Dear Parents & Carers,
It has been absolutely fantastic to have all the children back in school again this week. They have all been absolute superstars and are settling in incredibly well to the ‘new normal’ after such a long time away from school, I am so Proud of them all. Huge thanks to our fabulous staff team for all their hard work and effort in ensuring the week was so successful. Many thanks too to you all for taking the time to talk through all of the new information with your children, this has really helped to reduce any anxiety.
Considering all the restrictions placed on us I am delighted with how the new drop off and collection systems are working. Many of you have commented on how calm the start of the day is and how smooth the end of the day is after only just 3 days of doing it. Where I have had a few worries or concerns raised we have endeavoured to swiftly respond to these as best as possible, but please do remember we are all in this together. We have been tasked with fully operating the school, but still have many COVID restrictions placed on us. We will continue to regularly review the plans in place and amend as necessary.
Unwell? Illness? COVID?
Everyone is fully aware of the COVID symptoms and any child or adult displaying these should NOT come into school. Any person displaying them in school will be sent home and expected to book a test. They will not be able to return until they receive a negative result. In the current situation, we are obviously going to err on the side of caution with any unwell children. However, we all need to appreciate that children will at times (as they always have been) unwell and need to go home. If you are called to collect your child we will be as clear as we can if they have displayed COVID symptoms. If this is the case you are expected to book them a test and share the result with us before they return. If your child is sent home generally unwell then you will not be expected to book a test (although you may chose to) and they can return when feeling better (still 48 hours for diarrhoea and sickness).
The Cov-id 19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our lives and when we reflect about this and the well-being of our children returning to school, we are not thinking about recovering lost knowledge, not in these early stages, but are focused on an evidenced based approach called ‘The Recovery Curriculum.’ Our focus over the first few weeks is, instead, on rebuilding lost relationships, re-establishing lost confidence and recreating lost opportunities. We want this to be a period of readjustment and healing so that the children can feel confident, resilient and are therefore fully ready to learn. If you would like to know more about the approach and how it will work in our school there is further detail about this at the end of this email.
We have decided we would like the children to really settle back into school life before returning to a more formal, structured homework approach. We will write to you again in a few weeks time about how homework will work for the rest of the school year. However, for now we simply want you to support the children to read regularly at home and practise their timetables.
Reading – Reading is such an essential skill, we want to continue to instil the love of reading in our children; it provides so much pleasure for children as well as enormous educational benefits. Please continue to hear your child read and discuss their reading with them as much as possible. Mrs Sayer and Mrs Lesiakowski have spent considerable time reviewing and updating our approach to the teaching of reading and phonics in school. As a result the books have all been rebanded with new colours. New reading books will be sent home from Monday along with a letter from them explaining the changes.
Times Tables – Please continue to use the resources and ideas sent home during lockdown to support your child to practice their tables. The online TTRockstars or Numbots are particularly good and engaging for this. All the children already have an account, but please email the class teacher if you are new to our school or require a reminder of your child’s login details.
I hope you all have a great weekend, the children certainly deserve a rest and need to be ready for a full week of school next week!
Mr S Cox
Further Information about the Recovery Curriculum
Rationale Behind Recovery Curriculum
Some children will have experienced a great deal of loss through:
- Lack of daily routines
- Low feelings of self-worth
- Lack of social interactions
- Loss of freedom – leading to low self-image, self-esteem, self-concept and self-efficacy
- Anxiety (both their own and absorbing adult anxiety around them)
- Trauma and bereavement
The children have lived an experience that we need to help them acknowledge and process. Professor Barry Carpenter, from Oxford Brookes University uses the analogy of children having been in orbit and needing to plan their re-entry. As the children return to school, we have a period of discovery. Discovering what life had been like while we were away from each other, discovering the friendships that we thought we had lost, discovering the routines and spaces that we used to rely on, discovering the language that we can use to share how we feel. The focus of this will be on welcoming the children back to school and getting them used to new routines, spaces and set-ups.
All of our staff have engaged in professional learning about the Recovery Curriculum. This concept, coined by Barry Carpenter, described 5 levers that have been identified to lever the child back into school which will then significantly enhance their ability to be an efficient and effective learner, therefore being best placed to begin their catch up journey.
Lever 1 – Relationships – We need to plan for returning relationships to normal and reconsider existing class values. If classes and year groups have been reorganised, children may find it hard to adjust to their new social group. Children will need activities developing positive attitudes to each other. The use of socially distanced circle-time and social interaction strategies to facilitate discussion activities will be key as will playing games.
Lever 2 – Community – We need to plan for the transition back to the community, friendships, classroom and the whole school. Allow the children a chance to get to know a new/changed learning space or explore how their existing space might look different to them – whether that is the classroom, playground or their home.
Worship in large groups may not happen for some time so we will be facilitating this virtually using Microsoft Teams on a Friday for Celebration Worship. This aims to reconnect with one another and establish the sense of a whole school community. We will also welcome a recorded video message from Reverend Stephen every Monday which will provide insight into our worship theme for the week. This connects us all and enhances our feeling of togetherness at a time when we are in our bubbles system.
Lever 3 – Transparent curriculum – As the driver for the key skills and knowledge we are using the Cornerstone Curriculum. This provides our children with a broad, balanced and engaging curriculum. It will:
- Allow time for individual children and families to tell their lockdown stories and share experiences.
- Model excellent speaking and listening skills and empower children with the emotional vocabulary they need to express their thoughts and feelings.
- Teach projects and regular PSHE sessions that cover themes such as identity, personal feelings, similarities and differences and community belonging.
- Engage children with high quality resources, such as stories, games, songs, discussion prompts and videos. They should reflect cultures within and beyond your community.
We need to reskill the children as learners and reconnect them with the 4Ps and our Christian values allowing them the time they need to feel comfortable and understand the ‘new normal’. We need to ensure that the children are well versed and confident in the use of language to describe emotions. Can they say how they are feeling? Do they have the words or actions to show their emotions? Do they feel confident doing so in a secure and caring environment?
Lever 4 – Metacognition – We need to plan to reskill and rebuild the children’s confidence as learners. This is not just through a ‘quick refresh’ but returning to a deeper teaching of our ‘Characteristics for Success,’ independent learning skills and Power Thinking. This will take time to embed. Children will have been learning in different ways at home. The gradual change back to our traditional ways of learning will be key to helping the children transition back to learning in school. We will need to return to dedicated time to exploring the 4Ps, what these mean and what they look like in practice to enable the children to learn effectively.
Lever 5 – Space – We need to ensure that children have space to be, to rediscover self and to find their voice. Children will need plenty of space. We need to plan differently, with short bursts of teaching, interspersed with exercise. Exercise is going to be important as this releases endorphins and negates the cortisol that causes anxiety. All children may at first find daily timetables hard and these may increase anxiety. The use of ‘Now’ and ‘Next’ is very important. – Giving bite-size chunks. Now we are doing…. Next we are doing….. is better for all for settling anxiety and getting to grips with new routines.