Dear Parents / Carers,
I imagine that if you ask a cross section of students, parents and teachers about this academic year, many will say that it has been the hardest they have ever known.
You might, therefore, find it strange to hear me talk about how much I have enjoyed my first year at Coombe Dean; but it truly has been a privilege and a pleasure. I have learnt so much and I have relished the chance to work with staff and students to turn seeming problems into opportunities. From our enhanced pastoral care to our changes to Year 6/7 transition to our virtual open evening to our rigorous support for exam year students, we have found opportunities in adversity, and this has resulted in big improvements.
In recent weeks, the country has been uplifted by the teamwork and leadership qualities in that incredible young English football team. For me, we have our own inspiring team of young people and staff at Coombe Dean who make learning here a pleasure. The teamwork has been amazing – and a spirit of community has been with us throughout the year. The resilience and positive thinking of staff and students has been truly inspirational.
Looking forward to the next academic year, we will be launching our new school strapline. Staff and students said they wanted a strapline that offers motivation and encouragement, uniting and inspiring them in daily learning and when times get tough. We have chosen: ‘Community, Integrity, Opportunity.’ I think it sends an important and timely message.
Community relates to the special sense of belonging we have at Coombe Dean; it is a place where students can share feelings of pride, safety and security and they learn to understand their place in the world.
Integrity is important to me, and it begins with a simple but challenging idea: consistently doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. We teach our students to be open-minded and reflective, and to value the beliefs and needs of others. They learn responsibility, resilience and empathy here. These are the foundations of integrity.
Opportunity at Coombe Dean comes from a rich and challenging curriculum and our inspirational and approachable staff who make learning so effective and enjoyable. We are always looking at ways to improve our students’ achievements in academic qualifications and to develop the employment and social skills they need to unlock their potential and be successful.
Put together, the ideas in our strapline define what is unique about Coombe Dean and remind us of the things to which we aspire.
To complement our new strapline, we are introducing lots of important developments in the coming academic year, starting in September 2021. We are evolving our curriculum to ensure that it unlocks potential for all learners. It is a curriculum designed to be more exciting and help students see the world in new ways. Literacy is central, and so we are ensuring that all child-facing staff are trained to become experts in literacy. It is more accessible, so every child can benefit from learning opportunities. Underpinning these curriculum developments, we are continuing to focus on behaviour, attendance, and effective leadership at all levels in the school, whether it be governance, in the classroom or among students. Furthermore, we are making sure that we offer the support and quality of teaching needed to remove barriers to success for young learners who are disadvantaged.
The new year looks to be a time of great new opportunities.
Of course, the challenges posed by COVID-19 will remain with us into the next year. I am proud that we have been able to manage our school safely up until now, while maintaining high standards of teaching and learning. We have been rigorous in our approach, but we have not allowed the virus to dominate us.
We intend to maintain our balanced approach in the new year. This includes retaining some of the systems we have found successful in controlling the virus and protecting our community, albeit with a lighter touch. We will be sending out detailed information about our approach soon. For now, here are the headlines: we will be phasing in our students’ return over the first week and there will be a requirement for each student to have two negative tests prior to return; once in school, students will be free from the requirement for regular testing; masks are no longer necessary in government guidance, but we will continue their use in some areas.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone in our school community a wonderful, restful and safe summer break. I look forward to seeing you all in September 2021.
Mr K Dyke