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Tuesday 24 March 2020

Dear All,

When the idea of schools being closed was first suggested, I don't think anyone had any idea of how hard life was to become. There was no mistaking the message of the Prime Minister in his address to the nation last night.

We now fall into two communities at our school: our children at home and the children of key workers for whom we are providing care at school.


For the children of key workers:

Thank you for your patience over the weekend whilst we tried to do our best for you, your children and our staff. It was particularly challenging as most of our senior leadership is unavailable this week either because of having to self isolate for 12 weeks, having symptoms themselves or being confined to quarters for 14 days. I myself started with symptoms on Saturday and was racing to collate information before I could hand over to Miss Pickles and Miss Elliott today.

Thank you to those who have submitted your forms. I have been unable to reply personally but please note, that if your circumstances change and you either require additional care or you don't need it on any given day, that you let us know on the staff email address so that I can make sure that I have the right number of staff in.


For the children who are at home:

It is apparent that we are in this for the long haul. It is unprecedented times. But please do not feel that you have to recreate a full school day at home. Below is a letter that I saw on line that expresses my view so I thought I would share it. As parents, you decide what you do with your children. Teach them to cook, garden, be creative. We will pick up where we left off once we are back together again. Treasure this time together. You don't need to do battle to get them to do work. Take the lead from them. We are here to support.


Hopefully I will be back at the helm next week but in the meantime I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that every single member of our team is here to help in any way we can.


Best wishes

Claire Harrison


Letter from a HT

I'm seeing a lot of threads online with the same general theme, so I wanted to just give a schools perspective on it all and answer some FAQs.

Lots of people feeling stressed, overwhelmed and under pressure by the work being sent home for kids. I hope this can help with that somewhat.

Few points to note first :
1) This is not homeschooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting the whole world. Let's keep perspective. Homeschooling is a choice, where you considered, you plan for it and you are your child's school teacher in whatever form you choose . This is at best distance learning. 

2) You are, and always have been, your child's primary educator. If you decide that your child isn't going to engage with anything sent home and is going to spend the entire period playing in the dirt, or baking, or watching TV, that is your choice. That is your right. It is clear in the constitution. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about.
3) Schools don't know what they're doing either. They got no notice, no prep time and we're told 'continue to plan lessons as normal and just send them home' as if that is in any way possible. If it were, we'd all be out of a job very quickly. I won't rant about my thoughts on the Dept on this, but suffice it to say your school is winging it.
4) It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a primary aged child and work from home at the same time. The very idea is nonsense. If you're trying to do that, stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, and survival. Again, unprecedented. Stop trying to be superheroes.

So, a few FAQs:

- My school has sent home lots of physical work. Pages and pages, hours and hours. How am I supposed to get through it all?!

You're not, don't try. Your child's teacher spent a couple of hours in utter panic gathering things to send home so they could say they did their best and there weren't a lot if complaints that enough didn't go home. It's not a competition, or a race, it's unlikely the teacher will even manage to look at it all.

- My school keeps sending home links and emails with more work. How do I make it stop. Ahhhhhh

See above. These are suggestions and ideas because the school is worried itl be said they're not offering enough. Use them if they suit you, don't if they don't. If you're getting stressed, stop opening the emails. No one will know!

- X in my child's class has everything done and we've barely started. Will they fall behind?

Even if everything were equal in terms of support and time and number of kids etc (which its not) kids learn at different rates. In the class there's a wide range of levels in all subjects, there's different paces and there are many kids working on differentiated level of work. It's almost impossible for teachers do differentiate at the moment, so you have to do it. By expectation and by time.

Your child will not fall behind. This is all revision and reminder work. If kids could learn new concepts without specific teaching we wouldn't need teachers. They will cover all of this again, multiple times.

- I'm not doing any work with my kids. All their doing is Lego, cooking and playing outside.

All of this is learning. Very valuable learning. Give yourself and them a break.

- How can I get three different lots of work done with 3 different kids of different ages?

You can't, stop trying. If they're old enough, try to get them to do little bits independently. Otherwise try to do something they can all engage with, reading a story together, some free writing, baking etc.

- So what's the bare minimum you'd expect?
For me, survival mode. I won't pretend that may be true of all teachers, but you know what if they can't have perspective in a time like this then I wouldn't overly worry about their opinion anyway.

My ideal for my kids in our school?
- A bit of reading every day (independent or to them or via audiobook etc)
- some free writing now and then. If they'll keep a diary or something, great. If not, would they draw a comic?
- Practical hands on maths. Be that via cooking, cleaning, outside or some maths games physical or digital.
- Some fine motor work. Lego, cutting, playdough, tidying up small toys.
- Physical exercise everyday,
- Some art/music where possible through the week. Doesn't need to be guided.
-Stretch goal, if old enough getting them to independently work on a project is great for keeping brains ticking over. Get them researching in a book or online and putting together something to present to you or family.
- If younger, lots of imaginative free play, the more independent the better.

You are doing enough. You are loving your kids and supporting them through a difficult time. Look after yourself. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this for mental health. Don't let this be something that stresses you. Only you can control that by accepting it is in your circle of control, you are the primary educator and this is all your call.