24th April 2020
On behalf of everyone at New Marske Primary School we hope you and your family are keeping well and are managing to keep busy and occupied during this period of school closure.
Outside of school we recognise that there is a lot of speculation about when school will reopen and when pupils will be allowed to return. Dates of the 11th of May and the 1st of June have been mentioned as potential start dates with certain groups, certain classes or certain areas of a community being allowed to return to school first.
As a school we recognise the concerns that our parents, pupils and staff have about the return to school. Although we all recognise that schools will be reopening, we all want to ensure that when this does happen, this is done safely so that our children and their family as well as our staff and their families can return safely. All members of our school community must be secure in the knowledge that every step has been taken to prevent a second peak of this virus and the further damage that this could cause.
As head teacher I have received no notification from the Department for Education about any proposed dates for reopening. No one has contacted school to discuss suitable groups to attend or which classes would benefit initially from reopening. The information that I receive can be accessed via the DfE website. The key message within all of this information is that schools are closed until further notice and any changes made will be based on the 5 tests the government have set out:
- Making sure the NHS can cope
- A ‘sustained and consistent’ fall in the daily death rate
- Rate of infection decreasing to ‘manageable levels’
- Ensuring supply of tests and PPE can meet future demand
- Being confident any adjustments would not risk a second peak
With this in mind, school are continuing the work they have done since school closure was announced. We have continued to open for the parents of key workers and vulnerable children and have instructed our staff to provide some activities and resources for pupils to keep them occupied and learning when at home.
Within school at the moment we usually have between 8-12 children on any day and expect this to slowly increase over the coming weeks as additional key workers return to work. If circumstances change for any of our families and you do now feel that you need to access a place in school, please contact the email@example.com email address to find out how you can do this.
Regarding work set by class teachers, we have not set a demand about how much work a pupil does, but would hope that pupils are accessing some of the resources sent out by the school or class teachers. Our resources will allow pupils to take part in reading, English and maths tasks, time tables practise, computing, science and French activities. Links to all of the schools resources can be found on the school’s website. These tasks are not aimed at increasing stress or anxiety in pupils or to convince parents that this is the reason why they did not go into teaching, but to provide something that can be accessed when needed to support children.
As a school we are desperate to welcome our pupils back and to provide some semblance of normality in what has been the strangest year any of us have ever experienced. Rest assured that as a school, we will welcome our pupils back when it is safe to do so and when the questions that our school community, our pupils and our staff have about how a return to school will work are answered. I am confident that a comprehensive plan about how schools should return is being developed and look forward to sharing that information with parents, pupils and staff as soon as I receive it.
Keep Calm and Stay Informed
It is important that people remain calm during the Covid-19 pandemic and they follow the latest national advice. Individuals and communities should follow the government guidance on the steps needed to reduce the spread of infection, and use only official sources of information when getting this advice. It is recommended to only use reliable news sources such as the BBC, the Government’s www.gov.uk website or your local authority website and social media pages.
Oak National Academy
This week the Department for Education launched the Oak National Academy an online resource that uses a range of online lessons to support pupils when learning at home. The resource provides lessons from reception to Y6 in the area of English, Maths and foundation (other subjects). All teachers in school have been informed about this resource, which should mean that some of our pupils should be using this very soon.
BBC Bitesize Daily
As well as the more formalised lesson activities from Oak National Academy, BBC Bitesize Daily have also launched a new page which provides a range of learning activities in a range of areas for pupils from Y1 to Y6. The BBC have incorporated the support of many famous people to help narrate and design the activities. These activities can be used in a range of ways. Children can pick something they are interested in, they can pick something they want to learn or they want to better understand.
Have a look at both of these areas. They are both excellent additions to any home learning activity.
Free School Meals
The DfE have announced that from the 27th of April, Free School Meal vouchers can be used at Aldi supermarkets. This will mean that after parents have entered their 16 digit code, Aldi will be an option they can choose to vouchers from.
Within school, when processing the FSM vouchers, we have a very limited amount of control over the system. As a school we upload the emails of eligible parents into the system and the rest is processed by Edenred. School can check if a voucher has been redeemed, can resend vouchers that have not been redeemed, but cannot carry out any administrative processes on accounts.
We are aware that Edenred have caught up with the initial backlog they had when sending out vouchers and have said that the system is running the way it should be. Any issues we have had mainly come from the delay in getting vouchers after redeeming them, but this, on most occasions, has not lasted more than 48-72 hours.
If parents have any problems with the voucher, please contact the school on the firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
If circumstances have changed for parents and you now feel that your child/children could be eligible for Free School Meals, please go to the school website and complete the Free School Meal application form. The eligibility criteria for FSMs are:
- Universal Credit with an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400 (as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)
- Income Support Jobseekers Allowance (Income Based) Pension Credit (Guaranteed Credit)
- Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related)
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum act 1999 Child Tax Credit with a joint annual gross income of no more than £16,190 (Providing you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit on a regular basis)
- A ‘Run-On’ of Working Tax Credit (Paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
Food Bank Donations
Further to our information about foodbank donations in our area, after the reported drop in contributions to foodbanks, school are aware of the fantastic work Penny Hestletine is doing to support local people in Marske and New Marske and now the wider Redcar area. Penny has contacted school and has asked that if parents wish to contribute to the Redcar foodbank, to take donations to No1 Lexington building on the Longbeck trading estate.
Finally, I would like to thank all of our pupils, parents and staff for the way you have all approached these incredibly difficult times. The way that everyone has adjusted to school closure, the restriction of movement and the worry and anxiety present in any situation like this has been truly inspiring. The message that everyone is playing their part in helping to overcome the challenges of this virus can be seen every time I see parents going out for walks with their children, when parents contact school to discuss a concern or with pupils engaging with their teachers on Zoom or Showbie. Hopefully we should receive information in the near future about the plans ahead to get back to some kind or normality, but up until then: Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.