Parent Bulletin 14/01/22

Parent Bulletin 14/01/22

New term reflections

Parents/carers, students and staff will not need to be reminded that a year ago we were in the unfortunate position of having to experience another COVID-19 lockdown and most students were having to learn at home. Public examinations had been cancelled and we were very unsure about what would replace them.

A year on and COVID-19 continues to affect life at school, but we are much more optimistic as we are able to do much of what we normally do in school. Lessons are happening in all subjects and attendance is higher than the national average. Clubs and societies are up and running and sports fixtures continue – indeed our under-14 girls’ football team are through to the semi-final of the Kent Cup this weekend – we wish them all the best for the match. A music recital occurred before Christmas and we plan to hold our production of Grease in February (although arranged with restrictions such as limited numbers, face masks and LFD tests). The government has also said that public examinations should go ahead this year and we have a plan in place in the unlikely event that they do not.

Whilst we are definitely not yet at a point where we can say we are back to normal we are so proud of how the majority of our students have dealt with the adjustments they have had to make at school. They know how important it is that we keep the School open and manage risk in order to do so.

The wearing of masks in classrooms has been stated to be a temporary measure and we hope that is the case. We continue to have a ‘split break and lunch’ system with eating outside except in the worst of weathers, but we continually keep this under review. As with all school procedures and systems there are advantages and disadvantages with the various options available. Whatever we do in the future, it will need to support our stated mission and goals. We will also want to be more certain than we are currently that we will not need to revert back to systems used during COVID-19, as a result of any new developments with the pandemic this year or next.

Making changes to aspects of school life, such as when lunch occurs and for how long, is more complicated than many realise. It impacts on duties undertaken by staff, on the timetable for lessons and on the way that we manage over 1700 students on a relatively compact site. We are not at the point yet where we want to make further changes, but we keep our fingers crossed that the time will come when we can run the School without having to continually ask how decisions we make will be impacted by COVID-19.

We will also want to support all our current and future students to move forwards out of the pandemic era and get the very best education they can so they are on track for the best future possible. The work ahead could be quite daunting for students, staff and parents/carers but we are committed to working together cooperatively (the theme of this week’s assemblies) to ensure the best educational provision for all students whatever the future holds.

Christmas Charity Events

I shared with students in assemblies this week the fantastic news that our Christmas Jumper Day raised £928 for Save the Children and our Own Shoes Day raised £813 for LATCH homeless charity. There is also a picture below of the many gifts donated by our school community to the Salvation Army for those in need at Christmas. All these events indicate something that has long been part of the ethos of Darrick Wood – that willingness to do something kind for others and in particular the will to raise money for varied charitable causes.

We would like to thank all involved with these activities.

Own Clothes Day – Monday, 17th January

On Monday we will be having an Own Clothes Day to raise money for Family Link. Please make donations of £1 to £20 using the facility on Parent Pay.

Family link is a non-profitable charity that provides activities for children and young adults with physical, learning and complex needs. Family link supports families in Bromley by giving them respite and providing the young people with fun activities and trips out. All money raised will go towards the running of the sessions and funding trips out for the young people.

As usual with these days we have shared with students via Form Tutors our expectations for when they are not wearing uniform or following the Sixth Form dress code. Students need to be mindful that what they wear still needs to be appropriate for a school environment.

As well as wanting to fund raise we also chose this day in particular as it was felt it would be a distraction from the traditional sense of dark nights and low mood in mid-January. We are also aware that in the USA, Monday is Martin Luther King Day of Service where Americans do charitable works in the local community. We have on occasions celebrated this day at school in assemblies and with our own charitable fund raising activities, so this year is no different. Thank you in advance for all you can give to allow your child to come to school in their own clothes on Monday.

Lockers – keys must be returned urgently if your child is in Years 9 to 11.

We need to appeal again to parents/carers of all students in Years 9 to 11. We have asked previously for all locker keys provided before the pandemic to be returned. This is so that we can give lockers to Year 8 students. Year 7 students now have lockers. Locker key deposits of £5 will then be reimbursed.

If your child is in Years 9 to 11 and has not yet returned their key please ensure they do so by the end of next week (21st January). If they do not return their key the deposit cannot be returned. The length of time taken to get keys returned is holding up the provision of lockers to those who want them in Year 8. Any student in Years 9 to 11 who opts to still have a locker may have one but they still need to return their key for their old locker before we can provide them with a new one. This is all because we have had to move the lockers around the School during the pandemic.

COVID-19 changes

Government reminder on the temporary suspension of confirmatory PCR tests in education and childcare settings

A follow-up PCR test after a positive LFD test is only required if you:

  • wish to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment
  • have been advised to take a PCR test because they are in a clinically vulnerable group
  • have been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme
  • have received a positive day 2 LFD after arriving into the UK

If anyone has any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, they are strongly advised to take a PCR test, not an LFD test. If someone with symptoms has already taken an LFD test for any reason and the result is positive, they do not need to take a follow-up PCR test.

Changes to the self-isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19
From Monday 17 January, people who are self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after 5 full days if they test negative with a lateral flow device (LFD) test on both day 5 and day 6 and they do not have a temperature. For example, if they test negative on the morning of day 5 and the morning of day 6, students can return to school immediately on day 6.

The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. All test results should be reported to the School and NHS Test and Trace.

If the result of either of their tests is positive, they should continue to self-isolate until they get negative results from two LFD tests on consecutive days or until they have completed 10 full days of self-isolation, whichever is earliest.

Anyone who is unable to take LFD tests or anyone who continues to have a temperature will need to complete the full 10 day period of self-isolation.

This further change to the guidance will not be reflected on our website until Monday.

Further information on self-isolation for those with COVID-19 is available.

DWS Audio on BBC Radio Kent

As previously advised, we received amazing news recently that this week five episodes of Darrick Wood School’s very own ROUGH DIAMONDS would be broadcast on BBC Radio Kent during the Upload programme hosted by Leo Ulph. This can now be heard on catch-up here: Upload on BBC Radio Kent – 10/01/2022 – BBC Sounds  We are so proud of all concerned.

Parking near school

We continue to receive complaints from neighbours about inconsiderate and sometimes dangerous driving by parents/carers when picking up or dropping of their children for school. We encourage all in our community to prioritise safety and respect for all at all times.

Dates for the diary

3rd February – Year 11 Parents’ Evening (SchoolCloud)

8th to 10th February – School Production of Grease

14th to 18th February – Half-term break

24th February – Year 12 Parents’ Evening (SchoolCloud)

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