Letter From The Headmaster - January 2020
I hope you all had a good Christmas break with your families. As we start the new term we welcome three new members of staff. Peter McLeish is a very experienced Mathematics teacher who replaces Rachael Beasley as she leaves us due to family circumstances. We are also delighted that we have re-established our Australian Gap Student Programme and welcome Patrick Bullock and Libby Butler from Downlands, our MSC sister school in Toowoomba, Queensland.
I am sure that many of you and your children will have made New Year’s resolutions and hopefully these are still in force! One of the targets for us all, I am sure, is to look after our own health - both physical and mental - and our general well-being. It is the same for our children of course.
Two related factors that are regularly highlighted by scientific studies in this area are:
1. Excessive screen time
2. Insufficient sleep
So if you have any room for additional New Year’s resolutions, then the following suggestions may be useful:
1. Do continue to talk to your children about their screen time and ensure you have established sensible ground rules in terms of ICT access and usage.
2. Do enforce (and police) appropriate bedtimes for your children – they generally need a minimum of eight hours per night.
3. Do model good practice: it’s really important that we, as adults, don’t have our phones out at the dinner table or let our phones interrupt conversations with our children.
At Princethorpe, as a staff, we are also looking at our own wellbeing and measures to best manage our workloads. One area we have identified as a cause for concern is the proliferation of emails in recent years and the sheer amount of time it takes to read and respond to them. Whilst email can be an exceptionally effective communication tool, like any area of ICT its use needs to be carefully considered to avoid overload. So this year we have set ourselves a target to reduce internal email traffic – by using more efficient ways of sharing information such as My School Portal or Microsoft Teams – or by talking more face to face!
We also have a genuine desire to make our parental communications as efficient as possible. As you know we try to keep you well informed by publishing the Calendar and our e-newsletter the Flagpole and having a number of bespoke on-line platforms such as: the Parent Portal (My School Portal), SOCS (school sports fixture information) and Evolve (for trips).
We also realise that from time to time parents may need to contact a member of staff directly and therefore email is a key part of our parental communications. There is an expectation that staff regularly check their emails at work (though not when they are teaching of course) and we have a target that a parent email is responded to within 24 hours of receipt.
Please be aware however, that teaching staff often have limited time during the day to access their email – due to their teaching commitments, lesson preparation, marking, pastoral care, breaktime duties and running clubs and activities - and we do not expect staff to spend many hours in their evenings or weekends dealing with work emails.
If you have any feedback on our communications or suggestions as to how we could further improve, please do let me know.
Finally, many thanks to all of you who sent messages of support and goodwill (and presents!) to our staff in the run up to Christmas – these are all really appreciated.
I send my best wishes to you and your families for the New Year.