March 25, 2020

Update on Coronavirus – 25/03/20 at 16:30

Dear Parents,

Today’s update is all linked to our online education and support services we are offering.

As we settle into a routine we know a few things:

  • The online learning at home coincided with many parents starting online working from home and this has presented many different challenges.
  • Nothing can replace the excellence of provision you are used to in our daily face to face care of our pupils, with our understanding of the unique things each child needs to keep them on task, motivated and supported.
  • Pupils will also be adapting to life without bells and without the normal social interactions with peers and adults at school.
  • Staff too are settling into working from home and being responsive in a different way to the needs of the pupils.
  • And I, in splendid isolation in my office am striving to coordinate a) the now, with a skeleton on site staff to meet the needs of our key worker children as well as a full workforce employed off site managed in turn by my senior team and b) the future, looking at how we can continue to make the required adjustments to see us through the unspecified period of ‘lockdown’ until we are able to resume business as usual.

I am getting an update regularly from my senior colleagues on how SatchelOne (formerly Show My Homework) is being used by teachers and pupils. We are monitoring the work set and that received so we know how hard the teachers and the children are working. They, and other staff, also share with me the issues coming in to them from parents. The responses below reflect some of these:

Parents and pupils should expect contact from their tutor mentor (Seniors) or class teacher (Juniors) within the next day or two. This is to check-in on workload and wellbeing, and resolve any remaining technical issues.

Parents will be contacted via e-mail and pupils via SatchelOne.

Please note that all pupils have access to Office365 through their school account. To login, they should go to and enter their school e-mail address and password. They can then access Outlook, OneDrive, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, etc., should they want to complete any work using these applications.

We are currently investigating more interactive methods of teaching and learning, including video conferencing. As you will appreciate, there is much to consider here, so please bear with us whilst we evaluate how it would work in practice.

Today there have been a few parental concerns about scanned attachments. Due to their un-editable nature, pupils are having to spend time constructing tables, diagrams etc., before they can begin their actual answers. We have asked teachers to ensure a Word document with these constructions already in place is attached to help with this.

We are aware that some children for all sorts of reasons will struggle with what is set, with the amount set and with the teachers’ expectations. Firstly, as in school, we are hugely flexible and very understanding of how some need more support and more time than others, and others need more personal attention in order to settle into work; some will be overwhelmed by quantity. As with our normal practice, it is fine if you try. Teachers can be contacted via SatchelOne by pupils if they get stuck or don’t know what to do or how to do it. And teachers may contact those who are not engaging over time in their subjects if they need a gentle prod.

Some children will be more thorough and want to spend more time on a task than it is intended for, this is also fine. All I ask is that you all try to do a bit of everything as well, (especially subjects like Maths and languages where you need to do a little quite often to build the foundation blocks…) Parents if they are able, can help of course.

We know that your home is not a school and that you are not (mostly) teachers, but request that within your capabilities (work from home load and other children) you help where you can.

If it is just one of those days when it’s just not happening, feel free to engage the children with activity or learning that is nothing to do with the work set. Education is far more than the curriculum, and just the benefit of additional (if enforced) time for families to be together and to share in games and activities, is a real bonus for the children.

Children should not feel any pressure in not being able to compete tasks in the time frame or to do everything. We know some families feel there is too much set, and others believe there is too little. We are trying to resource each lesson as it would be on the timetable, so that for those who like the structure of school and can manage this, it is there for them. Those who struggle with change, will take a little longer to adapt than most. We understand this and are supportive of parents’ efforts to re-create a workable routine in the household.

So, what are the teachers doing at home? I am asked. I can assure you they are working very hard to plan and upload specially written resources and to make comments via the SatchelOne programme. They are responding to messages, will do call backs and are in every way engaged with what the children are doing. We have planned pastoral communications and some junior staff are giving ‘good morning messages’ to the class. This has worked nicely and we hope to increase our interactions as time goes on. Remember this is all new for the staff, too! It is only day 3.

I am struck by a realisation that in spite of fears from sci-fi films and literature of technology automating teaching and making all staff redundant, we are so clearly needed.

And my quotation of the day:

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength…”

Mrs Pam Hutley