The here and now

I will probably do another video message next week, but at the moment let’s go with the normality of a written blog. Equally, and unlike my last blog, it seems only appropriate to focus on the here and now, and therefore focus on Covid-19. A slightly different format this week, so you can read the relevant sections that interest you.

Home Learning – Parents can only try their best, and without the specialist knowledge of the teacher it is hard to replicate students understanding. As a parent, I was completely flummoxed by the Astronomy task that Ethan got from Science, we persevered, both learned a little, but probably didn’t do justice to the work that was set. As parents we are all going through this type of experience every day, and ultimately all we can do is try our best broadly inside the time confines of a normal school day, i.e. about 6 hours per day. We all have our own work to do as well; I made the mistake of taking my eyes off my two boys for 90 minutes whilst I met with Barnes on Wednesday, by the end Aidan had sent all his work to his teacher unchecked (he is in Year 5), and Ethan had ground to a halt and done nothing. All we can do as parents is try our best, by nurturing our children in these uncertain times.

Phoning Students – I think this is important to check on the students, to make sure we stay together as a community, and to help teachers maintain their normality of dealing with adolescents. I appreciate not all schools are doing this, and it is not a government directive, but this is a caring profession and we are trying to maintain our normal standards.

Re-opening – I really don’t have a clue at this stage; we have had no secret messages that we are withholding from you, and I sit and listen to the briefing each day to hear the updates. The DfE write a briefing sheet every day (as Gavin Williamson claimed in his briefing); it varies hugely in its usefulness, but has tended to focus on individual items that affects groups. (See FSM and Year 11 items below). I think the economic pressures will prevail around opening, but I doubt we will come back with all year groups immediately on the same day. We will still have teachers unavailable due to underlying issues, and (assuming we don’t have PPE) we will have to operate differently to achieve social distancing.  My best guess is that we will have partial opening at some point before the summer holidays, but won’t return to anything like normal until the Autumn term at the earliest.

Free School Meals – We had it sorted, and then the government stepped in and gave the contract to Edenred; since then it has been chaotic and time-consuming, e.g. Mr Melville (and his team) spent over 60 hours last week on FSM issues with Edenred alone – that replicated across every school and Trust in the country, is a gross waste of time when the systems we put in place had worked. My thanks to Mr Melville and Mrs Gilroy here for the huge number of calls they have placed to Edenred (Mr Melville) and to our community (Mrs Gilroy) to check that our students are being properly catered for. Rant over.

Year 11 Results – I have looked at the details that are emerging, and I still think the proposal is broadly the most workable solution in the circumstances. This is an imperfect situation and therefore no solution is perfect. Ofqual close their consultation on 29th April, and we should have more details following on from that from Exam Boards. The consultation welcomes views from students and parents, please go to the following link if interested is having your say: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ofqual-seeks-views-on-gcse-and-a-level-grading-proposals-for-2020

Personal – I have finished Sleep Doctor (thanks to the parents on Facebook for their comments) – it was good, and I don’t always like horror/Stephen King novels; my darts average has risen slightly, but I am way too inconsistent on triple 20 (too many scores of 55, 86 etc – the darts players will understand those scores, and why I have mentioned them); I am enjoying a walk with my family in the evening as our exercise, although eating too much chocolate at home!

Finally, can I say a public huge thanks to all the staff at school for their remote working; they have been brilliant as we make our way through this maze. And, of course, Mr Towns for producing all the PPE gear.

Enjoy your weekends whilst staying safe.

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