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End of Term Letter 2020

Dear Parents

Stop Press: There is a national government change to arrangements for the start of term. Please see my extra letter.

Our community remains strong

As we approach the end of this extraordinary term and year I would like to begin by thanking parents and families for their tremendous support this year. Throughout the sixteen weeks of initial lockdown and subsequently this term, the teachers and other school staff have felt very encouraged and supported by our parents. Thank you for your optimism and consideration. Thank you particularly for bearing with us when we have had to give news of cancellations and disappointments, and more recently of covid cases and self-isolation.

This term has gone very well, given everything. Living our motto: “May they all be one”, students and staff have all pulled together to make things work, even when it is difficult and inconvenient - and as often, very cold. Students have shown great understanding and kindness despite the many limitations on school life and facilities. Lessons have been very calm and focussed and our students are working really hard. Thank you to everyone for taking their studies seriously and for striving to make up any gaps.

A particular note of thanks to those who have had to self-isolate. This is an important duty for anyone who has been in proximity with a confirmed covid case, but it is not easy to do and we appreciate that it can be lonely at times and difficult to be motivated. All of those who have been self-isolating have studied well, and have shown great forbearance. These and all our students have really shown a great community spirit in helping all of us, without complaint.

At the end of this long year I would like to thank the teachers and other school staff for their great efforts during the year since March, when they too have had worries about their families’ health. Teachers have literally had to reinvent all the procedures and systems they know well and they have had to work with creativity and imagination to come up with new strategies of teaching and learning and supporting young people. I know our students are very blessed to have a highly accomplished and dedicated team of teachers who have left no stone unturned to help students. Thank you to all of those parents which have contacted me to pass on their appreciation, this does help to boost our morale.

Advent Hope

This Advent, our students have succeeded in bringing Hope, Peace, Joy and Love in their journey to encounter Christ in the Nativity, in those around them. Our students exceeded the challenge to donate one item each for the Charity Link food bank or City of Sanctuary, contributing over 2000 items in total. On Friday 20th November and Friday 11th December our Non Uniform Days raised £1212.54 for the Diocesan Youth Service, CAFOD and LOROS. In these uncertain times, the students' enthusiasm and willingness to offer new and imaginative ways to prepare throughout Advent for the joy of Christmas has enabled the whole school community to express the four Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.

School Christmas Carol Service

Our School Carol Service itself is a full video programme set in Leicester and around the school, and features the traditional readings, prayers, and music led by the students as well as reflections on the year and messages about our charity work. The programme, which has been produced by Mr White, will be available on You Tube via our school website from Friday 18th at about midday, once it has been shared with the school in the morning.

Reporting Covid positive case during the holiday

If your child tests positive for coronavirus during the holidays you must inform the school. This will be via a central phone number for all St Thomas Aquinas Trust schools: 07934 582009. You will need to give your child’s name, date of birth, English Martyrs’ School, the date on which they first showed symptoms, and the date on which they tested positive. Should contact need to be made with parents, the Multi Academy Trust will send you an email and/or text message. As this is being undertaken by central staff our usual practice of phone calls will be suspended until January.

Farewell and Welcome

At the end of term we say farewell to Mrs Clay, One to One Tutor and Mrs Wood, Administration Officer who are both retiring. We thank them for their tremendous service to the school over may years. Mrs Clay began her teaching career here in 1981 and returned to us a few years ago. Mrs Wood has worked here since 2006. We welcome to the Administration Team, Mrs Shah, Examinations Officer.

Virtual Library

A reminder that every student at English Martyrs’ has access to a virtual library available via their school email logon. The Library, which can be accessed on any digital device, covers a wide range of reading genres, humour, historical fiction, suspense, classic literature, science fiction, mystery, romance, horror as well as a variety of non fiction. The virtual library includes suggested reading lists and Mrs Sheehan recommends Undiscovered Gems, or Something Interesting but Not Too Tough. She also advises that if you want to read something festive, these books are available: The Chronicles of Narnia, C S Lewis, (starting with 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'), Little Women - Louisa May Alcott, A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas - Ralph Covert.

The school has paid for the app for everyone so that the library is totally free to all students. I hope students will continue to make good use of this virtual library during the Christmas Holiday.

English Martyrs Development Trust

Mr Hayes, Chair of the English Martyrs Development Trust has asked me to thank all those parents who make regular donations to the charity.

The charity has supported a number of projects for our young people.

  • Funded the purchase of a reading book for every member of Year 7 (current Year 8) encouraging a love of reading. This is a significant contribution to the school’s literacy strategy. The current Year 7’s are receiving their book as a Christmas present from the Trust today.

  • During this year EMLDT invested significantly in new Football kit for our Boys’ and Girls’ teams which was put to good use in the football season and really smartened up our team presentation.

  • Purchased an engineering kit to enable a group of students in the Sixth Form to build and fly a drone. These students have gone on to study engineering at university.

  • Subsidised music lessons for beginner brass players. We now have a thriving group of new players and an excellent Sixth Form Jazz band.

Monday 4 January: things to do.

Students are asked to prepare themselves for the term ahead during the day on Monday 4th January.

Classes resume for everyone on Tuesday 5th January and we will continue with staggered starting times/timetable arrangements which have been in place since September.

On Monday 4th, students should take the opportunity:

  1. To ensure that all their books and equipment are up to date and that they are ready for the year ahead.

  2. To re-read work that has been undertaken in RE and English this term and to revise topics they have already studied. In RE that students must ensure that they are up to date with all tasks set on Show my Homework from the previous term. These tasks consist of 'summary booklets' and 'weekly quizzes.' Students are also encouraged to revise their knowledge organisers which will also serve to consolidate knowledge from the previous units.

  3. To revise key words for all topics and French vocabulary checking that they are spelling all words correctly.

  4. To use Hegarty Maths doing the interactive work specified for their group in Show my Homework.

  5. To use Educake and complete Science quizzes as specified in Show my Homework.

  6. To start reading a new novel for the year, perhaps choosing something from our on-line library.

  7. To practice their musical instrument (if they have extra music lessons) focussing on pieces and technical exercises. Music lessons start week beginning 11th January 2021.

Term Dates

Please find attached the Term Dates as agreed for all schools in the St Thomas Aquinas Trust for 2021/2022.

Diocesan Carol Service

The diocese will celebrate a short online carol service on Friday 18th December at 6.00pm on Bishop Patrick’s YouTube Channel with readings, music, prayers and reflections. Our Schola Cantorum are singing in this service. The Bishop asks you to join as a family and invite others to join.

Christian Joy

Aware that this has been in many ways a gloomy year, the Pope encouraged us last Sunday not to lose sight of Christian joy. In his Angelus address he said that ‘the first condition of Christian joy is to decentralize from oneself and place Jesus at the centre. This is not alienation’, he explained, ‘because Jesus is effectively the centre; He is the light that gives full meaning to the life of every man and woman who comes into this world.’

As we approach the great festival of Christmas, let us commit to placing Christ at the Centre of our lives and proceed with inner joy and hope into 2021.

Almighty and invisible God,

Who dispersed the darkness of this world by the coming of your light,

Look, we pray, with serene countenance upon us,

that we may acclaim with fitting praise

the greatness of the Nativity of your Only Begotten Son.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Finally, may I wish everyone every blessing of Our Lord’s Nativity; a happy and holy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Yours sincerely

Marius Carney