I am sure that most of you will agree that the last few weeks since lockdown started have been extremely challenging for families, particularly juggling working from home and supporting your children to complete their home learning. Over the past week we have been discussing how we can help to alleviate some of the stress that many parents are feeling and hopefully lessen the burden a bit. As you know our offer at Manor Wood is in line with DfE expectations, but we are also listening to parents and have a few plans to take us up until the end of lockdown. You are doing a great job but maybe we can make it a little less onerous.
I get the impression that for our older children or those who can work independently, home learning is going fine. However, for others the picture is not quite as rosy, and parents and children are beginning to feel worried / stressed that they are not completing all their Seesaw work. What we propose to do is make Fridays a non-screen day as far as we possibly can and promise you that there will be no additional posted work on Fridays so you can use it either as a day to do fun things, get on with your own work without having to help your children or to do a bit of catching up if you so wish. For the parents who have requested more work (definitely in the minority) there will be open ended, project type activities set by school for children who would like extension opportunities. We will also focus on topic days across school which children can enjoy together and we are looking at aspects of the curriculum which are particularly challenging to deliver in the home. We’re no longer sure how effective large scale zoom calls are and will also see if they can be tweaked in any way.
As a team we have discussed possible activities for Fridays including:
Wellbeing days as a family – exercise, walks, spending time together not doing home learning!
Playing cards or a game with a sibling
Helping in the garden
Writing a letter to an elderly family member or friend or contacting them by phone
Giving a family member a complement or doing a random act of kindness (setting the table or tidying the bedroom)
Listening to an audio book or even watching a favourite film
There are probably hundreds more that you can think of and I know none of the above ideas are rocket science. I’m definitely not being patronising, I am just trying to let you know that we are fully in support of a sensible approach to home learning. If your child is spending hours on a home-schooling activity, please don’t plough on. We are going to archive all the work from this half term by the end of next week so that it does not appear with the new work after half term. I would also ask you not to home-school your child over the half term holiday. No new work will be added, and teachers and TAs will not be expected to continue to mark or set activities as they need a complete break too. Thank you for your support in this. Once school is up and running again, we will do everything in our power to bridge any gaps in learning and to accelerate progress.
Over the last week schools have received some clear guidance about home learning / remote education which we can share with you and will hopefully dispel a number of myths and misconceptions.
• Remote education is not different to other forms of teaching and learning and that the curriculum content is different. During the first lockdown, when the country really did stay at home, schools were open to provide childcare. This is no longer the case and remote education is meant to replicate what is being taught in the classroom. The best forms of remote education are not necessarily digital, and a number of strategies should be employed to meet the differing needs of families including printed work packs, phone calls, pastoral support etc.
• The best way to deliver remote education is not through live lessons, and both OFSTED and the Education Endowment Foundation have produced papers which point out there is no evidence that live streaming is better than other forms of remote education. Leeds LA do not advocate one particular method of remote teaching and there is a clear recognition that the quality of teaching is more important than how the lessons are delivered.
• Home learning should not be unachievable and the DfE has stipulated that children in KS1 should receive 1 - 3 hours a day on average with less for younger children and children in KS2 should receive 2 - 4 hours a day.
There is no expectation that the above time allocations should be delivered via one method of learning – schools are free to deliver learning via the most effective and appropriate method or blend of methods for their unique circumstances and needs of children. It is also not expected that every year group will look exactly the same and it may be that there will be less tweaking of what we are doing now further up school.
At Manor Wood we have uploaded information about our remote offer onto our website using the government template. I have become the paperwork queen – which is the least fun ever and I’ll be glad when my letters are full of what the exciting things happening in school once again and not the latest document regarding something Covid related! If I have any information about when school will open beyond the potential date of 8th March, I’ll be in contact. In the meantime, Child Friendly Leeds have put together some good ideas for lockdown resources. See below:
Finally, some good news! Covid figures are dropping in Leeds, which is fantastic. We are clearly following the rules, and all working together to try and eradicate the spread of infection very effectively. However, if you are feeling worried by the length of time it is taking to open schools or are finding the whole situation of home learning stressful the LA have highlighted a couple of links to websites which provide support and advice. Please see below:
Have a lovely week