More lockdown information

8th January 2021

Dear Parents, 

I expect you are all trying to grapple with this latest information and the impact this is going to have on all of our lives again. Every parent, child, governor or staff member has their own family concerns and to support these challenges there is an LEA document attached that may be of interest. 

This email should help give you an overview of how Braywood is going to tackle this second lockdown. Things have changed very quickly for schools as we had planned to be open and then we were suddenly told to go into lockdown. We prefer to be teaching the children in class, but at present this is the right decision to keep us all safe. 

The full lockdown in March lasted 10 weeks and then we introduced a reduced timetable for the rest of the summer term. If you take into account the Easter and half term break, this lockdown could be a similar period of time. Whether we have a reduced timetable on return, or not, I would like to think that we will be back to normal by Easter, but this is obviously out of our hands. 

The two main comments from the children regarding our last lockdown were that they missed their friends and the way their teachers explained the learning. Although parents did an excellent job of maintaining friendship groups, and teachers communicated/discussed the remote learning daily with parents through eschools and WhatsApp, it was still hard. To extend this provision we have set up a virtual platform for weekly face-to-face sessions for families to drop in and chat to their teacher. Each class already has their own Gmail account and we had started to chat in school using Google Meet because it is fully encrypted. Whist we are still plagued by poor internet connection this platform will greatly complement our eschools communication tool through lockdown. The best way to access this forum is to have a Gmail account or the Google Meet App to participate. Instructions are attached at the bottom of this email alongside a link if you are having problems and a tutorial video. If parents could support each other through the class WhatsApp that would be great. 

Academically, parents also did a great job supporting children's learning throughout the last lockdown. Although, motivationally, it is hard to do this all again, I think it is still important to maintain the daily lessons covering the curriculum that would have taken place ordinarily in school. To support this provision further teachers will be providing a weekly timetable to enable flexibility and even more video lessons so the children can see their teacher demonstrating the lessons. The full curriculum is on the website and we will still be following this planning. During the last lockdown we started to plan differentiated lessons through eschools grouping and we plan to capitalise on this further by providing virtual small group teaching sessions every week focussing on specific needs. We will continue to use a wide range of online resources to support this programme including BBC, Oak Academy, Active Learn etc. 

Everyone's circumstances are different, and we are mindful of this. All the work that is sent out can be adapted to your own personal circumstances. All the assignments sent by teachers do not need printing out and electronic records of children's work is totally adequate. To help with this (and the fact that some of the children's handwriting started to slip) we are allocating every child a 'lockdown' workbook which will be available in year group boxes from outside the main entrance from Monday. 

Looking to the future, whole school events usually covered in March such as Literacy and Maths Day are being brought forward so that we can have some whole school events where we can all celebrate together. 

In the short term, all parents have some work assignments and today the teachers will be sending a 'welcome and everything is going to be ok' message to their class. On Monday 11th in the afternoon teachers will be sending out more specific information regarding the remote learning, timetables and curriculum coverage throughout this period. As previously, work will be sent the night before to give parents planning time. I am the SENCo, so I will be in contact with any families who need specific support next week.

On the news you will probably have heard that there is a big initiative to try to reduce the number of families who cannot access remote learning because of lack of resources. The Government has extended its efforts to allocate laptops or increased data allowances, and organisations like the BBC are trying to distribute recycled laptops. If your family does not have access to a laptop or a tablet (or are struggling with internet access) then do, please let the school know. 

There is a whole section on Coronavirus on the website including information about remote learning. Any concerns do contact the office as usual. 

I hope that you all stay safe and well.  

Susan Calvert