I hope you have taken the chance to have a good break over Easter. I'm sure that there have been some uncertainties for us all whether health, finance, missing usual routines, or worry about 'missed learning'.
I'd like to welcome you all back to school - something Mrs Haines and I would usually do to pupils in the first assemblies of the term.
Senior leaders have taken the Easter break as a chance to reflect on the school's closure and look forward to the new term. So far pupils have missed only 10 school days, although as a parent and teacher it feels much longer! From the start of school closure, the government indicated that online teaching tools and content would be available after the Easter holidays, we didn’t quite know what this would look like, our noticeboards have provided a needed stopgap.
Feedback from parents has been mixed. As time has gone on more parents have told us that they would like more structure in their child’s day. They would like taught content provided that their children can access. Some have fed back that they are finding our noticeboards a little overwhelming and that they are finding it difficult to navigate their way through the content.
You will have seen in the media that the 'reopen schools' debate is as much of a hot topic as the 'close schools' discussion was a few weeks ago. We have no idea when this might happen. The most important thing for us now, is to offer some continuity in learning for our pupils.
Today, the Oak National Academy has been launched by the government in response to the coronavirus lockdown, as well as expected updates to the BBC Bitesize website. We will be switching to the Oak National Academy as our main source of learning at home. I hope this better meets parents' expectations. Find out more:
School continues to be open for childcare for children of keyworkers and those who are vulnerable. 146 pupils were registered by their parents as children of key-workers, according to government criteria. Many parents registered but told us that they did not anticipate needing to use the provision
We are welcoming between 30 - 40 pupils every day, from 7.30am until 6pm.
The school is operating a skeleton staff arrangement to minimise travel to work and maintain social distancing. Teachers, teaching assistants and playworkers work together to plan and provide activities similar to Early Years, after-school and/or holiday childcare. They are supported by leaders, first-aiders, premises and admin colleagues. Teams work on a shift pattern, week on, followed by 1,3 or 5 weeks away from school (depending on role) to reduce risk of infection.
Pupils entitled to free school meals have all been offered e-vouchers to use in supermarkets, although there were initially delays with the governments national scheme.
Staff health is mixed. Nearly one-third of our 102 members of staff are not available for work. Of these,
- 5 self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 symptoms in themselves or a member of their household,
- 8 shielding as a result of themselves or a member of their household receiving a high risk, vulnerable letter from the NHS,
- 18 have underlying medical conditions and are ‘strongly advised’ to work from home to maintain social distancing.
16 out of 102 members of staff have not been available for work as a result of self-isolation but have now returned to work. These figures change daily.
This level of availability for work would severely impact on the ability of the school to open and operate normally.
Behind the scenes, year group teams meets virtually to maintain Year Group Noticeboards and plan the content for pupils who are at home. A programme of on-line continuing professional development, equivalent to 5 hours per week has been created for every member of staff, covering safeguarding updates, teaching pedagogy, English, maths, science and knowledge in other subject areas. For those members of staff who are not available for work, line managers keep-in-touch by telephone weekly to maintain a sense of contact and support from school.
Please start the new home learning as soon as you can, whilst staying happy, safe and healthy.