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Update from the Head Teacher:

Dear Parents and Guardians

As the school year draws to a close I wanted to write to you one final time to share my reflections on this monumental year.

Forrest Gump is one of my all time favourite films of all time and I feel very strongly that one of the lines from this resonates with the experiences we have had this year. The line appears twice in the movie. Initially it is when Forrest is sat on a bench talking to an old lady whilst waiting for the bus to see his sweetheart Jenny. The second is the scene where his mother passes away. The line spoken on both occasions is as follows.

‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never quite know what you’re gonna get.’

This could easily be applied to the last year at Longdean. We arrived back in September all geared up for the challenge of another year and the real possibility of an Ofsted inspection under a new inspection framework. This visit materialised in November and we collectively pulled together and overcame this challenge. For me, having done three inspections as Longdean’s Headteacher it is the Ofsted I am proudest of. We do everything that the new framework despises but we do it for the students so that they have the best opportunities in lessons and outside of the classroom. This in turn means they have choices available to them when they leave. The students, along with you as parents, told the inspectors all of this and Ofsted agreed. This was a real endorsement of our values and ethos as a school community.

We approached Christmas very buoyant. The school show, Annie, was a huge success and we were ready to move the school forward in the New Year. Year 11 and Year 13 prelims had gone well, Year 7 had a term of Secondary School under their belt and everything else was ticking along nicely. We had begun our post Ofsted planning and had identified six areas to move forward on. We were also introducing some curriculum changes and larger amendments to our school day and pastoral structure. We had worked out how we would introduce these ready for September.

Then Corona Virus happened and we were given 24 hours to turn ourselves from a very good school into a virtual learning environment whilst providing on site education for key workers in our school setting.

Since March 20th our classrooms and corridors have fallen silent. We have transformed ourselves almost overnight from a traditional school to a provider of remote education. Person to person teaching, assessment, feedback on essays, prelims and working at grades has been replaced with Teams lessons and Show My Homework or email. We have done this to a high standard and students have bought into this and engaged wholeheartedly. I would also like to commend your hard work as parents. At the same time that we became a virtual learning environment, you became teachers as well as parents. This has been a huge challenge and I am incredibly grateful as well as impressed at how successfully you have combined these multiple roles.

Sadly, we have not been able to join together as a full school community in the way that we would usually do either formally or informally and those anecdotal, yet important interactions between staff and students and students with each other have had to take place in another way. Students have had the security of a caring, nurturing, stimulating, learning environment taken away from you. Students in Year 11 and Year 13 have had those memorable moments about leaving denied to them and we have all, students, parents and staff faced the challenges of Centre Assessed Grades with the uncertainty of results day still to come. We will do all we can to celebrate leaving school with you on results day.

For those of you who have children in Year 7 I am sorry that they have had their first year of Secondary School so seriously disrupted. My biggest regret since March is that I have not been able to find a way to get Year 7 into school in some way before the summer. The start of Secondary School is a rites of passage moment for all young people and one that should bring excitement to all of them. The group had settled really well and were beginning to shine. They will now have to do it all again. Please don’t worry, the teachers and I will be with them every step of the way.

We have all lived our own stories and experience in lockdown. All of these experiences are very real and of equal value to anyone elses. It is worth noting that no matter how hard it has been for us it has always been harder for someone else. Some of us have had to grapple with free school meal vouchers and food banks. Some of us have struggled with a lack of equipment or space to study and the insecurity of furlough. Some families have sadly experienced bereavements. Whatever your lockdown story, your family is important to us and we will be there for you when we return in September. If there is anything we can do to help, just ask.

In this challenging environment all of our school community has come to the fore. We have delivered over 1300 visors and other items of PPE to hospitals, GPs, dentists, schools, hairdressers and other members of the local community. We have taken part in virtual sports days, attempted world records, written to NHS workers and engaged in film clubs.

Since June 15th we have been back, sort of, but it still does not feel like our school. Sanitising, keeping rigidly 2 metres apart from friends, being taught in a group of 10 in one room and having food delivered to classrooms is now deemed normal. We have imposed a one way system and our school has enough stickers to look like a crime scene or something from a zombie apocalypse film. We are currently preparing again for everyone to return in September. To what and for how long, who knows? I will let you know our detailed plans in the middle of August but I assure you that all students will be back, full time, from September.

During these strange times one of the highlights of my days in school has been welcoming the students when they come into school and to see them smiling, laughing and joking with each other. Schools should be filled with the voices and laughter of young people interacting and it is good that some of this is returning. The other is the incredible maturity the students have demonstrated in the way they have carried out their education regardless of their own personal contexts and challenges. The qualities that are the hallmark of our school have seen us through this most challenging of times. Resilience, empathy, integrity, professional and personal pride, honesty and a sense of humour will also ensure we come back stronger from this experience. I will write to you in August to inform you of your child’s new form group, Director of Year and Pastoral Manager and I am excited to tell you below about the new staff we have appointed and those who are leaving us. I have detailed these below.

