Ashley news update - 13th January
13 January 2021 (by Alex Clark (Head))
Today we announced the retirement of Mrs Hart, explained our criteria for reducing the number of children attending school, and updated parents/carers on our Remote Learning Offer. We have also added a page to our website on our Harmony curriculum.
Retirement of Mrs Hart
Mrs Hart has taken the decision to retire at the end of this half-term. I have told her that she is far too young to retire, but I can't convince her! I will acknowledge this nearer the time in a newsletter, but I wanted parents and children to be aware of this as soon as possible. Mrs Hart supports a considerable number of children at Ashley and these children, in particular, may need time to come to terms with her leaving.For those that receive ELSA support, this will continue.
Children of Critical Workers
We have had several cases of COVID-19 symptoms and some positive tests this week. Our staffing situation is becoming challenging and we have a duty to provide a safe learning environment for vulnerable children, as well as for those of critical workers, so that their parents can go to work.
Whilst Government guidance states that only one parent has to be a critical worker to apply, we have also been advised to set and publish criteria where we have to limit the number of children in school. At the moment we are managing, but it is likely we will be contacting parents over the coming weeks to reduce the days their children can attend (including for vulnerable children). If we get to that stage, our priority will be:
- Vulnerable children.
- Children where both parents are key workers or children with single parents who are key workers. NHS and education key workers to take priority if needed.
- Children where only one of two parents is a key worker. NHS and education key workers to take priority if needed.
So, in line with Government guidance, if you are a key worker, please only use school if you absolutely have to. This will help us to meet the needs of more children.
Remote Learning Offer
I am grateful to the parents that have emailed me or other staff about their children's experiences with remote learning so far this term. Apologies if you have not received a personal reply; I'm dealing with a number of different things at the moment. I can see that parents are mixed in their views. I have discussed our remote learning offer with the other Walton head teachers and we are all doing a mixture of things. Where some schools are providing daily live lessons, they have had considerable issues, and this has helped us to develop what we are offering taking this into consideration.
You may be aware that Government increased the expectation from three to four hours a day for Key Stage 2 children. This is not four hours of a child sitting at a computer listening to their teacher. Indeed, not in any of our classrooms would we expect a child to do any task for even an hour uninterrupted. Depending on the age group, we would expect interaction, short breaks, etc. It is really important that children working at home get some flexibility depending on their age and ability and how they learn best.
It really is a tricky challenge to gauge the exact amount of work to set, as every family is in a different circumstance and every child is very much an individual, reacting and responding in their own way. Focus on quality rather than quantity, starting with the three main lessons (in KS1/2) – maths, English and foundation (geography, art, science, etc.). If this takes up the Government-prescribed 3/4 hours, that’s absolutely fine. We are all doing our best and we know that it is challenging for all of us.
This week all children should have been involved in a Zoom call with their teacher and part of their class. I am getting feedback from teachers about how this has gone. Not all children were able to participate for various reasons, including access issues and also broadband bandwidth. The attention span for some children, even in a short Zoom session, was challenging for some. In the classroom a teacher would use a range of strategies to enable all children to participate. However, we are very keen to build on this and so we will be trialing a daily 'Registration' session for all Y5 and Y6 classes. From Monday, all children in Y5/6 will be required to join their class' Zoom each morning at 9am where the teacher will take the register and will set the expectations for learning for that day. Details will be sent to those classes on Friday.
Whenever we use Zoom to communicate, we will follow these rules:
Group Zoom calls may be accessed by a child only under supervision of an adult (eg parent/carer, LSA).
At the end of the group Zoom call, the teacher will ‘End Meeting for All’ so that everyone leaves at the same time and no children or adults are left in the room together.
The group Zoom call will be recorded by the host (teacher) for safeguarding reasons and to protect the teacher against any possible allegations. The resultant video will be saved on the school’s secure system for up to 90 days, and only accessed in the event of an allegation being made.
In any other Zoom calls, where it is between an adult from school and a child, there must be two members of school staff present (either in the same room or on the same Zoom call). The child must still be supervised by an adult (parent/carer). A call of this nature should not be video/audio recorded, although written notes would normally be taken.
Zoom calls between school staff and parents/carers do not require a second member of staff. It is up to those in the call to determine whether it is appropriate or not to record the meeting.
We will see how these daily live Zooms are received with Y5/6 as we continue to develop our remote learning offer.
At the last Ashley Parent Partnership our Harmony Leader, Mrs Atkinson, gave a presentation to your reps on what Harmony is and how it is used at Ashley. Her presentation, including videos and our Harmony Song, are on our website here.