I am very pleased that we are moving forward positively in many areas of our school development and after less than 2 terms, we have made remarkable progress as a school community. There have been and will continue to be, areas for development and improvement along the way, and we will not get everything right all the time. However, as a school community we must be open and respectful to the differing views and opinions in such a new, large and growing school. As a school leadership team, we are always grateful for your feedback, in terms of what we are doing well and what we need to do better. I must thank the PTSA Committee for bringing your views to my attention and I will be meeting with them at each meeting to discuss issues and suggestions which you bring either through the PTSA reps or the class reps. We must remember to walk before we run, and it is important that we manage expectations carefully and realistically: we are still a ‘work in progress’ and that progress so far has been substantial.
Parent Information Meetings: We have arranged several meetings over the coming weeks for parents to engage with school staff. Please see the diary of events in this newsletter and our social media posts for information.
School tours for current parents: The PTSA committee have kindly agreed to act as ‘guides’ for tours of the school now that all our facilities are open. If you would like to book a tour (max 12 people per tour) please contact the PTSA Chairperson, Harjeet, on firstname.lastname@example.org. Tours will take place at 2.00pm every day except Monday, until the end of March 2019.
Emergency Evacuation and Lock Down Drill – please remind children that when the emergency alarm sounds all students must prepare to evacuate the buildings. This requires walking quickly and quietly to the muster point and waiting in line silently in order for staff to ensure everyone is safely accounted for and to give further safety instructions. We will also be implementing a ‘Lock Down’ procedure this term.
- We recently had our first ‘unplanned’ emergency evacuation. Despite 2 previous ‘planned evacuations’ to ensure children and staff were aware of the safe procedures to follow, many children assumed (wrongly) that it was a drill and subsequently were very late moving to the muster points and upon arrival, proceeding to talk, laugh and joke and even dance! This creates a very dangerous situation as staff cannot ascertain quickly enough that everyone is safe and any further instructions (eg to evacuate beyond the school gates) would not be heard clearly above the noise created by students talking. In the interests of everyone’s safety it is essential that children follow the two simple rules – 1. Walk quickly and quietly with your teacher to the muster point 2. Line up in single file and remain silent
- As part of our safety and security procedures we are now in a position to implement a ‘Lock Down’ procedure. This will be activated if the school comes under threat from an armed person/s or there is a critical incident either involving the school or in the near vicinity to the school. We will be practising this drill during this term so that the children and staff are fully aware of what to do in such an unlikely event. The advice we will give comes from the UK Police and the USA Authorities and in its most basic form is RUN, HIDE, TELL
Swimming Lessons – primary students will be starting swimming as part of their PE programme this term. Secondary students and FS will swim next term. All of our PE teachers are Life Guard trained. Thank you to all parents who have returned the swimming form.
- We are very fortunate to have a wonderful new swimming pool and a beginner pool, both of which are now available for us to use. Swimming is part of our PE curriculum up to Key Stage 3 and all children are expected to take part in these lessons and bring the correct equipment as per the swimming letter. As with all PE lessons, if your child is ill or unwell in some manner which would preclude them from taking an active part in the PE lesson, a medical note would be required.
- All of our PE teachers are Lifeguard trained and all have taken part in a refresher course recently in Doha. In primary school girls and boys will take part in swimming lessons as a class; in secondary school girls and boys will swim separately. In KS2 and KS3, all swimming lessons will have 1 Lifeguard trained PE teacher and 1 extra supervisor on duty poolside. In KS1 there will be 2 poolside supervisors in addition to the Lifeguard trained PE teacher. We will commence FS lessons shortly with appropriate supervision and we intend to offer FS1 a ‘splash time with mum’ in our beginner pool during term 3. We have anti-slip flooring around the pool and notices regarding ‘pool safety rules’. The pools are situated very close to the nurse’s clinic in case of any emergency. We have a maintenance team who regularly monitor the water quality and balance. I know the children are very excited about starting swimming lessons in school and I look forward to seeing their progress.
- There are some minor risks associated with swimming which are not always avoidable, for example a child having a reaction to the water, swallowing some water and vomiting, slipping on a wet floor (although we do have anti-slip mats), contracting a skin or eye irritation, not drying off properly and catching a cold etc… These risks, although mitigated for by the school, are inherent with the activity and although the large majority of children do not suffer from any of these risks, they are not always avoidable in every case.
Mental Health First Aid Training: Twelve of our teachers and admin staff took part in a 2-day training event at school this week on Mental Health First Aid. This is the first of an ongoing programme of training for staff on how to identify and help our students who are feeling anxious or concerned about school. To support this, all our students from Y2 upwards will take the Pupil Attitude to Self and School (PASS) survey which is part of our GL Assessments suite. This will support teachers in identifying underlying areas of concern for individual students which might be hindering their academic and / or social development in school.
Request to all Parents: I have been disappointed recently that there is a very small minority of parents whose approach to our Office staff and security staff has been reported to me as abusive and sometimes even aggressive. This has been witnessed by several members of staff and other parents who have expressed their concern at this type of approach. I would ask parents to respect all our staff no matter what their job is in school. We are all working in the best interests of our students and there is no place for abusive or aggressive behaviour towards any of our staff.
Staff Recruitment: We are interviewing for new teaching staff for September ahead of another anticipated large increase in student enrolment. We have interviewed in London and Doha as well as by SKYPE and will be employing over 30 new staff. My thanks to the students, parents and staff who were involved in the final interviews for senior leadership roles to ensure a 360 appraisal for these posts.
- We received 900+ applications for teaching posts for September, reflecting the level of interest in working at our school. This created a huge amount of work for our HR staff and senior leaders who were involved in reviewing applications, selecting candidates, interviewing, preparing and offering contracts for appointments. In all, we expect to appoint more than 30 additional teachers to accommodate the large increase expected in student numbers by September. I will send information regarding our new staff in due course once the process has been completed. We will also be reviewing our administration and support staff to reflect the increase in workload generated by almost doubling of the school role.