New Teachers New Support Staff Longdean staff who have taken on a new role
Miss Fielding – PE Mrs Clarke – Business Support Miss Doyle – Trainee Teacher English
Mr Pischedda – Geography Mr Evans – Technician Mr Towler –  Trainee Teacher Tech
Mr Vivian – PE Miss Callaghan – Teaching Assistant Mrs Reynolds – Inclusion Cordinator
Mr Zarrooq – Science Miss Hales – Teaching Assistant Mrs Chapman – Business Support
Miss Scamans - Geography Mr O’Brien – Teaching Assistant Mrs Downes – Cover Supervisor
Mr Horrigan –  Performing Arts/English Miss Ezzu – Teaching Assistant Miss Elms – Director of Year 10
Miss Devine – Teaching Assistant Mr Coot – Assistant Headteacher
Miss Mills – Teaching Assistant Miss Keith – Director of Post 16
Miss Eaton – Office Administrator Miss Plumb – Director of Year 9
Miss Lee – Office/Repo Miss Lilley – DOL Geography
Set boundaries ✋🏽

Set boundaries. If you have the space, devote somewhere in your home specifically for work, ideally with a desk, supportive chair and good lighting. Clearly communicate the start and finish times of your ‘office hours’ with the people you live with. Of course, staying focused and distraction-free while working from home can be especially tricky for those with children. If you can, try to prearrange with others in your household when each of you can take charge of the kids – perhaps you and your partner can work two hours on, two hours off? If you are unable to share parenting responsibilities, speak to your manager and team to make them aware of any hours you will be ‘offline’ and with your family. 

For those of you still in school the same applies. Ensure that you communicate effectively with your team as I am sure you will have depleted staff numbers and your typical school day has changed majorly

Prioritise 

Prioritise the tasks that actually matter for that day. Be clear in your mind on what the key areas of focus are that day. Focus on these only, and communicate any urgent priorities with your team, ensuring they are realistic.

This will ensure you’re all collectively working towards the same aim and concentrating on the right things, whilst also not being overwhelmed by the work needed to be completed in the days and weeks ahead.

By keeping your task list to one day’s activities only, it will also give you a greater sense of achievement at the end of the day, making it more likely that you will log off at a reasonable hour and enjoy your evening

Be mindful of the time 

Don’t let your working hours overrun. Be disciplined in leaving your home office when your working hours are over, at least on some nights of the week, and don’t go back in until the morning!

It can be especially tempting for many people to ‘put a bit of work in’ late at night, especially as stresses and pressures are intensified. However, this could come at the cost of disrupting your sleep schedule and depleting your energy levels the following day.

Switch off 📴

Switch off your work phone if you can. If this isn’t possible, at least limit yourself to only checking your work emails once or twice in the evening.

You should also be logging out of Skype or any other chat or messaging functionality that you may have on your machine.

As much as its important to stay social, it’s also important to switch off at times to allow yourself to recharge and find your inner zen!

Don’t be afraid to say no 

Don’t be afraid to say no. In these changing times, your priorities and areas of focus might shift, almost on a daily basis. That’s why you need to have the confidence and conviction to say ‘no’ to tasks that aren’t going to help you or your business achieve what’s truly important right now.

Habitual over-workers can be ‘people pleasers’ and this is something I find so common within education! We are all caring people and love the job we do.

You need to learn the art of graciously saying no if certain tasks threaten to overwhelm you, and simply aren’t a priority. If an extra task or two really does need to be taken on, try to be realistic about what you can do in the time that you have during your main working day, perhaps offering a partial solution in the meantime.

Take a break! 

Don’t skip your lunch break. Don’t eat from your desk!

If you can, have a space that is nowhere near your desk for eating, or go outside for some fresh air, while respecting your local authority’s guidelines on social distancing. This will enable you to ensure your lunch break feels like an actual break, and in turn, will help you to feel more motivated when you resume work in the afternoon.

Relax 💤

Take time for yourself. It’s crucial to enable your mind to understand that you are no longer working.

Do some exercise, take up a relaxing hobby, spend quality time with your family or housemates or cook a nice meal. I have found cleaning and sorting through that dreaded municipal kitchen drawer to be very therapeutic!

In short, whatever you can do that is different to work, and ideally in a different room to your ‘home office’. Make this consistent, and it’ll become a signal in your mind that the workday is over.

Positive thoughts = positive outcomes 💪🏻

Try not to dwell on the negatives. You may be overworking to avoid paying too much attention to the crisis that is going on around us. So instead, try to focus on the positives in your life and what you have to be grateful for.

Consider what you can do around the house that you’ve been meaning to get to or catching up with friends and family remotely.

In short, there are always things that you can do to distract yourself and use your time in healthy and productive ways during this outbreak, rather than overworking.

Summer 2020

Mon 20 Apr - Inset Day
Tue 21 Apr - Term Starts
Fri 8 May - Bank Holiday
Mon 25 May - Fri 29 May - Half Term
13:30 Fri 17 Jul - End of Term

Autumn 2020

Wed 02 Sep - Inset Day
Thu 03 Sep - Inset Day
Fri 04 Sep - Year 7 Taster Day
Mon 07 Sep - Post 16 Finalising Courses
Tue 08 Sep - Years 8 & 11 ONLY
Wed 09 Sep - Year 9 & 10 ONLY
Thu 10 Sep - ALL YEAR Groups 
Tue 06 Oct - Inset Day
Mon 26 Oct - Fri 30 Oct Half Term
Fri 27 Nov - Occasional Day
Fri 18 Dec - Term En

Term Dates 20-21

Address
Longdean School
Rumballs Road
Hemel Hempstead
Hertfordshire
HP3 8JB

Page Updated 15/03/2020

Telephone
Main School: 01442 217277
Fax:              01442 233098

Pupil Absence please call
Da Vinci:      01442 205706
Franklin:       01442 205707
Gates:           01442 205760
Pascal:         01442 205703

Email: 
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Social Media:

PE@LongdeanPE
Science@LongdeanScience
History@LongdeanHistory
Film Studies: @LongdeanFilm