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Our Manor Summer Term 2020

A Message From the Principal

Welcome to our end of term newsletter. I am sure that for all of us, 2020 and these last few months in particular will be ones that we will never forget. This is certainly the case for us here at Manor School.

On 2 March 2020 I arrived at school to discover that we had been the victim of an IT crypto virus, which although had been picked up by our anti-virus software, meant that we were without any IT or telephone facilities at all. In the midst of sorting out the logistics of how we were going to run the school, we received ‘the call’ (via a mobile as the telephones were down) from OFSTED.

As you are aware, OFSTED visited us on 4 and 5 March and we were proud that they were able to convincingly confirm what we internally already knew - that Manor School is a ‘good’ school.

It was during this week that the first rumblings were surfacing about the potential for a new health virus to cause such disruption that it could close schools. Thus, it transpired that we firstly found out that our Year 11 and Year 13 students, who have worked so hard for so long, were having their exam season cancelled, and subsequently that the whole school would close on 20 March 2020.

Since then, we have reinvented the very fabric of schooling on at least 3 occasions, amidst ever changing government guidance that was delivered to us at the same time as it was delivered to the public. Firstly, we made plans for key workers and vulnerable students to attend Manor, followed swiftly by Nene Education Trust creating a hub at Windmill Primary School. Leaders and staff from Manor helped maintain this facility until we returned to Manor in June for the key worker children and subsequently Year 10 and 12 students to gain some face-to-face time. Right now, we are planning for new, different provision for all students to return safely to us in September.

Alongside this we have provided remote learning provision, free school meals and meal vouchers, IT provision for some of our most vulnerable students, welfare checks, Year 6, 9, 11 and 13 transition processes, created centre assessed grades in lieu of exams, as well as all of the usual processes that take place in school to complete a school year and prepare for the next one.

It really has been a monumental effort by all involved. Within this, I not only include all the staff in school from the cleaners, site staff, catering team, admin staff, teachers and leaders, but also all of our students who have had to adjust to these extraordinary times. I also of course include you, as parents and carers, who have had to juggle your work commitments or worries with home learning supervision and perhaps anxieties and concerns about loved ones and society more generally.

So, as I reflect, I would like to say ‘Thank you’ for your patience, kindness and support throughout this time, which still makes me shake my head in disbelief. We are aware that some families will have suffered incredible loss or difficulties and we will be sensitive to this as we return, ensuring that support and wellbeing as well as progress and attainment are at the top of our agenda.

However, I wanted to take this opportunity, via this newsletter, to share with you the positives that so often appear out of crisis. What has struck me most is how the Manor family has come closer during this time. The welfare calls and check-ins have meant that communication within the student–school–home triangle has improved in so many cases; students have been engaging with and enthusiastically sharing with us a wide variety of online and offline challenges and tasks that they have been involved in. I have loved seeing the work flow in.

We have learned so much good - about ourselves, each other and our community - and so we can look forward with determined optimism to the future. There has been so much that is good that I am sure that what is presented here is just a snippet of all of the achievements of Manor School students and staff, however it is right that we celebrate some of the key moments in a summer that none of us will forget.

As the term comes to a close, we say goodbye to some of our family in Year 11 and 13 - as well as a few staff - with the students last week in their virtual proms and we will raise a glass to the staff, but to them all we say ‘Thank you’. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to Manor School and although your time with us did not end in the way that any of us expected, we are proud of you and wish you well on your next steps.

For many in our community, the next steps will be with us. Not only are 5 new teaching staff joining us, who we introduce to you in this newsletter, but we are also welcoming back an unprecedented number of Year 11 into our Sixth Form. Of course, we also welcome our new Year 7 students in September and we can’t wait to meet them all after a summer of virtual contact!

So, let us focus on the positives. Let us look forward to new beginnings and next steps as we try and put this most difficult of times behind us. I am proud to lead Manor School and am excited and very much looking forward to welcoming everyone back in September. In the meantime, have a wonderful summer, enjoy the company of those you love and stay safe.

Work. World. Wellness.

It has been fantastic seeing students engage in a variety of activities during the past three months. From international days marking important aspects of human life and history, to participating in smaller close-to-home projects, students have demonstrated a real interest in global and personal matters. Topics included:

  • Earth Hour
  • International Golden Rule Day
  • Earth Day
  • Virtual Safety Challenge
  • International Day of Families
  • Black Lives Matter
  • School Diversity Week

Click on the link below to see examples of what they have been up to during lockdown.

VE Day

The 75th anniversary of VE Day took place on Friday 8 May. Students were encouraged to mark the event by decorating their homes, drawing art and writing articles. We received lots of fantastic photos of their efforts, with our pastoral team awarding House Points to the top three. Click on the link below to see some of the entries we received.

Eco-Schools Committee

Manor's Eco-Schools Committee has been busy during lockdown coming up with and implementing ideas to help improve the local environment. Their two biggest projects have included building insect homes to increase biodiversity as well as organising a community litter pick, with their efforts being featured on the Northants Telegraph's website.

To find out more about the Committee and their aims, please click on the link below.

