An unusual start to our Summer Term!

After what must seem the strangest ‘Easter holiday’ period ever, your teachers will be back to setting you all regular learning activities as from Monday. It feels like we’ve been away from school for absolutely ages, although in reality our children have, to date, missed just the two weeks of their schooling.

However, none of us are certain when we’ll be returning and I’d like to emphasise how important it is to engage with your teachers and ensure as much ‘continuity of education’ as possible during this period of school closure. We all recognise that ‘working from home’ is very different to working in your day-to-day school environment and we were extremely proud of our children’s efforts during that two-week pre-Easter period of school closure.

We advise that you create your own routine that allows plenty of ‘free time’ or breaks, but also positively addresses the learning activities that are set by your teachers to ensure that, when we do return to school, you are still in the habit of ‘organised learning’ and feel confident that you haven’t fallen behind. If this situation does continue beyond June (as is likely) then those children who really engage whilst at home will have a massive advantage when we return to school. It is well known in the profession that, after a long summer holiday, it sometimes takes children a few weeks to get back into the swing of school and that some children even regress in key areas as a result of the six week holiday period, especially if they are not naturally enthusiastic readers. So, if we actually don’t return until September then we’re talking nearly six MONTHS as opposed to six weeks. This could be hugely detrimental to the small majority of children whose parents are reluctant to enforce home-learning over this school closure period. The vast majority of our children are engaging superbly, and our teachers will continue to work hard on your behalf. However, a couple of our teachers have been messaged by parents to inform them that their children ‘will not be participating in the home learning activities as they are more concerned about their child’s emotional well-being and mental health throughout this period of school closure.’ I would certainly agree that there is nothing more important than your child’s emotional well-being and mental health over this challenging period (and that’s equally true for us as parents and teachers.) I do, however, strongly believe that any child who is not ‘expected’ to take some responsibility for their own learning over this period will be much more vulnerable to longer term self-esteem and emotional health issues, particularly if they return to school with a feeling that they’ve ‘fallen behind’ or take longer to get back into the routine of an organised education.

The post-Easter period, with the recently announced extension of ‘lock-down’ for an additional three weeks, is already certain to be longer than the schooling that has already been missed, so our challenge is to maintain and build upon our home/school impetus and keep up your excellent efforts! We are determined that Skyswood children will return to school without their education being significantly disrupted, and this means that we all have to work together and do our best to keep ourselves going. Already, some of our children have committed to such an extent that they may return to school with some significant positives, maybe discovering a new ‘passion’, whether that be for cookery, gardening, or poetry (for those contributing to our regular Monday Poetry Club).

Skyswood was open for the children of key workers during the first week of the Easter holiday period, but there was not the demand to remain open for the second week. However, as from Monday 20th April, we will open once more to support children of key workers. Our staff have received very direct guidance on keeping our children, and themselves, as safe as possible during this period. This includes the regular practices of hand washing and the best possible ‘social distancing’ that can be achieved with a small group of children and adults together in a primary school setting.

We have printed off the Key Stage 2 Summer Term Spell to Excel booklets (two weeks ago to ensure that they haven’t been handled for a fortnight) and left them in alphabetical order on tables in our reception area. On Monday, the door will be open from 9.00 a.m. until 3.00 p.m. and we request that each junior aged child’s Spell to Excel booklet is collected with due regard to the government social distancing advice. The scheme comprehensively covers the spelling and grammar elements of the national curriculum in Key Stage 2. Along with daily reading and positively responding to your teachers’ home school learning opportunities, this is a simple way to ensure that you cover the appropriate content that you would ordinarily cover if we were currently back at school. PLEASE come and collect on Monday!

For parents, I have uploaded onto the school website the Teacher Books for each year group. These give guidance on introducing each unit, as well as the answers. There are two levels for each year group, so please make sure you refer to the correct level of book that your child is on. The idea of the scheme is to do just a little each day, no more than 15 to 20 minutes for 3 days a week, and the option of a five minute ‘refresh’ on the other two days if you choose. The teachers’ books can be found in CURRICULUM then ENGLISH. Scroll down to the bottom of the ENGLISH section and you will find the Teachers’ Books for each year group.

We will continue to post Poetry Club activities each Monday, along with other website activities. There will be also be some fun science activities that I will post for next week on the theme of ‘colour and light.’ As with any home learning, we will continue to provide a wide range of learning activities and do our best to make them as much fun as possible. We really hope that our children (and parents) will enjoy our home learning activities and find them useful. We certainly don’t want children or parents to feel stressed over the home learning situation and, as I mentioned earlier, we fully appreciate that it is very different when you’re trying to organise and encourage these activities within the home environment as opposed to school. Keep up your magnificent efforts, we’re truly proud of you!