Chair of Governors' Message

19th July 2021

Dear Parents and Staff 

As the end of the 2021 school year approaches I am writing to you as Chair of Governors on behalf of the Board, to keep you informed of what the school has achieved over the year and to recognise all of the time effort and energy that has been put into the education of the children at Hillcrest. 

Looking back, I am reminded of how much has happened and what we have all been through over the past 12 months.  In September the school was open with, now familiar, social distancing measures but by January we were back to strict lockdown and home learning again.  Despite the very short notice from central government, Hillcrest transitioned to home learning smoothly and efficiently.  Maintaining the continuity of education, with so many gaps and changes was particularly challenging and I would like to reflect on the fortitude with which the staff rose to this challenge.  Thank you for all your perseverance in these difficult times.  

During that third national lockdown parents and carers all did their best for their children and families, thank you all very much for the effort you made.  Meanwhile the staff continued to juggle many balls to try and meet the wide range of different needs and abilities, both in the classroom and online, as they continued to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum.  Additionally, there was a clear focus to try and bring some of our most vulnerable children back into school, along with the children of key workers.  During this time, the School Meal Support Assistants stepped up to the challenge and took on additional responsibilities over lunchtimes to free up teacher’s capacity. 

On reflection, lockdowns were not easy and we all know they are far from an ideal situation.  After Easter the lockdown restrictions were eased and the children returned to another period of change, transition and adjustment.  As things began to revert to a more normal routine there were still social distancing measures in place.  I am aware that the effects of the little things, such as classroom desk orientation and lack of cross year group interaction will have had a significant effect on our children and we should be mindful how these will play out.  

The pandemic has brought about a lot of change.  The move to increased meetings on line being one.  I think there are a lot of benefits of online parents’ evenings but they are not a panacea and governor school visits over zoom were manageable but I am sure the governors will be looking forward to getting back into the school next year.  However, the children were able to benefit from remote connection in the production of the brilliant podcasts, From the Crest of the Hill.  I hope the school will find the time to continue this as listening to the confidence and eloquence of the childrens’ discussions was a real joy! 

At the start of the Summer we said a teary goodbye to Jacky Wyatt the EYFS lead and a true stalwart of the Hillcrest community for the past 16 years.  On behalf of all the governors - thank you Jacky.  Lucy Newstead takes over the Early Years provision and the governors have been very impressed with the energy and enthusiasm with which she has taken up this important role, laying the foundations for the children’s tenure at Hillcrest. 

Throughout the Summer, as restrictions have eased, we have seen more familiar activities such as school camps, the Year 6 Mini Enterprise and a fantastic Sports Day.  I was particularly impressed that Mr McIntyre conducted a socially distanced whole school assembly in the playground. 

Looking forward, I am aware that the school are already considering a number of further recovery initiatives which the staff will look forward to sharing with parents at the Curriculum Evenings planned for early September. 

After almost 2 years as the Chair I am stepping down at the end of this term. Governance has been an incredibly rewarding role for me, and I have really enjoyed the privilege of supporting the school team too.  Whilst I might struggle to let go I will continue to be part of the Hillcrest community for a little while longer…. 

Governance is more than the role of the Chair.  Hillcrest has an extremely skilled group of committed volunteers who give of their own time selflessly.  Next term Matt Hodge will chair the Board and Kate Lehane will step up to the deputy role, ensuring that Hillcrest has a very capable and experienced Board of Governors to provide strategic guidance and assurance to the running of the school. 

Next year will bring its own fresh challenges, along with the increased likelihood of an Ofsted inspection and further central government moves towards academisation.  I’m sure you join me in thanking all of the Governors for their hard work and commitment. 

As the Summer holidays approach, I wish the teachers, teaching assistants, office staff, cleaners, breakfast club staff, our site manager and the school meal supervisory assistants a well-deserved break – thank you so very much for all your hard work.  We have faced the current challenges united as a community and whatever will happen in the future we will emerge even stronger, more adaptable and more resilient. 

I feel so proud to be part of this strong, encompassing school community - never more so than in the way Hillcrest celebrated Pride week (and is now working to achieve its Rainbow Flag award). 

On behalf of the Board of Governors I thank Ms Norman wholeheartedly for leading the school through these challenging times with measured consideration, patience and good humour. 

Enjoy the Summer and I wish Hillcrest every success for the future. 

Kind regards 

Jon Ross

Chair of Governors