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Home learning and other support (14 May 2020) - message 2

Posted on 14 May 2020 by Mrs Craggs

You’ll have heard the government’s plans to begin to phase in the opening of schools from, at the earliest, 01 June 2020. Given the level of planning that needs to be put in place to reduce the risk of infection to children and staff, we’d like to gather some information from you to help us to prepare to open school safely.

Please click here to complete the survey. Responses are required by 5pm, Sunday 17 May.

As mentioned in the email dated 14 May 2020, school will not look like it did when the children left in March. It’s possible that some of the following will apply:

  • the school day isn’t a full day and/or the school week isn’t a full week
  • the whole year group does not return together
  • your child will be taught by a different teacher and in a different classroom
  • the curriculum is reduced
  • school dinners would be different

Home learning and other support (14 May 2020)

Posted on 14 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

On Sunday, the Prime Minister announced the first sketch of a road map’.

On Monday, the government published its COVID-19 recovery strategy, and provided schools with two documents: Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 and Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings.

On Tuesday, Heads of School and I met to talk through the detail set out in those documents so we could begin to explore how our schools can provide what the government asks us to do. These discussions have been continuing throughout the week.

On Wednesday, the Department for Education’s chief scientific adviser suggested the government guidance on safety is a “draft”, and will be reissued after further consultation with Public Health England. If this is the case, and the guidance changes, it leaves us with little time and lots of questions in order to try to meet the government’s aim to re-open.

Reassuringly, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, yesterday acknowledged the need for flexibility:

We need to make sure that schools have the flexibility to work within these guidelines to make the proposals work for both staff and for children.

And so…

On Thursday, we’d like to keep you updated about some of the possibilities that we have discussed. This is not an exhaustive list, but provides an idea of the range and difficulty of the conversations that we’ve been having. Nothing here is definite  – no final decisions have been made – but we want you to be aware that the headlines aren’t quite the same as what could be the reality in a few weeks’ time.

On Monday 01 June, we will not re-open for children other than those of key workers and those who may be more vulnerable in some way – this is the same as what we’re doing now.

We are working towards some sort of re-opening, and it might be as early as Tuesday 02 June. However, it’s possible that some of the following will apply:

  • although the government talks about children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returning, just one of those year groups returns to school
  • the school day isn’t a full day and/or the school week isn’t a full week
  • the whole year group does not return together
  • your child will be taught by a different teacher and in a different classroom
  • the curriculum is reduced
  • school dinners would be different

When we plan for some children returning, we’ll very closely consider how we can continue to provide the best home learning activities that is practically possible.

Throughout this period, we’ve tried to communicate as much as possible with you to help you to prepare, and that’s why we’re presenting these possibilities. We know the fact they’re just possibilities might be frustrating for you when you’re trying to plan ahead, including whether you’re able to return to work, but the safety of pupils and staff has to be paramount.

To help us plan, there will be a short survey to you – look out for that today or tomorrow.

As always, we’ll keep you updated as our plans develop and when further guidance from the DfE is released. All of this will be done to make sure children, families and staff all stay safe.

Home learning and other support (13 May 2020)

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s messages have been around the announcement from the government about re-opening schools. We’re working through the (sometimes contradictory) content of these, and exploring how we might be able to open our schools to more people. This is taking time, so please forgive us if we’re not able to respond quickly or comprehensively to your questions, comments or concerns right now.

Today, let’s have a shift of content back to supporting you and your child. First, an idea for your child…

Have you used lockdown to have a clear out? Maybe you’ve noticed a room that’s needing a lick of paint? It can be reassuring to know you’re not the only one – even local sporting heroes experience the same thoughts. Triumphant triathlete Alistair Brownlee has had to clear out his garage to make way for his endless pool (he still needs to exercise, after all), but he’s finding the garage environment isn’t helping to inspire of motive him. This is where your child can help! Alistair wants your child to have a go at creating an interesting or inspiring picture that could be painted on the walls of his garage. Check out the details of this exciting competition. What an honour it would be to be able to say, next time Alistair wins a major competition, that you helped to motive him during these tough times!

And now, something for you to take on board…

Have you worried about how much work your child is doing during lockdown? In a recent survey, 53% of respondents felt that their children lacked motivation. Some of you have contacted us to discuss this and it’s natural to be a bit concerned. It’s a really tough situation: you might be working from home or you might be keeping your household in order. And on top of everything else, you’re also in charge of your child’s education. But should you be worried? Take a look at what the experts say.

Home learning and other support (12 May 2020)

Posted on 12 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Today’s message presents all the links to further reading that came from the Department for Education (DfE) last night.

