Principal’s Blog 2021

18 January 2021: Supporting the National Effort

We are in the middle of a pandemic and the Academy has two priorities:

  • The first is to provide an outstanding education to our children, whether online or in the classroom.
  • The second is to support the nationwide efforts to reduce the number of infections and halt the spread of coronavirus.

We cannot fulfil the second priority if we have large numbers in the Academy.

Schools were closed from the beginning of term to reduce infections and the subsequent pressure on the NHS, yet we are approaching 10% of our cohort attending daily.

This means bringing in additional teaching and non-teaching staff and is, clearly, self-defeating in terms of fighting the virus.

We will of course remain open to those who are vulnerable and, where we have evidence, children of key workers. Those currently in school and any asking for places in the future will be asked to provide relevant evidence of key worker status.

We will always do our best to support our families, but we must keep numbers in school down to ensure the safety of those here and support the national effort.

Our COVID-19 testing centre is up and running for those attending. Those children should have received a consent form and none will be tested without it. Staff in school are being tested weekly and this is working well.

The new behaviour system has been introduced for those children attending school and students have risen to our increased expectations, with many openly saying how much more they can achieve when classrooms are calm and purposeful.

Can I please remind parents that all students in school must be in full uniform. If there are any issues with this, please let us know.

I am pleased that increasing numbers are accessing the online learning and we will be following up where students are not logging in. Staff are working hard to ensure students working remotely have access to high quality learning and lessons and don’t fall behind.

Well done to those who attended their vocational exams in the last two weeks. We had another change in Government guidance this week, firstly cancelling those scheduled for February and March and, on Friday, cancelling the ones due to be sat in summer. As soon as we know more, we will let you know.

I can assure you it is difficult for staff as well as students.

Our social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were key to successful communication during the first lockdown and a way in which we can all celebrate the students’ achievements:

  • Look out for the weekly year group shout outs and some fun challenges, such as Miss Bamforth’s Computer Science tasks for Years 7 to 9.
  • Our social media also includes more details about the welcome return of free school meal vouchers from 18 January.

As always, keep well and stay safe.


11 January 2021: All Change!

Hours after last week’s blog went live, everything changed.

Up to the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday, we had been planning for a phased return and were setting up a coronavirus testing centre.

What a first week back but I would like to thank staff, students, and parents for their positive reaction.

We could have been downbeat about another lockdown and the Academy being closed to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers. But the Bulwell spirit kicked in again, as it did last year, and we have quickly adapted. It made me feel proud to be Principal.

We will get through this, but we know school will be closed for some weeks.

The Academy is, however, in a different place to last March with its online alternative to classroom teaching.

  • Students are being set lessons in line with their timetable, by their class teacher, on the relevant platform for their Key Stage
  • Live lessons are being given by teachers via Teams to Years 10, 11 and 6th Form while Years 7 to 9 will have work provided through ClassCharts, with an ability to email teachers with questions as though they were in the lesson.

Please go to Remote Learning or Student Links from the quick link on our home page for details of how to sign in and guides for ClassCharts and Teams.

Students will be receiving a link every Tuesday to check-in with school to let us know how they are getting on. Please encourage them to complete it as it flags up any concerns. The link will be sent out on ClassCharts for Years 7 to 9 and via Teams for Years 10 and above.

We have handed out 200 Chrome books this week, in addition to the 300 distributed last year.

Please contact your child’s Year Manager if students are struggling with either devices or internet access, and we will do our best to support.

We will be contacting families daily and all should have at least one call a week, but please ring or email school if you have any issues.

I would like to see our social media pages once again full of positive stories about our students and their achievements, inside and outside of school. Look out for the ‘shout outs’!

On that note, well done to Ethan Bucknall from Year 11 and Year 7’s Iris Wallace.

Ethan was given an award as a Nottingham Clean Champion for his litter picking efforts while Iris was named one of Nottingham Building Society’s Innovative Young People of 2020 winners for her voluntary work with the Bulwell Forest Garden and the town’s foodbank.

What stars!

Well done too to the Year 8 student who had been having technical problems so wrote her work out and sent it to prove she had been doing it!

All in all then, a difficult week made better by those who matter the most, our young people.

As always, keep well and stay safe.


4 January 2021: Welcome 2021

Wow . . . it has been quite a start to 2021. I hope you had a good Christmas and wish you all a happy New Year.

For those in education, it has been difficult to switch off over the past two weeks. Schools are at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 and, as such, are having to adjust to meet constantly changing demands.

It has been frustrating to be given one set of guidelines the day before we broke up for Christmas – which was far too late – and then something different last week, days before returning.

It is the first time I have sent a letter to parents over the festive break but I wanted to explain the impact of the changes on students and their families as soon as possible.

We have all seen the dramatic rise in infections in recent weeks and need to do what we can to reduce the numbers. But we also want to give our young people the best possible education while keeping them and staff safe.

  • Vulnerable children and those of key workers are in school from tomorrow (5 January) with online learning for everybody else.
  • Year 11 and Post 16 students are expected to return next Monday (11 January), with remote learning continuing for Years 7 to 10.
  • The Government has announced that face-to-face teaching for all students, unless they are self-isolating, should resume on Monday 18 January.

It has made it clear that, while the priority is to have schools open, the virus could change those plans.

Importantly, BTEC and other vocational exams are to take place as planned.

The Department for Education has also announced schools will be testing students daily for coronavirus to further reduce the spread of the virus and minimise the disruption caused by staff and students needing to self-isolate.

The testing centre at the Academy will be set up as soon as I know I can do so safely and effectively. If anyone would like to volunteer to support it, please contact me via enquiries@bulwellacademy.org.uk.

I look forward to the day when I prioritise and talk about nothing but teaching and learning and getting the best outcomes and experiences for our students.

2021 is going to be a better year for all of us.


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