Headmaster's End of Term Letter - Autumn 2020
18th December 2020
In our end-of-term assembly today, I spoke about the perhaps-auspicious ‘great conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn in our night skies at the moment. Some of you may already have spotted the bright planets a little way above the horizon to the southwest late in the evening, moving ever-closer as we approach the point of closest celestial proximity next Monday, something the order of which has not been observable since 1226. The astronomer Johannes Kepler speculated that a similar event in around 7BC was astrologically-significant enough for it to be the historical basis of the Star of Bethlehem; in turn, there are countless other astronomical and astrological interpretations and explanations of the Star. Whatever one’s stance on this, I do not believe that anyone is in particular need of portentous symbols in the sky right now: things have been tricky enough as it is, and continue to be so.
Nevertheless, it is wonderful to reach the last day, with Christmas in sight, and to reflect on the exciting and encouraging term that has passed. As I write, I can hear the strains of Mr Maund’s chosen Christmas Album of the Day, which has over the past fortnight provided an auditory counterpoint to the cheerful lights in the Sixth Form area. The mood in this part of the campus characterises the general positivity that has pervaded the school over the term, even in difficult times, and I commend all of our students, and my colleagues, for their continued energy and engagement with the business of school life. Visiting lessons in the past week or two, and walking around the school, it has been fantastic to see the learning afoot when people are undoubtedly very tired.
We are, nevertheless, still in the midst of the pandemic. Further to the government’s requirements, please could I ask that parents inform the school should their children either test positive for COVID19 within 48 hours of the end of term (that is, by Sunday), or display symptoms at any point up to Sunday evening and subsequently have a positive test: you can do so by emailing Mrs Ilhan for Prep School students (at email@example.com), or Mr McKeown for Senior School students (at firstname.lastname@example.org). We will be available to receive such emails until 23rd December. It is not necessary to inform us of cases outside of these times. I am grateful to everyone for their care and prompt communications thus far in this regard, which have enabled us to minimise the number of individuals needing to isolate away from school. As always, this NHS link provides information and advice on all aspects of COVID-19.
I am sure you will have seen the various last-minute announcements from DfE relating to COVID testing in schools and the staggered return to school for Senior School students. We have not had a great deal of time to process the guidance but, on our current understanding: in the first week of term, from Tuesday 5th January to Friday 8th January, Years 11 and 13 will be in school, together with children of key workers, but Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 will be taught remotely via Teams. From Monday 11th January, all Senior School students will be back in school. Prep School students are unaffected, and should attend as usual from 5th January. If your child will need to come into school because you are a key worker, please let Mr Hayden know by email at email@example.com. Should there be any change, we will write to you with further information: please do watch your emails.
On the matter of testing in school, we have some work to do in relation to logistics, and we will write to parents in the new year with details. The guidance from DfE is that this is not mandatory either for individuals or schools; however, we would expect further information from the government about the requirements and practicalities in due course.
I hope that you have been enjoying the various online concerts this week, including the fantastic whole-school carol service on Thursday. Thank you to everyone who has contributed in any way to these wonderful events. If you do not already do so, please could I encourage you to follow the school on Facebook (@AKSSchoolLytham) or Twitter (@AKSSchool) to stay abreast of these and other school events and news. You can watch earlier events on Facebook and YouTube should you wish to catch up with them later.
The celebrations across the country will inevitably be rather different than usual come Christmas Day. Nevertheless, please could I take this opportunity to wish you, and your families and friends, a restful and enjoyable festive fortnight, and I very much look forward to welcoming everyone back in January.
With best wishes,