Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
Friday 3rd April 2020
What strange circumstances to be in, writing my end of term letter to you today. The children accessing our provision for key worker families have reconstructed the 2 metres queuing system in the playground and are pretending to sell the playground equipment!
It is important to remember that we did have all of the first half of the Spring Term and most of the second half, with many highlights.
Both Y5 classes enjoyed their two night stay at Sayers Croft after February half term. The walk up Pitch Hill was such an accomplishment for the children and staff. It takes five hours and 2.5 of them are uphill. Well done, particularly to Y5D, who endured army training like weather. The feedback from the instructors made us all so very proud: “The children were such a friendly group. They were really inclusive with one another.” “The children were exceptionally well behaved and great ambassadors for your school.” Mrs Sullivan is kindly creating a video of the school journeys to send out to Y5 parents soon.
Book Week, at the beginning of March, was a highlight. “The Books in a Jar” was a brilliant activity triggering the children’s imagination. Many of the children dressed as a character to match their jar, which was fun. The classes also created pieces of writing based on a lovely book, The Journey, by Aaron Becker who was an illustrator for Disney and Pixar. Thank you to Miss Farrell for organising it.
The Class Assembly we had, led by Y2, was wonderful, and it was an opportunity to learn more about China from the children themselves. Y1J thrilled us with their Space themed assembly and what an entrance they made!
In sport, we were excited that the boys came top of their football pool and progressed to the quarter finals. The Y5 and 6 Badminton team won the Chessington Badminton Racket Festival, too, the first time we have entered a competition in that discipline. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to complete the netball season, but we enjoyed the matches and won the vast majority convincingly. The swimming squad and basketball squad represented us well and with much success. Well done children. A huge thank you to Perrie, from NS Sport, Mrs Barrett, Miss Cassidy, Mrs Derby and parent volunteers for helping with the organisation of our many inter-school matches.
On Thursday the 6th of February, Mrs Hughes went through a rigorous national recruitment process and was successfully appointed Headteacher of our school for the next academic year. We had two exceptionally strong candidates so it is commendable that Mrs Hughes shone through, as I knew that she would. I can move on to early retirement, safe in the knowledge that Mrs Hughes is such a wonderful appointee. Well done indeed!
We look forward to sharing many more highlights when we get back to school, hopefully, as soon as possible. The staff have been busy running our provision at school and researching the best way to continue to set remote learning for your children. On Wednesday, they all had training via Zoom, from our I.T provider Click on It, to prepare them to launch Google Classroom after the Easter break. More information will follow, but it is important that you do not feel over whelmed by this development. We understand that many of you are working from home and we wouldn’t want to cause you any anxiety if it is just not possible to carry out the tasks being set. We do understand. We are just trying to do our best to support you, our parents with home learning that is meaningful and purposeful.
With that in mind, this would also be the perfect time to make Easter Gardens over the Easter holidays as a family, or decorate an egg with a topical theme. Or to make an Easter bonnet and we could have a virtual Easter Bonnet Parade via the website. Please do send in any photographs of your creations to celebrate on our website. But again, do not feel under any pressure to do so.
Mrs Brennan is compiling a book list to recommend to the children, based on the staff’s favourite childhood book with a review written by the staff member, to spark the children’s interest. When we are back together, there will be a prize for the children who have read the most from the list with book review evidence. This is the best opportunity to read, read, read!
This week, we would normally have our Effort and Achievement Assembly so Mrs Cunningham will be mailing out certificates to those children nominated by the teachers, two for each category. Congratulations children, if one comes to you.
Finally, my thoughts and prayers are with you all for a blessed Easter with your families. I heard on the news last night that “green shoots are beginning to appear” in our fight to flat line the coronavirus and help reduce the pressure on our hardworking NHS staff. We pray that we will be reunited as a family, school and parish community soon.
My heartfelt thanks to the St. Mary Magdalen’s staff team, for their dedicated hard work and commitment to doing the very best we can to keep our school “Outstanding” by our response to this unprecedented life and professional challenge. Father Adrian is being very supportive of our school, as are the Governors, who continue to meet remotely. Father will be sending out Easter thoughts to uplift us spiritually. Thank you Father!
God bless you all and your families and friends, at this most challenging time.
