The Story So Far...
The story of 2020 is one that will be told for a long time. The globe has faced numerous hurdles, from the natural wildfires causing devastation at the beginning of the year, to political and cultural movements happening now. But none of these have had an impact on our daily lives like that of the pandemic, Coronavirus (Covid-19).
This lung-targeting disease sent shockwaves through our education systems and St Julian’s School in March. Before the government announced the closure of all schools, we made the decision to close the school in order to keep the students safe. Safety is always a number one priority at St Julian’s School, so this global pandemic has given us the opportunity to showcase this.
The closure of schools meant that, despite the obvious disruption to the ‘normal’ school life of our students such as GCSE and A-Level exams being cancelled and students being unable to enjoy the usual day-to-day school life that they were used to, Covid-19 has brought our community closer together. A modern door opened for the school as we quickly and successfully overcame these challenges of lockdown by moving lessons online, provided home visits for vulnerable students and also created a delivery service for our Free School Meal students.
Following a three-month closure, we were pleased to announce that St Julian’s School could finally re-open to students on Monday 29th June! We welcomed back our students to extensive new Health and Safety measures for both staff and students, including hand sanitising stations outside of every classroom, distanced work desks and screens in front of staff.
Students have been given the opportunity to use the remaining 3 weeks of the summer term to attend school on designated days during the week. These allocated days to attend school in small ‘bubble’s’ for a short period of time allowed students to ‘check in,’ with their teachers as an additional form of support with their home learning, which has continued during the past 13 weeks of lockdown.
So what have we been doing during lockdown and the schools closure?
We closed our doors to St Julian’s School on Tuesday 17th March 2020, with students having the ability to safely return the following day to collect work that had been swiftly prepared for them.
As a school, we quickly adapted to the changing times and devised a plan to continue supporting our students who needed it most. With the generosity of Aldi (Shaftesbury) who donated items of food, we were able to support our vulnerable families with food hampers. Little did we know at the time that this would be a vital service that we would continue for the next 3 months!
As the support continued, so did our donations! May was a busy month for us as we received numerous contributions from the national supermarket chains Asda, Tesco and Marks and Spencer as they all supported our food hampers by donating items for our cause.
In addition, we would like to say a huge thank you to The Warehouse Church for their partnership with the school and ongoing support over the lockdown period and providing us with food hampers to give to our school community.
Also in May, Mrs Flounders and Mrs Collins began an initiative to help encourage students to read at home during lockdown! A massive thank you to Chepstow Books for supporting their cause by donating over 100 books.
Mrs Witts, Head of Drama, concluded the month through the medium of music as herself and a few of the Drama students virtually joined their vocal forces to perform a beautiful cover of 'A Million Dreams' from The Greatest Showman.
Not to be outdone, our staff also came together as they produced a video montage of ‘I’ll Be There’.
A big thank you once again to The Warehouse Church for their ongoing support and for the food hampers that you have provided! These very welcomed, generous donations were shared with our school community throughout the lockdown period!
The staff attended a Training Day where it was explained by our new Headteacher, Mr Curtis, how our new school day will look like and our new ways of delivering an education.
Before we opened our doors to students, Mr Curtis met with staff virtually from multiple rooms across the school to ensure staff could keep the safe 2-meter distance was always possible. This introduction and welcome back was followed by staff training on the new operations and safety procedures that have been implemented across the school. These operations have, and will continue, to play a key role ensuring the safety of both our staff and students as we continue their education.
On Monday 29th June, we enjoyed the sight of seeing our lovely students as they returned to school on their designated days. The beginning of our 3 weeks of blended learning went brilliantly as these guidelines were met perfectly by all of our students! It was wonderful to see our students back to school and continuing their education safely.
As we settled into our new school days, we opened our doors to our newest and youngest members of our St Julian’s family. We began a series of Transition Tours for our upcoming Year 6 students, who will be joining us in September. To ensure a safe distance was kept between each student, and so that they could receive a smooth transition and personalised tour, we split the upcoming year group into their new form groups and staggered the tour over a number of days. Thank you to our new Year 7’s for following all of our safety measures as they had the opportunity to explore their new school!
Thank you again to everyone who sent us kind words of encouragement and supported our school as we continued to care for our students during these unprecedented times.
This pandemic has provided a series of challenges for everyone, but has demonstrated that even when we are unable to be together, we are still and always will be a strong community who are always there for each other no matter what lays ahead of us.