Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
Friday June 12th 2020
I am writing to you as we move forward into Phase 3 part 2 of the school year, operating under COVID-19 guidelines and our rigorous risk assessment. The next stage starts from Monday 15th June 2020 and will run until Friday 26th June 2020 when we will review it again.
This week the Prime Minister announced that plans to bring more pupils back to school before the summer holidays have been shelved. This decision has been made because the plans would be nonviable due to the need for social distancing. The view now is that all pupils will return to school in September, but this will only be possible when the guidance regarding social distancing changes so that we are no longer required to stay 2 metres apart. Reducing the social distance required to control the virus to 1 metre, as they have in countries such as France, would certainly be to the benefit of the economy, as well as to education. Hopefully, this is something the Government will revisit as more retail, restaurants and businesses begin to get back to work next week.
I share your frustration at the situation we find ourselves in. Your children’s education and wellbeing, is extremely important to me. It is doubly disappointing to be spending my last few months as Headteacher of St. Mary Magdalen’s operating under these conditions. It is a huge responsibility to manage this phase of the school year with the potential health risks concerned for staff and pupils. The advice has always been that it is safer to stay at home wherever possible and we remain mindful of this. St. Mary Magdalen’s is a small school with a small number of staff and we are currently operating at full capacity. It has been so encouraging that you have the confidence in the school to send your children back where possible in YR, Y1 and Y6.
You will know that we are teaching the children in ‘bubbles’ of no more than 15 pupils. Each bubble is run by two members of staff, consisting of one teacher and one support staff member, with the exception of the Key Worker bubble. The risk assessment specifies that staff and pupils are not to change bubbles to minimise the potential spread of the virus. The Key Worker bubble has four staff running it due to the needs of the children and because of the wide range of ages attending this provision. To add to the logistical challenge we also have three members of staff shielding. For this reason we will not be revising the numbers of children attending school, or the days the children attend across the week, at this time.
We recognise that, as time goes on, it becomes more and more challenging for the pupils, particularly those at home, without face to face meetings with their teachers and classmates. As from Monday 22nd June we will be introducing Google Meet as described in last week’s letter. This has only been delayed because we are waiting for Google to update their software. I know how highly anticipated this is and the teachers share your excitement about the opportunity to come together-even if it is in a ‘virtual’ sense.
Thank you for all of your hard work at home supporting your children with the remote learning. I know that you are doing all you can, whilst many of you are juggling the needs of siblings and your own work commitments too. There are two extra useful ways to further engage and inspire your children with their literacy work. Firstly, Barnes Literature Festival, which many of our pupils would normally attend, is now online. This is a unique opportunity for the children to “see” all of the authors and it runs through until 14th June 2020! Follow this link:
Secondly, as you know, each year we take part in the Summer Reading Challenge. As libraries are currently closed, the challenge will be online this year and you can take part by accessing this link:
The theme is ‘Silly Squad’ and it will celebrate funny books. The challenge started on June 5th and runs all the way until September.
Children, you set your own target to read any amount of books during the challenge. Read anything that makes you happy-comics, joke books, poetry, ﬁction or non-ﬁction. In digital or print format; from e-book lending through the public library service or from what you already have at home.
Each time you ﬁnish a book, add it to your proﬁle and write a review. You are rewarded with activities and incentives along the way, such as online badges, games and videos. There are downloadable activities, games, quizzes and more. With new content to enjoy each week, the fun will continue throughout the summer.You also receive a downloadable certiﬁcate once you’ve completed your challenge!”
Thank you for your support for our writing competition, ‘Dear Yuri,’ which closes today at 5 p.m. The entries have really captured the essence of what life has been like under lockdown. More information will follow regarding prizes and certificates as we await the potential last few entries.
My best wishes and prayers as always for a happy weekend. Thank you so much for your continued support.
Friday 5th June 2020
Since I last wrote to you on Friday 29th May we have celebrated Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was released at Pentecost and it brings a parallel with school life and more of our pupils being released back to school in the specified year groups. This has been a really special week in school. It has been a joy seeing many of the pupils run through the gates in their excitement and to witness class mates reunited.
I hope that you are able to take inspiration from this time in our church year and can draw on the Holy Spirit for renewed strength. I have really enjoyed seeing some of the children’s work on Pentecost which you have uploaded for the class teachers to see. Please see Rafael’s work on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit uploaded below. Well done, Rafael!
