Dear parents and carers
Hello to you all. I issue this update to keep you abreast of developments at school and externally following the rapid partial closure of schools on Monday evening. Updates will be regular.
Please read all the information as there is much to share.
Outline of events this week
I think that we would all agree that, whilst it appears to be necessary to do so, only opening schools to those whose parents are deemed Critical Key Workers and Vulnerable (under the DfE definitions) is not what anyone wants. We desperately hope to re-open our school gates to everyone as soon as possible. It certainly seems that the concept of ‘last to close, first to open’, will be greatly received by all the school community. It is widely shared that mid February is the goal, however this is down to government to decide.
Access to school:
‘Whilst schools are not unsafe they may be vectors for transmission in communities’ – ‘those who can stay at home, must stay at home’ (Prime Minister, Boris Johnson)
Please do not request or use school if there is an alternative. Save lives, stay at home.
I have already sent communication out as to who can register for access to school under key worker status, and those that are known to fall into the vulnerable children group have been contacted directly. Information about key workers can viewed under earlier notices and the guidance to schools is available on the Gov UK website.
At this time, we have had much greater demand on places at school than in previous lockdowns – access quadrupling since the first lockdown. With this in mind, I remind parents and carers to ensure that they only use school as stipulated by the Department for Education and the Prime Minister’s directive and remember the overarching message – ‘those that can stay at home, should stay at home’. This means that if there is an adult at home who can care for the child, regardless of circumstance, they should not come to school.
An abuse of the system will not only overwhelm the school, as we work hard to provide online learning and on site learning at the same time, but will significantly increase the risk of Covid cases rising in school. The risk of closing bubbles that are relied upon by NHS staff and other critical workers increases as pupil numbers rise, and has a generally unrecognised impact of decreasing the capacity of staff to deliver remote learning as they juggle online and face to face teaching.
The school has in place two key methods of accessing learning.
The primary method is through that of Office 365 (we often refer to this as ‘Teams’), which provides opportunities to communicate face to face with teachers and teaching assistants as well as share and respond to work completed. Guidance for this has been given repeatedly and is available on the school website at all times.
Visit the school website Covid 19 page, of click:
Ashgate Primary School Remote Learning 7 point commitment
*As the school only has two telephone lines, staff may contact you via a private number which will show as, similar to, No caller ID – Withheld Number or similar. )Do not assume it is a cold caller)
The second method for remote learning is via the school website Class Pages, where generic year group activities are readily available. These can supplement work shared on Office 365 Teams or act as a stop gap for those who have login challenges.
Remote learning does not just mean what we send to you
In addition to our provision, I am pleased to announce that the BBC have been working in collaboration with school leaders to set up daily lessons via the BBC programme schedule. These are called ‘Lockdown Lessons’ and are available on the ‘BBC Red button’ and ‘on demand’ facility. Lessons will be available from 9am. As we know more, will share this with you. This should alleviate some of the pressures for those who have limited or shared access to technology.
Challenging times for families
We do understand that remote learning is not always (if ever) easy for some families who are balancing for example, working from home, multiple childcare or other needs such as caring for ill or frail relatives. The key message is DO WHAT YOU CAN. We do not expect parents to be able to replace full time education with a qualified teacher. Every bit helps, but do not over pressurise yourself or your child.
It is also recognised that many families have very limited access to the technology needed to support children, especiall where there are demands for multiple siblings to access devices. Gavin Williamson Secretary of State for Education , has assured us that help is on the way for these families in the form of devices which can be distributed by schools. We have ordered our allocation, but we await their arrival. These will be distributed when they arrive…watch this space.
If you are unable to access the online learning, we are offering work packs which can be collected from school. These will be available each Friday along with a school reading book which can be changed weekly. YOU MUST inform the class teacher when they call you that you require a pack and reading book.
Free school meals
Free school meal vouchers should now have been received via Wonde. The system seems a lot more straight forward than the previous Edenred system, and parents have reported ease in use. I would like to pass on my thanks to Mrs Warburton our School Business Manager who managed to set the system up and get vouchers to parents within 48 hours in many cases.
Ultimately my objective is to keep all the school community safe and provide the best possible educational opportunities during challenging times. The demands on school staff, the system and parents is unprecedented – a phrase that is at risk of being a cliché, but remains very appropriate.
Your support is appreciated as we work together to do all we can, and we thank you in turn for your efforts. At times like this it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel; regardless, it is there and normality will resume at some stage.
I will keep you updated regularly.