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Esher Church of England High School

Esher Church of England High School

Esher Learning Trust

Summer 21 - Covid updates

16 July 2021

Dear Parents/Guardians

As we draw the academic year to a close I write to summarise the turbulent year that we have experienced.  It has been immensely challenging for everyone and we have had to make difficult decisions; we have deeply valued the support you have given throughout. 


Obviously, the defining aspect of the past 18 months has been the vast effect of Covid-19.  Throughout the year we have sought to keep learning for our students as high quality as we can manage, and this meant balancing the ways the school can supress the virus with giving the most normal experience possible.  For example, keeping students in the same classroom has been a huge imposition on them and our staff moving around the school every lesson.  However, this has meant that very few children have needed to be sent home to self-isolate and miss face-to-face lessons over the Autumn or Summer terms.  Some schools took a less thorough approach, but many experienced high rates of infection with many groups of students learning from home.  Your help with careful monitoring at home has been appreciated as well. 

Learning & relationships

As ever our focus has been on keeping learning at the highest level.  The staff have had two priorities this year: positive relationships and inspiring learning.  We have sought wherever possible to build students’ knowledge, understanding and skills of each subject through the brilliant lessons we teach, knitted together with good habits and attitudes.  Teachers have been imaginative and resourceful in their approach and sought at every step to keep the learning as vibrant as possible despite the constraints they have been under.  We have built this on the foundation of positive relationships so the support and care for each child is of the highest possible quality. Knowing that this year has been particularly difficult for children everywhere, our team of staff have sought ways to not only build students’ self-confidence and sense of ownership of their school, but also to own their actions in every contact we have with them.

School culture

We have succeeded this year largely because of the positive culture of the school.  Over many years we have steadily developed a place where children know they are cared for and we have high expectations of them.  We have founded this on our Christian principles, being careful to create these experiences through their application, rather than pushed or over-emphasised in lessons or assemblies.  We chose to tackle issues head on such as sexual prejudice and the ‘everyone’s invited’ initiative in the Spring where it became clear that schools nationally have struggled to address sexual intimidation through actions and comments.  This term we celebrated Pride month for the first time, recognising that each member of school (and society) is an individual, welcome to express their sexual orientation as they wish and we should respect each other without prejudice.

Events such as sports day last Friday have illustrated our values and approach.  Students all competed at different events throughout the day, entertained by music and dance performed brilliantly on the outdoor stage, in an event superbly organised yet done with a smile on everyone’s faces.  Our students approached the whole day positively and everyone got fully involved and gave their best at their own level of competition – a real life lesson.

September arrangements

We have recently been informed of the government’s expectations for our return in September and there will be further detail shared over the summer holiday.  We have fairly unique transport challenges compared to most Surrey schools and these mean we have to take a different approach to some other schools.  As we are required to test all students twice at the beginning of term, we will bring each year group in one day at a time with testing undertaken in the Sports Hall - in a similar way to March - before students resume their lessons.  This will enable us to run the asymptomatic tests accurately with students only making one journey to school each time.   The school day will start each day at the normal time of 8.45am.

Year Group

Date of Return

Year 11

Friday 3 September

Year 10

Monday 6 September

Year 9

Tuesday 7 September

Year 8

Wednesday 8 September

It is not our favoured start to a new academic year yet we are required to do this, albeit the tests will not be mandatory.  After that students will move freely around the school with twice-weekly testing retained at home, and self-isolation only for those testing positive with a more accurate test.  More information will be distributed nearer the time.

Staff leaving

As ever at this time of year we have some staff leaving and with the reduction in movement last year there are a few more than usual with the main theme being career development or moving out of the area.  We say good bye to Mr Ranells after 32 years at the school having arrived as a newly qualified teacher and leaving now to retire; many of you will know him as a brilliant teacher yourselves!  We also say farewell to Ms Lockhart from RE, Miss Copus our Deputy Headteacher, Mrs Wilsdon from the English team, Mrs Hooshmandi from Science, Mrs Johns from DT, Mrs O’Neil from Music, Ms Vandensteen from English and Mrs Garewal from Business Studies.  We have recruited to all these positions and will welcome some super new teachers to the team in September.  A few colleagues from our support staff team are leaving as well Mr Jankovic, Mrs Mourzagh, Ms Hearn and Miss Marsella all looking to further their careers elsewhere.

This is also my final communication as Headteacher as I move to develop the Enlighten Learning Trust – the family of schools which Esher High School is at the very heart.  My ambition has been to build a vibrant, inclusive school where students flourish in all aspects of learning, achieve great qualifications and go on to contribute to their communities beyond the school gates each week as well as after they have left.  We have married excellent academic standards with compassionate pastoral care to enable our students to navigate the challenges of adolescence every day.  I have avoided the tempting short cuts to improve measurable outcomes which undermine holistic learning and often put barriers in the way of the most vulnerable members of our communities who we have continued to welcome.   I have carefully grown our staff team and culture, meaning children can flourish knowing the expectations and boundaries that they need whilst celebrating their uniqueness and building their character.  This has been underpinned by a Christian message of love for each other and forgiveness when things go wrong, rooted in the bible.  The school is in good health with a strong reputation, a great staff team, wonderful facilities and many opportunities in the future. 

I leave the day-to-day leadership in the capable hands of Mr King, Head of School, and will continue as executive leader to take a keen interest and influence over its future development.  Thank you for your unwavering support over the past seven years; it has been vital to the success of the school and your children’s development here each day.  As I often say to the students, we love having them here and they are lucky to have a school as great as Esher High.

With best wishes for a restful summer


Mr M Boddington