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Happy New Year everyone.  I hope you had a good break over Christmas and were able to have some good quality family time.  Thank you to all the parents and friends who came to the end of term carol service, which was probably one of the best ever.  The quality of music and singing was outstanding – congratulations and thank you to Mr Manwaring and all the performers for their hard work and talent.  It is always a fitting and beautiful way to end the longest term of the year.

This week we went through our critical incident procedures with students, which includes what to do if a lockdown is needed or if there is a situation of extreme danger on the school site.  Students were shown what to do in  the four possible different scenarios and the likelihood of each one:

  • Partial lockdown
  • Full lockdown
  • Dynamic Lockdown
  • Extreme situation – Run, Hide, Tell

A partial lock down may be when the police advise us to keep everyone on site after the school day for one reason or another, like a major accident near the airport, or a threat in the area.  A full lockdown would be when students, as a precaution, may be required to stay inside and out of sight.  A dynamic lockdown is where a lockdown situation may have to change according to the situation or advice from the authorities. And the final scenario, where people are under direct and immediate threat may lead to a ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ situation, which would apply equally outside school as much as inside it.  All of these plans are precautionary and will probably never have to be used for real, but we need to be prepared and we need to know how to manage our safety.

Next week students will have the chance to see an official short video giving young people advice about what do to in these life-threatening situations.  It is very good, and it will provide students with the confidence to be responsive and stay as calm as possible when seeking safety, in or out of school.  Please talk with your child about this and encourage them to make sure in any situation that they follow the directions of staff or police.  However, I have reassured students that such preparation is entirely precautionary, and rather like a fire drill, it doesn’t mean we are expecting any imminent problems.  Please join me in reassuring them that there is nothing to be anxious about and it just something that all schools now need to have in place.

TWBS is now a no bells school.  Our lesson changeover bell system went on the blink at the start of the week and we have decided to trial running the school without the usual bells.  Initial responses have been positive – students have been asked to take more responsibility about getting to lessons on time and not relying on a Pavlovian reflex to get to the classroom on time.  Staff have had to jump to as well and ensure they are there on time and all ready to start.  But in fact we have found that students and teachers alike have actually being getting to lessons more punctualy without bells – mostly because they are thinking ahead and starting movement before the bell rather than waiting until it sounds.  But overwhelmingly everyone in the school says it is so much calmer without the bells screeching away every hour.  At the moment things are going so well we are thinking about keeping this as a permanent arrangement. Sometimes a misfortune is in fact a blessing in disguise!

Gavin Henderson