Welcome Letter – Summer Term
Welcome back to the summer term here at Stover and a belated Happy Easter to you all. I hope your Easter break was enjoyable if a little restricted in terms of the activities you might usually enjoy. The sunshine has brightened things up though; long may it continue.
I will start by updating you with respect to the current Covid situation. This term begins with the Government guidance remaining very similar to that with which we ended the spring term. Pupil bubbles, mask-wearing, sanitisation, social distancing and regular testing continue to be features we are all trying to get used to. The small amendments to the guidelines are in respect of testing and employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable. Some clarity has been given to the guidance, as all positive lateral flow test results are now followed with a PCR test, the results of which will supersede the LF result (as long as the PCR test follows within 48 hours); I hope this will remove any further confusion should we be unfortunate enough to encounter another positive test outcome. I am delighted that all of our workers are now able to return to school as long as appropriate risk management procedures are put into place; this is especially important for our teaching staff, some of whom have coped extremely well with delivery of learning in the virtual space for an extensive period of time. Credit to them for the fact that our pupils have not suffered in terms of their progress.
While on the subject of Covid risk mitigation, could I also ask that parents continue to follow the school procedures at pick-up and drop off times. Where possible (the exception is with the youngest pupils), please stay in your car to avoid unnecessary social contact. If you have to leave your car to supervise your child, please wear a mask and respect social distance. Also, with particular reference to the Preparatory School car park, please be aware of general road safety. The one-way system and parking arrangements for parents and buses has been designed to keep all of our pupils as safe as we possibly can. Please do not park in places that will compromise this safety and respect the one-way system at all times. I know some are keen to ‘beat the queue’ but this should never be at the expense of the safety of a child.
The next significant update to Covid guidelines is expected on 17th May. As always, we will keep you fully informed of any salient points. We all hope to see some relaxing of the guidance at that point in time.
Prior to the Easter holiday and during the break, there has been a focus on development in the Preparatory School. Reconfiguration upstairs in the Clockhouse has resulted in two new, fully refurbished, well-proportioned classrooms for our Year 5 groups. Work has been progressing on a new teaching space for our Reception group and essential preparatory work has begun on a full dining space for the Preparatory School which we hope to be ready for the beginning of the autumn term. Many thanks to the Estates Team for all works completed and the fact that the grounds look magnificent for the start of the new term. More’s the pity that at present school fixtures cannot take advantage of the facilities, but as above, we hope that a gentle return to inter-school sport may be possible after the half-term break.
At the end of the last term, we said goodbye to three members of the staff team. Mr Wray moved on to a Head of Department position, Mrs Wilson decided not to return following her maternity leave and Mr Condict took early retirement, following many years keeping our IT systems safe and functional. We wish them all the very best of luck. We welcome for the summer term, Mr Lucas, who will be covering Mr Wray’s classes and welcome back Mrs Aslett, who will continue to look after Year 2. Mr Merriman also joins our team as part of our bus driving compliment. We wish them all a very fruitful summer term.
In the weeks leading up to the 18th June, our Year 11 and Upper Sixth Form pupils will be engaged with the final assessments that will provide the base of evidence for their grades at both GCSE and 6th form level. These pupils have coped with considerable disruption over the last 12 to 14 months and I commend them for the resilience and adaptability that they have shown. It has been a time of uncertainty and they have displayed great Stover characteristics in making the best of a tricky situation; well done to you all! Please don’t hesitate to contact the relevant teachers if you or your children need further support or advice. I wish them the very best of luck with their final outcomes and am confident that their hard work will pay dividends.
Can I remind all parents that pupils should not be using mobile phones to call home during the school day. There is a clear, multi-faceted and very successful structure of pastoral support throughout the school which pupils should use if they need advice or support. With respect, calling parents can often make situations much more emotionally fraught and lead to a position which is more difficult for staff to manage quickly and successfully. The staff concerned or pastoral leads in the school will always deal with situations in a fair and objective manner and will always call you, as the parents, and keep you fully informed where necessary. Mobile phones should only be used as a learning device if permission is given by the teacher, or in emergency situations when travelling to and from school.
As you can imagine, the summer term is somewhat restricted in terms of the usual raft of events that we would host and enjoy. However, in the best Stover tradition, we shall endeavour to deliver as many events as possible, even if we do end up in the virtual space. Phyllis Dence Day, the school’s annual celebration of music, has been delayed from the spring term and will now take place in the final week of the term, to allow the pupils to get as much out of the event as they possibly can. In a similar vein, Year 10 will partake in some work experience during this final week and Year 7 to 9 will enjoy a truncated raft of end of term activities. In between times, we will host our next virtual Whole School Open Morning on Saturday 15th May. Do encourage your friends and family to attend, if they might be interested in the school from either a day or boarding perspective.
Sports Day for both the Preparatory and Senior School has been delayed until the penultimate week of the term in the hope that we can enjoy a ‘normal’ event, post Government announcements on or before 21st June. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we will be able to enjoy a full day of competitive athletics on our beautiful school fields. Our annual Speech Day and Prize Giving will take place on Friday 2nd July. Again here, our endeavour is to run Prize Giving in a ‘none Covid restricted’ way in Jubilee Hall, with pupils and parents. Though of course, we will have a virtual backup plan if we need it.
I will close by thanking you for your support of the school in what has been a very unusual year. Let’s hope we can get back to something like normal life and schooling in the autumn.
Mr Richard Notman