Yesterday, we reflected on the government’s announcement about its aim to re-open schools for some pupils. The Prime Minister’s speech aimed to provide a ‘shape of a plan’. Last night, school leaders received an update on what the government is calling its ‘coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery strategy’. The message said:

The government has published its roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

If you’d like, you can read the ‘roadmap’. For parents and for school leaders, this in itself doesn’t provide much detail – just three paragraphs on page 26 of its 60 pages in total.

Yesterday’s update to schools included four more links with more information.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions on what you can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak have also been published.

In section 6, you can read the three frequently asked questions about schools (we’ve been frequently asked quite a few more than that!).

Guidance for parents and carers as schools and other education settings in England open to more children and young people

We have published guidance for parents and carers on the opening of schools and other education settings to more children. This guidance provides information on when and how we will open education settings to more children.

You can read the guidance. It does contain some updates, although some of the content is quite old now (and be warned: there are no indications of what the updates are).

Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June

From 1 June we expect to be able to ask primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6. We will also ask secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges to offer some face-to-face support before the summer holidays to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year. Nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, will also be asked to begin welcoming back children from 1 June. Existing arrangements for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers in all settings will continue, and we encourage all eligible children in these priority groups to attend.

It’s this guidance for schools that we’ll be studying in order to prepare for wider opening from 01 June. The DfE says: ‘In this document we set out the overarching aims and principles of this next phase. We will work with the sector to produce further guidance ahead of 1 June.’ We’re looking forward to getting this further guidance.

In the meantime, we’re fortunate enough to work in a federation so we can share ideas and thinking in order to draw up the best plans possible. We also have a local authority which still has strong support for schools – councillors, advisors and school leaders have a meeting planned tomorrow.

Implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings

We have published guidance on the implementation of protective measures in education and childcare settings. There are important actions that can be taken to open settings to more children in the safest way possible, focusing on protective measures that can be put in place to limit the risk of the virus spreading.

Just as with the previous information, we’ll need to study this guidance carefully.

The Heads of School and I will continue to review and reflect and plan for the best possible provision for our children. We’ll always act in the best interests of our pupils and our staff.

Moortown Primary and Scholes (Elmet) Primary remain open for children whose parents are key workers (including those who attend St James’) and for those who might be considered vulnerable in some way.

Hope you had a good day, Mrs Weekes!

Posted on 11 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

As many of you know, Mrs Weekes celebrated  a lockdown birthday over the weekend, and a big one, too: she was 50 on Saturday.

We all hope she had a great weekend!

Mrs Weekes was very grateful for all the kind words and messages you sent her way, including some from as far away as Australia! Thanks to all the pupils and parents / carers, including these pupils past and present.

Home learning and other support (11 May 2020) - message 2

Posted on 11 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Our previous message today was specifically stemmed from the speech made by the Prime Minister last night. We thought it best to publish this separately to the home learning support for today – just a short one, but hopefully a more useful one!

Living and learning during lockdown

Living and Learning is the name for all the teaching and learning we do around Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). Each week in school, we’ve a Living and Learning statement. I recognise the importance of money… is our statement this week. One of the Sphere Federation Health Leaders writes:

This Living and Learning statement helps to introduce the importance of money. You might want to find out what your child already knows about money by discussing the following questions:

  • Where does our money come from?
  • How does money make us feel?
  • What can we use our money for?
  • How does our money help people?
  • How can we look after our money?
  • Are there any problems linked to money?

Needs and wants are a key part of understanding the importance of money. While we’re at home at the moment, there may be things (needs) that children don’t even realise cost money: water, electricity etc. Can your child think of ways you could be spending less such as turning lights off when you aren’t in the room? We’d love to hear their best money saving ideas.

If you’d like to cover this subject further in your child’s home learning, Young Money have designed a parent toolkit to support you with this. Remember, this could be an addition or alternative to a home learning task that your child’s teacher sets for them each day.

Home learning and other support (11 May 2020) - message 1

Posted on 11 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

You’ll all know that last night the Prime Minister made a speech setting out what he described as:

  • ‘the shape of a plan’
  • ‘the first sketch of a road map’
  • ‘a sense of the way ahead’

He used all of those phrases in just one small part of his speech and I’ve bulleted them here in order to emphasise that at the moment, schools don’t have any greater detail:

  • we don’t know the shape of the plan
  • the map is just a sketch and sketches can be easily rubbed out or worked over
  • the way ahead is just a sense – and it may not yet be a common sense shared by all

Later in his speech, there’s similar content:

  • ‘at the earliest by June 1’
  • ‘we believe we may be in a position to begin…’
  • ‘to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, year 1 and year 6.’

Again, I’ve bulleted these three points to highlight the uncertainties we – you as parents and carers, and we as teachers -face.

  • ‘at the earliest’ does not guarantee the date
  • ‘we believe’ and ‘we may be’ don’t guarantee anything
  • ‘in stages’ raises so many questions, such as whether this is for all pupils, all at once, or just smaller groups of Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils.

