Letter from our Chair of Governors, Chris Lister

Posted: 7th July 2020

Dear pupils, parents, teachers and Governors of Lockers Park

I would like to congratulate the Lockers Park community on its spirit of unity and resilience during the past few months with the upheaval of COVID-19. We have thrived on many fronts and I am so proud of all our constituents, parents and families, staff and above all, our pupils.

I also want to acknowledge and applaud the adaptation and teamwork of the Lockers Park staff body, who enabled us to continue teaching and nurturing our children during this most unusual of school years. At all times the Headmaster and his team made clear the dual mission to first, support and educate while at home and second, to welcome pupils back at school with safety and wellbeing as a critical consideration. Everyone’s steadfast commitment has made this possible in a way that other schools have not been able to replicate.

This has been no small feat.

On 18 March 2020 the Government announced the closure of schools. The Lockers Park team worked tirelessly to deliver Remote Learning to all years as soon as possible. It astounds me to think of the demanding changes involved, not limited to continuing to deliver all academic subjects (even with Mr Iqbal involved in a serious accident), overcoming initial technical niggles, evolving the Remote Learning to improve it every day, changing the timetables and overcoming the initial complexities of remotely delivering Chapel and Assemblies to 170 pupils.

There have also been management considerations to ensure the school’s operational and financial stability, ranging from adapting school fees to reflect the change in circumstances, renegotiating and reviewing budgets, and making the tough decision to furlough some staff members.

Teachers embraced the challenge. Some have young children themselves at home, yet everyone worked hard behind the scenes. Crucially, the pastoral team prioritised the boys’ and girls’ wellbeing with weekly surveys and wellbeing challenges. And in the background, the school worked tirelessly to lobby the Department for Education, to encourage alignment with insurers and to write multiple risk assessments.

Remarkably, the fantastic pace of learning ensured that all years were two weeks ahead of the academic schedule by mid-June.

The Government announced that Reception and Years 1 and 6 could return on 1 June. Our boys and girls in those classes were back at Lockers Park the very next day. A great amount of detail was required to keep the health, safety and well-being of all members of the community as our top priority. Extra deep cleaning rotas, creating bubbles, changing the classrooms so that each tutor group would have the space they needed and as many open windows and doors as possible, ring-fencing indoor and outdoor spaces for each bubble, taking the temperature of the children every day, continually adjusting processes as the official advice was updated.

The Governors, Senior Management Team and staff had countless conversations with the Department of Education, the Independent Association of Prep Schools, the Boarding Schools Association, the Independent Schools Association and the Local Education Authority. I know that our Headmaster liaised weekly with Heads from almost 40 other independent schools to troubleshoot all aspects of the return to school.

When the government announced that all other years could return to school on 15 June, Lockers Park made that happen within a week. Many schools even now are struggling to achieve the same and I hear that other schools have looked to us as an example of how to restart, something of a compliment.

We all noted just how happy the children, parents and teachers were to start a school day. The laughter and chatter of the boys and girls in the school corridors and gardens indicate just how vital Lockers Park is to their well-being and it was wonderful to hear.

I would like to offer a special thank you to the parents, for helping your children at home and for your unwavering support and adaptability with the many changes we have all faced. We have been grateful for the support and thank you for the many letters and notes which helped to lift spirits during this difficult time.

This is a year to remember. The Lockers Park community has demonstrated resilience, enthusiasm, and a profound sense of togetherness. As I said in my opening, I am immensely proud and grateful for the remarkable way in which Lockers Park has risen to this extraordinary challenge. Thank you all.

Yours sincerely

Chris Lister Chair of Governors