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Hi… I thought I’d give you an update on what’s happening in school at the moment, the things taking place over the summer and also a headline on some changes for September.  My video explains it all, but I thought I’d give an overview here too.

The school value this half-term is that of being ambitious.  Sometimes it really is hard to forget what’s behind us, especially when we’ve gone through everything that’s happened over the past months, but we still aim to forge ahead and make sure that everything we do here is the best it can be, despite the volumes of DfE guidance that slow the process down!  

Thank you for all your patience and understanding over these past few months.  We’ve had lots of positive feedback about how we’ve navigated our way through this tricky time, but please be assured that we’re also constantly looking at ways of improving practice here.  

So… we’ve come to the end of our penultimate week!  You would have had communication from your teacher about the last bits of work our children are doing, and I know that we’ve some fun activities ready for next week as we head to our last day on Wednesday.  There are also Google meetings taking place – some transition meetings for those children that are moving classrooms, but also some simply to catch up and for everyone to say hello.

A school needs to be a vibrant and exciting place, bustling with fun, smiles and activity, and yet the lockdown made schools adapt overnight to be a distant and remote learning platform instead.  That was hard… but I’m really proud of our staff who really had to accelerate their Google learning journey and they did a great job of it!

We’ve learnt a few things along the way and adapted as we went, and I believe our remote provision was largely a success, but we’ll be issuing a survey soon to ask you for your thoughts too.  The latest DfE guidance stipulates that schools need to have a robust and online learning scheme ready to apply in case of further closures, and so we’ll be looking into this further.  Your thoughts and comments would be really useful for this, so please do look out for our survey.

Thank you also for your understanding regarding the set up, and restrictions, with our bubbles.  We managed to provide everything the DfE asked of us and have 6 bubbles in all, even using the front playground and a tent in the garden.  Sadly, despite being permitted to extend our offer to the other year groups, we just didn’t have the capacity with all of our staff and all of our rooms being used or the flexibility within the guidance.  Thanks also to our Stepping Stones’ parents for adjusting your days – we just wouldn’t have been able to provide 2 bubbles without doing so.

Come September, and given the new guidance, we’re going to have two bubbles.
Bubble 1 has two Key Stages – Key Stage 1 (Class 2) and the Early Years Key Stage (Class 1 and Stepping Stones)
Bubble 2 which has Key Stage 2  (Class 3 and Class 4)
We’ll have control measures in place to keep the two bubbles as separate as possible and ensure limited interaction.  We’ll provide more information about this after the summer.

It’s quite exciting to have some great developments with our PreSchool, in that we’re incorporating them into our school even more this year.  Holly’s done an amazing job and really wants to be part of the exciting developments over the year, but has bitten the bullet and chosen to train to be a teacher!  I’m sure she’ll keep involved in what we’re doing as she’s invested a lot of time and dedication to the provision there.  (Thanks for everything Holly and Good Luck!)

Our Early Years Foundation Stage Unit will have both the PreSchool and Reception children working largely together in one space.  This will enhance our provision so well since they all work under the one curriculum, called the EYFS.  It will also provide great opportunities for both the younger and older children there.  Further to this, we’ll be opening on Thursdays which should give our families better opportunities for their arrangements.

We will also be developing Class 2 to better suit the full range of year 1s and year 2s in that room.  They work in a different stage called Key Stage 1 and although they work under the National Curriculum, we will need to make sure that there are some familiar elements of the EYFS in this room, and more so since we’ve had a large gap of school missed.  Both rooms will be working together lots too, and will be coming together for shared sessions such as with phonics and maths teaching. 

When we return in September, and following the guidance to keep children and adults safe, we’re going to introduce a ‘soft start’ in the mornings.   Our doors will be open between 8:45 and 9.00, and children should be dropped so they can come straight in to school to do a fun, starter activity whilst the teacher does the register.  This will enable parents to be socially distant and not congregate on the playground, but you could help this further by ensuring you phone or email the office rather than coming in to school.

Preschool and Reception parents normally walk up to the room with their children, and so we’ll use the wooden, School House steps that go over and on to the rear playground, for you to access the classroom from there.  

We have a slight change to school closing times with staggered closing times, but to support our parents who shouldn’t congregate on the playground, we’ll be finishing at
3.00pm for the younger children and finishing at
3:15pm for the older children.
Regarding siblings, we’ll gather the younger children for a short activity in the school hall for 15-minutes, and their older brother or sister can collect them as they walk past.  This means that parents won’t need to wait in the rain.

Georgeham Jumpers, which is our wrap-around extended services provision, will be able to be booked for morning (from 8am) and after school provision (to 5pm) if you’d need it.  We will be accepting children from both bubbles, and will be keeping them apart using the activities in the school hall. 

We’re back on Monday the 7th September and will be spending a few weeks with a gentle return.  We need to make sure that children’s, parents’ and staff well-being is considered and won’t be rushing into packed and busy schedules; we need to make sure that everyone is happy to be in school.  We need to understand there may be anxiety about returning, but we also need to assess children’s learning and work out where those gaps are, so we’ll be trying to do this softly and sensitively within the first few weeks.   

Finishing up for the term … 

  • Please return any equipment or resources 
  • Please make final payments through SCOPAY
  • Please ensure your contact details are correct
  • Subscribe to the website (it will email you posts like this one)
  • Label your uniform
  • Read to, with, and in front and in sight of your child
  • Get your child to write a diary – just a sentence each day?
  • Count lots, and do maths whilst shopping
  • Use the online links on our website (and our Google G-Suite)

Good luck, and thank you to the Spooners… the Brakers… Holly Bransby and also to our Year 6!  (Another blog post about this next week.)

I just want to finish by saying a further thank you… for everything that you’ve done during the lockdown, and the patience you’ve shown during this very odd time. 

I hope you all have a very good, well-deserved summer!

Julian Thomas

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