Subject: Samuel Whitbread Academy Newsletter Issue 113 (04/04/2020)

Samuel Whitbread Academy 
E-Newsletter
Issue 113 (04/04/20)

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Dear Parents and Carers,

It is incredible to think what’s happened since the last e-newsletter just two weeks ago. I saw a quote on social media this week from Lenin, which seemed to sum it up: ‘there are decades when nothing happens; and weeks when decades happen’.

The school has remained open for vulnerable and key worker children since the government lockdown. We have around ten children each day in school, including those from police, NHS and military families. They have all been fantastic and in between school work they have even learnt to make scones and pizzas. We are staying open over Easter break, with a smaller team of staff as many of the key worker families already had alternative plans in place for Easter.

These are certainly challenging times and I know many families are going through incredible uncertainty at the moment. If you need to speak to one of our Pastoral Support Officers (PSO) then please contact the school and we will put you through to one of the team. We have a PSO and Head of Year on duty at school every day to take phone calls and you can always contact the rest of the team by email who will do their best to support you.

Mrs Linehan has written an excellent ‘distance learning’ booklet with the Teaching and Learning Team, which explains how we will be working with students from Easter onwards, as we move from consolidating what students have learnt this term to delivering new content. This is new territory for everyone and we will no doubt learn an enormous amount over the coming term, so please keep feeding back to us with your comments on how this is working at home and any ideas you may have on how we can improve things.

Mr Butler has also sent out lots of information on the GCSEs and A Levels, which we received yesterday from the government. There’s lots to take on board and more information to follow, which we will forward to you as soon as we get it. Mr Butler has spent the last two weeks collecting all the information they are requesting, so we are well placed to meet the deadlines from the exam boards.

We’ve had lots of coverage in the press this week about our donation of goggles to Luton & Dunstable Hospital with ITV, BBC and Sky all covering it on their lunch and evening news programmes. It all came about when L&D wrote to me last Thursday to say thank you for looking after NHS children ‘from one key worker to another’. I was so struck by the fact that someone from a hospital would take the time to email the school that I wrote back to say thank you and said ‘p.s. do you need any goggles’ (as Mr Gibbs had told me the day before that hospitals were running out). They rang back the next day and said ‘yes please - how many have you got?’. That evening I tweeted the idea and suggested other schools contact their local hospital and within 24 hours the tweet went all over the world. It was liked over 6000 times, with retweets from Candice (GBBO) and Sara Cox BBCR2, as well as schools from Glasgow to Cornwall and from as far away as Ireland, Holland, Saudi Arabia, USA and NZ. So if you know anyone in a school that has solid plastic goggles then please ask them to contact their local hospital, ambulance service or police station!

Lastly, I would like to say a fond farewell to Mrs Waterhouse and Mrs Birzniece who will be leaving us at Easter. Mrs Birzniece has taught both geography and science in her time at SWA and has been a valued member of both departments. She will certainly be missed, particularly her fantastic cooking skills which won her more awards in the staff bakeoffs than any other member of staff! Mrs Waterhouse will also be missed by both the English department and learning support, where she has had a massive impact on the lives of countless students. I would like to thank them both for everything they have done for the students at Samuel Whitbread over the years and I wish them well for the future.


Nick Martin
Principal
 
 
 
 
 
 


Year 9
Dear Parents,
Please can we remind all Year 9 students to ensure they are signed up to their relevant Google Classroom and/or SENECA class as directed by their teachers. Additionally, we recommend regularly checking SMHW for updates from their teachers. It is important Yearo 9 students take a responsible approach over the next few weeks, and ensure all work is completed, but over a regular period as much like a school day as possible, rather than trying to complete all in one go. If parents or students have any problems regarding anything relating to the work, please contact class teachers via their email address. Thank you for your support during this testing time.

