Update for families Friday 26th March 2021
1. Rates of infection are still very much lower now and have stayed down. There has been a slight national increase in infection levels of children (aged 5-15) since schools re-opened but that could be reversed over the Easter break.
2. Avoiding the roller-coaster: school has tried to flatten out any od the ups and downs of the last year by responding and planning in a cautious manner. By taking time to make decisions and considering the longer-term effects of changes on the school community, we have tried not to pass on any more abrupt changes for the children than we can help. If we promised the usual full sports day experience in July (Prince of Wales stadium in Cheltenham, coaches, families invited) and then at the last minute cancelled it, we would be making things worse. We will plan events that can be put into the calendar at short notice.
3. Easter is a time of hope and renewal. Next Monday sees a relaxation in the national lockdown, allowing a bit more social mixing and, importantly for our very active children, a return to organised outdoor sport outside of school. We hope that there will be other school-related restrictions on the horizon. Decisions around face-coverings, seating plans, movement around school, more access to practical activities, larger events: these positive changes will be embraced as sensibly and practically when they are open to us.
4. People are calling the return to normality an offramp. I’m not sure it’s a particularly useful word since it means the slip-road off the motorway. I’m not sure we’d describe the last year in terms of a super-fast, efficient highway, would we! I don’t like new normal either since it suggests we will have a significant change and that might be worse. I really don’t feel that; the children are proof, in the way they have come back, that things will be just the same.
5. I’ve been thinking, while training for the London Marathon in October, about the coming term and then September onwards. This journey I am on is similar to the one the whole school is on at the moment: build up slowly (3 miles, then 4, then 5) and don’t rush too quickly before you are ready (16 miles or more will be possible in a couple of months). St. Egwin’s pupils do well because they are happy and safe in school, get on well with all those around them and work hard. It’s really simple. We will continue to rebuild relationships, embed good routines, reward and remind about good learning habits. Then learning will be strong.
6. It’s the last of these three things that I’d like all to consider as we reach the Easter holiday. We are a caring and strict school. These two things fit together and complement each other. You can’t have one without the other. The following behaviours are now a focus as we reach the end of March:
· Politeness – we need to remind the children about how they address each other and staff. Bad habits, like saying, “Yeah,” to staff, instead of “Yes, Miss,” or failing to use eye contact when saying hello to each other or interrupting others, have slipped in too many children’s ways of behaving. We will reverse this.
· Teaching staff are finding that some children have partly forgotten what it means to listen and be quiet. Masks make teaching hard enough for all. We will be firmly reminding the children about this very basic expectation.
· Steadily returning, step by step, to the great uniform standards will happen this term. For those who suddenly think wearing hair down all over the place is to be expected, we will tighten our rules back to where we were. With firmness and care.
· Any breaches of rules, such as use of phones in school will be sanctioned as they would have been before.
7. You may have heard about this idea of lost learning and making it up. If I miss a week’s running training, I’ll still run the Marathon. Perhaps I’ll run it 2 or 3 minutes slower. And? So? Teachers will not try and squeeze the last 12 months into the next 12 – that makes no sense. If we could cover 2 years of work in 1 year, we would have been doing it already. Let’s work hard, behave well and enjoy our time learning together.
8. I’ve been inspired by the deeds of a Year7 boy from Devon, Max Woosey, who has been sleeping in a tent for almost a year to raise money for a hospice. He’s raised over a quarter of a million pounds. Like Captain Sir Tom, he shows sacrifice and optimism in the face of difficulty. Their example of perseverance and service will help me when the road runs start to get more challenging.
9. It’s week 1 next week and then week 2 after Easter. Remember, they’ll still be coming into school in PE kit on the days they have PE.
10. We will be sharing the dates for the online parent/carer evenings (in May) and the end of year reporting with you soon. We will continue with the remote meetings and I’d be interested to hear if families would like to use these in the future rather than face-to-face.
11. LFD test kits for children: these are being sent home with the children involved with the Y7 & Y8 testing programme. The instructions are in the boxes. We don’t know how long we’ll all be asked to do this testing at home.
12. LFD tests for parents and carers (and other adults in the household) of our pupils. You can these tests (to administer at home) from:
· Your employer (they may not yet know much about this offer, possibly).
· Collect some test kits from sites. https://find-covid-19-rapid-test-sites.maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/
· Order kits to be delivered. https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
· Take a test at a LFD test site. https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/
13. Survey feedback. Thank you so much for so many of you taking the time to complete last week’s 1-year-on review. I can honestly say I am so grateful for the praise for what the school has done. Without wanting to rest on our laurels and think the battle is over, I genuinely believe that this is a good time to review and celebrate what we have achieved. We have worked together to support our youngsters to feel connected, cared for, listened to and, importantly, realise that they have to keep on working.
14. Parents and carers have been asking: How can we help our children at the moment?
· Look for changes in your child’s behaviour and mood.
· Talk to your child – are they feeling anxious, excited, relieved? This mood swings can be strong indicators that are struggling to cope with big feelings. Talking about things can often take the heat out of the situation – remember things are rarely as good or as bad as we imagine. Find a time to listen to them.
· Be patient – everything might take a little more time.
· Have the children identified the 3 or 4 staff that they feel most comfortable talking to about their worries?
· Sleep: Y8s particularly look a bit bleary-eyed.
Next Thursday afternoon I will be hosting an Easter Egg Kahoot Quiz. It will be April the first! Expect foolish behaviour from the headteacher and others. Can you guess who will be the Easter Bunny delivering all those chocolatey prizes?