issues on the news but the buildings with the issues we have seen are of a different construction than we have here. Given our engineer’s comment on the snow load in previous winters when we had similar depths of heavier wet snow, and the lighter nature of this snowfall, we feel that we are well within the weight limits.

For now, I look forward to our school returning to normal life soon and hope that the threatened additional storms do not materialize as intensely as the Linus and Marcus. While we cannot handle ideas from every parent regarding how to both deal better with snow days and plans for the future, I would personally welcome your feedback if you feel that you are able to offer advice or opinion which has not been considered to date in our communications.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

With my very best and warmest wishes,

Paul Wiseman

Headmaster