Coronavirus Update – Week 4

May 2

Dear parents and carers, 

Another end of the week update from me and all of the staff at James Calvert Spence College, as the coronavirus continues to keep the vast majority of students away from school, and learning safely at home. 

As you know, we are at a key moment in the fight against COVID-19 and maintaining social distancing and staying at home is vitally important to maintain, now more than ever. The school is supporting this stance and we are only providing care for the children of key workers [from the official government list] and those classed as vulnerable. Whilst I understand the pressures staying at home puts on a family [I have two teenage daughters at home!], and how this must be incredibly difficult if the current situation has had an impact on employment and income, we must keep this up in the short term so we all come out of the other end as soon as possible. Thank you for your continued support in this. It keeps our staff safe, and you and your family safe too. 

If, however, you are a keyworker and circumstances have changed to mean you now need child care because you have no other possible alternative, please contact the school to allow us to process that request.  

Can I just reassure parents that we are in this together…and it’s not easy. None of us are finding any of this easy to deal with, and we just have to keep talking, keep communicating and working together. We know that it’s not an easy job trying to keep children motivated, to keep them learning and to maintain their enthusiasm. And, as the days and weeks progress, what was new, different and exciting will become old, routine and boring – that’s just human nature, I’m afraid. It’s the reason we decided to give more choice in the learning menu, so that the children [and adults] have more scope to choose the things that interest them. 

By ‘being in this together’ what I mean is that we are all trying to do the very best we can for our students, for your children. We will continue to provide work, feedback and contact you now and then to make sure all is well. If you need more or less of any of the above, please let us know! We want to help. 

You’re doing a brilliant job, by the way. Thank you. Even if you feel you’re not, even if you feel that you could have explained something better, been clearer in your explanation or missed an opportunity to engage your child in some learning – that’s not a failure. That’s being a teacher! It never goes perfectly… that’s what makes each day special, interesting and frustrating! Thank you for all you are doing to keep your children learning. 

I’ve said this before but, to put your minds at rest, when we return to school [whenever that is, and whatever form that will take] we will ensure that no child is left behind and that there is ample opportunity to catch up, to revise and reinforce the essential learning they may be missing during this hiatus from school. We’re in this together for the long haul. 

Just under two weeks ago the government promised to provide ICT equipment and broadband connectivity for those vulnerable students who do not currently have access to this equipment, and therefore cannot access the online learning platforms. This scheme is being coordinated by our local authority at Northumberland County Council, and we provided them with the information they needed earlier this week. As soon as we know what kit we are getting and when, we’ll let you know. 

Year 11 and 13 students have, undoubtedly, had the roughest deal in all this and we were forced into rushing the end of their formal school days when we would have much preferred to enjoy them together, and celebrate appropriately. As I mentioned last week, we are buying all of those students a leavers’ hoodie. We ask that you choose the size, colour and add a comment if students would like their name on the back, within the payment section of SchoolComms (School Gateway). 

We are fortunate to have such a wonderful body of staff and governors at JCSC, and they are desperate to work with partners in the community. One or two of our staff members are doing some absolutely incredible work, and we’re looking to put together an extended piece to share with you all in the not too distant future. Trust me, you’ll be impressed! Especially at what our science teacher Mr Davison is working on during the lockdown… 

On that note, if there is anything you think we can be doing as a school to help out in any way, please do let us know. We are willing to do all we can to help our community get through this, and to make lasting bonds with individuals and organisations that will help us all flourish in the future. 

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