What an unforgettable year it’s been.
As our schools break up for the summer, I again want to thank parents for your support of our school leaders and staff in these turbulent times. I am so impressed by, and grateful for, the creativity and adaptability of every one of our pupils and staff.
I also want to share with you some of our schools’ achievements over the past few months, and look ahead to the next academic year.
Most of our schools stayed open, throughout the term, to look after the children of key workers and for vulnerable pupils. And since half-term, we’ve been able to welcome more pupils back into our schools – and we’ve loved having them with us.
For those who couldn’t be in school, Guided Home Learning ensured that our pupils maintained their educational momentum, providing structure and purpose at an uncertain time.
And pupils from across the GDST had opportunities to work together in seminars and online courses.
I was delighted to be part of Inspiring Change Makers Online 2020, alongside over 40 amazing women sharing their insights and advice with students. Nearly 26,000 students, from over 75 GDST and partner schools, logged in too.
Every one of our schools joined in the GDST Song Contest. Meanwhile, over 100 students from 14 schools took part in the first ever virtual GDST debating tournament. And our online Junior Techathon involved over 500 pupils from across GDST schools: take a look at their thoughtful and eye-catching follow-up projects.
For some pupils at our two academies – The Belvedere Academy in Liverpool and Birkenhead High School Academy – lockdown has been particularly challenging. A number of girls could not access the Guided Home Learning programme provided for them, as they don’t have a suitable device or consistent internet access at home. So we have set up the GDST Academy Trust Student Support Fund to fund equipment, internet access and other resources for these students and their families. So far, our staff, parents and pupils have helped us raise over £20,000, which will guarantee each girl a device and access to guided home learning in the future.
The Black Lives Matter movement has challenged us all, and social justice will be even more of a golden thread that runs through our work in the coming months and years. Our steering committee is working on our Charter for Change, which we will launch at the start of the new academic year, as well as a report on progress. You can read my full statement on this important issue here.
Now that the government has published its latest guidance for schools, I can say with confidence that we are looking forward to the new academic year, with all our schools being open to all years come September.
Until then, I wish everyone in the GDST family a safe, restful and restorative summer break.