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Dear Parents

I hope you and your families continue to stay safe as this very strange lockdown reality continues (even with a little bit of easing).

For all of us, it has presented endless challenges and moral dilemmas, both professionally and personally. As the mother of a child in Year 11, and as a teacher of Year 11, it broke my heart on Friday 20th March, when we had to say goodbye to our classes, and our students were robbed of the opportunity to take their GCSEs. But all our students lost out in so many ways, no question. It was made worse that we had no idea when ‘normal’ might return, and indeed if it ever would. It has been lovely to speak to lots of you, (in a socially distanced way), when I have been out and about on my ever-increasing dog walks. From these brief chats, it is clear that we have all felt extremely disorientated, with most of us craving a return to normality!!

I don’t know whether it’s because of the fantastic weather we have enjoyed but it definitely feels that we can start to think about recovery now – and we have been doing that a great deal over the last few weeks – indeed, since lockdown began, in all honesty. We have been building exciting plans for the last few weeks of the summer term and a great deal for the Autumn, all with a focus on making up some of the ground that has been lost for your child. We will be communicating about this more and more over the next few weeks.

In addition to this, I wanted to provide you with a couple of updates now.

Firstly, at the end of the summer term, Lara Hall will be leaving us to take up a very exciting post as Principal of an Academy in Warwickshire. This is an excellent promotion from her current post as Head of School at John Ferneley. Lots of you will know that Lara started her career as an NQT at John Ferneley 15 years ago, so it is with great pride that we see her moving into a new setting. We are delighted for her and wish her all the best in this next step.

Of course, her boots will be very big to fill. Lara has supported me to lead the school operationally for 3 years now and I have valued her support enormously. I also know that she has been an important point of contact for you as parents.

Please be reassured that the school is extremely well supported by a very stable, superb Senior Leadership Team who have worked very closely together as a team for some years now, and as the Executive Headteacher for John Ferneley, I am really excited about working very closely with this team again over the next few months.

As with all changes, there are some exciting new opportunities that we are exploring as we speak… we are currently working together on the self-evaluation and development plans for the college, from which we will build the new model for leadership for the school.

I also wanted to lay out our plans for college uniform for the next academic year. With Boris Johnson’s announcement that all shops are to open from the 15th June and with most online outlets open as usual, it seems a good time to explain where we are at.

Under the circumstances, we feel that any overhaul of the uniform would not be appropriate at this time and additional costs unjustified. Our aim is to look carefully at the college uniform, but this will happen over the next year with input from all stakeholders before any decisions are made.

For the following academic year, we will ask students to continue wearing the following:

  • School blazer with John Ferneley logo on it
  • Plain black jumper/cardigan – this is optional BUT NOT instead of a blazer (No logo or JFC logo only)
  • White shirt or blouse
  • College tie
  • Black trousers or skirt 
  • Black shoes or black trainers (No visible logos – ALL black on viewing)

As you can see, we have relaxed our stance on footwear a little as we recognise that buying multiple items is costly and many families will not be able to afford shoes and trainers at this time. I also understand that there is an increasingly thin line between what can be considered a shoe and what is considered a trainer!

More detailed advice will be on our website with a few suggested retailers but please do not hesitate to contact Phil Kruse or pastoral leaders if you would like to discuss this further.

We have also been working on our form tutor teams for September: as usual, we will aim to keep tutor groups with the same tutors wherever possible, however, there may be some changes because of changes to the staff teams.

Finally, you will be aware of our plans to change our approach to home learning from Monday 8th June. A reminder that we are using this week to ensure our new model is ready to go and of the highest quality so please ask students to continue with work currently on the website until then.

Obviously, there will be lots more communication over the coming days and weeks, both in relation to the changing situation caused by COVID – and more general updates from different parts of the team anyway.

Thank you for staying with us to the end of this very long update!

I am looking forward to working closely with you all in our shared recovery from COVID-19.

Many thanks
Christine Stansfield