Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope that you and your families are well. I am writing to update you about how we are continuing to support our students and our community.
Free School Meals
We have now been issuing free school meals vouchers for the past two weeks.
You may have seen in the media that the government has announced an expansion of this offer. If your family’s financial circumstances have changed, and you are applying for but have not yet received Universal Credit, you may still be able to access free school meals vouchers immediately. Please email email@example.com to discuss this or any other issue related to free school meals.
Update on Grade Awarding Process for Year 11 and 13 students
We are asking for the return of any NEA (coursework) and student books in order to be able to make judgements about predicted grades and student rankings. Please refer to the attached letter and information from Ofqual, the government’s examinations body, for full details.
As you may be aware, the government has announced that it intends to issue laptops and provide internet access to those students who may not have this at home. The government has yet to provide details about the scheme; as soon as we have this information, we will begin contacting the relevant families.
May Bank Holiday
Please note that the school is fully closed on Friday 8th May, including to the children of key workers and vulnerable children. If you will require your child to be looked after on this date, please contact your child’s PCL and we will support you to make alternative arrangements.
Teaching and Learning whilst Schools are Closed
Show My Homework
As you know, we are using Show My Homework (SMHW) as a platform to set and receive work whilst the school is closed. Show My Homework is a useful platform that allows work to be set, marked and for children and teachers to communicate.
You will have received (or will soon receive) a call from one of our Pastoral Care Leaders (PCLs). As part of this call, they will ask about SMHW and will be able to address issues around log ins etc. If you do not have access to a computer or device, they will also be able to arrange for work to be sent home by post.
If you are having any problems with SMHW or accessing a device, please call the school and a member of staff will be able to support you.
Teachers are setting an equivalent amount of work to the number of lessons they would normally teach. E.g. If your child has three science lessons a week, they will receive three hours of science work per week.
Teachers will be assessing a piece of work every four to six lessons. This means that some work will not need to be submitted. The pieces of work that will need to be submitted will be clearly labelled. Feedback for these pieces of work might come in the form of comments from the teacher, or in some cases will be automatically marked by the SMHW software (or other platforms like ‘educake’ or ‘Seneca’) and wrong answers identified to students.
Please encourage and where possible support your children in accessing and using SMHW. It is important that they keep as up to date with their learning as possible.
Live Learning Using Microsoft Teams
Starting next week, we are going to be trialling ‘live’ video lessons using “Microsoft Teams”. This is a way of teaching that will allow students to see or hear their teacher and view lesson resources like PowerPoints. They will need a device like a laptop, tablet or phone to take part in these lessons. Students do not need a webcam or earphones to take part.
You do not need to do anything now, invitations and a link that will allow you to use the software will be sent out to students by individual teachers. These will come to students’ school email addresses and they should also be notified by SMHW.
If they don’t receive a link soon, don’t worry. We are starting by trialling this with year 10s and year 12s and once we have it working smoothly, we will add other year groups. Also, please remember that not all teachers will be able to use this. Microphones and webcams are necessary to teach these lessons (although you don’t need them to participate in them) and not all teachers will have these devices at home.
Other Resources to Support Learning
There are two new sources of online learning available to students and parents, both of which were launched on Monday, one from BBC bitesize https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/dailylessons and one from ‘Oak National Academy’ which has been set up by the DfE https://www.thenational.academy/online-classroom.
I have looked at the resources on these sites and they are really high quality. BBC bitesize, in particular, has tutorial videos, excerpts from textbooks, and exam questions from the exam board of the child’s choosing. It also has video lessons that can be found on BBC iplayer.
Both of these resource banks are based around a virtual curriculum with lessons released day by day (bitesize uploads week by week). Some of our teachers may be using parts of these lessons if it fits into what they need to teach. If you would like extra activities for your child please do give them a look, they are interesting and informative.
Finally, don’t forget to exercise! I know many of our students and quite a few staff are taking part in Joe Wick’s daily exercise between 9am and 10am on weekdays. These videos can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/thebodycoach1.
Thank you for everything you are doing to support your child and us during this time. We recognise that it is no easy task to home educate a child. We are grateful for all your efforts, and look forward to welcoming you and your child back into our school as soon as possible. In the meantime, please keep in touch; follow us on www.twitter.com/st_johnfisher or at www.facebook.com/stjohnfishermedway.