When we were putting the Academy together last year we had lots of discussions about the kind of school we wanted to create. We talked through how we thought it would be, we looked at our risks and our challenges. Yet in all our many conversations never did we think that we would be in a position where the Academy would be closed for an indefinite period of time for a worldwide pandemic.
Yet many of the conversations we had revolved about the principles of the school and the kind of students we wanted to create. An Academy based on kindness, an Academy that challenged the students. Students who loved learning, students who are resilient, students who are safe, happy, ambitious for themselves and respectful of all. Last year I wrote that the Academy did not really become real until we had families allocated to us and met the students on induction day. We said at the time it is the people and community that makes the school, not the buildings or facilities.
That is as true today as it was then. Though we are apart physically, we can still be together as a community, still learn together, have fun together, develop together. Over the past week, the staff have been putting together a programme to continue students’ learning. Equally important is to create an environment where we continue to strengthen the bonds we have grown over the past six months.
We have been really impressed by the quality of our students’ response, their willingness to help each other, the fantastic work that they have produced and many of the words of kindness we have had from both families and students. The more students get involved, the easier this time will be.
We will be continuing to develop our offer and do more. We have just launched a well-being section of the student portal to give students some fun activities to do, we are writing out to mentors and to services like the music service to see what can be offered online. We are developing live lessons, creating resources, providing meals, contacting vulnerable families and trying to carry on the work of the Academy in every way we can. It is natural for students to feel sad and worried at this time and if a call or email to them from one of our staff would help, please let us know.
We have always spoken of giving the students opportunities and we will be doing all we can to make this period filled with opportunity for students who have been given the gift of time. I hope our students seize this opportunity to show their character, to show kindness to their families and neighbours, to help others in our Academy community virtually, to read and learn and broaden their interests.
The next few weeks will test us all, it will get harder, but know the Academy stands with our families to support in any way we can during this challenging period in our lives.
We hope that you all stay safe and well.