Heads Weekly Update 18th Sept 2020

Heads Weekly Update 18th Sept 2020

Dear ALS Community,
It continues to amaze me the speed with which new pupils have settled in to Arnold Lodge. Whether it’s our new Reception, Year 7 or pupils joining in to other year groups, it already feels like they are a full part of our school community. I know it’s one of our real strengths but it’s still wonderful to see new pupils smiling in their lessons and spending time with their friends on the playground. In many ways, the way in which our pupils welcome new friends is testament to the culture and ethos of the school.
Another week and another Covid-19 update. There’s a lot of confusion out there about what to do in different scenarios. To help with this, please find our FAQ for pupil absence here. The next few months are going to be challenging without appropriate testing capacity; children, if they display symptoms, have to go home until they have a negative test.

This is right and proper for the protection of the community. But, if children can’t get a test, they may be at home unnecessarily. To counter this, we’re working hard to secure a range of tests that we can supply to parents and pupils in the community that will help us all get back in to school in an efficient manner as I know that there have been significant delays.

We are also contacting local private companies to see if we can host a testing clinic at Arnold Lodge for the school community. It may come to nothing but I want you to know that we’re doing all we can to go even further beyond our remit as a school to protect our wider community.
I can’t speak for the whole of the independent sector - and I know that many Headteachers are worrying about future pupil numbers - but we have never had so many enquiries. It’s a little cliché for me to say this as it seems to be each year that goes by we are snowballing with the volume of enquires.

For Year 7, we already have 35 external enquiries (without counting our own Year 6 of 20+ pupils) for just 40 spaces (across 3 classes). When I first took over as Head in January 2016, it was important to me even when we became full (and I knew we would) to never be a school that ‘ranks’ children. So, we will continue with the policy that we had to implement last year for the first time of first come, first served. For me, if a child wants to join Arnold Lodge and is able to pass our admissions criteria, they should be offered a place.

Children shouldn’t be forced to wait on the off chance a “better” application comes along. It isn’t very child centered, it isn’t very Arnold Lodge and, to me, it just isn’t very kind. Given the volume of external applicants, I’d like to encourage current Year 6 parents to come for a tour of the Senior School and to confirm their place in Year 7 ASAP so we know how many places we can release for external candidates. To book a tour, please contact admissions@arnoldlodge.com.
Next week, our mantra comes from Veritas: Live the school values; don’t just talk about them. Whilst Dedicas and Amicus are relatively straight forward in their mantras (work hard and be kind), Veritas goes deeper than ‘tell the truth’ as it also reflects on integrity and introspection. Making sure we back up the words we use with actions that reflect them is an important part of our school culture. We have all bought in to working in an environment that stands for hard work, honesty and kindness - and I know that everyone in school community can talk about that - but making sure our actions always live up to those standards is that much harder.
I’m sure most are connected with ALS on social media but for those who aren’t, do pop along to Facebook (here), Instagram (here) and Twitter (here) to keep up to date with the goings on at Arnold Lodge. We’re increasingly using the platforms to share introductions to teachers, pupil achievements and video updates where necessary.
I don’t think we can avoid that there are Covid-19 cases rising around us and I know that this will be causing a worry for many. We can’t control what else is out there - we can only control what we can. So, please know that ALS will continue to keep on top of our risk assessments, cleaning and measures to keep children and staff safe in school. We will be stringent in sticking to guidance and, I know for some, this will cause frustration when I say a child has to go home / can’t return to school. However, we will do this for the good of the whole community. I know we’ll be stronger for it the other side. If, at any point, there’s anything we can do as a school community to support you, please don’t hesitate to let us know.
Have a lovely weekend.