12 Jun

Hello everyone, I hope this finds you and your families safe and well. I’m standing in for Miss Rodgers this week, and I apologise in advance if it is not up to the standards that you have become accustomed to!

It has been an interesting time in the Southerington household this week. My son, who is in year 10, returns to school soon for 1 day a week. My daughter, in year 9, is not likely to return to school until September. My wife, who is a headteacher in Rochdale, is facing challenges to ensure her pupils and staff are safe, and I have been working with the Multi Academy Trust at alternative schooling offer to our pupils. These are testing times for all my family, but instead of shying away, we are embracing the challenge. As a family, we have decided that there are no ‘problems’, just things that “we haven’t found the answer to yet”.

Like many other households across the globe, this period of time has also tested our patience levels. We have been observing the social distancing advice, and this has meant being in close proximity to each other, sometimes the slightest misunderstanding can cause conflict. Where we would have ’time out’ and go for a walk, we have had to stay in the area of conflict.

The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on society’s mental health. We are faced with the most challenging period of human history for 75 years, and the uncertainty of the unknown is taking its toll on everyone.

Last week, I set the school a challenge to think of ways to show kindness towards others, from making a cup of tea for someone, to checking in on a vulnerable neighbour. These acts of kindness go a long way to show others that they are not alone, and people are thinking of them. We spend time making sure that everyone else is okay, but when do we stop to take a look at ourselves? Now, more than ever, it is important to be aware of our own mental health and not be afraid to ask for support.

As a good friend of mine, Andy Greenway – from Andy’s Man Club – says, “it’s Okay to talk”. Support and guidance can be found online, and is only a click or a call away:

To help support people’s mental health, and promoting talk, I’d like to set the readers of this blog a challenge – I want to create a time capsule for future generations to discover, to show how Lockdown has affected us, and what we have done to overcome it.

How have you kept yourself entertained, how have you felt during lockdown? It can come in the form of a drawing, a short story, a video message or even a TikTok dance!

What has been your answer to the problems you have faced?

Get thinking about what you could add to the time capsule. We will send out information about how to send your items in next week.

Miss Rodgers and I have been working closely with the Trust Executives to develop risk assessments so that when we do begin to bring pupils back, in a planned and measured way, it puts the health and safety of all our stakeholders first. Having had weeks of online conferences and meetings, both Miss Rodgers and I recently attended the Dean Street site to perform a risk assessment of the building. It was nice to step foot back into the school, but there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that the site is safe for reopening for all our school members.

Those who have been to Dean Street will know the challenges we face, with the layout of the site, the narrow corridors, the size of our classrooms, the amount of movement space in school and the limits to toilet facilities. There is nothing we want more than to have all our young people back at Dean Street, but getting the site safe for all is going to be tricky.

Mr Quinn has mentioned the plans going forward in his blog this week here and, again, it is done with the health and safety of all our service users across all sites in mind.

For the time being, Spring Brook Upper will continue to offer a Virtual School provision, using Showbie. Showbie can be accessed via your child’s iPad, or using a desktop computer.

If you require paper-based work, please let staff know when they do their check in calls. Should you have any queries about virtual access, please do not hesitate to contact me on psoutherington@newbridgegroup.org

Enjoy your weekend, Stay Home, Stay Alert, Stay Safe.

Mr Southerington
Deputy Head of Site

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