Headteacher's Blog - 20 April

Posted on: 27th Apr

I do hope that you managed to have a restful break and enjoyed the Spring sunshine and your Easter eggs.

In this new term, we should be entering into a more settled rhythm of working.  Teachers will continue to set work through Show My Homework and use this to signpost students to other online platforms like Microsoft Teams when required. When setting work teachers will endeavour to specify timescales and break the work down into 1 hour lessons, to make it less overwhelming for students.  When appropriate, Microsoft Teams or other appropriate online platforms will be used to regularly communicate with whole classes and individuals, but this should not be a blanket expectation.  

As I stated in my previous blog, please be aware that staff are working hard to deliver the best learning programmes remotely and I would ask that your expectations of them are realistic.  You should also have realistic expectations of yourselves, no family should feel additional pressure within their household to keep up with “the curriculum”.  It is understandable that some parents/carers are still feeling overwhelmed by the new way of working, but I would like to emphasise that you are not expected to become teachers and your children are not expected to learn as they do in school.  You can instead focus on supporting your child’s learning during this period, creating the structure that will allow them to work independently, adapting to this new way of working.  Use the following tips below to help alleviate the pressure you might be feeling:

  • Split the day into three or four hour slots and take turns so you can do your own work
  • Take care of your own health and wellbeing (remember the advice on airplanes to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others)
  • Create and stick to a routine if you can.  For example, eat breakfast at the same time and make sure they're dressed before starting the ‘school’ day – avoid staying in pyjamas!
  • Take regular breaks – stop frequently and stay hydrated – enjoy the spring sunshine
  • Involve your children in setting the timetable where possible.  It’s a great opportunity for them to manage their own time better and it’ll give them ownership
  • Check in with your children and try to keep to the timetable, but be flexible.  Children in school are used to a daily rhythm.  If a task/activity is going well or they want more time, let it extend where possible
  • If you have more than one child at home, consider combining their timetables. For example, they might exercise and do maths together – see what works for your household
  • Try to build some exercise, reading for pleasure and making/cooking something into the routine
  • Designate a working space if possible, and at the end of the day have a clear cut-off to signal school time is over
  • Distinguish between weekdays and weekends, to separate school life and home life

 

What is most important at this time, is that your children enjoy leading their learning with the work we are setting, developing those independent learning skills that will make them lifelong learners, that they read daily and that they keep to regular learning routines.  A list of online educational resources which have been identified by some of the country’s leading educational experts to help pupils to learn at home, has been published and can be accessed here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-online-education-resources-for-home-education

In addition, the BBC is enhancing its education provision to include daily lessons, and can be found here https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/levels/z98jmp3

It is important to remember that we are in this together and that we continue to work as a team, so that when we do re-open and move into the recovery phase our young people will be in a strong position, both mentally and physically, to pick up from where we left off on the 20 March.

I would like to end with some inspirational stories about members of The Downs School community.  James Weeks in Year 7 completed a sponsored 50 mile cycle 'marathon' in his garage on a turbo trainer and far exceeded his fundraising target for the NHS.  He has raised £1,760, well exceeding his £1,000 target. Well done James on demonstrating many of our core values, including courage, responsibility and creativity.  Our Design Arts teachers and technicians, led by Mrs Edwards have been in school over the Easter break making face visors to help protect NHS workers.  As you can imagine this was no feat whilst still respecting social distancing, but through ingenuity, teamwork and sheer determination they produced over 350 face visors for NHS workers across the authority. Great work team.   It would be great to hear of any other inspiring stories like this, so please let me know.

Best wishes for the term ahead and please continue to provide feedback on what is and isn’t working.

Mr Prosser

 

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