Well done – we made it to the end of the first week! Thank you for your patience and understanding in these difficult circumstances. Less than a week ago – in fact, last Sunday morning (3rd January) I was in a virtual meeting with over 200 headteachers and the local authority trying to work out the best way to open schools safely, as we had been instructed to do by the Government!
Having spent Sunday and half of Monday solving that conundrum, we were then presented with another – closing schools safely instead! We are all well aware of the extraordinary demands that the closure of the school has placed on children and parents (especially working parents); it has also placed a great deal of pressure on a staff team who were ready and willing to do what they do best - to deliver an exciting term of education for all children onsite. Thank you for continuing to work with the school staff to support your children’s education at home as best we can while we journey together during these challenging times.
Remote Learning Provision
As advised on the first day of term, we have now started the roll out of the Microsoft Teams platform for all year groups. Year 5 and 6 had their logins this week and other year groups will be receiving them shortly. Teams will enable all year groups to access a live session at the start of the day and again in the afternoon, allowing children to more easily have that all-important contact with staff.
Parent feedback about remote learning has been at two ends of the spectrum – those who want more of it and those who want little or none. There are widespread concerns about supporting siblings to access live sessions at the same time and about access to sufficient devices. Parents of younger children in particular have recognised that access to the technology will require some considerable input from them, which may or may not be possible depending on the family circumstances. The school does have a very limited number of devices available to borrow - if this is something which is a problem for your family, please get in touch via the home learning email.
Please don’t worry. Parents are asked to make their best endeavours to support the learning – please just do what you can. If your child can only access one live session a week, but they are managing to do some Maths / English work at home, that’s OK. If siblings have to take it in turns to join the morning or afternoon live sessions with their classes, that’s OK. If you can access everything and complete the paper-based work fully, that’s OK too. All families can only do what is possible. The most important thing for the children is that they have some kind of a familiar structure or routine and that their parents aren’t stressed by it (as much as that is possible!). We can all only do our best.
All live sessions will be recorded and will remain available for children to view whenever convenient. Similarly, the Maths and English links and all of the online activities are available to view at any time, so you can structure your own time as a family to suit yourselves and your working pattern. Teachers can remotely monitor children’s access to the learning websites and will be giving general feedback on the learning as we go along. Research suggests that short bursts of screen-based activity (10-15 minutes) are easiest to support primary children’s concentration levels, so regular movement breaks and varied activities may help support engagement with the timetable.
Please be aware that most teachers are working from home and this will increasingly be the case over the coming days. It is important that we maintain the remote learning provision and we cannot do that if teachers are becoming unwell at school. Please be aware that depending on capacity, it may be one, both or neither of the class teachers who are online and that onsite provision is being overseen by LSAs, rather than class teachers. We currently have two staff members who have tested positive and three further members of staff self-isolating, in addition to the five who are shielding. We are grateful for parents’ understanding and flexibility at this time while we work to juggle capacity and maintain provision for all children.
Parent Consultations – Y1/Y3/Y4/Y5
Parent Consultations via School Cloud will go ahead next week as planned for children in Years 1, 3, 4 and 5. We feel it continues to be important that parents have updated information on their children’s attainment, progress and targets from last term – perhaps more so in the current situation. Please avoid using your consultation time to ask questions about onsite provision or remote learning issues – these are more appropriately answered via the homelearning or office email addresses. Last time we used School Cloud, we found that the time slot was about the right length of time for teachers to inform parents about children’s learning and we would encourage parents to log in ahead of time in order to be ready for their time slot. As previously, if it is possible to log in using a device (e.g. iPad / tablet) which isn’t a phone, that seems to give the best quality of experience. You will receive an email re. booking your appointment later. The booking system will open at 6 pm today and close at 3 pm on Monday.
Support for our School Community
We know that everyone is feeling a little deflated by this difficult start to the new year. It is deeply frustrating and extremely challenging for all in our community. It is important that we stay positive and remain kind and outward-facing, even as we stay at home. Perhaps we can encourage our family to do one small act of kindness each day – writing a letter to Grandma, waving to an elderly neighbour living alone, delivering milk (or chocolate!) to a friend who is isolating, saying thank you to someone who has helped us. Before the holidays, we worked as a community to “deliver” so much kindness to those in need: food parcels, winter coats, Christmas presents for local children, Christmas cards and presents for local care home residents and those in Whiteley Village and thank you cards to those who had helped us through the year. Let’s try to continue that kindness and positivity within and beyond our community in 2021.
Thank you for all your support for staff and for each other during this difficult time.
With all best wishes
Wellbeing resources recommended by Dr Alison D'Amario, Educational Psychologist for the Xavier trust can be found here