Blutick Maths Marathon

The collective efforts of our students resulted in a third place finish for the school in the Blutick Maths Marathon, sponsored by Hodder Education. Students have been using the online learning platform to support them with their home learning, with the Maths Marathon an additional challenge to participate in during late April/early May. Thanks to their dedication and hard work, our students answered a phenomenal 41,831 questions over the two-week competition period. Manor was awarded £200 for finishing in the top five schools.

In-school Provision

Manor School opened up its gates on 8 June to children of key workers and our most vulnerable & disadvantaged students (this provision was previously hosted at Windmill Primary School). Divided into two bubbles across three classrooms, teachers delivered lessons from all subjects across the curriculum. As well as covering the tasks set through our home learning provision, the groups also had the opportunity to partake in additional activities such as designing and building prototypes of pet carry-cages.

Virtual Assemblies

As an additional way of keeping in touch with students, we have been publishing weekly virtual assemblies on Friday afternoons. The first three videos were hosted by our Progress Leaders, and since then it has been the turn of a different department each week to present the assembly. The videos have featured setting a variety of student challenges, including researching their local area (Humanities), making a model moon lander (Science), and creating a lip sync video (Performing Arts). Click on the link below for a playlist of all the videos.

Virtual School Games

Northamptonshire Sport hosted a series of challenges in the build-up to the Virtual School Games Day on 9 July. Consisting of nine weekly challenges, we were delighted to be crowned county winners in the tennis, basketball and athletics events, as well as district winners in the football event. Look out for an update on our Twitter account for the result of the Virtual School Games Day.

To read more about the games and how we have been encouraging students to participate, please click on the link below.

Year 11 and 13 Virtual Proms

The end of year proms are always two of the most anticipated events in the school calendar, so in lieu of being able to celebrate in person we instead took to Instagram to host virtual versions instead. Featuring prom awards voted by students, music playlists, and messages from staff as well as some special guests, the events were highly successful and enjoyed by all.

Staffing Update

At this time of year, we like to thank and send our best wishes to those staff that are leaving us, as well as introduce and welcome our new staff. It is a testament to the quality of the provision and opportunities that we provide at Manor that our staff turnover is so small. Having said this, we believe in developing all staff through our Excellence Pathways and Development Programmes. This inevitably means that staff will make progress in their careers and move onto their next challenges when the appropriate opportunity arises.

Staff leaving at the end of this year include:

  • Mrs Bradbury (Drama) who is taking up another post in Wellingborough
  • Miss Sharp (English) who is relocating back to Wales
  • Miss Marshall (Psychology) who is relocating to Berkshire

We wish these staff every success in their future careers.

We are delighted to report that we were able to complete an exceptional recruitment cycle, despite the challenges of recruiting during lockdown and we are fully staffed with subject specialists in all areas. In addition, as a school that is over-subscribed and continuing to grow we are also able to enhance our staffing numbers to provide even greater support to our students. Therefore, the staff joining us in September 2020 are:

Mr Austin, Director of English

I am really looking forward to getting started and working with a team of staff and students who all want the same thing, success for each other and ambition to develop ourselves as individuals and the school that we are all part of. The sense of community and collaboration that appears to go throughout the school is something special and I can’t wait to play my part in it.

Ms Holtman, Teacher of English and Psychology

From the outset, Manor School and the Manor family have been so welcoming and supportive. Despite our induction being fully virtual, the warmth, commitment and passion of each person involved has been palpable. With such a positive experience thus far, I’m predictably excited to start my journey at Manor School.

Ms Reece, Teacher of Computer Science and IT

As many of you already know me from my teacher training year, I just want to say how much I am looking forward to joining you all properly, and developing as a fully functioning part of the teaching family at Manor.

Ms Matthews, Teacher of Psychology and Social Sciences

I can’t wait to start teaching A-Level Psychology at Manor and getting involved in all the great things the school has to offer. As the proud owner of a Pets as Therapy dog, I am excited to be working for a school that has a huge focus on wellbeing.

Mr McGuiness, Teacher of Drama

My name is Mr McGuinness and I will be teaching Drama next year in Manor. I am from Northern Ireland and have been living in England since last year. I am really looking forward to starting Manor in September after hearing about all the good work the staff and pupils are doing there and becoming part of the team.

We also have a number of internal promotions or reorganisations to announce, which have arisen through the whole school priorities that we have established.

Congratulations to Mr Carter (English) on his promotion on to the Senior Leadership team as an Assistant Principal. The 6th Form has grown in size and stature year on year over the past 3 years and therefore now requires significant specialist input at leadership level and this will be Mr Carter’s main focus.

We continue our programme of separating subject areas from the former joint faculties into specific subject department areas. This enables us to ensure that more subjects are taught by specialists and they can apply their expertise in a more focussed way. As a result, Mrs Johnson will relinquish part of her Professional Tutor role to become Curriculum Leader for History. Mr Andrews will continue to lead geography and RE as well as taking the overview for the ‘World’ aspect of our ‘Work. World. Wellness’ curriculum.

Miss Dicker will remain as Assistant Director of English but also work within the Teaching and Learning team as a Professional Tutor with responsibility for our trainees on Initial Teacher Training (ITT).