Newsletter – 1 May

3rd May, 2020

Dear Parents, Carers and Children,

As always, many thanks for the hugely positive and supportive messages regarding the work that is being set by our teachers and the ways in which you and your children have responded during these very challenging times. As a team, we constantly monitor and evaluate the quality and quantity of work being set so that we can ensure we are continuing to provide lessons that are appropriate, engaging and enjoyable for all of our pupils. As such, you will notice a few changes this week:

  • You should have all received an invitation to join Microsoft Teams so that you can access the learning set by teachers and upload work/assignments to your class team. We are using this software to improve the way in which we are providing all of the work set for our pupils. It is a very powerful tool and we have worked hard with our ICT provider to allocate each child an email address so that they can log in and find their class. Because this is an online tool, Mrs Richards has produced a Code of Conduct that you will need to sign with your child to say that you have read and understood the terms under which Teams can be used. Online safety is of paramount importance to us all and this will be closely monitored. Please note that, should we see any breaches in this Code of Conduct, we will suspend your child’s use of any chat functions within the software.
  • Of course, some of you may not want to use Teams and that is entirely your choice. In such cases, your child’s email address will not be used by anyone at all and will remain highly confidential within our encrypted school system. You will continue to get hard copies of work packs and teachers will continue to communicate via Class Dojo and Teams too. For you, nothing will change.
  • You will also notice that the English has changed next week. As school closure in the physical sense continues, we are increasingly aware of the need for our pupils to continue with their routines in learning and we have decided to provide 5x 30-minute English sessions per week. These sessions are heavily scaffolded by teachers to enable you, as parents, to best support your children in their learning. The activities continue from how we have been teaching in school so are not new to any of the children, thus providing continuity of support as we head further into this summer term. As much as possible, all pupils should now be doing a daily maths, reading and writing sessions as a minimum. Other subjects can also be done, but reading, writing and maths are our priority.
  • We also know that some of our children are running out of reading books at home now and with libraries closed, it’s very difficult to get hold of any other reading material. To this end, we sorted out our school library earlier this term and have a vast amount of books that we have been waiting to send to charity shops, either because they are so old, or we have replaced old copies with new ones. We will be putting them under the shelter outside Owls Class this week end, so, when you are taking your daily exercise from Monday onwards, please feel free to call into school (the main gate is unlocked for bin men and postman etc.) and take what you like. Please DO NOT return them to school and I recommend that you clean the covers with anti-bacterial wipes when you get home. We will also put some old phonics reading books out there for you too. Again, please just take them and they do not need to be brought back to school. I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone to remain socially distant while visiting the school site, and please do not allow your children to play on the play equipment – we must adhere to lockdown requirements at all time and treat our school area like all other public places. Thank you.

I have also had some conversations with parents regarding live streaming of lessons. I would like to take this opportunity to explain the reasons why we will not being doing this in the foreseeable future:

  1. There is a real safeguarding implication with live video streaming into pupils’ homes, and the advice from the county’s safeguarding and legal teams around the country is very clear: this can only be possible at this stage if 2 members of staff are available to participate in each session. For us, this is not possible at this time. Should this change at all, you will be the the first to know.
  2. Education research suggests that the most effective way to support remote learning at present is through the publication of high-quality resources with a focus on effective explanation, as opposed to simply streaming live lessons. Following research into this way of working, you will now notice that some of the resources emailed out to you, or on Teams, may have the teacher’s voice recorded over the presentation to help support learning even further.
  3. In addition, we are acutely aware that some of our pupils have no access to a computer and providing lessons like these will only serve to disadvantage them even further. Our intention is always to ensure equality of provision for all.

So many of you have been doing the most amazing activities while being away from school, so we have decided to give parents the BEST job of nominating their child/children for a special award. The award needs to be linked to an activity (school-directed, or directed by you) that best represents one of our learning behaviours:

  • Aspiration
  • Determination
  • Curiosity
  • Independence
  • Community-Mindedness

You can use the sheets we sent out as a guide to which activities best suit which behaviour if you like, or you can use your own ideas. Winners will be announced in the Friday newsletter so please make sure you get your nominations to the school office by Thursday at the latest. Good luck and I’m really looking forward to seeing what you’ve all been up to.

During my research, monitoring and evaluation this week, I have come across the following publications which may help and provide some good ways in which to engage your children in activities while at home:

  • Spoken Language – hints and tips on how to develop children’s language in and around home. Useful for all year groups, especially younger children
  • Developing Fluency – a document which supports the teaching of reading and writing and matches the way in which we do things in school

Both documents come from Hampshire County Council who we work very closely with. The following link will take you to a very interesting read about how to keep your child engaged in reading during school closure:

The author Andy Cope has launched the #WriteOn competition this week which is encouraging children to join in the competition to write a story and read it out using the #WriteOn. The theme for the week will be announced at 10am every Thursday and the idea is that all children write a story (doesn’t matter about punctuation or anything like that), and read their story out online posting the video on their parent’s socialmedia platform using #WriteOn so that the authors can find them and listen to them. They will then announce the winner! The link to his YouTube launch video is here:

Have a go!! We have the most amazing story tellers in school!

Finally, those of you who live in the village will have heard that the community is gathering care packages for our local frontline staff. Emma Newman from the Wittenham Events group has asked if our children would like to make cards to go with the packages, or just to be sent along to the ambulance stations and hospitals. Here is what she has asked:

‘Families can drop them (the cards) off to the village hall on Sunday 10th May (10am – 2pm – strict social distancing will be in place) and if they could also bring something to go into the care packs – that would be amazing. But the card alone would be just perfect too!

View / Download the PDF to see the class updates and some of the fabulous work the children have been up to.

We are a nut free school.

Families please note that we are strictly a nut free school. Please ensure that no nut products are brought into school or included in packed lunches (even on school trips). Please also ensure that no nut products are consumed within the school grounds at any time of day. Thank you.