We hope that this update finds you well. We are now 88 days into the lockdown! That's 88 days of home schooling. Thank you to the teachers for providing the material and all you parents for getting it done - under very tricky circumstances.
The lockdown has made staffing particularly challenging for us to work towards September, but as we are nearing the end of the academic year we need to update you on the changes that are ahead.
Firstly, I am leaving as Headteacher at the end of this term. I have been given the opportunity to work at another school in the Trust. I am sad to be leaving after eight years here, however, I'm looking forward to a new challenge and I hope this change can be very positive for all.
As the attached letter from the CEO and the Chair of the Board says, we are developing the structure of the MAT and it has been decided that Combe Martin and Woolacombe will be led by Mrs Gail Holmes. She will be the 'Executive' Headteacher. This means she will take on the responsibility for the running of both schools. At present, mainly due to circumstances beyond our control we cannot give you further information.
In school we are planning on two reopening scenarios for September. Firstly, that we will come back to school normally - with protective measures in place. Secondly, there may be a need for a rota system to be in place - where the children come in groups. There are no plans to provide key worker groups alongside this, as we won't be able to staff this as well as educate. We will have to wait and see which option we have to take up.
This year we will see some big changes in the structure of the school. This is because of the number of children attending school.
Tiddlers have moved into the new building and now only take children from 2yrs old. They will have a maximum capacity due to staffing ratios. After the maximum number is reached we will be starting a waiting list. If you are thinking about using Tiddlers for nursery education please sign up as soon as possible.
In school, due to pupil numbers and the budget afforded to us in this respect, we will be reducing the number of classes. We will have five classes. Two in the infants for Reception to Year 2 and three in the Juniors for years 3 to 6.
In the coming week or so, after discussions with the CEO and Mrs Holmes on Monday, we will let you know who the children's new teachers will be and then we will organise some ‘virtual’ meet the teacher sessions so the children can get together with their new class on Google Meet.
I have just been in touch with Ilfracombe Academy and they are planning a transition week for the children on their social media platform. We will let you know about their plans as soon as they are firmed up. In preparation for this Mr Guyler will be starting Google Meets with his class soon.
I'm sure some parents will have questions. We are working hard to get everything in place for September and we ask you to be patient.
The teachers at present are finalising the end of year reports for the children. It would be very helpful if you could return the comments they have asked for.
We will continue to update you as information is finalised.
This pie chart shows how people who reply to school questions are doing with their learning at home. It's my favourite bit of data from the collection as it's true of my own experience! It's ok once it gets going!
What will happen to my child...
I was asked to write about the lockdown for the Shamikite. This is the article, which is my opinion:
The sudden and unplanned closure of school is likely to have a resonating impact on all communities as well as the children and the schools. People will be reacting in very different ways depending on their situation and of course, being the first social media pandemic, everyone will have an opinion based on their experiences and the experience of the ones they love.
The question on most parents' minds is ‘how will the isolation affect my child?’ And that is indeed a question! We simply don’t know what school will be like when we eventually get back to something resembling ‘normal’, or how individual children will cope. What we can do is plan and provide to meet our children’s needs.
We do know that the sudden shut down of school and the isolation from friends and family triggers feelings greatly related to loss. We know that children’s ability to cope with extraordinary events and external stressors is affected by the way their role models react - in this case the adults in isolation with them. Their role models in turn are at the mercy of their past experiences and the support they are experiencing. In this situation we need to have a measured and thoughtful approach to the reactions we show our children. What we show the children may not be how we, as adults, really feel.
The next question from parents is a concern around ‘falling behind’. The great catch up! There is a lot of politics involved in the information that is being delivered to us through social media and the news. Of course, the children have missed out on learning. There have been some real educational hardships endured. Interestingly, no one is saying - 'oh no! I've not been able to do my tests' (maybe the GCSE cohort). The majority of concerns centre around the rights of passage for year 6 children and the familiarisation experience of children as they transition to new internal and external settings. The movement from Nursery to school, from year 2 to 3 and from one teacher to another.
What can parents and carers do? We need to provide a warm blanket of support for our children and not expose them to the uncertainty of ‘not knowing’. We don't know what school will look like in September, but the children don't need to worry about that! We need to be looking forward to going back. We don't know what the effects of school being closed on individuals will be, but the children don't need to worry about that! They need to know that hard work is important in school and life - they don’t need to worry about being ‘behind’. There is a lot that the children don't need to worry about and it is our jobs as the adults in their lives to ensure they feel love, support and nurture.
If the family has valued and participated in the learning provided by the school then the children will have been consolidating their learning. Remembering the processes. They need to know that their efforts working at home have value. If the parents have been working or looking after lots of children or (insert your problem here) and still valued learning then this will have been absorbed by the children - even if it was only an hour a day! If something has value it has a place in our lives.
What children and parents need to know about returning to school is this... Teachers look at what the children need to learn and provide it. There is no real ‘behind’. Children are where they are in their journey. Tell your children that the staff in school will work hard to help - emotionally and educationally.
Over the next weeks and months, building back into what will be our post pandemic education system, we need not to worry the children about it! Kindness and understanding while working on the children's resilience, reflectiveness, resourcefulness and reciprocity. The components of a super learner! We need to be gentle as children repair their friendships and relearn how to interact with friends and teachers.
Fortunately, Combe Martin is a supportive and nurturing community. Let the children know that the ones they love have got them! Make sure they feel safe.
We've been asked to pass this on by the Local Authority...
There is no law about when you can leave your child on their own, but it is an offence to leave them alone if it places them at risk. As parents, you should use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them at home. Read the government advice on the law on leaving children unattended.
It is important to be aware that you can be prosecuted if you leave a child alone ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’. If you are at all unsure, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) recommends that children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time, children under 16 should not be left alone overnight and babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.
When shared, misleading or false information can take on a life of its own and have some serious consequences. It can lead to health scares, false accusations and potentially damaging hoax stories.
Recently there has been a lot of this kind of false information about coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s not always easy to spot, so the government is encouraging everyone to stop and think before they like, comment or share online.