Dear Parents and Carers
I hope that this letter finds you all well and keeping safe in these difficult times. Apologies for the length of this update but please can I encourage you to fully read the newsletter as it contains important information.
Building on my letter of last week, I feel it may be helpful to write to all parents and carers to clarify and explain our current position on home/remote learning, how the situation is evolving and how we are working to move it even further forwards.
Firstly, I would like to say that teachers and other school staff would much prefer to be in school offering face to face learning, feedback and support and be able to access all their usual learning tools and resources. Home/remote learning is challenging for everyone - we understand that.
Unfortunately we are unable to please all the people all the time as we appreciate every household situation is different. We have to take a balanced view and like everyone else, keep moving forwards and tweaking as needed as we learn and things change.
The school has, like many other local people, families and groups that have suffered during the Christmas break, seen a significant number of COVID cases along with the need to self isolate. This has impacted on our capacity at the start of term. However, staff have, if well enough (or even when not really well enough) carried on working to the best of their ability from home to support online learning or colleagues have taken up the reins and supported two classes.
The Government and media don’t seem to differentiate between different ages of pupils and types of schools. There is an enormous difference between Early Years pupils, Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils and those at secondary school and beyond. These differences mean that different approaches are needed, one size doesn't suit all!
Many parents/carers (and staff) are working in new ways from home and have to juggle many responsibilities with less /different resources than usual
Pupils and parents/carers are often available at different times to support and focus on learning - this is one reason that live contact is challenging and not for everyone
Home/remote learning is not, and cannot be, the same as day to day, face to face teaching in class in school (or we perhaps wouldn't have schools?)
The curriculum won't be exactly the same - in school we make use of many practical resources in maths science, PE, DT Art etc. these aren't readily available at home
Staff plan their curriculum in advance. Much practical, outdoor learning, visits and visitors which support and bring learning alive can’t take place, so the curriculum has had to be replanned
In school there are continuous small interactions between teachers, support staff and pupils which all go to add to and inform learning and assessment. Use of Classroom and Tapestry plus Google Meet allows some of this to happen, it is inevitably different.
Pupils have different learning needs. In secondary schools, pupils are usually put in ability groups (sets) to make differentiating the work easier. In primary school we provide different levels of support and challenge. We do our best to achieve this with remote learning but it is more difficult
In school, teachers have ready and easy access to outcomes of pupils learning - their books, drawings, worksheets and other activities. These can be assessed quickly and next steps verbally given, new teaching inputs made ‘in the moment’ or later
Staff are currently working in school on a rota, supporting Key workers managing their classroom, calling parents, making videos, planning and marking work, responding to numerous messages on Tapestry / Classroom etc.
We have to keep all pupils and staff safe so please understand that if staff working in school catch COVID, bubbles will close and online/ remote learning will be a challenge- hence we need to minimise the number of pupils in school
Pupils who are coming into school are carrying out the same learning as pupils at home via Google Classroom- so that they cover the same curriculum. School staff are there to support learning as parents and carers would at home
So what are we doing at SBPS to meet pupil’s learning and other needs?
We have shared our Remote Learning Guidance which we will keep under review
We have tried to meet as many people’s needs as possible by:
Continuing to make daily use of our online learning platforms - Tapestry (EYFS) and Google Classroom for Years 1 - 6. These allow staff who monitor Tapestry and Classroom throughout the day an opportunity to communicate with pupils and parents regarding learning and other issues
Teachers recording and posting videos to explain learning or teach a concept. As these are recorded they can be accessed when needed and watched as often as required
Teachers posting online other materials which may include weblinks, Google Docs, PDFs, powerpoint presentations and video clips from a variety of sources
Pupils completing their usual online learning relevant to their year group - e.g. Doodle Maths, Doodle English, NumBots, Times Table Rock Stars and Active Learn activities
Providing weekly live video sessions to allow pupils to see each other and teaching/school staff (daily for Years 1-6 from 18.1.21)
Contacting families to provide technical support which may include borrowing a school device to support home learning
Contacting families to provide emotional/motivational support and a listening ear
Providing additional learning resources for some families - our SENDCO, Mrs Skinner has been in contact with many families offering support and guidance
Providing paper workpacks where there are no other options available
Please remember to contact the teaching staff via Tapestry or Classroom if you have any issues or concerns. Teachers are the best people to deal with learning issues as they know your children best.
