Headteacher's Blog

Remote Learning – not easy for anyone.

I am an ambitious man, and I always want to do better, and I hope that this time round you are seeing evidence of that in what we are delivering – however I am hyper conscious that the problems that remote learning presented first time round are still there. The issues of limited access to computing technology, weak broadband, childcare, motivation, isolation, fear, the list goes on, and these are largely issues that can be faced by everyone in the tripod.

So I must emphasise once again, if you as a parent are really struggling with remote learning, or your child is getting really stressed with it, please let us know. I want the best of both worlds – a workforce and a school community all achieving great things but not at the cost of their health. Sitting in front of a computer screen for five hours a day is no good for a young person – they need to exercise, to try different things, to have a varied learning experience. Some families are facing enormous challenges with this new reality, whilst others circumstances mean that access to learning is not too difficult. The same applies to my staff.

So simply put – this is a long race. Don’t panic or stress about school work, particularly if your son or daughter is not in an exam year. Just keep supporting your son or daughter to do their best. I am not saying ignore school work – I am saying make sure it fits a healthy balance. Teachers across the globe are sharing the challenges of this – follow this link  to see how one has communicated her feelings about the new reality of teaching; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f7OwFqTnco

At the other end of this scale, we have some doing nothing. This is not good. We even have some who despite numerous calls and messages are not collecting the laptops that have been provided for them. I have instructed my staff to try every option they can – including literally knocking on doors, and once they have exhausted options, we then allocate laptops to those desperate for them.

In Mr Rourke-Beasley's piece below, he outlines some of the developments we are pushing and also has an update for Years 11 + 13.

Key Worker Provision

The numbers have fallen a little, so it looks as if you heard my request last week to only send students in if absolutely necessary. Thank you for this – it is hugely appreciated.

Lateral Flow Testing

Friday saw the introduction of the Lateral Flow Testing Regime for staff. This extraordinary operation, brilliantly organised by Mrs Millerchip, with the support of a team of wonderful staff, is so impressive. Who could have thought just a short time ago that this was possible? This week we will see the testing continue and be established as a weekly offer to staff, and also rolled out to the Key Worker Classes.

What we will not be doing is offering the ‘serial’ testing of students – the daily testing of students who have come into close contact with a positive case. I have been leading a call across Suffolk to not do these as the science data behind it gave great concern as to whether the tests were accurate enough to be relied upon. I am delighted that Suffolk County have now advised all schools not to engage in this aspect of the testing, and by the looks of it, this may be stopped nationally.

Masks

The students in school seem to have taken well to wearing masks in lessons (as well as can be expected) – so thank you for your support of this.

Miscellaneous

PE have started where they left off in the last lockdown with their creativity and energy – do catch them on their Instagram feed.

Tutor Periods

We are hoping to be running some live tutor periods, possibly one a week going forward – a great chance for students to catch up with their classmates and talk through how they are getting on. It is being trialled with Mrs Taylor and it seems to be really well received, so watch this space.

Free School Meals

The introduction of the national Edenred scheme is warmly welcomed here, and we are working immediately on making sure you are set up so that the affected families get their provision ASAP.

Bad behaviour Online

Not great to finish on a negative, but in some very rare cases we have seen students misbehaving whilst on line, sending inappropriate links etc. while the teacher is talking. If students do this, they will be blocked and will only have access to the non-live provision. It is not fair to disrupt learning, whether in a real or online environment.

Vaccination Centre?

I have enquired as to whether the school site could be used as a vaccination hub, and have received thanks from Suffolk Health authority, but they have said sites have been already identified but they will keep us in mind if they need to expand in the future.

Have a great week.

Mr Lee-Allan