Windrush Day - activities for students and parents/carers
(Posted on 25/06/20)
Welcome to this week’s blog.
Windrush Day was introduced in June 2018 on the 70th anniversary of the Windrush migration. On 22 June 1948, 492 Afro-Caribbean people were brought to Tilbury Docks, Essex, in the UK, on the Empire Windrush ship. News reports at the time reported that the number of people was 492, but the ship's records show that the ship was carrying 1,027 passengers. "A Windrush Day will allow communities up and down the country to recognise and honour the enormous contribution of those who stepped ashore at Tilbury Docks 70 years ago." (UK Government 2018). To mark the occasion, a power point presentation with additional activities has been posted on the Google Classroom page of every student. The presentation was created by Miss Olijnyk and we would urge all students, parents and carers to participate in looking at it and completing the activities.
The number of children coming back into school continues to increase, and this week, Year 10 started face to face contact in their core subjects of English, Maths and Science, with some also coming in for their optional subjects. Year 12 are continuing with their face to face; two hours per week in each of their A-level subjects. I know that what we are doing compares very favourably with that of many other schools and I thank all those who are making it work – I have to say that some students coming in for the morning sessions, look a little bleary eyed as their body clocks re-adjust to school time! We are constantly reviewing our home learning provision and senior leaders have been working with Heads of Department to ensure that they have reviewed their department approach to include more interactive learning. Staff have been on a technological learning curve and our provision does now include more interactive elements, such as:
- Recorded lessons – allowing students to access the lesson when it suits their home environment, for example if families are sharing a single device then recorded lessons can be downloaded and accessed at a time to suit the home context. Mr Smith’s dog Dexter, is also becoming something of a media star!
- Podcasts – audio instructions about work set, introductory talks from teachers about topics etc – these have proved to be particularly popular with our History department and several more subjects are also now using them.
- Power point demonstrations with audio content embedded to talk students through the work and the expectations for tasks.
- Audio feedback – we have been trialling a number of apps linked to Google Classroom that allow teachers to provide audio feedback to every student – platforms such as ‘Kaizena’ and ‘Screencastify’ are currently being used.
- Many departments are also now using ‘Loom’ presentations, which mixes audio and visual displays – this has proved particularly useful when feeding back on work submitted.
We have become aware of an issue that has affected students’ ability to access the feedback that teachers have been giving. We sent out a schoolcomms last week to clarify that students must either re-load the work they submitted via Google Classroom, to see the feedback or log into their school email account to read it. One unfortunate student had over 500 emails containing teacher feedback, in her account, going back to March. I would ask parents to please ensure that students check their school email accounts on a regular basis.
There are limitations to any form of remote home learning. We know that not all our families and students have unlimited access to hardware or internet services. Whilst we have distributed all the laptops and chrome books we have in school, it isn’t enough! In the Department for Education's free lap-top scheme, we were allocated only 8 laptops – we had no say in that figure and even these have yet to arrive. We have been unable to supply some families with devices. Many that we have distributed are re-furbished and sometimes barely function for the work we are setting. Some families have a limited number of devices and are sharing them amongst each other and we are having to send home to some families, photocopied work. This is why getting students back into school safely is a priority for of all of us.
If parents have specific questions or issues about the nature of the home learning – then please, in the first instance, make contact with the class teacher through the appropriate Google Classroom forum, or alternatively contact the Head of Year – we do follow up every parental contact.
Next week, we will be widening our provision even further by inviting in those students from Years 7 to 9 whom we have identified would benefit from some face to face time in school, getting support that will help them with their home learning. Parents and carers will be contacted directly with invitations for their children. We would love to bring more students back into school; however, we are limited by the fact that the government have stated we can only bring students in if we are below the 25% attendance rule for Year 10 and Year 12 – this will restrict the numbers of other Year groups we can invite in for some time yet.
You will be aware that on Tuesday, the government announced the relaxation of the 2m physical distancing rules. At the same time the Chief Medical Officer, reinforced the view that the 2m rule was still vital to control the spread of the virus, unless mitigated by other protections, such as face masks and screening. We will be maintaining the 2m rules within school for the foreseeable future. You may have seen the Prime Minister’s statement to the House of Commons, also on Tuesday, in which he reviewed the scale and scope of the pandemic and confirmed it is the Government’s intention that primary and secondary education will recommence in September with full attendance. We need to understand what this means for our planning and we continue to urge the Government to provide this detail at the earliest possible opportunity, which we now expect within the next couple of weeks.
Form Tutors will again be making personal contact, via telephone, with every student in the school, during week beginning 6th July. The focus of this will be to check on general wellbeing and to gauge how students are coping with home learning. Parents and carers will be notified, via Edulink of a date and time for the ‘phone call. Form Tutors will be making around 30 ‘phone calls that week, so time is scarce. Each call will last for roughly five minutes and will be between the student and the Form Tutor. This information will then be shared with Heads of Year and senior staff so that they can ascertain which students might need additional support or adjustments to their home learning.
This week should have been our Futures Week – with Year 10 on work experience, Year 7 on camp and Years 8 and 9 participating in various activities, including trips to France. Year 12 should have sat their mock exams, so perhaps they are not too bothered about missing those! The priority for returning to school will be to assess where students are as regards individual progress and then to plan for their next steps and ensure that they are ready for whatever form terminal, external assessments eventually emerge. It may be some time before we are able to return to wider extra-curricular provision that has also been central to our vision of developing the ‘whole child’. We are determined however, that our recovery plans will put students back on their individual progress pathway and plans are well underway to achieve that.
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