Thank you so much for sticking to the ‘rules’ if you have been dropping off and picking up children. We have a joint responsibility to keep the school as safe as we possibly can. Something to note is that from next week you will need to buzz when you exit through the cemetery as we want to keep school safe and secure.
As you know, as from this week, we have evolved our remote learning to White Rose Maths, Oak Academy English and the Flying High projects. From next week we are introducing Google Meet to allow the classes to have a face to face meeting in small groups with their teachers. Due to the logistics of Google Meet the classes will be meeting in groups for approximately 15 minutes depending on their age. As many of our pupils have siblings we will do our best to carefully work the timetables around this. Your class teacher will let you know the arrangements by the end of today via Google Classroom. I hope that it helps to further build our warm sense of community. We ask that a parent is present, but not on the screen, throughout the time of the Google Meet.
I would like to remind the children of our writing competition, Dear Yuri. The deadline is Friday 12th June 2020. The theme is to write a letter which captures the view from the window during lockdown. Yuri Gagarin, as Y1 know, was a Russian cosmonaut who wrote about his view of earth from space. The letter beginning Dear Yuri should be no more than 300 words and be clearly marked with your child’s name and year group. Please email the entries to school via: email@example.com.
As well as prizes and certificates for the children who enter, we will make an inspiring display of the letters to enjoy in school.
Thank you so much for all you are doing to support your children with their home learning. I must reiterate that it is important that you find the right balance for your family with what you are able to achieve at home during this time. Also, thank you for your positive encouragement and support throughout. It is very uplifting for all of us to receive your lovely emails and cards.
Father Adrian will be sending his new thought for the week today which I know will be well received. I have also found a family prayer for those affected by coronavirus which I hope is helpful too.
God our Father, we pray:
For those who are suffering.
For those who are grieving.
For those who are anxious.
For those who are working tirelessly to care for the sick.
God our Father, your Son Jesus Christ came into our world to heal us of all division and bring us life in abundance. By the power of your Spirit help us to strive together as one family of many nations to help those in greatest need during this crisis.
We ask this in the name of Jesus our risen Lord.
This first week in school has, so far, gone extremely well and according to plan. I will be writing next Friday with the plans for Phase 3 part 2 in keeping with our risk assessment.
You remain in my thoughts and prayers. Wishing you a most enjoyable weekend.
Friday 29th May 2020
I hope that you have managed to have a good half term with your families, and increasingly now, with a few friends – albeit socially distanced. Everything feels to be moving in the right direction with daily briefings by the Government and scientists bringing us more reason to be optimistic that we are making progress along the ‘road map’ out of lockdown.
My letter is to remind you of our joint responsibility to ensure that school is as safe as possible for more pupils to return to from Monday 1st June 2020. We are all so excited about Phase 3 part 1 which takes us to Friday 12th June 2020 when we will review our plans and risk assessment.
Our risk assessment is comprehensive and has been ratified by the Local Authority, the Diocese and our Governing Body. These are some of the measures put into place to be aware of:
- 1. Only one parent please if dropping off pupils from Monday 1st June 2020.
- 2. Please refer to your individual ‘bubble’ letter to check your drop off and pick up point as they have been arranged to ensure staggered start and finish times as well as social distancing.
- 3. On arrival at school the playground has been marked out at 2 metre intervals where your children will be dropped off. Y6 will enter the middle door off the playground and go straight up to class. There is to be no waiting with your child at drop off. Please arrive promptly but no earlier than your designated slot as we are trying to avoid anyone having to wait in the playground.
- 4. We are operating a one way system whereby you will drop off and then exit school via the cemetery exit.
- 5. The Church Car Park is a no parking zone as we are maximising its width to ensure social distancing for our families and for the families dropping off at the Nursery.
- 6. Worple Street will be a ‘Car Safe Street’ so please do not drive down it. If you are driving please park up close by and walk to school.
- 7. Signage is in place to remind you of your responsibility to isolate should you or someone in your household display symptoms of the coronavirus. Please note that a loss of taste or smell has been added to the list of symptoms.
- 8. No parents are to enter the school building.
- 9. If a parent needs to communicate with a member of staff, or the office please do so via email or telephone as parents cannot enter the reception area of school.
- 10. Children and staff will be required to wash their hands on arrival at school. There will be frequent handwashing throughout the day. Please practise this with your children before they return to school. It is also advised to put toilet lids down before flushing.
- 11. In addition to daily cleaning and wiping of surfaces and handrails during the day, there will be a deep clean after school on a Wednesday.
