Harborough secondary school sets up an 'in-depth and comprehensive roadmap' to reopen next month - and believes it is one of the best in the country

Robert Smyth Academy's headteacher said he is 'absolutely buzzing' and feeling “10 feet tall” as he prepares to re-launch the school after hundreds of students have been off for up to six months

Friday, 17th July 2020, 3:32 pm
Delighted Dan Cleary said hes feeling 10 feet tall as he prepares to re-launch Robert Smyth Academy after hundreds of students have been off for up to six months.

The revved-up head of a Market Harborough secondary school is “buzzing” as he gears up to fully re-open next month.

Dan Cleary said he’s feeling “10 feet tall” as he prepares to re-launch Robert Smyth Academy after hundreds of students have been off for up to six months.

The Covid-19 onslaught has done the unthinkable and forced schools all over the UK to shut for all but a handful of pupils.

And Dan, who’s principal of Robert Smyth Academy on Burnmill Road, told the Harborough Mail: “We’ll never again take for granted opening the school gates and seeing our kids come in every day.

“It’s been a tough time – but it makes us appreciate even more the fantastic jobs that we have.

“And now I’m absolutely buzzing because we have set out a new comprehensive roadmap for re-opening and firing our amazing school back up again.”

The proud dad-of-two added: “It’s full steam ahead now – we are all very excited here at Robert Smyth.

“We are very confident looking ahead.

“I struggle to see how there can be any schools anywhere in a better position than us right now.”

Dan said they have created a new “roadmap” setting out how they will get the show back on the road in the next few weeks.

“It’s been a very challenging, busy two weeks.

“But we have now produced an in-depth 10-page consultation document for parents telling them how we plan to open up the school’s whole curriculum once more,” said the school chief.

“We have laid out exactly how we are going to achieve that, blow by blow.

“I am delighted to say that we have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction.

“Hundreds of parents have got in touch with us to tell us that it’s a very well thought-out plan and they are totally behind us.”

Dan said they will have a staff training day on Monday August 24.

“We will bring back Year 7 and Year 12 students the next day, Tuesday August 25.

“We will be staging a student induction week – it will be all about preparation, new routines and training.

“We plan to welcome back every year group on site on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that week.

“They will add up to about 1,000 pupils altogether.

“We are determined to make them all feel confident and secure about returning to lessons here.

“We’ll go live with the full curriculum at the end of the first week.

“We will be fired up and ready to go,” declared Dan, who heads up about 100 staff.

“This feels like an epic breakthrough after so many months of abnormality.

“The key question has been ‘how do we do it’?

“We have all had to think outside the box.

“We are not naïve.

“We know there will be trials and challenges down the track.

“And it won’t be easy for kids coming back after up to six months at home.

“But I’m sure that together we will do it.”

He said they have been exploring new tactics and a new strategy as they power on amid the coronavirus menace.

“We’ve had to completely re-work our timetable, turning it into a four-week schedule.

“Kids will go to two double lessons on a morning and one single in the afternoon.

“That will allow students more time to settle back into their routines – and reduce the pressure on their mental health.

“They’ll be focusing on three subjects rather than four or five.

“We’ll be very pro-active in getting our pupils back into it,” said Dan.

“We’re also going to cut the length of the school day by 15 minutes.

“So we’ll start our many extra-curricular clubs at 3pm.

“These are absolutely vital – and the kids so look forward to them as a real shining beacon of light.

“We run after-school clubs in all sports for all age groups.

“We put on music clubs and dramatic performance groups as well as dance, science, English, design and debating clubs.

“You name it we’ll have a club that does it here!

“We will, of course, be implementing disciplined social distancing, staggered breaks and lunches, proper hygiene and looking at our capacity.

“We have managed to re-open successfully at every stage since the March lockdown was enforced.

“Hitting the ground running in August won’t even cover it.

“We are already running.

“There is no learning time for youngsters to lose after so much disruption.

“We will not let our kids down.

“We are lucky enough to have brilliant staff, very supportive parents, amazing students and an incredible community.

“Working and fighting on together we forge a winning side, an unbeatable team, at Robert Smyth Academy.”