Friday 27th March 2020
Was school really up and running just a week ago? It seems incredible to believe that and how fast our circumstances are changing. I hope you were uplifted by the public display of support for our wonderful NHS last night. It brought tears to my eyes on my street to see all of the neighbours, who I rarely see, lit up on their doorsteps and in their windows clapping and cheering. Fireworks and horns tooting too. Also, to hear that 400,000 volunteers have signed up to help the most vulnerable in our society as they face isolation for 12 weeks. Communities are showing such strength and I am sure that eventually we will be the better for it.
Thank you for all your support this week as we all adapt to new routines and roles. As you know, we had a limited amount of time to prepare resources and organise the provision for key workers’ children before the school was closed. We hope that the pack you received, detailing some of the ways you can support your child’s learning at home, will be useful over the next couple of weeks.
Whilst you are using those resources the school is working on what we can put in place to best support remote learning and how we can continue to nurture St Mary Magdalen’s very special sense of community. We hope that this offer will allow you to support your child’s learning whilst not being excessive or burdensome. We are in the process of setting up “Google Classroom” for all of our pupils to access school learning from home, set by the class teachers. Further information will be shared in due course.
If you would like additional activities and resources this letter contains some that you may find useful. We have also sent you a timetable with the details of some live sessions that your children may find beneficial. We hope this information will be of use and will not make you feel any further pressure during this difficult time. As always, the well-being of our children and our families is of the utmost importance and you should follow the routines and activities that work best for your circumstances.
When I can’t get to Church: The Salesians (order of John Bosco) have created a liturgy resource which can be used by families and individuals who are unable to celebrate Mass. The attachment is being sent with my letter.
Aid to the Church in Need: have a large selection of resources which can be used at home.
A useful site to support reading as there are free e-books for 3-11-year olds.
- https://www.topmarks.co.uk/english-games/7-11-years/reading also has good reading resources.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zhrrd2p website to support grammar and spelling.
- Local Libraries lending e-books service.
- http://www.topmarks.co.uk/Search.aspx?Subject=16&AgeGroup=3&p=1 to support and consolidate number activities.
- http://nrich.maths.org/primary and http://youcubed.org/tasks/ for games and slides.
- http://whiterosemaths.com/homelearning/ online mathematical resources organised by year group. If you log on at 10am you can watch a video, try the questions and even tweet your answers using #MathsEveryoneCanAtHome #MathsParty.
- https://plprimarystars.com/news/home-learning-activities-school-closures A range of resources to enthuse children, including activity sheets and puzzles as well as interactive games that can be played solo or as a family.
At this time it is so important to feel connected. We are in school every day running our provision for our limited number of keyworker children. Please do feel free to send in messages to the office via email@example.com Perhaps you have some excellent advice to pass on to other families.
Thinking of you all and praying for our wonderful school family. Please keep us all in your thoughts and we pray that we will all return even stronger as soon as we are able.
Friday 20th March 2020
My letter today is in place of our newsletter and I hope it proves useful to you and that you are all managing to find your way through these unchartered times with love and support. I am praying for all of our families at this time.
You will know that school is closed from the end of today, Friday 20th March 2020. The most recent guidance states:
“The most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
That is why the Government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
Schools are therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children-children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.”
The guidance we have received to identify key workers was this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
Our hardworking and caring staff have been working hard to devise learning packs which have already been sent home. We have provided many links for online resources and we would always encourage children to read every day. Some parents have asked for guidance as to what a home learning timetable could look like so this is included with my letter.
The National Trust have announced that they are aiming to open many of their gardens and parks for free during this difficult time, so that the nation can use open spaces to relax and refresh, whilst still following the Government’s social distancing guidance. This is their link: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
Many feel burdened at this time, not least of all being worried about the health of their loved ones. But our faith reminds us that we are people of communion and I have witnessed that at first hand in our own special community of St. Mary Magdalen’s over the last few weeks. I am confident that our strong spirit will guide us forward and I am praying that we will be back to finish the academic year together. I myself have recently downloaded the App “Universalis” and it provides the Mass readings of the day. I have found it personally uplifting and recommend it highly to you, particularly in this most special season of Lent.
As soon as the official date to re-open is available we will communicate this with you via SCOpay and on the school website. Our teams of staff providing care in school for the children identified over the next weeks will be checking in to our email address at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please do get in touch if you would like to ask specific questions. Our Class Reps are wonderful assets, but please direct all enquiries directly through the school.
Please note that the parents accessing the provision from Monday will have a separate correspondence from the school today with more details.
God Bless, and hope to see you all soon.