Headteacher's Weekly Update - 28th January 2022
I hope this email finds you and your families well. Another challenging week in school in terms of
staff and student absence, so I’ll begin there.
Our confirmed Covid cases for the week were down on last week, but still higher than we would like and higher than they have been historically.
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, we had seventeen staff members absent from school, a
mixture of teaching and support staff. This puts us in a difficult position in terms of teaching, but
also in terms of duties and other logistical issues here in school. The quality of supply staff, to cover
absent teachers, is particularly poor at the moment too and still very expensive. Although keeping a
year group at home to work remotely is undesirable, we take the view that their educational
experience at home will be a positive one and we can better use the funds that would have gone on a supply teacher, on resources for your child’s education.
Regrettably this week, due to the aforementioned staff absence, we had Year 7 home on Wednesday and Year 10 on Thursday. My sincere apologies for any disruption this caused your family. This half term is historically a challenging one for staff and student absence with lots of viruses and such like. Clearly, this has been exacerbated by Covid too. I hope that the numbers absent will reduce as we move towards spring, and that all year groups are able to remain onsite, to receive their lessons.
I have attached to this letter some information from the Waltham Forest Public Health team about
vaccinations for 12-15 year olds, and where drop-in clinics etc. are locally; this letter has particular
relevance to clinically vulnerable children. I hope this information is helpful. I am yet to hear
when/whether we might host a second vaccination clinic here at Kelmscott but will share this
information if/when I know more.
We have had two incidents recently of students ringing doorbells of houses in the local community
and then running off – ‘knock down ginger’ as it used to be called when I was a boy. Two incidents in a school of over nine hundred is very few of course and I know the vast majority of our students are too sensible to engage in such games. I mention it though, as both times the students have rung ‘video doorbells’ which record everything that goes on and everything that is said, which has been very helpful when we have investigated these incidents. I would be grateful if you could speak to your child about this, and impress upon them the importance of being responsible community members.
I met with a Waltham Forest police officer this week, together with the other secondary
Headteachers in Waltham Forest. He shared a couple of things that I felt important to share with
you. Firstly, there has been an increase in vaping amongst secondary school aged children. Like
smoking, this is of course, banned at Kelmscott and students will be excluded if they are
smoking/vaping, if they are with others who are smoking/vaping, or in possession of smoking/vaping paraphernalia. The police officer also stated that some secondary aged children are selling expensive vapes at low prices to their peers. The police believe that these vapes are stolen and have warned of the consequences of being in possession of stolen goods; this would lead to a criminal record.
The police officer also warned us about the edible cannabis sweets that resemble Haribo sweets,
these can be bought online. They contain THC, which is the element in cannabis that leads to a
high. The potency of these sweets varies from sweet-to-sweet, but some individual sweets have
very high levels of THC, which could be very dangerous if eaten. I would also like to remind families that if a child was found in possession of these at Kelmscott, it is highly likely that their time at Kelmscott would come to an end.
Next Thursday is our Year 7 Parents’ Evening that takes place remotely. I know many of you have
already booked your appointments with your child’s subject teachers. Subject teachers will call on
the telephone at the allotted time. Just like a traditional, in person, Parents’ Evening, it is sometimes
not possible to have an appointment on the night with every one of your child’s teachers. This is
because some teachers teach just one year 7 group so have more time for appointments, whereas
others can teach up to four year 7 classes making it impossible for them to meet with every family.
If there are no available appointments for you to speak to a particular teacher, please contact the
school and we can organise an appointment for you, with that teacher, at another time.
Well done to 8L who were victorious in the Year 8 inter-form basketball competition this week, they
retain bragging rights for the next twelve months. Years 7, 9 and 10 have their basketball
competitions coming up later this term.
Finally, congratulations to Daniel Milasevskiy in 8L who amassed the most rewards points last week
with twenty-six – keep up the good work. Until next week.
Mr Sam Jones