The school office is also open and available by phone or email but running with reduced staff to minimise contact between staff. The member of staff working is very busy dealing with many different queries and tasks. Therefore, we ask that you are patient and we will do our best to deal with your queries in a timely manner.
Our Next Steps
Daily Live Meetings for years 1 - 6
As we now have more staff available, and after a trial this week with year 6, we have arranged for each class in years 1 - 6 to hold a daily live video session via Google Meet. These meetings will start on Monday 18th January and will be at the following times Monday to Thursday:
Years 4, 5 and 6 - 9.00am daily
Years 1, 2 and 3 - 9.30am daily
We understand that these timings may not suit everybody but would suggest that you join meetings when you can for as long as possible. It is impossible for us to schedule these morning, motivational and organisational meetings to suit every family situation.
The aim of these sessions which will last 15-20 minutes is for the class and their teacher to meet live via video in order to:
Talk through previous learning/issues
Share information about new learning
Have daily contact for wellbeing
Motivate and inspire pupils ready for the day’s learning
Provide an opportunity for pupils to ask questions about the learning
On Fridays, the meetings will be longer to allow staff to summarise the week’s learning, celebrate successes and engage with as many pupils as possible. Therefore the times for Fridays meetings will be as follows:
Years 5 & 6 - 9.00am
Years 3 & 4 - 10.00am
Years 1 & 2 - 11.00am
Google Meet Guidance
Your child will need to join a new Google Meet Classroom specifically created for each class which will be used for these meetings only. Classroom Codes and guidance on how to join the new classrooms will be sent out to parents via ParentMail
Set yourself up in a space that is appropriate for learning e.g. kitchen table, a quiet area of the house.
Get signed into your device and log into your Google Account five minutes prior to the start of the lesson so that you are ready and any technical issues can be resolved.
Make sure you log on to Classroom through your school Google account so your name is displayed on screen as it appears on your email- this means the teacher knows who you are.and can let you in. This is an important safeguarding feature
Ensure your backdrop is appropriate for learning and that you are dressed appropriately (no pyjamas etc. please).
Keep your microphone switched off unless speaking
Put your hand up if you wish to speak (use the raise hand button in the white panel at the bottom of the screen or physically put your hand up so the teacher can see you wish to participate)
Make sure you have finished eating and drinking before your session starts.
Make sure it is only you appearing - not your brother, sister or pet.
Please remember that you do not have permission to record the teacher or any other person in the meeting (this is a breach of GDPR regulations and against the law).
The new Google Meet classroom is just for daily live meetings. The rest of the learning videos and activities will continue to be posted onto the year group classroom.
How to Join the Sessions
The Google Meet sessions will require all pupils in Years 1 - 6 to join an additional Google Classroom. We will post the joining codes for these new classrooms in the current classroom for each year group and tell parents via Parent Mail. The daily live Meet session will be accessed via the new Classroom and a link will appear daily 5 minutes before the scheduled start of the live session.
Early Years Weekly Catch Up Meetings
Early Years will be slightly different. They will meet once a week on Fridays via Zoom at the following times:
Jade: 10.30 am
Amber 11:15 am
The codes for your class Zoom meeting will be sent out to you via ParentMail each week as well as being posted on Tapestry.
The purpose of these meetings is to allow pupils to:
Have weekly contact with Early Years staff
Share and celebrate completed work
Listen and share a story, read by Early Years staff
Enjoy some other shared activities like singing and dancing together
Have the opportunity to share news and talk to other pupils and staff
We hope that the pupils will enjoy this regular opportunity for live interaction with their peers and Early Years staff.
Staff PPA (Planning Preparation and Assessment) Please note that as of next week staff will not be scheduling work for Friday afternoons as they will be using this time for their statutory PPA. They are still working but in dedicated planning and preparation mode preparing for the following week’s teaching and learning.
We appreciate that we cannot please everybody with how we are managing online/home learning but we are continuously trying to develop and improve. We do listen to parent/carer feedback but unfortunately cannot fulfil all the individual requests and demands that we are receiving.
Please be assured that we are all working hard and want everyone to stay safe and well so we can welcome you back into school as soon as we are allowed.