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We are now in a position to confirm plans for all students for the first day of national strikes by teachers on Wednesday 1st February. In this letter, I have outlined clear plans for students in Year 11 to attend as normal in full uniform. Students in Years 7-10 will continue learning through our well-established remote learning provision and we expect all students in Years 7-10 to be online, following our clear expectations. In Personal Development lessons on Tuesday, all students in Years 7-10 will be given a ‘refresher’ session on how we do remote learning at JQA – which is summarised here. We do have limited capacity to support children of key workers on site on Wednesday: any parents who would like to apply for this provision should get in touch with us via [email protected] no later than 12pm on Tuesday 31st January 2023. We will review each application individually. Any child in Years 7-10 who is eligible for a free school meal will be given the opportunity to take a packed lunch home with them on Tuesday to eat on Wednesday.

A reminder to parents of children in Year 9 that it is Year 9 Parents’ Evening on site on Thursday from 4.30-6.30pm. Appointments can be booked using our online system and this will give parents the opportunity to discuss progress in subjects ahead of their child indicating their preferences for courses they would like to study at Key Stage 4 by 10th February 2023.

I’d like to say thanks to parents whose children have signed up for our ‘Saturday Club’ partnership with BCU’s School of Jewellery to develop the next generation of fashion designers. If your child is interested in t-shirt or trainer design, the link to sign up is here. We have F2D at the Academy again on Friday, working with Year 7 students too. It is important we continue to work with local partners to encourage students’ talents and interests – I am looking forward to forging more links this week with leaders in the jewellery making and design industry to discuss how we can engage in projects to ensure there is better representation of BAME workers within the historic design and manufacturing industries in the JQ. We also have an inspirational speaker from the law firm Trowers and Hamlins joining us on Tuesday morning to work with female students in Years 9, 10 and 11 who have shown an interest in law as a career.

‘Do not hate’ – Zigi Shipper’s message will eternally echo

It’s was an important week at the Academy last week as a Beacon school for Holocaust education. Our annual Echo Eternal commemoration took place on Thursday at New St Station and students in all year groups worked on activities and events centred around the message of Auschwitz survivor, Zigi Shipper BEM, who passed away recently. Zigi worked with the school to share his testimony and the message ‘Do not hate’ and this message will forever echo around the classrooms of JQA. It was fantastic to see every teacher coming along to support the students in what was a very moving and emotional collection of dramatic and musical pieces, some composed by students at JQA.

February sees the start of LGBTQ+ History Month and students will be exploring this year’s theme “Behind the Lens” which gives us a wonderful opportunity to recognise and celebrate the lives and accomplishments of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people who work outside of the limelight in the fields of photography, film making, TV and fashion.

National Storytelling Week takes place this week and is a celebration of the power of sharing stories. Stories teach us about the world, they allow us to step into someone else’s shoes and feel empathy, they help us to relax and escape and they can help develop essential literacy skills. All our students do 1 hour of Guided Reading with their tutor each week and we are busy expanding our library at the moment. There is a brilliant competition this week which gives students the chance to win a trip to Harry Potter Studios in London.

I’d like to remind parents of the function to borrow laptops so your child can continue to study at home. I review these requests every Wednesday so please complete this if you would like us to lend you equipment. If successful in your application, our office team will be in touch to invite you to collect from Reception.

Similarly, our Coffee Mornings are open from 9-11am every Wednesday. This is an opportunity for parents to seek support in any way we can help. We have a limited budget to support families through our Household Support Fund. This includes for travel and uniform costs for example – we are more than happy to support families during this ongoing ‘Cost of Living’ crisis and there are also organisations which can offer additional support. I must remind all parents of their responsibility to adhere to our clear Parent Code of Conduct during interactions with members of staff.

We are shortly going to be upgrading our phone system, after parent feedback. I hope to give you more details next week.

As always, you can call the Academy on 0121 729 7220, leaving a message if the line is busy and we will get back to you. Our line is very busy in the daytime so I encourage parents to use the voicemail facility by pressing option 2. If you would like urgent support, you can always reach Mr Bibb (our Designated Safeguarding Lead) on option 4.

You can always contact me directly at: [email protected]