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Two becomes one - the diary of a school merger: June 2020

The difference a pandemic makes!

The last time I wrote a blog, updating all our stakeholders on our merger jigsaw, I never would have dreamt that, in just a few short months, the world would look and behave so differently. By the end of March, the primary school was shut down and all services gravitated around the infant school and the school canteens. We welcomed children of key workers and vulnerable children to a skeleton service staffed on a rota by a mixture of infant and primary school staff.  Office functions and staff rest areas centred on the infant school site and parents would get used to using the Dennis Way entrance and queueing at two metre stops. Home learning has taken on a whole new meaning as team leaders and teachers have sought to find innovative and inspiring ways to connect with pupils at home.

Out of this necessity to combine resources, share ideas, and make collaborative plans has arisen a genuine sense of one school as teachers and support assistants, office staff and leaders come together to respond to a national crisis. Primary school  staff have become accustomed to the infant school building and everybody has got to know each other in a much more natural way than activities in an INSET day would have allowed for. My eyes have been opened to the collective genius of senior leaders and the dedication and care of the team of educational and support staff across both schools and I feel truly blessed to work with such an awesome team.

While we been responding to the role of schools in the current crisis, work on merging the two schools has continued. The tenth classroom in the infant school building is now complete and plans are being finalised that will open up the site and create a school campus with flow and unity. The map below shows how the site will be configured in September.  Each year group has a unifying colour and symbol that relates to the natural world and class names correspond to this theme.

Transition from one academic year to the next usually consists of a series of parent meetings, walkabouts, classroom visits and a whole morning of a shifting school as children move to their new schools and new classrooms . In the world of social distancing and contained bubbles this is all now on the 'can't do' list so we are finding alternative ways of introducing children to their September 2020 world. Teachers are busy producing transition posters and videos to connect with their new classes and children who need more of a physical introduction will be invited in to see their new spaces. Work with partners like nurseries and also secondary schools is going on behind the scenes and children at both ends of our school age range should find plenty of opportunities to create a good mental picture ready for September. 

Staff too are preparing for the new academic year. All consultations are now complete and teams for next year have been finalised. A full list of year groups and classes will be available on our website shortly. I sent  a letter out recently with a staffing update and wish those staff members leaving us my very best wishes. I particularly mention Mrs Lightfoot and Mrs Rawley who have been working in the Cippenham Schools for many years and are now looking forward to their retirement. Their care and commitment to our pupils is noticed every day and it is the contribution of dedicated and warm people like these that make our community so special.

Uniform has now changed to a navy blue with the new smart rose emblem and our strapline ' Be inspired. Inspire others'. Uniform will be available to order online and we are planning to offer all children a free sweatshirt to ease any financial strain this brings. We are grateful to some local companies for sponsoring this initiative and would welcome any other offers to support us with this. Please contact Lara Tehabsim if you would like to sponsor a year group in this way. There will be a period of grace before the new navy blue is compulsory and all other colours, trousers, skirts etc remain the same as now.

As we go through the next few weeks, we will welcome more and more children back to school and look forward to seeing Year 6 together for a social, distanced of course, picnic later in the term. We wish we could have everybody back together before the end of term but I think everybody, even the government, has now realised this is just not mathematically possible given the current restrictions.  Let's hope that we can begin 2020-21 year with a greater degree of normality and welcome our whole community to The Cippenham School.