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Friday 15th January 2021

Mr Eardley, the Head Teacher, writes...

Dear Parents and Carers

I wonder whether I had a naïve expectation that the whole of this academic year would potter along nicely whilst the vaccine was rolled out and at some point soon we would be able to lift all of the restrictions that are in place. As we went into the Christmas holidays, high on the success of last term, with Elton John ringing in our ears, I fully expected that we would start the spring term where we left off. Onwards and upwards! How wrong could I be?

From a personal point of view, my New Year did not start as I had hoped as our COVID-19 test results came back on January first and my wife is still poorly. I would like to think that my family has followed the letter of the law and advice closely so we were all expecting our test results to come back negative. It has been a sobering reminder of how contagious the new variant is and how, more than ever, we all need to play our part in limiting the spread of COVID-19. It has been lovely to be back at school and to see everyone again. One younger member of our school community said to me yesterday, ‘You could have died Mr Eardley.’ Thankfully, I know that I had a mild form of the disease but his comment made me realise how scary this is for the children in our community.

Once again, I have been surprised by the pace of change and the speed in which we have had to react quickly as a school. With even less notice than last March, we discovered that the school was going to close to most pupils and that we needed to be able to provide education for those still in school and those learning remotely at home. What the education sector has been able to achieve at lightning speed is nothing short of amazing – although I know that I am biased. I am in awe at the skill, attitude and energy of the Wistow Team. There is always a palpable ‘can do’ spirit and everyone looks for ways to make things work. I might have worried that my team wouldn’t be able to muster the same enthusiasm as last spring/summer but I should have known better.

The uptake of Critical Worker places in most schools is higher than last spring. I am sure that there are many complicated reasons behind this. We have a peak of 28% of children in school one day each week and our numbers are higher than the average for Peterborough and Cambridge. I am extremely grateful that many parents have been able to keep their children at home or only send them in on certain days. I know that this can’t be easy for anyone. I take my hat off to you (my sparkly, Elton hat!). I hope that we can get through this current period without having to reduce the number of bubbles because of staffing issues. If we do, I will have the unenviable job of having to prioritise places according to need.

I experience a strange sensation now when I walk around the school. We still have ten bubbles in school, much more than we had during the first lockdown, and yet teachers are dotted all around the building recording themselves delivering learning so that the children at home can still see a friendly, familiar face. I often wonder what algorithm YouTube uses when it recommends films to me but I had to smile one night this week when it suggested a film of Mrs Ironside delivering a phonics session. What is more surprising is that I watched the whole thing, and then two sessions delivered by Mrs Simmons. I may have found a new guilty, binge-watch pleasure! I felt a tremendous sense of pride to work with such talented staff. They are brilliant.

It may be some time before we can have all the children back in school, and longer still before we can go back to the good old days and life before March 2020. Although it looks like it is going to take longer than I expected, we will get there eventually and it will be all the more magical when it happens!

Very best wishes,

Simon Eardley

Head Teacher