Reflections on our term
The past term has been one of many highs and lows.
On the positive side we have seen strong academic performance on the part of our students and great commitment by them. The grading process for GCSEs and A levels was long and drawn out, but our students showed great fortitude. We enjoyed beautiful end of year liturgies with them and fun BBQ evenings. Year 11 students returned after half term and worked hard throughout June to undertake an enrichment programme and to undertake further studies in anticipation of their A level courses. Other year groups prepared well for their examinations and have taken these extremely seriously. The examination results across the year groups show some very strong performance. For example, in Mathematics, students in Year 7 have shown a 45% improvement in their marks from Spring to Summer term. We have managed to have a Year 10 concert, held on-line, likewise a Jazz Band concert on-line and our Junior Choir has made another video performance ‘Glorious’ which you can see on the school website. Careers interviews with employers from the business community were held virtually for Year 10, and they also performed a marvellous Dance Show.
Year 12 have benefitted from enhanced resources on Unifrog and have had Medicine, Dentistry and Russell Group and Oxbridge University talks. Meanwhile Year 7 and Year 8 have enjoyed several Aspire Club sessions and access to The Week Junior and have experienced the Big Bang Digital Programme exploring the science behind the ‘NHS 350 Careers’ and Years 9 and 10 experienced the UK Parliament Workshop.
Last week beautiful Awards Ceremonies were held for each year group, Year 7 – 10, outdoors in the quad. A tremendous number of students achieved awards in at least one subject. Congratulations to each of them. We ended our year with the annual Mass of Thanksgiving yesterday. As we couldn’t assemble together this was streamed to classrooms and those at home. You can watch this Mass via the school website.
Frustratingly the latter part of the term has been characterised by a lot of disruption because some people, both students and staff, have fallen ill with Covid 19, and many others have had to self- isolate. I am pleased to say that those who have been ill are on the mend, and that is good news. The unpredictable nature of the waves of selfisolation has been extremely disruptive to end of year examinations. I am very sorry that these have been so difficult for students. An enormous thank you to all who completed their tests at home and returned scripts to their teachers. We fully appreciate that you have had to complete your tests in less than favourable conditions. Some people were not able to take their ABRSM Music exams because they were self-isolating. Some people were sadly debarred from attending their Awards Ceremony. Masses planned for this week have had to be cancelled, and today we celebrated Mass which was held in the well ventilated Exhibition area in the presence of just a few students, whilst everyone else watched in class or at home. The planned Art Exhibition has had to be postponed, and likewise the Schola Cantorum concert.
An enormous thanks to all of the students for their good will, resilience and patience with all of the disruption. It is heartening that everyone has continued to pull together, to support one another, and to live our motto: ‘May they all be One.’
Thank you too, to parents and families for all your support of the school. I am very sorry that we have had to phone some of you with the bad news of notice of self-isolation, some on more than two occasions. We thank you for your understanding, and we realise that, although necessary for the common good, this must have been extremely frustrating. I would like to thank our administration staff who have had to make hundreds of such phone calls this year. With many households to contact, this takes hours and has often meant that they have worked late to ensure that the contacts are made, or to complete their normal work, which of course is put to one side when we are trying to get the key messages out to everyone. I would like to thank Mrs O’Connor and Mrs Ross who have coordinated everything and been our key links with Public Health England who also have to be notified and consulted about the cases.
My thanks also to Mr Calen, Mr Neville, Mr Chambers and Mr James who, together with Heads of Year, have looked after our young people, in all weathers, whilst waiting for parents to collect them. My thanks go also to all our teachers and every member of staff who, in so many different ways, have contributed to our students’ education in such troubling and uncertain times. Teachers are naturally very creative people, but they have had to change and adapt constantly in the last fifteen months – teaching remotely, learning to teach and assess on-line, providing remote and in-person pastoral care, adapting the curriculum, adapting to the many changes to examination assessment, inventing an entire grading process and completing it within 12 weeks during the spring and early summer, on top of organising and operating Covid testing centres. Some have been ill with Covid, others have supported relatives at this time. Teachers and all of the educational professionals in our school deserve our gratitude and admiration.
At the end of this school year we say farewell to a number of staff who have made a valued contribution to the school.
Mr Paul Boston and Mrs Kathy Peake are retiring at the end of term.
Mr Boston, teacher of Physics, joined us in September 2004. He was, until two years ago, Head of Science. Mr Boston is a renowned teacher who has accomplished so much on behalf of his students over the years leading the Science faculty with distinction. The team of Science teachers are all very grateful for his gentle wisdom and commitment to all he does. Our students, particularly our many university physics graduates also owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
Mrs Kathy Peake is our Attendance Officer. During her 19½ years at the school has taken a most professional approach to ensuring that student welfare and attendance and punctuality are at the top of our priorities list. Mrs Peake knows that the high academic performance of our students is built on their high attendance in class. Through her work attendance at English Martyrs has been the highest of Leicester’s secondary schools for many years. We are deeply indebted to her, as is our Governing Body as Mrs Peake has served as Clerk to the Governors for the last 9 years.