Mr R Sinclair
Year 10
We hope our Year 10 students are doing well and have been able to establish a good routine over the past two weeks. We would like to remind students to make sure they are accessing work on SMHW as well as joining onto Google Classrooms for their respective subjects. If teachers have created a Google Classroom students will receive an email via their school account which gives them an access code. If students are have any issues with work we encourage them to contact their teachers directly via email to get guidance or support on tasks. We understand that this is a difficult time for parents and students so we want to reassure Year 10 there is no expectation to complete all the work the moment it is set, but students should try to break down their tasks into more manageable, smaller chunks to complete over the timeframe set.

Miss V Yadav
Sixth Form
We are delighted to hear about some of the kindness and care shown by our Sixth Form students, with some helping elderly or self-isolating residents in their communities, and several signing up to the NHS volunteer responders scheme.

Some feedback from teachers already has been that Year 12s are responding well to the challenges of working remotely and we hope they settle into a routine after Easter. We encourage them to keep in contact with their class teachers through email and the relevant platforms such as Google Classroom for support and guidance.

We would also like to direct Year 13 students to the advice that came out yesterday from Ofqual, as explained by Mr Butler in the letter emailed home and detailed below. Hopefully this answers some questions you may have.

Mr C Tonking, Mrs S Hoad & Mr L Huckle

Important Exams Information
Mr Butler emailed all Year 11, 12 and 13 students and parents yesterday with important updates after Ofqual's announcement about exam grades, how they will be calculated and timings. Please spend time reviewing this information. You can view both letters from Ofqual in the letters section of our website by clicking here.
Distance Learning Guide
Over the past two weeks, staff have been planning and organising ways to structure teaching and learning of new content via online platforms. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes and we have produced a Distance Learning Guide for parents and students that was emailed out yesterday. It is designed to help students and parents best structure their learning from home and to continue support from their teachers. It is available to view on our website here.
Eco-School Committee
Please see the eco-school committee newsletter on our letters page here for more updates on the work the group are doing for the environment. Last week, they had planned a trip to plant 200 more trees at Polehanger Farm, but obviously the team could not complete it. However, owner Andrew Foster received the donation of trees and planted them all by hand himself - an amazing effort! They are planted under the A507 bypass as you walk to Polehanger Woods from Shefford so people walking that way can see them if they want to visit a part of the Sam Whit Forest. The team will still be publishing the eco newsletter every two weeks so anybody (teachers, parents or students) wishing to submit articles will be gratefully received - email jambrose@bestacademies.org.uk. The newsletter also mentions a comic strip competition - get involved!
NHS goggle donation
SWA started a global goodwill trend last week after a tweet from Mr Martin went viral and encouraged lots of schools to follow suit. Mr Martin responded to a letter from Luton and Dunstable Hospital and offered SWA's plastic science goggles to help protect frontline NHS staff. ITV, BBC and Sky News reported on the gesture, and you can see the short clip from ITV News on our YouTube channel here.


At Samuel Whitbread, we have a tradition of saying a fond farewell to any staff moving onto pastures new with an entire staff get together at the end of each term. Unfortunately in these strange circumstances that was not able to happen, so we asked staff to send messages, some of which are summarised below, to say farewell to Mrs Birzniece and Mrs Waterhouse who are leaving us.
Mrs Birzniece
Mrs Birzniece has not been with us long but has made a huge impression upon many students and staff. Several staff commented on how her subject knowledge in Geography, as well as her exam board content knowledge, has helped the department massively, including in creating an exam question pack. Her legendary baking skills will be sorely missed, as she often turned up to school treating staff to her traditional Latvian dishes – pickled herring being the most noteworthy! Thank you for all your dedication and support, and good luck for the future. 
Mrs Waterhouse
Mrs Waterhouse has been fantastic in learning support and has given lots of guidance and support in good times and more challenging ones. Several staff have been grateful for her support in a number of different aspects, including with Year 11 functional skills exams and career progression opportunities and advice. The department will miss her and her Wednesday morning treats! We wish her all the best for her role in her new school.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Samuel Whitbread Academy E-Newsletter

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Samuel Whitbread Academy
Shefford Road, Clifton, Shefford, Bedfordshire, SG17 5QS
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