Covid-19 Update 2nd April 202003/04/20
Thank you for your continuing engagement with us regarding your child’s education. We know that a few students feel a little overwhelmed by the volume of work at the moment – please continue to remind them that if they are sticking to a routine and working consistently according to a timetable then they are doing enough. They are able to email their teachers about any queries they may have with their work; and we continue to be at the end of an email and a phone for parents too.
The government is updating guidelines to schools on a daily basis and section 6.3 in the link below deals with online safety. It provides links to online resources that will help support parents and carers in keeping their children safe online.
LEAN ON ME: STAFF CHOIR
On a separate matter around 20 of our staff, led by Ms Philippou, have produced a song which is accessible via the school website. Their version of Lean on Me has been recorded at home and then expertly mixed (by Ms Philippou – also at home!) and is available to listen to for free. It is a thing of awe and wonder!
As a small boy I dreamed of being Alan Buckley and playing football for Walsall (sad but true). I always had a plan B however, and from my mid teens that was to become a teacher. As a Head you dream about different things and I often imagined a brand new building and brilliant facilities for our students and local community.
On Friday 28th February 2020 we took possession of our new building, Veritas. Last week I told you all about the history of the East Building – a history I had only been part of for 20 of its 65 years. Veritas is something I have been involved with since before the architects, planners and builders even knew it would happen.
In 2012 Hartford High School became Hartford Church of England High School. As a consequence of this, the buildings became the property of Chester Diocese rather than Cheshire West & Chester Local Authority. One of the jobs of the diocesan facilities management team was to carry out condition surveys of our buildings. About a week after these documents arrived on my desk every school in the country received an email from the Department for Education asking us if we felt that we needed buildings refurbished or rebuilt. We sent in a covering letter along with the surveys and asked for our buildings to be considered.
In late 2014 we received an email telling us that the East Building qualified for a refurbishment. We were ecstatic to receive this news as, since the economic crash of 2008, finance available for school buildings had fallen off a cliff. I also had a fair idea that once they started to survey the East Building they would very quickly come to the conclusion that a refurbishment was not viable and that it would have to be a complete rebuild. It took one visit on May 12th 2015 for that decision to be made in principle and then confirmed later that year. Once it became a new build project it meant that we had a major say in where the building would be located on the campus.
I cannot count the number of meetings I have attended regarding the new building but the most important ones took place in October – December 2017 when the fine detail of the build was agreed. There was not a bottomless pit of money available and the aim of the DfE was purely to provide us with a facility that would enable us to deliver our curriculum. As a split site school the project was unique in that we were to have half of a new school. At the top of our list of priorities was to have a Sports Hall and this was given the go ahead on the basis that we lost a hall and a gym. I was also determined that we should maintain 2 canteens as I have visited too many schools where canteen provision is far too crowded.
Looking at the building with your back to the tennis dome, Veritas has 2 entrances/exits. In terms of the curriculum on the left hand side of the building we have provision for PE, D&T, Art and Science; on the right hand side we have Drama, the Library and English. It is clad in red brick and will age well.
If we enter through the right hand door we walk into the canteen, kitchen and locker area. On the left hand side of this area is the Drama Studio – an imposing teaching area of two storey height. Walking down the central corridor on the ground floor we have an enormous Food Technology room on the right and a D&T workshop on the left. Continue and turn right into our brilliant new Sports Hall (with its very green flooring).
If we go up the left hand stairs to the first floor we alight into the area opposite the D&T IT room, then on our right we have an Art room and another D&T workshop on the left. We continue past these to find an English room on both sides and the Library at the far end of the corridor. The Library is a magnificent space: with two small teaching rooms, an IT wall and a separate teaching area – as well as all of the books. Architecturally, the Library cantilevers over the canteen below.
Out of the Library and up the right hand stairs to the top floor. We have 5 English rooms, 4 Science labs and an Art room. Mr Douglas’ Science room and Ms Hughes’ Art room at the extreme left of the top floor have stunning views out over the school field and then onto Jodrell Bank beyond the M6 and to the left The Cloud in Congleton and to the right Mow Cop in Staffordshire.
As I look at the campus now and compare it to just 5 years ago the transformation has been remarkable. In that time we have built a 3G football pitch, our amazing Tennis Dome – both of which have extensive curriculum and community use – and now we have Veritas. It is such a shame that we only had three weeks in Veritas before our forced closure. We are still looking at the inevitable snagging issues (nothing major) and we know we need to tweak a few things – such as the queueing system for the canteen area – and we have yet to put up displays on the corridor and stairwell walls; but each of the 20 teaching spaces is excellent and we have a state of the art facility for our children and staff to work in. We will add some photographs to this article for the newsletter although they won’t do it justice – you really have to see it.
It would be remiss of me not to thank a few people. We have worked extensively with the DfE and the builders, Wates, on this project and I have been so impressed by their determination to deliver what we have on time and to a very high standard. Wates representatives on site have been a joy to work with and when we hold our official opening (currently postponed!) we will ensure that they and the DfE are given the public recognition they deserve.
Additionally, our teams of support staff within school have worked incredibly hard to ensure an almost seamless transition. In the past year we have moved the site, finance and admin team bases and closed a reception. Over the two weeks of the move we installed a new telephone and Wi Fi system so that all buildings had compatibility. And we moved a school. Any one of these things is a major undertaking by itself. To do all of these things in close proximity, with minimal impact on our core business of learning, is great testimony to the quality of all of our staff teams.
In Caritas et Veritas,