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As I sit and look at the whiteness outside, I can say with true sincerity that I did not expect to be in this situation again, in what is proving to be a peculiar and unpredictable winter.
So, firstly, also with sincerity, I must say thank you to our parents for being so understanding about today’s school closure. I gave you an insight into my thought processes two weeks ago following the previous snowfall and today was no different. Certainly, I know it causes inevitable inconvenience; not least as we are not ordinarily accustomed to snow days and I regret and I am sorry for any trouble caused for you today. But I hope you will understand that my decision was, once again, based on careful consideration in consultation with colleagues and the safety of our children and staff was my number one priority.
Like a factory reluctant to lose a day’s production, the fact that we had to close is very disappointing. Time in school is precious; teachers plan their lessons to strict timings in order to cover the syllabus and yes, I know we are another day closer to the summer exams. But the weather got the better of us. As a rural school we were guided by the Met Office’s yellow weather warning and local reports of treacherous icy conditions making it dangerous for the school buses and parents to be on the road and on the school site. Difficult decisions have to be made based on the facts at the time. Ditto for other schools as I can report across Somerset today nearly 180 schools are closed; so I find some slight comfort in the fact that we were all in the same challenging position.
The decision was made very early this morning and staff and Somerset County Council were alerted and our Senior Leadership and Cheddar Valley Head colleagues were working closely together by email and text. I would however, add that we had an unfortunate technical hitch that delayed the message going onto our website for which I am sorry. As a rural school, I know that many of our young people have early starts in the morning and unless the announcement had been heard on the local radio stations, I can appreciate there would have been some uncertainty. Be assured this will not happen again and you will be pleased to learn that we are currently looking at expanding into the world of social media to improve our communication channels as there really is no excuse in today’s world. We are setting up a Kings Twitter feed and Kings Facebook site, and we are moving to a new parent email system and also a new website that will offer faster communication on school closures and other communications. Indeed, meetings were taking place last week and please be assured all the plans are in process to make our communications more effective. So I am sorry again for this regrettable mishap, which should not have happened - and on my watch it will not happen again!
So to other good communications. We have been approached by journalist Charlie Taylor from BBC Somerset to ask whether some of our students would like to take part in a radio documentary about King Alfred given our historical links to Saxon Wessex. The documentary entitled “Alfred and Somerset:: Dawn of England,” involves interviews with leading historians and a theatrical retelling of his story and four of our Year 9 Performing Arts students will be practising their thespian skills. The recording was due to take place in school today; but unfortunately the weather has thwarted us. But it will be re-scheduled asap this week. I know it is an exciting experience for the students and I am so pleased that they will be part of this interesting programme. If you are intrigued and would like a taster about the programme now you can see here (you will need a BBC login to access). I will let you know further details once we know more.
After months of hard work and thinking business thoughts, the waiting is over and "Sweet Treats" has been announced as this year’s Year 9 Big Pitch competition winner. Congratulations! Well done to all the teams who took part and for showing such entrepreneurial enthusiasm. See the full report to follow in the news section. But as a Teacher of Business Studies and Economics myself, I wanted to praise the students for their enterprising endeavours. A healthy spirit of competition like a correct dose of adrenaline can be good for us; as well as striving to be the best.
Another well done to The Kings and Queens News Team for their splendid efforts last week in producing their report entitled Local Libraries: the next chapter? prompted by Somerset County Council’s consultation on how libraries are operated and run in view of ever tighter Local Government budgets. Again, see the full story to follow on the website and I hope you will have opportunity to watch their report, as given their normal mode of reporting is the written press, to film a report requires lots of other skills and I know they enjoyed their taste of Kings TV News.
There are a number of Year 12 Higher Education events scheduled this week that I hope students will find beneficial as we endeavour to prepare them for their next steps into the world of university and college. I remind Year 12 parents of the meeting on Thursday 22 March 2018 at 6.30pm here at Kings that I hope you will be able to attend. I will be attending a Mendip Rotary dinner when one of our Year 12 students will be presenting on her experience as this year's RYLA winner - well done to Poppy! In case you do not know RYLA is the prestigious Rotary Youth Leadership Award and I hope that as a member of The Kings and Queens News Team Poppy will be writing a report to showcase her achievement.
This Friday, the last day of term, we will be celebrating students in our end of Spring Term Achievement Assemblies in year groups. I look forward to seeing students receive various awards for their accomplishments this term across all the subjects and in the enrichment activities. I do wish every single student could come onto the stage to shake my and other colleagues' hands; but I want every single one to know that we believe in them and value them as part of our school family.
We will also be wearing purple on Friday's mufti day (one of my favourite colours, as it happens) to show our solidarity for Epilepsy Awareness Day when we will be donating £1 to the charity. It should really be on Monday 26 March 2018 - when we will be on holiday! This follows the moving assembly the other week when a Trustee from the charity, SUDEP Action visited us to receive their share of the Charities Week cheque as we still remember our much loved former student Johdi Russell who sadly died in October. It is important that we are all aware of the risks of this terrible affliction. I am aware that the family organised an inaugural purple ball on Weston Pier last Saturday to raise money, which I am sure would have been a special success for this worthy cause and in memory of Johdi.
Finally, we will be going to St Andrew's Church this week for the Easter services when we will be remembering the true meaning of this time of year. I thank Christian Leader Mrs Alden and Governors Rev. Burns and Angle for their preparations for the service and I know that I am looking forward to this quiet time of reflection.
So, nearly two terms in at Kings, for a number of reasons, I have to say, I will not forget my first year at Kings and thank you again for your continued support and your understanding this month with the snow days.
Believe and succeed!