11 May 2020 Update

Dear Parents, Carers and Carers


I hope that you had a very good long Bank Holiday Weekend in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. I also hope that you enjoyed our wonderful Staff Tribute, based on Iris Bruce’s poem written on 8 May 1945 when she was just 11 years old. You can watch it below if you haven’t done so already. It’s very special.


It is, and I must be honest, with a genuine sense of relief that I write to you today in the knowledge that we will at least not be under unrealistic pressure to reopen in any form on 1 June. (Noting, of course, that we never actually ‘closed’ and I am so grateful to all those staff who on a daily rota basis come into school to support the children of key workers and our most vulnerable students.)


Please don’t get me wrong. I haven’t spent the last thirty-three years of my professional life striving to do the best I can for young people only to now want to keep them away from school. Nor do I wish to impede economic recovery. However, from a secondary school perspective, the understanding from last night’s announcement that scientific - and simple common - sense will prevail for the foreseeable future is to be wholly welcomed in the interests of the safety of all our students and staff; our paramount and frankly, in context, only concern. I hope and trust that the longer term timeframe will be more clearly defined in due course. It also implicitly recognises the practical and logistical challenges associated with even a partial re-opening in the short term. Schools are designed for social interaction not distancing. All teaching groups would have to be split at least in two to work safely in classrooms. And given that staffing levels are currently likely to be such that guaranteeing a subject specialist in front of those classes would be impossible, continuity and quality in learning will in fact be best maintained through regularly reviewed online provision. Your support, understanding and trust is greatly appreciated. I do appreciate how hard this is.


All that said, please equally rest assured that we are carefully planning for our return as soon as it is safe and clearly defined to do so, based on professional advice and full risk assessments. There is nothing that we want more. I have been speaking about this live this morning on BBC Radio Berks.


In the meantime, please keep sending in the wonderful stories about your work and activities supporting the local community. They are truly inspirational and will form the basis for a very special summer online edition of Personal Best. In this respect, staff are also regularly sending me examples of amazingly creative work that is being produced at home. It will be fantastic to celebrate them more widely in due course.


I’m also pleased to confirm that the live Gazing Consultancy Red2Blue webinar that didn’t go ahead as planned last Monday due to a technical problem with the Zoom link has been rescheduled for 3.30pm on Thursday 14 May and can be accessed via the following link:


Please click the link below to join the webinar:


Password: 815841


The webinar has been specifically written for the whole Park House community and promises to be outstanding. Please do join if you can. Others sources of really useful general advice and guidance collated by the Universities of Oxford and Reading are attached below.


Very best wishes

Derek Peaple



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