So much has already happened since the start of the year but, this being my first blog since arriving back, I want to wish everybody a happy New Year.

The Christmas holiday is always a chance to reflect on the past 12 months and recharge the batteries.

I have spoken to a vast number of students who have done just that. They have had a nice break and enjoyed spending time with relatives and friends. That has been good to hear.

We had a testing start to the year and I would like to thank parents/carers for their patience last week.

If it is any consolation, I found it as frustrating as they did.

It is so important, before we close the school, we bear in mind how difficult that decision can be for parents/carers. Holidays can be planned for but not unexpected closures.

I send my heartfelt apologies and, again, thank you for your trust, support, and patience.

In all my time at The St Lawrence Academy, the building has not suffered from boiler or heating problems.

It was a shock and a disappointment to be faced with the issue when we returned on the Tuesday.

We were in the hands of others, waiting for parts that would allow heating to be maintained at a satisfactory level for the children.

The issue was exacerbated by the new Government guidelines on ventilation. With windows open, it is even more important to have consistent and reliable heating.

Without it, we felt the environment for our children was not comfortable. We have put in place short and long-term measures to help resolve the issues.

We are looking to 26th January when the Government has promised a review of the current COVID control measures and restrictions.

But, apart from face coverings in classrooms, I am happy we are running as normal as possible.

Children should not be coming home saying things are different to pre-Christmas.

Classrooms are laid out in the same way, we are not operating bubbles, assemblies are taking place and we are sticking to the usual two breaks and lunches.

We are, like schools elsewhere, coping and doing what we can to maintain a normal education. The timetable our children are receiving is the one they would have expected.

So far – and this can change at any time – we have not faced significant staff absence.

Of the more than 500 lateral flow tests conducted at the start of term, only two children were COVID positive.

I feel this is reflective of the safe climate we have and how responsible people are being.

Hopefully, after the 26th, we can go back to how we were before the holidays and reinstall extra-curricular activities.

If parents / carers do have any questions, please pick up the phone or drop us an email. Don’t rely on hearsay – we will always give you honest answers.

Thank you again.