11th December 2020
Dear Hillcrest Parents and Staff
A year ago, the parents’ school disco was being organised by Friends of Hillcrest. No one had heard of coronavirus and no one imagined how the next 12 months were going to shape up. Looking back, I think it’s fair to say it’s been a very different year!
Firstly, I would like to give a very warm welcome to the new cohort of Reception parents and carers. Normally you would have had a chance to meet each other in the playground and to share together that sometimes roller-coaster ride that starting your children at school can be. I hope you have been made to feel welcome and that your support networks develop over the fullness of time.
I am also really pleased to welcome Kate Lehane, our new parent governor and Yag Sahin-Altunoz and Craig Wardle our new co-opted governors to the board this year.
Since September the school has been open for all children and although there have been a few cases of the virus, PHE isolation processes along with the schools social distancing measures and hygiene processes have been very robust and have kept everyone safe.
There is a difference between being open and being a place where children thrive. At times the difficulties we have all faced this year have made even the simple day-to-day seem like a real struggle. Despite this, Hillcrest has continued to grow and improve, and our children have been enthused and engaged in their learning. Behind the scenes the leadership team has been working to develop the curriculum, following an evidence-based approach, to ensure the most current thinking on pedagogy is embedded throughout all aspects of learning. It has been enlightening to be an observer of this.
Additionally, the School has embarked on a new reading initiative, led by the Deputy Head, which has been incredibly successful. Reading is the cornerstone of all learning and it is something we can all share with our children.
This drive for continual improvement is only possible because of the fortitude and enthusiasm of the Hillcrest staff who have really shone through in this crisis and I’m sure you all stand with me in applauding them.
One of the responsibilities of the governors is to oversee the financial performance of the school and this has been a particular challenge this year. We started the year in good financial health but like many other schools, we have lost or seen significant reductions in many of our revenue streams due to Covid-19 restrictions, like afterschool clubs and evening lettings. We have also incurred additional Covid-19 expenditure including upgrading the school IT to support flexible and virtual learning.
For many there has been more time to reflect this year, without the rush from one activity to the next. I for one have cherished this; finding wonder in the little things. It has also been a year when the sense of cohesion and unity within our close-knit community has been drawn out and hopefully we will hold onto this shared identify as the prospect of more normal social interactions becomes an increasingly bright light on the horizon.
As the Christmas break approaches, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the governing board to thank Bridget and all her staff for their ongoing commitment to our children and their perseverance and resilience during such a challenging time. I trust the Teachers, Teaching assistants, SMSAs, Office staff, and Mr Dean will have a well-deserved rest and I will leave you to thank your children’s Class Teacher and Support Staff in your usual way.
Enjoy the break and the festivities as you can and I look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year. Hopefully, this time next year we will be able to enjoy another parents’ school disco!
Chair of Governors