This week at Bentley...
I have never written a newsletter for the holidays before but wanted to bring you up to speed with our plans before the start of the new term on Monday, given the very unusual circumstances we face.
I hope that you and your families have been able to rest and enjoy some of the beautiful weather over this very different type of Easter break. Some of our school staff have been in school over the break supporting our lovely key worker children, but everyone has had some time to spend and unwind which was very much needed. School staff, like everyone else, have been dealing with illness, isolation, anxiety and the many changes required in order for us all to obey the current restrictions to keep our nation safe. Sunshine, nature, prayer, Joe Wicks, chocolate, silly jokes and wine seem to be fuelling the fantastic Bentley staff, so I hope that a good balance is working for you too!
There have been many different scenarios rumoured in the media over the Easter holiday and as you can imagine we had a variety of plans underway for all eventualities. We now know that the current lockdown procedures will continue for the next three weeks so we will proceed accordingly.
Only essential key worker children, pupils with an EHCP and those children with social workers are attending school at this time. We have carefully logged and compiled our lists and have already contacted parents about access arrangements for next week but if you have not been contacted and need a school place then please email us as soon as possible with details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue with our Virtual School plans for Monday and these will be sent out by email for now. We will set the daily ‘basics’ with English and mathematics, as we did before the Easter break, plus our ongoing topic work as well for the wider curriculum. We are also going to start using the BBC resources created by the government to support all children over lockdown. Teachers will recommend one per day to support families where technology is limited or being shared. See below for some other frequently asked questions – with suggested solutions.
Over the last few weeks teachers have been investigating some different technological possibilities for developing teaching and learning at this point of lockdown. There is no one system which would work for all parties and there are pros and cons to all systems, particularly in rolling out something new whilst the staff and children cannot be trained at school. What staff would like is a system which would be useful now and for homework moving forwards. Ideally we want to ease off the high email traffic through the office and have a portal where both staff and home (older pupils and parents) can easily post photos, screenshots and set work. Our Computing Leader Mr Goddard is tasked with the set up and he has all the recommendations and requests he needs to do this. We will keep you posted!
Our children in school have enjoyed a happy holiday club setting allowing their parents to carry on supporting all of us in their key worker roles. We thank all key workers looking after everyone at this time and have sent some cards (and brownies from the School cook Alison!) to a couple of NHS centres which have been MUCH appreciated. We made our own rainbow in school and it has been super coming into Bentley seeing the many rainbows reflecting hope and love from the children and community. ‘Thursday’ is now called ‘clapping day’ in my house and each week it reminds us about the amazing efforts of so many people helping one another across the world.
I wish you all a good weekend.
Mrs Katy Pinchess, Headteacher
My child needs more stimulation and challenge: There are a huge range of resources on the BBC site and children who are seeking more academic stretch may well want to explore these further – for example, try the mandarin lessons or research into a particular topic in science as resources are provided free and are easily available for all ages and stages. Don’t forget to use the Easter booklet which was filled with ideas of project work plus the list of websites emailed to you at the start. You can easily access all of this information on our Virtual School page by clicking here. Able learners really benefit from talking through their questions with an adult and then having time to follow up and research these, choosing how to present their findings (e.g. as a poster, a powerpoint presentation or as an animation). The government have also issued a list of useful sites which you can find by clicking here.
My child is struggling and I find it difficult to help them myself: Try not to worry and do what you can together. A little and often is the best approach. You can email into the office with any queries if you get really stuck and certain members of staff are on phone duty to give advice. Focus on the many life skills and do baking, housework and work out shopping lists together – these are all important skills and use maths and reading. Where possible try to do some reading and writing together every day.
I am worried about getting back into school after unwinding this holiday: Don’t nag but do give a reminder at the weekend. It might help everyone to get everything ready on Sunday night (like you would if it was real school). Decide what time you want to start the school day and post up the Virtual School Timetable or use your own adapted one. If you start the day with Joe Wicks then do that. If you have built in a family schedule around your work or studying needs then do that. Create something that works for everyone. Ideally we would all love children to be eager to get back to school work but we are all human and seeing your friends is often the biggest lure in coming back to school. Like at school set up your family agreed rewards (like Pick and Mix time – play a game together, watch a favourite tv programme or ring a friend after school) and sanctions (such as loss of free choice time – don’t make threats you cannot follow through and try to sandwich the play/free choice computer time with the school tasks).
I get worried about teaching them the ‘wrong’ thing in maths: Go online to the school website and use Mrs Rushin’s excellent Calculation Policy as it lays out how we teach each aspect in which year group. Go back to where you and your child get ‘stuck’ and it will help you to move on.
My child has nearly finished their exercise book: Please buy them a new one when you next get a grocery order or use any paper you have available. If your child is eligible for free school meals then please contact us and we will try to get a new one to you.
Our financial circumstances have changed: Please email the school office if you believe that your child may now be eligible for free schools meals. This pandemic has affected many people including lots who have never required benefits previously. If you prefer, you can check if you are eligible yourself – just click on this link. We have support in place for these children and all applications are held in complete confidence.
We are not eligible for benefits but we are struggling financially: Please contact the school office and let us know as we do have some contacts within the parish council and local charities who may be able to help. Again, all emails are held in complete confidence.
My child has lots of questions and I do not know how to talk to them about the Corona Virus: there are some excellent resources available from the NSPCC which you can access by clicking on this link.
… for all the super pictures, poems and stories. These were printed out and delivered to the residents at Pax Hill. Angela Strange, the Resident Liaison at Pax Hill wrote to thank us and said “They have now been distributed and brought smiles to our residents, who are all feeling a little lonely and cut off at the moment.”