Dear parents and carers,

 Firstly and most importantly, I do hope that this message finds you and all of you families still safe and well.

 I write to you on this Bank Holiday, as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe. Although I think we all agree we should be careful to not draw too many comparisons between the ongoing situation with COVID-19 and what the generation involved in the Second World War endured, this year’s commemoration of that which was sacrificed by so many for the freedoms we are afforded today does seem more poignant than ever. Each of us will have our own very personal reasons for remembering family and friends who may have fought, served and been affected by conflict; and for some of us these may be feelings we are experiencing again today as the battle against COVID goes on.

 I hope you will already be aware of the work that we are doing across our Trust to celebrate VE Day, and we look forward to seeing as many entries as possible in our ongoing Head of House competitions. You may also now have seen our Trust’s wonderful ‘We’ll Meet Again’ tribute which was launched this morning on our social media platforms:

 A huge thank you to our Director of Performing Arts, Mrs Watson, for the initial idea and the care, attention and tears (literally!) that went into producing it. To see so many young people and families from across all areas of our Trust come together, even though we’re apart, to sing this iconic song, was quite a moving experience; I hope you have enjoyed watching it as much as me.

 In fact, Mrs Watson was approached by BBC Radio Kent this week to ask if our song could appear as part of their VE Day Commemoration programme this evening, starting at 8.30pm. Furthermore, after the Queen’s speech at 9pm, you will be able to hear the staff and students that were on campus today singing ‘We’ll Meet Again,’ recorded live this morning, as an introduction to the entire county’s radio sing-a-long. Please all try and tune in and sing-a-long if you can!

 Continuing the theme of when we may meet again, we eagerly await the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday evening, sketching out the ‘Road Map’ and potential easing of lockdown restrictions. For most of us we have been locked down now for seven weeks and, for some, even longer. We have come so far during that time and I know you will be as keen as I to continue following all government guidelines until such time as ‘easing’ becomes possible. There is still much media speculation around the possible re-opening of schools and my stance remains that such reports are both unhelpful and distracting. As the virus appears to now be through its first peak and we may have reached ‘the end of the beginning,’ I wish to assure you that, behind the scenes, our Trust is planning for the ‘beginning of the end’ and what a potential return to school might look like for our students and staff. However, the reality is that the new ‘normal’ will be vastly different from the old, with the logistics and intricacies of this already being very carefully considered. When clear and legitimate guidance is produced by our government and the Department for Education for schools to follow we will, of course, share it with you as soon as we are able. Until that point we shall continue with our new, flexible and always evolving ways of learning; in true VE Day spirit, keeping calm and carrying on.

 As our schools remain open to those students who are vulnerable and children of key workers, it has been another busy week. At The Canterbury Primary School it is brilliant to see some of the tasks and activities that are being completed via Class Dojo and emails. The positive response we continue to receive from parents sharing work that is being completed at home is overwhelming, with parents creating their own worksheets for their children to complete, cooking, baking, learning to play instruments and conducting their own investigations and experiments. It has been even better to be able to celebrate these achievements through dojo points and sharing photos on our Facebook page.

 At The Canterbury Academy, likewise, we continue to offer, as best we can, a provision that is rich and varied. This week, students have been creating their own obstacle courses with Miss Patel, studying character development in short films with Miss Davies, baking cinnamon buns with Ms Lewis, and creating felt hearts to give to patients and families who have to be apart from one another with Miss Uttley. They have also participated in PE on the track with Mr Piddlesden, worked through a VE Day themed session with Ms Allison and Mr Johnstone, and have been cooking again with Mr Pennec, this time making Japanese cotton cakes.

 I must again publicly thank the staff who have now made, staggeringly, over 3,000 face visors and hundreds of disposable pillowcase bags for our front line NHS and key workers. This valuable Personal Protective Equipment has been distributed to hospitals all over East Kent, Kent, Medway and has even reached as far as London! Mrs Holman, Mrs Vinn, Miss Khatkar and Mr Onions have worked tirelessly on campus, but there have been many staff that have worked hard at home too, with special mention going to Mrs Douglas for the scores of bags she was able to produce. I’d like to thank everybody across our community who has been able to donate to this cause; it has been hugely appreciated by us, but even more so by the hospital staff, doctors, nurses, midwives, GPs, care home workers, pharmacists and other key workers who have benefited from them.

 As you know, the distance learning programme we are running operates through our Show My Homework platform and this week, again, has seen students from all years submitting work they have laboured tirelessly over. There continues to be so many excellent examples, both at the primary school and the academy, that we have devised a GDPR compliant way of being able to share some with you in a weekly newsletter, the first edition of which you will receive next week. But, until then, and to name just a few from this week, we have seen amazing examples of architecture and house design inspired by favourite artists, new pairs of trainers designed to reflect the creator’s identity, examples of set design, scripts, storyboards and some beautifully crafted poetry. Each and every piece of work showcases our students’ love of learning and individual gifts, talents, abilities and skills; all underpinned by their dedication, commitment and pride.

 My final word on this day of days, the 75th  anniversary of Victory in Europe is for you; our parents, carers and families, who remain an inspiration to all of our staff across the Trust through your resilience and unwavering support during this crisis. As we continue to live through the biggest challenge we have faced since the end of World War II, as a Trust community we remain resolute in our message. There is, and will continue to be much to cope with for all of us during this pandemic and beyond it. Our world may not return to ‘normal’ for quite some time, and we will all, in some way, bear the scars: economically, financially, professionally, physically and, most significantly, emotionally. As I type this message to you I can only thank you, profoundly, for what you are doing in finding the right balance for your children. Thank you for supporting them. Thank you for being flexible in your approach to their learning at home. Thank you for cooking with them, baking with them, walking with them, gardening with them, exercising with them, painting with them, creating with them, reading with them and teaching them new skills. But, most of all, thank you for talking with them, being with them and helping each other understand how you feel at the moment. These times spent together, amongst everything else, will never be forgotten.

 Let’s see what the announcements on Sunday evening bring us and I shall be in touch again next week.

 For now, and at least for today, lest we forget…

Yours faithfully,

Jon Watson

Executive Principal