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Letter from the Headteacher 16 Apr 2020 (Bartholomew School) Headteacher Mr Craig Thomas gives an update on how the school community has adapted during the coronavirus crisis.

Dear Members of the Eynsham Community 

Following the early closure of schools across the country towards the end of March, life has changed dramatically for us all. Despite the challenges involved, I have been deeply impressed by the efforts of everyone involved in making this run as successfully as possible for our students. I’m proud to say the Bartholomew community has adapted positively to these extraordinary circumstances. Teachers have risen impressively to the challenge of delivering lessons online and offering support and encouragement; students have responded well to learning remotely; and we have been overwhelmed with votes of support and thanks from their parents/carers, most of whom are also working from home and adapting to a new way of life. Our Governors have also been of great support. We all know that it is the strong relationship and bond between school and home that is one of the reasons why the school is so successful, and it is a privilege for us to serve such a caring and supportive community.

It’s strange to think that less than three months ago we were holding a Grand Opening Ceremony for our new block and welcomed many visitors to join in our celebrations. Fast forward to today and school is rather quiet, much of the site having been mothballed. The new block remains open, however; in it you will find a small group of students who are still coming to school. This is because their parents/carers are Key Workers and they cannot stay at home. We are very proud to be able to support them and it’s been very humbling to learn about the varied and important roles of parents and carers in the school community.

Like the rest of the country we have been concerned about the lack of protective equipment for our NHS front line staff. We have donated 50 pairs of D&T and Science goggles to Eynsham Medical Centre to support the local effort. Some of you may have read the article in the Witney Gazette and Oxford Mail on Monday about how the wonderful D&T department have repurposed the classroom and been busy with the design and production of visors using our laser-cutting machine. We initially delivered a batch of 40 face masks for Eynsham Medical Practise, later followed with another batch for Oxfordshire NHS Foundation Trust and as I write the team are innovating once again, sewing mask headbands for the John Radcliffe Hospital staff. Their dedication and commitment have given us all a boost and we hope to be able to continue with this as long as we are able to.

On behalf of all the staff at Bartholomew, I would like to thank you for the kind words and messages of support we have received. They have meant a lot to all of us. We are living in challenging and unprecedented times. I want to reassure you that my staff and I understand the important part we play in this national crisis. We care deeply about your children. We will be there for them.

It really is a privilege to work as part of such a caring and supportive community; I have been touched by the way in which the school and local community have pulled together; strangers making time for each other, random acts of kindness, and people looking out for the elderly and vulnerable. I am hopeful and optimistic that when we get through this crisis, people will remember and reflect on this. I am reminded of this quotation from the American philosopher Nicholas M. Butler: “Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.”

If you are on Twitter please follow us @Bartholomew_sch where you’ll find regular updates and a selection of photos showing how social distancing has made for some innovative activities in school!

Best wishes

Mr Craig Thomas, Headteacher

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