Also leaving us are Dr Mark Cheung, Teacher of Science; Miss Shannon Knight, Administration Officer; Miss Natasha Mumwiro, Teaching Assistant; Ms Lydia Rattu, Teacher of Science; Mrs Chiara Steed, Academic Mentor; Mrs Sue Wilby (Finance Officer).
Silver Jubilee of Service to English Martyrs
This year we commemorate the outstanding service to the school of three members of staff who have been working here for the last twenty five years:
Mrs Rose Bliss, Teaching Assistant; Mr Richard Edwards, Teacher of Physical Education; Mr Anton Hunka, Teacher of Religious Education.
We thank them for their service to date and hope that they will continue to support many future generations of English Martyrs.
Preparing for the new school year
We are now entering the government’s ‘Step 4’ after 19th July. As I understand it, this means that from the beginning of next term the majority of restrictions will be lifted for school. There will no longer be staggered starts or end times to school, face coverings will not be required, students will be able to enter the school site on arrival to school, mix freely with students in other year groups, there will be no divisions in classrooms, catering breakfast service will resume and we will have one lunchtime for all. We will not have to restrict movement and accordingly will move from having just two sessions each day to the full new timetable as published in my previous letters to you. This will be our A c c e l e r a t e timetable, and will include an additional session of retrieval practice in Literacy or Numeracy each morning. The school day will begin formally at 8.25am in form or Assembly and lessons will finish at 2.50pm.
We have made enormous strides in our use of digital technology for home learning during this last year, and this is set to continue in the new term. Homework will be set on Satchel One (Show my Homework) and include a lot of retrieval practice and learning using digital sites such as Hegarty Maths, Educake, Seneca and ActiveLearn. Everyone therefore will need access to a computer at home to complete their homework. A phone is not an adequate digital device for the purpose of homework. The school will provide a computer for any student on the Pupil Premium register.
Covid Tests at the start of term
In line with the government announcement of 6th July all students are required to take two Covid tests at the start of the new school year. At present we are planning that students will complete their first Covid test on arrival at school at the times set out below. Please note there are different times for different year groups.
Wednesday 25th August
8.25 - Year 7
11.00 - Year 12
13.00 - Year 13
Thursday 26th August
8.25 - Year 10
10.00 - Year 8
11.00 - Year 9
13.00 - Year 11
Students arrive at these times and complete a Covid test before remaining in school and going to form time.
The second Covid test will take place during lessons during the first few days of term. Students will stay in school after completing their first Covid test.
On the first day students will be with their forms and amongst other things receive their timetables and planners. PE kit will not be required on the first day of term.
You are asked to complete the attached electronic permission form for the Lateral flow tests next academic year. Thank you for your support with this. Please complete this form as soon as possible.
A reminder that the new school timetable is as follows:
8.25 – 8.45am Assembly/ Form time
8.45 – 9.00am Accelerate programme time / Friday Voluntary Mass
9.00 – 10.00am Lesson 1
10.00 – 10.15am Break
10.15 – 11.15am Lesson 2
11.15 – 12.15pm Lesson 3
12.15 – 12.50pm Lunch
12.50 – 1.50pm Lesson 4
1.50 – 2.50pm Lesson 5
2.50pm Lessons end - Enrichment Activities begin
I recently wrote to you with an updated leaflet about the transport services operated by various companies to the school. Please make sure that, where appropriate, you have signed up with the operator. These are commercial services and accordingly they are run on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis.
English Martyrs Development Trust – For a better school
Our school charity which exists to create a better school for our students is currently raising money to buy a trampoline for PE. Please support this important project. You can learn more and give online www.forabetterschool.org
Track and Trace
As in previous school holiday periods, St Thomas Aquinas Multi Academy Trust have provided a central telephone number to report positive COVID tests. The number to call should your child test positive for Covid-19 between the start of the holiday and 16th July is 07934 582009.
When you call please have the following information ready to share –
Your child’s name
Their date of birth
The school they attend and where it is (we have four pairs of schools with the same name within our Trust)
The date on which they first showed symptoms, and the date on which they tested positive.
In the regrettable situation of us needing to contact you to let you know that your child needs to isolate, we will do so by email and/or text message.
I hope that as our students embark upon their summer holidays, they will use the time to get away from the computer screens that – whilst essential during this last year – have rather dominated all our lives. I hope that we can all spend time in the fresh air and connect with the beauty of the world around us. I leave you with a spiritual reflection written by a young man called Rick, who sadly died early in life, but who, despite many problems, had come to recognise the goodness of God in his life and the beauty of the world. May we all be alive to the beauty of God’s grandeur this summer.
‘We have eyes, but we don’t always see the beauty that God has given to us.
We need to see the heaven that we have on earth:
The wonders of nature,
the beauty of a forest,
the innocence of a child,
the good of people.
We often forget about the good in the world and are blinded by darkness.
Dear God, please give us all the wisdom to enjoy the heaven on earth,
The strength to write wrongs
Instead of turning away
And the will to fill this world with your love.’