- 12. Only essential service providers will be allowed into the building.
Our Remote Learning will continue for all pupils after half term. From the week of Monday June 8th 2020 we will be initiating Google Meet for the classes as a way of continuing to nurture our strong sense of community. We know how important it is for the children to ‘see’ their friends and teachers.
Finally, it will be fantastic to welcome more children back to school in a staged, phased return from next week. Thank you so much for all of your encouragement and messages of support over the past nine weeks. It has been really appreciated.
For your information, as one of a few schools returning without an INSET day on Monday, I have agreed for BBC News Online to interview us about our exciting next phase and how we feel about it. Two journalists will be in school first thing Monday morning, chaperoned at a safe distance by myself. It doesn’t involve filming, which I thought would be too unsettling. We have media permissions from you from the beginning of the year, but please do not hesitate to contact us, via the school office if you would rather your child not be photographed.
I hope that the children are embracing the challenge to write a ‘Dear Yuri’ letter which we will use to create an inspiring display in due course. It is important to maximise the gains from this experience and try our best to stay positive.
The children have really impressed me with their courage and hard work. I cannot wait to see more of them from next week.
Best wishes for a happy and safe weekend,
Friday 22nd May 2020
Re: Key Worker and Identified Pupils’ Provision
Firstly, thank you so much for your support of our provision and for only using it when absolutely essential. The message from the scientists and the government is clear; children should only be going to school when it is as safe as possible to do so. With the further phased reopening of school to parents of children in YR, Y1 and Y6 from June 1st 2020 there will be a pressure on our ability to social distance if numbers in our ongoing provision become too large. As you know, our school site is very compact.
I would like to remind you of the definition of Key Worker to give clarity, taken from the Government Website:
“Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below:
Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure that their child is kept at home and every child who can be safely cared for at home must be. If workers feel they fall within the critical categories in the link above, they should confirm with their employer, that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.”
To date, I have only received employer’s confirmation from three parents of children accessing the provision under the Key Worker category. In order to re-join the provision from the 1st June 2020, it is essential that you send the school office a letter from your employer or give proof of your role, for example by scanning to us your worker’s photo identification. This is a critical part of the risk assessment I am putting in place.
After 1st June 2020, there will be a change in our provision due to the need to ensure social distancing where possible. The children have become used to using the whole school and enjoying sole use of all of the outdoor space. After half term, it will become necessary to rota start and finish times, playtimes, I.T, P.E and lunchtime and share with the ‘bubbles’ of children restarting school in YR, Y1 and Y6.
Please note that we are not operating before or after school clubs including breakfast. The Key Worker and Identified Individuals’ Provision start time is 9.15-9.30 and finish time is 3.45 and no later than 4.00, both via the front door. Please maintain social distancing throughout.
The provision has had the feel of a play scheme but after half term, it will move to a more formal and academic timetable. Please support us by talking to your children about this as there will be a need for them to adjust. Our behaviour expectations will be high as we are running a different type of educational setting after half term. We will expect all children to cooperate with staff regarding the daily timetable, personal hygiene and behaviour. The children all need to wear P.E kit and bring a healthy snack with them. They should not bring any other items such as toys from home.
Regarding invited identified individuals, we might need to review the number of days offered going forward. If a child is deemed to be in breach of our risk assessment we will have no option but to withdraw their invitation to have a place. The guidance for providing provision for children who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) has changed to being to make “reasonable endeavours” to admit the pupils. As you can appreciate, there is huge pressure on us to ensure that our next phase of reopening is as safe as possible. We all have a part to play in making it so.
This also includes taking immediate action should you or one of your household display symptoms of COVID-19. You must ALL isolate for 14 days. There are better opportunities to access tests now so the children will only be permitted to return to school once we have confirmation of negative results.
As part of our risk assessment, school will be closed for Key Worker and invited individual pupils on a Thursday. This is a continuation of the current provision on offer and we will need to increase our cleaning regime as we are now catering for more children.
Please do not hesitate to contact us via the school office on: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any concerns or worries about our next phase of re-opening. The health and well-being of our families and staff remains my primary concern and I want to do the best I can for our school community as we move forward after half term.
My prayers are with you all and I wish you a happy half term. Thank you for your continued support.
