Dear Parents and Carers,
Having completed one of the most extraordinary weeks in education’s history, I thought it would be helpful to write to you and give you an update on how things have been going, along with our plans for the forthcoming weeks.
Firstly, please can I thank all those parents who have sent in copies of your children’s learning, especially where you have sent photos of some of the lovely activities you are managing to do with your children at home. I know exactly how strange and unsettling this whole home learning situation is (supervising my four secondary-aged children’s education is also proving something of a challenge!) but the smiling faces I have had beaming at me from my computer screen would suggest that your children are happy and safe and that you are doing all that you can to keep them busy and engaged.
I thought it would be helpful to clarify a few points as I have received a couple of emails asking about our plans for the children’s online learning.
• This will begin after Easter, on April 20th. Please do not expect too much on the class pages before then. Teachers are all on shift over the Easter holidays in school, as well as planning and preparing to move their teaching into the virtual world after this time. As this is all so beyond the realms of our previous experience, there are bound to be a few teething problems along the way, so please bear with us. Our priority is to ensure that this works well for both teachers and parents in the long term.
• The home learning packs that the children brought home with them, along with the resources I am compiling on our new Home Learning Hub on the school website (https://www.dormansland.surrey.sch.uk/home-learning/) should keep you ticking over this week.
• Teachers will let you know, either via MarvellousMe or via their class page on the website, when they will be working in school each week. They will not be updating their class pages on these days.
• On the days when they are working from home, teachers will be available to respond to emails and update their class pages for four hours during each working day. Please be patient if they do not come back to you immediately.
• Should your child’s class teacher fall ill, you will be notified and the class page will not be updated for the first week of this illness. You will need to rely on existing activities on the class page and on the Home Learning Hub during this time, should it be necessary. If the illness extends beyond a week, a member of senior school staff will update the class page with further learning.
• As the school is open over the Easter holidays for the children of key workers, I will be planning in a week’s break for every teacher over the next eight weeks. You will be notified of when your class teacher will be unavailable in advance.
None of us know how long this situation is going to continue. Therefore, we are planning learning steadily and slowly as we presume it could be for a lengthy period of time. This is unchartered territory for all of us, and we are all learning every day. We will always do what is needed to support you and your children to the very best of our ability, so please keep critical emails to a minimum.
With regards to our school remaining open for key worker children and those in some of our more vulnerable families, I have to inform you that several members of staff have now been taken ill and it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain our staffing rota levels, at least in the short term, while we come through this.
Therefore, please can I reiterate the point from the Prime Minister that, if there is anyone at home who can keep the children safe with you during the day, please do not send them into school. As he states in his letter to the nation today, this situation is going to get worse before it gets better, and the fewer children we need to have in our care during the peak of the illness, the greater the chance of staff recovering more quickly and being back in work.
My family joined in the applause for NHS workers that was scheduled last Thursday. I found it very moving to hear applause and shouts from every direction in support of these incredibly brave individuals. They are risking their health and well being in the fight against Coronavirus. It is the challenge of our lifetime and we all have our part to play.
Thank you, finally, to all those parents who have taken the time to thank me and my staff for working through these difficult conditions to keep the school open.
Best wishes to you all for remaining safe and well,