There are so many questions (What if…?) that we can tag on to the points made last night.

A lot can change in just a short time at the moment: we’ve gone from front page headlines such as ‘Happy Monday!’ (The Sun) and ‘Hurrah! Lockdown freedom beckons’ (Daily Mail) to quite a different mood: ‘Ready, Steady, Slow’ and ‘Boris keeps handbrake on’ – headlines from the same two papers, respectively, and only five days apart.

We’ve 21 more days before 01 June.

This week, school leaders will examine closely the detail that we hope will be included in the document due to be published today. For the rest of the month, we’ll continue to review and reflect and plan for the best possible provision in these uncertain times. Please be assured that we’ll always act in the best interests of our pupils and our staff.

Moortown Primary and Scholes (Elmet) Primary remain open for children whose parents are key workers (including those who attend St James’) and for those who might be considered vulnerable in some way.

Home learning and other support (08 May 2020)

Posted on 08 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

In the past week or so, there has been a lot of confusing messages about easing the lockdown, some hopeful but many others cautionary. Some of you have asked us about how and when schools might re-open, but we’ve had absolutely no information about this.

However, a Department for Education blog, published just yesterday, made this clear statement:

Schools are closed to all but the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. The Secretary of State has been clear that this will remain the case until the scientific advice says it is safe to do otherwise.

Any headlines in newspapers and the wider media are either wild speculation or unhelpful government leaks.

Schools do continue to receive daily emails from the Department for Education. As far as we can see, there’s one very clear message in every email that comes through:

It is essential that everyone washes their hands more often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing with soap employs mechanical action that loosens bacteria and viruses from the skin, rinsing them into the drain. Drying hands afterwards makes the skin less hospitable to the virus. Hand sanitiser can be effective if soap is not available or the situation makes using soap less feasible (i.e. when outside) but using hand sanitiser provides none of the virus-destroying friction that rubbing your hands together and rinsing with water provides.

Remind yourself of guidance on hand washing can be found at:

The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

Whatever the national message, Sphere Federation staff hope you all have a happy and healthy weekend.

Home learning and other support (07 May 2020)

Posted on 07 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Tomorrow is a bank holiday to commemorate VE Day. We’ll continue with home learning tasks, but remember that on such a day, we completely understand if you want to step back and enjoy – as much as you can – the bank holiday. (The same goes for next Friday, too – this was scheduled to be a training day at school.)

We’ve had a few parents tell us their child has reached the end of the exercise books we sent home just before schools closed. If this is the case, you can call in at Moortown Primary to collect a new book – please avoid drop-off and collection times when it will be harder to maintain social distancing. For parents at St James’ CE Primary, you can call in to school on Monday morning when Miss Beatson will be there.

Fancy getting creative?

Monday’s message was about additions or alternatives to the home learning tasks your teacher sets your child. We know some tasks might end up being a bit tricky for some people, so it’s a good idea to have different things for them to get stuck into…

Your child could create a National Book Token design and win a £10 National Book Token for themselves and each of their classmates. The National Book Token people will select one child’s design to put on a gift card every week for seven weeks. When schools open up again, the young designer and their classmates will each receive a £10 National Book Token displaying the winning artwork.

Talking of which, there are plenty of competitions during the lockdown period. The list comes from Child Friendly Leeds, which has lots of guidance, activities and creative ideas for families, too.

ArtForms in Leeds has different weekly home learning ideas for you and your child to check out. In the current week (Week 7), we love the idea for older children to create their own city using nets.

…And finally, don’t forget your child could get creative alongside you in the kitchen or in the garden if you have one.

Home learning and other support (06 May 2020)

Posted on 06 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

We’re keeping today’s message a happy and healthy one…

All the teachers are missing their children each day (and seeing you, the parents and carers, too). They’re busy working away on your home learning tasks, and enjoying all the emails coming in, but teachers from each school have found time over the last couple of weeks to create three very different videos, all of which were intended to put a happy and healthy smile on your faces!

By now, you’ve probably seen your child’s own school teachers, but we thought it might be nice to bring the three together for today’s message.

The Head of School at Moortown, Mrs Weekes, got her creative juices flowing and wrote a reflective poem. The teachers in the clip start off with the Reception teacher (sporting a fetching lockdown haircut) and working up to the Year 6 teacher and then Miss Rushbrooke and finally Mrs Weekes herself.

Almost all the St James’ CE Primary staff feature in this one – and even pupils at Moortown and Scholes might recognise one or two familiar faces (although I’m sure nobody knows who that strange person wearing five pairs of glasses is). Can you spot another lockdown haircut?

 

Miss Hague kicks off this video in a very nonchalant mood. She, and plenty of others, get to show off some secret talents in the Scholes (Elmet) video. Now, maybe I’m too cynical, but there’s one clip on here that looks just too good to be true…

We hope you like them.