End of term message

Looking back to March 2020, I have much admiration and regard for how our students and staff have adapted, the resilience they have shown and what we have achieved as a community. After the shock of closing the school and the sadness of Year 11 and Year 13 so abruptly finishing their studies, without the opportunity of taking exams, we turned our efforts to running our school remotely and looking after the children of key workers in school. I remember the remarkable achievement of our Design team who designed and manufactured PPE, producing over 300 visors a day at the height of the first wave. By June, we saw the return of Year 10 and Year 12 students as we juggled remote teaching and the support of children who needed to attend school. Over the summer, we faced the challenges of supporting students through the exam-algorithm-fiasco and put in place our plans for the full reopening. Our new £1.6 million student entrance and three new classrooms was nearing completion and our site team worked tirelessly to prepare school – indeed, the whole school was redecorated for the return of children.

In September, we reopened and it was an absolute privilege to see students return to learning in school. Although there were many additional safety measures and restrictions, school felt relatively normal – children learning, spending time with each other at break and lunch and participating in clubs after school. After October, we really felt the impact of Covid with a number of positive cases resulting in the closure of year groups. This was a really challenging time, with many students having to self-isolate and Year 11 having to take their mocks at home. When the inevitable news of the new lockdown came, we were well placed to deliver our full timetable online with live teaching, our students and staff showed such perseverance and determination to complete their normal day remotely.

In recent weeks, we have conducted 6000 lateral flow tests so children could return safely to school. With the outstanding efforts of 50 members of staff in the testing team, we were able to test over 2000 students three times in two weeks. Our students returned to school with positivity and an appreciation of what they missed. They have embraced being back in school and have been remarkable in how they have coped.

We are currently building the new garden area that has been funded through our PTA and your generous donations. The PTA have raised £11,000 in three months to create this shared space for students that we hope to name in a way that marks the period in history that we have just experienced. We have been overwhelmed by the support of our community at HGS and I am extremely proud of what our students and staff have accomplished. Our students are part of a truly remarkable generation.

We very much hope that all students find time over the Easter break to relax. We do encourage students to read for at least half an hour a day, in the bulletin you will find some recommended ‘Easter’ reads. Students can utilise the HGS online library platform to access thousands of new fiction and non-fiction books.

We look forward to welcoming students back, refreshed and ready for the summer term on Monday 12 April.

Neil Renton, Headteacher