Home Schooling: Bulletin 3
After the first week of distance learning, we have listened to feedback from pupils, parents and staff. In the light of this, we will be making some changes to the way we make our provision for you and your children.
LOWER SCHOOL: Carry on as you are! It all seems to be going well and parents are using the two week pack of material flexibly so they balance learning with other family activities.
MIDDLE SCHOOL (Y4 - Y6): We will reduce the amount of work set for this age group, so that they can realistically complete it in a morning or afternoon, leaving the rest of the time free for other family activities. Form teachers will focus more on the core subjects - Maths, English, Science (and for Y6 French) - setting work that includes a core element that we hope all children will be able to do, plus additional material that some pupils may do at their parents’ discretion. Teachers will set time limits for each piece and ask pupils to let them know how long a piece of work has taken.
For other subjects, teachers will set work that can be completed over a more extended period of time - eg. a History project. More of the work will be flagged as optional and will be offered as a suggested activity rather than a required one. You as parents will know what works for your child in your circumstances.
MIDDLE SCHOOL Y7 - Y8 & UPPER SCHOOL Y9 - 10: The amount of work here seems more manageable for most pupils and families but we will still scale back so that the work set is enough to cover what pupils would normally expect to do in about 70% of a normal lesson. This will give time for pupils/parents to manage the technology and download/upload work. No additional ‘homework’ will be set. For Y10 more will be expected as they have to cover material in readiness for GCSE exams.
All GCSE Art students will still need to work on their portfolio as there would not otherwise be sufficient time when we get back to complete a portfolio of work. Y6 - Y8 and US French students need to continue working on language skills at about the normal rate. Google Hangouts will be used to facilitate Mr Burch undertaking speaking and listening activities for some classes.
Year 11 students are being encouraged to maintain learning especially in subjects they are planning to take at A level. Several have already contacted to say that they are doing this and we will provide targeted support as required. We are waiting to hear more from the exam boards about the way the grades will be calculated.
We are very grateful for the messages we have received from parents who are concerned about the health and wellbeing of teachers, some of whom are getting exhausted, especially where they have additional school responsibilities. In order to ensure that teachers are not overwhelmed, we are asking them to let pupils know when they (the teachers) are available online. Generally this will be during part of the daytime but not into the evening. Teachers will aim to respond to requests for help as soon as possible and generally within a day, but we will ask pupils to be patient.
Where possible, teachers will send out answers/markschemes, so that pupils and/or parents can mark work themselves and send the results in to teachers. This means that teachers will have more time to support those who are finding an aspect of the work difficult. It will not necessarily be the form/subject teacher who responds to the request for further help, as we will be asking teachers who are less hard-pressed to take on some of the learning support and marking.
We will be asking pupils or their parents to tell their teachers how long a piece of work has taken, so we can adjust future assignments in the light of what is achievable in a reasonable timeframe.
We would like these changes to be operative from next week. Further tweaks are likely to be made after Easter as we learn more about what works and what doesn’t.
As we discussed the situation yesterday as a staff, we recognised that from a spiritual point of view this period of school closure and social distancing is actually an important and a very special time. It is a unique opportunity for pupils and ourselves to draw near to God in a special way - to have a 'Selah moment'. In the Bible, extended times of drawing aside from others - Moses on Mount Sinai, Jesus in the wilderness, the disciples in the upper room before Pentecost - were always times of life-changing encounter which empowered those people in a new way when they came out of those experiences. We need to deliberately reduce expectations on everyone during this time to allow that to happen. Otherwise we could from a spiritual point of view be in danger of wasting what is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to find God in a special way in this time of crisis, because we are so caught up with trying to maintain the 'status quo' in terms of workload.
We also want to support families so they can use this time to home educate their children and not simply home-school them. Education for life is much wider than what children might receive in a school context. We would like all parents to experience this time as a blessing. This is a precious opportunity for families to do some of those things they have always wanted to do together but never had time for in the busyness of normal life. Hopefully many of our pupils will return with new skills and experiences that they could never have had in school.
We are so grateful to all who have sent messages of support and assured us of their prayers - it is good to be part of a loving community at this time. Do get in touch by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.