Friday 22nd May 2020
As we come to the end of the first half of the Summer term, I wanted to write to you again. I hope that you are all happy and working as well as you can from home. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I am particularly hoping that you are all staying happy and positive. The work you have been doing from home is showing me that you are resilient and strong and have excellent Growth Mindset skills. The teachers will be continuing to set you remote learning after half term to ensure that you are keeping up with the routine of learning as much as possible.
The government have announced that it may soon be safe for some of you to return to school after half term. We are becoming increasingly optimistic that this will be the case and we will start to open up school more and more as the weeks go by. As you know, our school is small and on a compact site so we have to carefully build up our numbers accordingly to maintain as much social distance as possible. You will have heard that that distance is at least 2 metres, which is the same as roughly, two wide steps or two shopping trolleys.
We have been told that YR, Y1 and Y6 will be the first to return to school. We are welcoming those children back part time and in small ‘bubbles’ at least for the first two weeks after half term to review how it is going and to make sure that the return to school is as safe as possible for everyone and for your teachers, staff, mums and dads too. It will be hard for those of you with brothers or sisters returning to school if you are in Y2, Y3, Y4 or Y5. I am so sorry about this and hope that you can understand that we can’t squish everybody back all together for now due to the government’s guidelines.
For those of you returning to school, things will be a little different. To give you an idea of what that means, I have inserted photographs of the new look classrooms into my letter today. We need to remember that staying away from other people is still very important to help to keep people safe.
You will find you are coming in to school at different times and in different places and your timetables will have changed. Your classes have been split into two and you may find that your best friend(s) are in the other half. I hope that you understand that and you will need to play with the children in your ‘bubble’ only. Please see this as a wonderful and unique opportunity to make new friends. The classes are split into Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday and at first you may not have your usual teacher but you will have an adult well known to you. You will really help us if you prepare your schoolbag every night before coming to school. Make sure that if you are in Y1 or Y6 you pack pencils, pens, a ruler and a glue stick because, during this period, you won’t be able to share equipment with others. You will need to leave your pencil cases at school every afternoon too.
Remember that we are all playing our part by not getting too close to one another or touching surfaces or handrails in school. Handwashing regularly is so important too, and for 20 seconds (Happy Birthday song twice!).
Whilst this time in lockdown is a challenge, it does open up wonderful opportunities too. Just like many of you I love to write stories and I was inspired to write one for the website called ‘The World From My Window’. When I write, I forget all of my worries and it really helps me. It could help you too. The theme was to describe the view from your window whilst in lockdown. It was in the form of a letter to Yuri with a ‘Dear Yuri’ start and as Year One will know, Yuri Gagarin was a Soviet Air Forces pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into space. He went on to describe his view of earth from his spaceship window.
The stories written are from all around the world. Many are moving and they are all a wonderful read so I now invite you to write your own version of ‘The World From My Window’ in no more than 300 words. Your story must start with ‘Dear Yuri’. You have until Friday 12th June 2020 to submit them to email@example.com. You need to clearly mark on your story your name and your year group. We will make all of the entries into a wonderful display to enjoy on our return to school to cheer us all up. There will also be a prize for the entries which we feel capture the essence of what it feels like to be in lockdown in this never before experienced time in history. Everyone entering will receive a special certificate too. Good luck!
During this challenging time, it is important to celebrate the many examples of courage and selflessness. In keeping with this being Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation has launched a way to celebrate the incredible acts of kindness taking place across our school communities. This year’s activity theme is “The place2be Virtual Kindness Cups.” Please take a look at the link below to see if you could organise one with your family.
On Wednesday, it was National Thank A Teacher Day and we decided to turn it around to thank you instead for being patient and continuing to fight Coronavirus by staying at home. We miss you so much and you are constantly in our thoughts. School just isn’t the same without you. With that in mind, we prepared a little surprise to send out to you later, via email. I really hope that it makes you smile.
I wish you all an enjoyable half term and will be back in touch with you in June.
Friday 1st May 2020
I hope that my letter finds you well and your children safe and happy.
I am pleased to hear from the phone calls to you over the last two weeks that, on the whole, you are doing well and that Google Classroom is helping with home learning. Thank you so much for all of the hard work and energy that has been put into making remote learning successful. I must remind you that it is there as a guide as to what you can be working on with your children. Please make sure you are doing what is manageable for the wellbeing of your child and your family, as this is our primary concern. We are not judging you as to your uptake of the learning programmes, as we understand the situation is not easy. Many of you have more than one child and some of you have children at secondary school too. There must be quite a military operation going on in homes to share the electronic devices. Lots of you are also juggling your own work.
