I trust that this blog finds you and your family well and I also trust that you have been able to relax, after all of the google classrooming and home-schooling that took place last term. Now that you have had a little time off, I wanted to detail for you some key features of school life when we return at the end of August.
Information on Website
The new school website, as you know, went live at the end of June. You can access it at www.ljhs.co.uk. For new and continuing pupils, it contains lots of information about school and in particular, details about our routines and procedures when we return after the summer break. There are also videos relating to these routines as well as school uniform and how we expect it to be worn. There is a virtual tour of the school for new pupils, so that they can begin to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.
I would encourage all pupils and parents to read through the information and to watch the videos, and the presentations, which give guidelines about the pastoral and academic side of life at Lurgan JHS, as we enter the ‘new normal’.
Taking time to familiarise yourselves at this stage with these procedures will mean that, when we return, teaching time will not be lost and pupils and staff can get to work as quickly and as safely as possible.
In addition, I would draw all parents’ attention to the Home-School agreement located in the section entitled ‘Documents for Parents’ in the Year 8 part of the website, and would kindly request that this is signed and returned to school - either by post, or by email to email@example.com Again, it is important that all parents sign this so that our return to school is safe.
Considerable time has been spent, at the end of term, to review the guidance material shared with schools from the Minister for Education, Mr Weir, regarding the restart to education. Indeed, in light of this guidance, it is likely, at this stage, that the return for our pupils will be in alternating weeks. This essentially means that half of Year 8, half of Year 9 and half of Year 10 will be in school for one week, then during the next week, the remaining half of the school will switch over and be in school. When at home, pupils will engage in an e-learning programme which will be directly related to the face-to-face teaching that they will have experienced the previous week. When in school, pupils will be in a ‘base room’ for the week - in effect, creating a ‘bubble’, and movement around school will be reduced to a minimum. Teachers, instead, will move between rooms to deliver lessons. Arrangements for break and lunch will ensure that the integrity of the ‘bubble’ is not compromised as far as is practicable.
Further details about your child’s return and the exact timing of it, will be communicated to you in due course. This has not been communicated to you as yet, because school is mindful of the fluidity of the situation and the possibility that the advice could change before the end of the summer.
Parents are encouraged to buy all necessary items of uniform as usual, with the exception of the boys’ rugby shirt. Given the nature of the guidance, contact sports will not be feasible and so, you may hold off on purchasing these.
Please take time to watch the video on the website about uniform and how it is to be worn. At Lurgan JHS, we have very high expectations in relation to uniform. The video, along with the written guidance, details important aspects of uniform such as ties, acceptable type of shoes, jewellery, acceptable hairstyles, skirt length, when it is acceptable to wear hoodies and so on. Watching the video will ensure that your child is fully conversant with our high expectations and will prevent them from accruing behaviour points for incorrect wearing of their uniform.
Previously owned Uniform
Thank you to all parents who left previously owned uniform into school. Your kindness is much appreciated. At the start of July, most of this uniform was sold. However, some items were left, including blazers, trousers, skirts, ties, boys’ and girls’ PE Kits. Therefore, there will be another chance for you to purchase these uniform items at the start of August. Further details will be advertised on our Facebook page.
I am delighted to report that in September, we will welcome a full cohort of new Year 8 pupils to the Lurgan JHS family. Sadly, though, we were unable to take all of the pupils that applied for a place and a significant number of pupils had to be turned away.
In the first few days of term, all Year 8 pupils will sit a Cognitive Ability Test and the results of this test will be used principally, (along with some information that primary school partners were in a position to give us), to decide which class your child will be placed in for the remainder of the year. Further details of testing arrangements will be communicated to parents in due course.
I am delighted to report that the Senior Prefects for the next academic year have been chosen by staff. The Senior Leadership Team had a lovely (socially distanced) afternoon at the very end of June with the new Head Boy, Head Girl and their deputies when they were all informed of their nomination to their new positions! I congratulate all of the pupils on this tremendous achievement and look forward to working with them in the year ahead, along with the excellent team of Prefects that will be in place.
House Music Competition
I extend my thanks to the Music Department for its organisation of the annual Music House Competition and I congratulate all those pupils who took part in the competition. I have watched all of the entries and I have been absolutely astounded by the amazing talent on display. Some of our pupils performed pieces of their own, some performed well-known classical music or theme tunes from TV, and some sang or performed contemporary musical pieces.
And as much as I enjoyed all of the entries, you clearly did too! Mrs McCrory was able to inform me that the competition received over 2000 views and over 800 votes were cast in just one weekend! A tremendous achievement, I’m sure you will agree.
Well done to all of our winners who are as follows:
The Winning House: Dunluce
1. Dunluce winner - Mollie Savage
2. Shane winner - Jenna Clarke
3. Carrick winner - Catherine Walsh
4. Gosford winner - Zac McNeil
It just remains for me at this stage to wish you well for the remaining month of holiday. We are all looking forward to your return to school and to getting back to some face-to-face contact with all of our young people.
As alluded to above, the situation with COVID-19 is fluid, and this degree of fluidity may impact on our plans. But we can adapt, we can be flexible, and I am sure that we can meet whatever challenge it may pose for us.
I aim to communicate with you again in August, in order to give you as much clarity and certainty as I can. As always, my communication will be signposted on our Facebook page.
With renewed best wishes to you all.