Dear parents and carers, I hope you and your families are well, as we find ourselves living through most unusual times, probably the strangest period of British society since World War II…
We’re at the start of the second week of school closure and it doesn’t look likely that things will get back to normal any time soon. Can I start by thanking you all for the support you’ve shown us as a school, and to your children in supporting their ongoing learning and development from home… It’s not easy, we know that more than most, but hopefully you’ll develop a routine for the day and settle into a rhythm. You never know, you might even enjoy it! For those of you who may have missed it, can I ask you to check out Mr Nisbet’s Facebook post from March 24th? He gives some helpful tips on how to best deal with home-schooling from an honest, parental point of view.
If you are having technical issues with the ICT based resources, please don’t hesitate to email our helpdesk on firstname.lastname@example.org who always respond quickly.
We are relying heavily on ICT and the internet to provide the students with work and activities and are aware that there are issues with this. The first issue is that you may not have the ICT equipment necessary to access the work that your child has been set. We have loaned our spare computers to homes where we know this is the case, but we do not have a huge stock of laptops that can be taken off site. One possible solution might be to borrow a keyboard and mouse from us to use with your games console – get in touch using the email address above if that would be helpful.
The second issue is that the internet needs careful navigating as, I am sure you will be all too aware, it is not all suitable for children. We have two guides to share with you regarding online safety – this online guide aimed at children, and an online safety guide for parents and carers. Please share the pupils’ guide with your children so they are reminded how to stay safe online. If you have any safeguarding concerns, online or not, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our safeguarding lead Mr McCudden by emailing him direct at email@example.com
Special thank you to those of you who took the time to respond to the questionnaire I sent out on Friday. Your feedback has been really useful to us, and we’re responding to that by working hard to start some new routines and to fine-tune lots of the things we’re already doing.
One of the key questions I asked related to the amount of work being set – too little, too much or about right? Of course, we had responses at both extremes, but the majority of responses [67%] said that it was about right. We’ll look at the data in more detail over the course of this week to try and identify whether particular year groups are finding things more challenging than others, and look to try and regulate the students’ workload as much as possible.
In addition to the expected requests around the new methods of setting, collecting and assessing work online, some other suggestions from parents were:
• A weekly letter from me to update the community
• Communication between students and teachers
• Short video messages from teachers
The first one is done, and you’re reading it now! I hope that many of you will get another letter from me later this week, as we are promised to get some clarity about how the exam boards will award grades to year 11 and year 13 students this summer. As soon as that is published, I’ll send a letter to the parents of those students.
We’ve been communicating as a staff this morning about how we can best stay in touch with the students, and we anticipate that this will mainly take the form of contact from tutors, roughly once a week. Those students who aren’t engaging with the work being set can expect a call from a senior member of staff to see if there are any issues we can help with. As for the third bullet point, that’s a work in progress… Keep checking our Facebook page for some updates on how the staff are working from home and more.
Although it doesn’t really feel like it, we ‘break up’ on Friday for the Easter holidays, during which time the staff won’t be setting or marking work. They need the fortnight to relax, recuperate and spend time with their families, so I’ll be insisting they shut the laptop lid and switch off completely.
To try and help you get through the fortnight we’re compiling a list of possible activities and helpful websites that may engage your children, so please look out for that being published later this week.
Please do keep in touch – we are trying to do all we can to support you, your children and each other through this stressful time. Rest assured we’re working hard to be as efficient and effective as possible, and any advice or suggestions you could give us would be most welcome.
Most importantly, stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
Best wishes, Neil Rodgers Executive Headteacher