- Patience Strong

February is the shortest month on the calendar and sometimes after the busy time following Christmas and New Year we are grateful for this, so that we can enjoy the half-term break to re-charge our batteries.

However, we shouldn't lose focus of the fact that February is a month closer to the start of Spring and you may have noticed the lighter mornings, or the Spring bulbs peeking through the soil in the garden.  These are reminders that nature is truly awe-inspiring and subtle signs of change to give us hope for the months ahead.  As you know, I love to go walking, both locally and in the Lake District to clear my mind and recharge my batteries, but also to truly appreciate these seasonal changes and take in the wonder of our natural world.

There has been a lot going on in school since our return in January, obviously we have had the terrible situation of the cyberattack on the school's network and systems.  But this challenge gave our teaching staff the opportunity to go back to basics and teach without any assistance from technology.  As we were also not able to send emails or use the telephones, we met up together as a school community each morning to pass messages onto one another and to check that we were all coping with this new way of working.  The children were amazing and adapted to the changes this brought and even though we are not out of the woods yet, we have made great progress.  All the teachers have their surfaces back and can teach through the big screens again and the pupil access isn't too far behind now.

We've also had a lot of engagement with our parents/carers with Parents' Evenings for Y11, and Y9  and also a Guidance Evening for the parents and pupils in Y9 who are about to choose their option subjects.  It has been lovely to be able to meet with our parents face-to-face after such a long period of time speaking to people remotely.  The feedback from parents attending these evenings has been extremely positive and as a staff body we have loved having parents with their children in school to talk about their progress and in the vast majority of cases, how well they are doing in all aspects of school life.

Since the removal of restrictions (wearing face masks in school) we did initially experience a spike in covid absences, but now encouragingly, it seems to have reduced quite significantly in this last week so I am hopeful that this downward trend will continue for the remainder of the year.  The second vaccination programme is taking place today and tomorrow and I am really pleased and grateful to see the high numbers of our students taking part.

That said, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the importance of attending school every day as this is the only way to maximise the opportunities provided in school, both in terms of educational achievement, but also social engagement and joining in with the extra-curricular activities that are now back on the agenda.  It can make a huge difference!

Finally, please continue to share your good news with us - we have recently celebrated the excellent swimming achievements of Evie Cutter  Evie Cutter Swimming SuccessIf your children do something outside of school that makes you and them feel proud, we would like to hear about it too, so that we can join you in celebrating it.  Please email information to:  enquiries@arrowsmith.wigan.sch.uk 

I hope that we all enjoy a well-earned rest over the half-term break.  Perhaps if you are out walking this half-term you will enjoy the poignancy of the poem below and for our Year 11 students, the poem "Passing the Test" will give them a moment of reflection.  Both of these beautiful and inspirational poems were written by the English Author and Poet, Patience Strong.