Headteacher's Blog

I hope you are all well, staying sane during the lockdown, doing your bit for society by sticking to the rules and finding ways to stay in touch with the most vulnerable.

In this newsletter I am going to cover a lot of ground, so I apologise in advance for the wordy nature of the newsletter. Here goes;

Key Worker Kids Club

So far no students have attended the KWKC. On one hand, that is good because parents are heeding the governments call to keep children at home if they possibly can. On the other hand, it is causing me some worry, because a very skeleton crew of staff are in each day in preparation of any student attending. Also, as we have been using the shutdown to get on with packing the school, it will get harder for us to accommodate larger numbers of students. So, for next week, Monday to Wednesday, only senior members of staff will be in school, and if a student appears, we will call the allocated staff who will make their way in. As the kitchen is also being packed up, I would recommend that students bring in a packed lunch. If the child has Free School Meals, please let us know in advance and we will arrange appropriate provisions. (Hopefully the Trust will have an evoucher system up in place before then, more of that later).

Home Learning

It is quite clear that across the country the reality of how difficult it is to be in lockdown, and then how difficult home learning is. It would be fair to say that we haven’t got this quite right, so we are going to change gear and hopefully that will reduce workload expected of students, stress and anxiety, and hopefully add a bit of fun into the process. We are all learning here! Whilst it is important young people don’t fall too far behind with their studies, now is a time to help around the house, learn to cook, to repair things, to ring elderly relatives, to make music, dance, paint, keep fit and relax. All those things and more, with some study. I have pinched a great post from another Headteacher, adapted it a bit and posted it on our Facebook page – in essence it says ‘this situation is extremely difficult for everyone, so do what you can, everyone learns differently, and please don’t get stressed by school work at this time – that is counterproductive.’

Here is the update from my teaching and learning team;

We have received a lot of correspondence from parents and carers with regard to the volume of work which we are setting our students. There appears to be some concern that too much is being set and that some students are finding access to resources difficult at times. Incidentally, from talking to people who work in other schools, it is clear that this is a common situation. 

Balancing isolation with looking after children and working to maintain their well-being, emotional needs, school work and positive mental health is difficult for all families at this exceptional time and we certainly don’t want students and parents to feel overburdened by what we are doing and so we are changing how we go about setting our work. 

 

After the Easter Holiday, each teacher will set a task or set of tasks at the start of the week. In most cases, these should take around a week to complete. As some subjects have a greater slice of curriculum time, we have tried to reflect this in our broad expectations. These times are approximations, but give a guide for parents and students alike.

 

  • Maths and English up to 2 hours. 
  • Each Science discipline – up to 1.5 hours 
  • All other subjects – up to 1 hour. 

 

This means that students could, as a maximum, complete about 12 – 13 hours of work per week, of set work. It also means that families will be able plan when these tasks are completed to fit in with their own schedules.  

In addition to this we will also be setting a ‘SHS Weekly Challenge’ to promote wider learning and to provide some enjoyable and different activities, that will also earn points towards PiXL Edge awards. We will urging students to update us with their progress towards these challenges and will follow their progress on our PE Instagram account @stowmarkethigh_pe For next week – do what you can – there is clearly plenty of work there from this week and staff will add some more, as this will still be available to be completed over Easter if they get bored...

Please remember – any concerns or questions, just let us know.

 

Be Aware of Scammers, (even during an international crisis)

Please note that we have received advice from the Department for Education that scammers are asking parents who believe that they may be eligible for free school meals to send them their bank details so that they can check eligibility. Parents should not respond to such emails. Suffolk County Council’s free school meals team will never ask for personal bank details. Parents should apply online if they believe they may be eligible for free school meals at www.suffolk.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals.

Online music lessons & key worker/vulnerable children school provision

From Suffolk County

Online lessons - Instrumental & Vocal Tuition (IVT)
Our tutors are commencing in-house trials of Skype and other forms of online learning delivery, with a view to reinstating some of our Instrumental and Vocal Tuition (IVT) provision over the coming weeks.
 
To help us manage this significant organisational change, we ask that students and parents help by following us on social media and the web, rather than contacting us directly. Staff are now working remotely, making it impractical to respond to high levels of individual requests. Announcements will be made as activities become available, via the links below:

New Build

We have all been working as safely and as furiously as we can to get our school into a position so that when /if the original move plan was to be executed, we would be ready. Unfortunately, but understandably, Wates has stopped working on site (and they have done this across the country) whilst they look at how best to implement the latest Health and Safety advice on safe working practices in light of Covid 19. On top of this, Pickfords Removals have shut down in line with government requirements. This means that the planned move will happen, we just don’t know when. I will update when we know more.

Before we shut down, I managed to get across to the new build with some of my senior staff and with Head Boy Sam Butler and Head Girl Alina Ward to have a quick look at how the building is progressing. It was a great opportunity to see the future – a bit of a beacon for us as we get through this difficult time. As you know, I have my issues with the new building, and I will never consider the Priority Schools’ Building Programme to be the right way to go about building schools, however, it is what it is and we have worked hard to make the best of the new facility. 

Stay connected, stay apart, stay safe.

 Mr Lee-Allan