Executive Headteacher's Blog
10 May 2020
Listening to the announcement tonight, I am excited to hear the news that from 1st June we are able to begin phasing years reception, 1 and 6 back into school. We have already been thinking deeply about how we can begin to open our schools further whilst protecting the health of staff and children. A great challenge! We are very fortunate in that we are working closely with schools within the Local Learning Hub, supporting one another and planning a co-ordinated approach across the city.
Currently, we are waiting for further detailed guidance from the DFE that we have been assured will be with us later this week. It is then that we will be in a position to carry out the necessary risk assessments and arrange for extending our federation opening. We are drafting a recovery curriculum and reviewing our Health and Well-being Strategy to ensure that the children receive the support they need to reintegrate into school positively after a pro-longed period at home under these unusual circumstances.
Over the past couple of weeks, the children have continued to access their home learning whilst a small number of pupils have been attending school. It has been great to see how creatively families have engaged in the activities set and the close partnership that has developed between parents, children and teachers. For most of our children, this will continue, possibly until the end of the academic year, whilst others may be attending school on a part-time basis.
We have decided to send out a simple parent survey later this week, which we would really appreciate you completing. With 5 key questions, it will only take a few minutes, but will help us to evaluate our response to the pandemic so far and to inform how we take things forward. I wish to thank you in advance for taking the time to do this.
I have been incredibly busy over the last couple of weeks, employing new staff and working in partnership with the school leaders to plan our next steps as a federation. Next week, we have an extraordinary governors meeting where a transition plan will be agreed and then shared with staff and our wider school community. All plans will be drafted with the understanding that they will need to be responsive as the situation progresses. There are no certainties at this time!
As the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says
“Let’s remember that we are in this together. Let’s look after ourselves and our communities, gain courage from each other, and walk together in hope and faith.”
As it says in Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
I hope that you are well and send you my best wishes,
Blog - Friday 17th April 2020
Friday 3rd April
This week I have decided to start writing a blog so that I can share what is happening across the federation as well as my personal reflections during what is the most unusual of times.
Following last week where I was at Pinhoe every day, I have spent this week liaising with headteacher colleagues, our key staff on duty in school and reviewing policy and practice in response to the developing government and local authority guidance. I have agreed to support Jo Evans, CEO of the St Christopher’s MAT, in co-ordinating a Learning Hub of 14 Exeter schools. This involves ensuring that all school leaders are kept up to date with relevant changes and share approaches as things evolve. It may also involve co-ordinating deployment of staff across the city if schools find themselves struggling to open.
One big challenge for me has been learning how to use Zoom (Houseparty is much simpler!) so that I can attend virtual meetings with staff, governors and leaders within our Learning Hub.
It is a strange time with an odd mix of being contained at home with my husband and 23-year-old daughter, whilst still remaining focused upon Woodbury and Pinhoe and what is happening there. Gardening, cooking new recipes, running and walking the dogs has kept me busy. My daughter has insisted that I complete a daily abs workout with her, which is seriously testing our relationship and leaves me unable to move for some significant time afterwards. I even cleaned out my kitchen cupboards and found a tin of condensed milk from 2011, just shows how often that happens!
On Tuesdays and Fridays, I go shopping for my parents and their elderly neighbour. Isn’t it odd how quiet it is everywhere? However, the positive atmosphere in the shops has really struck me. People have been very respectful and there have been many “Good Mornings”, “you go first” and lots of smiles. I was really moved when on Tuesday a cashier refused to charge me for a plant I was buying because I was shopping for others and deserved a treat! Kindness seems to be flourishing it seems.
The numbers of children attending both schools this week has been significantly reduced with Woodbury averaging 2/3 a day and Pinhoe 6/7. We expect these to rise after Easter as parents and key workers commitments increase.
Both schools are developing a flexible approach to wrap around care as our usual providers have temporarily ceased working. This is something that we are eager to offer if there is sufficient demand and will involve our rotas being adapted so that staff are scheduled for either early or late shifts when they are in school.
Home learning has been well received with most of our children participating in the daily learning activities. This will resume after Easter. We appreciate the support you are providing your children and recommend that if you haven’t already, you create a daily routine on school days that includes some physical activity, some home learning and some creative time as well as valuable relaxation and play-time of course!
Finally, I would like to thank the staff who are unfailing in their commitment to the children and in their desire particularly to support our critical worker families. Please remember that we are here and available to contact via the school office. Many of you will be receiving regular catch-up phone calls too.
Anyway, I will sign off now as I need to join others in our village to clap our wonderful NHS workers. Without them, where would we be?