There has been much talk about when schools might be re-opening. Returning to school is going to be hard and we cannot predict what it will look like or when it will happen. Whenever this is we must be aware that it will be a very different experience, for us and every school, as well as and for children, staff and parents. Whilst we experience this in a minute way after the summer break this return will definitely be much more complex. We are going to have to consider a number of key factors in our return plans, whether that be within the next month or even September.
We may not have been open at Wembury but staff have continued to work, at home and in our Edu-care Hub, including during the school holidays. Our brilliant staff have continued to provide education and support to our children and families. I imagine, like myself, staff are beginning to feel fatigued but will continue to lead, manage and respond to change as well as is possible under these unprecedented circumstances. Whatever we do will be changed by this experience and what we considered normal may no longer be the new normal.
Re-establishing routines and learning behaviours
For many the re-establishment of previous routines and new routines will be difficult. This will not just be for school routines; it will also be for those basic daily life routines, such as sleep and getting up. We know that this is difficult and a source of anxiety at the beginning of every term, but this will be more complex. We will need to allow a period of adjustment and be aware of the impact of trying to re-establish these routines for staff, parents and children.
We are also very aware that there will have been very different experiences for all during closure. The majority of children will have been at home and each of them will have had their own experiences. Parents and families – you have been brilliant during this time, supporting where you can, with what is possible, in your already adjusted lives. It will take time to re-establish and re-learn the expectations of routines and school behaviour and learning. We know that much of learning is based on practice and we will all be out of practice with this!
There will be a huge range in home learning experiences that children will have engaged in whilst not in school. Some have spent every day, including the holidays, engaged in more formal learning activities and others will have different learning experiences. The majority of children come somewhere in between. We are very aware that home learning is not the same as learning in school. Therefore we will need to respond to, and understand, what children have learnt, not what we expected them to have learnt or what they have forgotten. This will be done informally, not restarting with formal testing! The main focus will be on re-building relationships and hopefully take away the anxieties about restarting formal schooling – this will be a priority. The most important thing will be to value and celebrate what children have learnt, what new skills they have mastered and being back together. We will take time to find out who has learnt to bake a cake, learnt to ride, become an expert on animals or the Romans. We will also need to be aware of those who have been sick, or who have been a carer for a sick relative or dealt with grief for someone they couldn’t see. We will need to be very mindful of the trauma this virus has caused and how we cater for well-being and possible, greater anxiety. (The link between illness and death will have been reinforced in a way that has not been common experience.) We cannot return immediately to the curriculum. Teachers’ responses and nurturing will be key to how our pupils are able to reintegrate into school and will support the wellbeing of these amazing individuals.
We know that many children will be looking forward to the return to school, we certainly are, but for some, being around so many others may be difficult and overwhelming. We will support this. Having experienced many weeks of social distancing, children will have received an implicit message that it is not safe to mix with others. Social mixing will have been limited. For many the hum drum of school and number of people may be difficult. We need to mindful of these possible anxieties about the proximity of others physically.
As we know there are always those children who struggle with separation and experience anxiety while they are in school. This will be particularly heightened now that children have spent the majority of time at home with just parents and close family members, for extended periods. Transition will be key to this, whether this is our Year 6 moving on to secondary or children starting new to Wembury, and we will need to re-look at these processes when re-opening is expected. We do not want our Year 6 to have left without a chance to say ‘goodbye’ so we will consider ways to invite them back to have closure, say goodbye and mark this important transition. As part of this we have already set up a new page for parents and children who have a confirmed EYFS place for September 2020.
Above all, we will need to allow ourselves time to rebuild our school community. Key to all of this is going to be re-building relationships - this will not happen overnight. We need to give ourselves time and be kind to each other; respecting this situation has changed what was our ‘normal’. These continue to be stressful times for all but knowing our community, staff, governors and children, together we will make this work for the better. Wembury Primary School will continue to be an amazing, special place to be!
I am now going to apologise for the length of this Blog but please read as there are many useful resources, ideas and activities to support you whilst at home.
After last week’s art challenge, this week our lovely support staff have a special message for all our pupils and their families. Please take a careful look at the image below.
Thank you to those of you who took up the challenge to recreate your own version of a painting. Here are some of the results. It’s never too late for you to have a go!
Please use this link to read the latest Blog from our governors, who continue to maintain their role in supporting and challenging the school, remotely.
Support for Parents
Action for Children
Every parent needs a little help sometimes, and especially during lockdown. Action for Children are offering online parenting support for families with children aged 0-19. From where to go for help, to coping with challenging behaviours, to how to keep your children entertained at home - find advice and practical help here:
Have a question about parenting? Action for Children’s online coaches are available for free, confidential 1-1 live chat. They are there to listen and support you. Visit talk.actionforchildren.org.uk
Speech Link have adapted their offer to accommodate needs during closure.
Help Desk for Schools and All Key Contact Support
It is still Business-as-Usual at Speech Link Multimedia Ltd. They have already championed flexible working and so have the infrastructure in place to support a full remote switch. The Help Desk is continuing to offer its immediate telephone and email service so schools still have access to their SLT and teacher support.
NEW FREE Speech Link SLCN Parent Portal
The Speech Link SLCN Parent Portal is now open. It is being refreshed weekly with new content from their speech and language therapists. Some of you may have already looked at it but it is worth revisiting regularly. They are adding a 'What's New?' section to the homepage so that you can see at a glance what has been added each week. This week they have added as new:
This focus on providing schools and specialists with entertaining activities, support, advice and information for parents will continue after the Covid-19 crisis eases with a customisable area available to our subscribing schools. The site can be found at https://speechandlanguage.info/parents
A reminder that the Edu-care Hub is now situated at Sherford and if you need to make use this provision you need to complete the booking form and follow instructions via this link –
A simple PE survey was sent out last week. Thank you to those who have already completed and for those who sent in queries. This is not an in depth survey but one to get a general idea and overview of current provision. We can follow this up in more depth once we return to school. It appears it will only allow one reply from one email account therefore, if you have not already done so, please just answer using the oldest Wembury pupil’s responses - thank you.
There are so many resources and links out there, and I know teachers have been updating their class pages regularly. These are a few to add to your list, if you wish!
This one is especially useful if your child/children are struggling to understand the current situation.
Museums & Art Galleries
If you have made it this far – thank you for taking the time to read this Blog! We have one more, very simple challenge! With the 75th anniversary of VE Day happening this Friday 8th May, please could you send in a photo with your child dressed in red, blue or white to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we are able to compile a commemorative photo for the school? I understand there may be some remote, and socially distanced, celebrations happening in communities on the Friday, and dressing up may happen then, so please send photos in by next Monday, 11th May, and we will compile a school image in retrospect.
Please also see the attached resources which may help with your day.
I hope you are all keeping safe and well and coping, whether working at home on the kitchen table or while working on the front line.