Letter from the Headteacher
After what can only be described as an exceptionally quiet and surreal day in school yesterday with such small numbers of students, I felt it important to carry on communicating with all of the school community to ensure that everyone receives the support and information required at this time. As we become a centre for childcare provision for those exceptional key workers who are helping the country through this difficult time I would like to also add my thanks to my team of staff who have stepped up under very short notice to aid our school and community face the situation ahead.
Given the Government advice over the last few days many colleagues have been involved with setting up the administration and organisation of remote working whilst maintaining a safe working environment for our young people. Since the announcement last week from the Department for Education regarding schools effectively closing, I have received little updated information to share with you on the long-term implications. I would though, like to outline our present position and the things that are now in place to support our families and students over the next few weeks/months.
School is effectively closed, and we continue to provide childcare provision for key workers. We do understand that many key workers are having amendments to their times or employment and may at short notice require their child to be present in school. If this is the case, please contact the school via firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can ensure appropriate numbers of staff are available.
All school staff have been placed on a strategic rota to alleviate the numbers of adults on site, but they continue to work remotely as required. Teams are designed on a programme where they are working as separate units to support, as far as we can, the best practice of social distancing.
All students in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 & 12 are being given work to be carried out remotely, guidance can be found on our school website in the Remote Learning section. The guidance describes the topics which should be covered for this and subsequent half terms. Students should log on to their virtual school desktop and navigate to subject specific resources in the Remote Learning folder in resources where they will find more detailed instructions. These instructions might include accessing materials in MathsWatch, Doddle or Seneca learning. Students should work through the different resources covering a topic. These packages allow access to additional materials linked to any topic.
We will be setting up Microsoft teams in the coming weeks, all students will then be able to access materials specific to their class from their teacher. In the meantime, could you ensure that you download the Teams App http://teams.microsoft.com/download. This will ensure that once live, staff are able to use this exciting resource to instigate effective engagement in remote learning.
For students in Y11 & Y13 we have yet to be given any clear guidance from Ofqual (the exam board) how we as schools will formally address the situation regarding end of year outcomes. As advised, please ensure that any work that your child has at home is kept safe as this may be used as evidence to support judgements re grades. Clearly due to the national update could you not now bring this into school as previously requested.
Over time we would clearly like to celebrate the success for our Y11s and Y13s. Can I ask that you remind your child that hoodies can be ordered by the online form.
Students entitled to Free School Meals will be shortly receiving an email with a link to an electronic voucher that can be redeemed in a selection of supermarkets, you will NOT be asked to supply any bank details. Please email email@example.com if you require any support with this. We have been made aware by the local authority that some schools have already reported that parents and carers of children in receipt of free school meals are being targeted by fraudsters. Fraudsters are targeting families, emailing parents and carers with messages such as ‘if your child is entitled to free school meals send your bank details to the school and they will help with funding while the school is closed’. The email contains links for the parents to follow if they want to receive this funding – these links are fake.
Distant Learning: How to support your children
In addition to the resources available for your children to work through on the school website there are other educational activities they can be involved in during this time.
A great resource produced by a well-respected educationalist Tom Sherrington is The Universal Project Guide accessed through this link:
This provides an opportunity for children to research an area of interest but also gives advice on how to research and present projects too.
Another resource we have found from the Times Educational Supplement is below. There are some great ideas on here and it also helps children stay connected with their school and tutors.
There are many websites with educational resources that are currently free of charge for parents. Two very good examples at present are:
Pearson who some subject areas do already use for resources:
2. Twinkl: To support you during this period, Twinkl is offering every teacher in England access to all Twinkl resources with a One Month Ultimate Membership, totally free of charge. They are also extending this to every parent and carer in our school so your pupils can still have access to high-quality learning during any periods of disruption. Setting this up is really easy to do - go to www.twinkl.co.uk/offer and enter the code UKTWINKLHELPS
3. CGP books are offering some free resources during this time
If you need any further guidance about distant learning or have found resources that may be of use to other families, you can contact Miss Robinson (Assistant Headteacher Teaching and Learning) firstname.lastname@example.org and Mr Smith (Associate Assistant Headteacher Teaching and Learning) email@example.com
Keeping Children Safe
While children are off school many of them will be online much of the time. Please remember to monitor your child’s use of the internet – especially social media and gaming. There is a lot of useful advice, not only about keeping safe online, but help with mental wellbeing and many other aspects of parenting. You can access this information on: -
There are several sources of help for children: -
Childline – 0800 1111 or online support https://www.childline.org.uk/get-support/1-2-1-counsellor-chat/
Kooth – a free, safe and anonymous online counselling service - https://www.kooth.com/
Brook – free and confidential sexual health advice www.brook.org.uk
CAMHS – Support available at https://www.mymind.org.uk/
We have also attached a list of recommended apps for pupils to use to support mental health and wellbeing.
We recognise that some families may be under pressure at this time. If you feel you need help, please let us know if we can do anything to support you. The NSPCC have a helpline - 0808 800 5000. You can get advice on this number, and if you are worried about a child – either your own or someone else’s please do phone or report abuse using the link below.
You can also phone the local Safeguarding board on i-ART - 0300 123 7047. You can find further information at: -
Of course, if you feel a child is in immediate danger, please call 999 and report the issue to the police.
We look forward to seeing our pupils return, safe and healthy, when they can do so.
Whilst this situation is clearly difficult and concerning for adults, we are very mindful that many of our young people will also feel that their world has been changed. Thereby we would like to recommend that if possible students are given a regular routine that includes completing educational activity online, reading for a minimum of 30 minutes per day, some form of exercise preferably in the fresh air but following the clear Government guidelines re social distancing and not meeting in groups of more than two.
Over the next few weeks, we are looking to set up further social media feeds that maintain our sense of community spirit. We will be asking students, staff and members of our community to share any positive ideas, thoughts or actions that will inspire all of us to remember that we eventually will come through these times and return to school to allow them to continue to build towards their aspirations and future dreams.
Mr K Simpson
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