I’d like to remind the children of the Code of Conduct. Our pupils have adapted so well but we must always be vigilant regarding safeguarding. Pupils should not be discussing other social media platforms, nor encouraging other pupils to follow them on the class chat streams. Mrs. Burns is sending out a helpful Safeguarding Guide with today’s mail out. I hope that it is useful to you.
A small number of parents are asking for more and we are constantly reviewing what we can provide you with. Please bear in mind that all of the staff are running the daily provision at school as well as creating bespoke lessons and giving feedback to the children. We will always look to improve where we can and I am regularly “meeting” with the other Headteachers in the locality and across the Catholic network to share best practice.
Stay well and thank you so much for your positivity and support. Our community is our strength and we are excited to await the Prime Minister’s plan, next Thursday, as to how we might start easing lockdown and come back together again.
Best wishes for a happy weekend,
Friday 24th April 2020
I sincerely hope that you are all well and finding that the sunshine and bright evenings bring you joy. The air is smelling so fresh now and the reports on the reduction in pollution levels on London streets are really encouraging. It is possible to find some positives in these strange times.
We come to the end of week one of our Summer Term and our move to providing your children with access to Google Classroom and our High-Flyers activities. Thank you so much for your understanding and effort with this. You are doing a fantastic job. Just a gentle reminder of our code of conduct for the pupils. It would be a shame to withdraw the chat facility provided by the stream as we know how much the children are enjoying connecting with their friends.
I would like to reiterate that this development is not designed to put you under any pressure. It is there if it is of use to you. It is far more important that you find the right balance for your family. The work is set weekly to distinguish between the weeks, rather than to act as deadlines. Also, you do not need to upload work where the answers have been provided, unless it is something that you would particularly like the teacher to see. Parents are not asked to edit the slides, rather to follow the instructions sent out. Unfortunately, it is not possible to arrange whole class meetings, nor for the teachers to give Zoom conference calls to the children.
Father Adrian has kindly published a ‘Thought for the Week’. I hope that it brings you comfort. Mrs Brennan has recommended a book to you: ’Coronovirus A book for children’ by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts. I also recommend this link to a family therapist on YouTube. It has lots of different clips under the heading; How to talk to your children about the coronavirus:
It is heartening to hear of all of the lovely community events taking place. The fundraising for Children in Need and Help the Aged. Well done, everyone! You continue to be in my prayers at this challenging time. Please pray for our School and Parish community; that it is not too long until we can resume our school family life together again.
Friday 17th April 2020
I hope that you have had a peaceful Easter with your families. The weather, at least, is a blessing and the bright light such a mood elevator, even though we find ourselves in such strange times. There have been some wonderful stories, such as the war veteran who pledged to walk 100 laps of his garden aged 99 to raise money for the NHS. He has just hit £12,000,000 with 53 countries contributing to the pot. There are ways for us all to help charities too, such as the “two point six challenge”. This is a way to help bridge the enormous charity deficit that not having the London Marathon will incur. There are some amazing, fun ideas to get involved in on the 26th April, which is when the London Marathon should be taking place.
We are entering Phase 3 of the revised working of school from next week. We are still operational for the children of keyworkers and identified individuals, but as a care provision. During this challenging time, our primary focus remains the well-being of our children and their families. Our remote learning offer reflects this and has been designed to support our pupils, parents and staff and to continue to strengthen our sense of community. The staff have been working really hard on building up home learning platforms for each class, to ensure that the pupils have lessons and resources. Hopefully, this development is coming at a time when the packs we issued before the holidays have been completed and the children are ready for the next phase.
Each year’s programme of study has been developed with the children’s age and maturity in mind. We understand that a child’s ability to access remote learning will be as individual as themselves; as will be your circumstance as a family, with many of you working from home on devices which, therefore, are not available for your child or children to access. Again, we do not want to over burden you at this time so please do not worry if you are unable to complete all of the assignments. When you access the pages you will see the creative “High Flyers” ideas and there is something for everyone within those. Mrs Brennan has helpfully compiled some book recommendations from the staff. This is such a wonderful opportunity to read that we may never have again in the near future. There is nothing better for your child than to keep up with their reading. It is also a great way to relax. Please find her compilation issued with this mail out.
The rest of my letter is instructions as how to use the remote learning platform and my thanks to Mrs Jones for this comprehensive guidance. I am very optimistic that we will be back at school proper before the end of the Summer Term and look forward to seeing you soon.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com.
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.