Head Teacher’s Blog 15th May 2020
Happy St Julie’s Day!
Today in a normal year, we would have had the icecream van in school, the bungee run going and the St Julie dash around the school site. We would have had Y11 signing shirts and saying their goodbyes before exams start.
That certainly makes me feel a little sad, but it being St Julie’s day, I immediately get pulled up short from feeling sorry for myself. Julie certainly faced great hardship and times that sent her plans into ruins, but she kept her faith in God’s goodness and did what she could for others in that time. I pray for all of us and particularly for those who are struggling most that we can find inspiration in the life of St Julie, to keep going and to do small things with great love.
The prayer below is adapted from the St Julie’s day service that Suzanne and Joe have put together.
St Julie, just as the sunflower keeps its face turned toward the sun, you always kept your heart and mind turned toward God. You showed your great love for God in prayer and action. Even in the greatst sufferings and trials you used to repeat How good God is!St Julie, please ask God to give me strong faith, to help me to see His goodness in my life, so that I can follow your example and share that goodness with everyone I meet.
St Julie, Pray for us, Protect us and Bless us. Amen.
Suzanne and Mr Cain have produced a virtual service for St Julie’s day which has been sent out to the students. I have included the link for you below. It would be lovely if we could all try to log on at roughly the same time so we can be a virtual community together even though we are sadly apart at the moment. Mr Cain suggests we all try to log on as close to 11.00am on Friday.
Also, congratulations to the 3 winners of the St Julie competition. You may remember the students were given the challenge to create a new habit for St Julie and then place their creation in a location of their choosing and then send in a photo of this. I am sure you will agree that these are 3 very worthy winners. Well done to all three and especially Hollie who was voted the overall winner. Some prizes will be finding their way to the students in the near future.
1st place = Hollie Waller (7RQ)
2nd Place = Isabella Rivas-Aguilar (7AWR)
3rd Place Alecia Whitworth (8SK)
As you might expect, the main notices this week are to do with the governments’ announcement about the easing of lock down and what it means in school.
Return of Y10 and Y12 students
As you will be aware, the government have recently indicated that they would like Y10 and Y12 students to receive some face-face teaching during the second half of the summer term. We are as keen as you are to have children back in school, and being educated, and are looking forward to returning to something resembling 'normal' as soon as possible.
We must however ensure that any return to school is safe for both students and staff. At the moment we are working with other schools, the local council and the Department for Education to help us plan how we can make the running of school safe and in line with public health guidance. We must also wait for the government to confirm the timescales for the return of pupils. At the moment the date of 1st June is indicative only, and is liable to be moved backward.
The guidance also makes it clear that students will not be coming back to a full timetable. Instead, they will continue to work largely at home, but if plans allow us to do so safely, they will have some sessions in school working with teachers to support that home learning.
At the moment there is no confirmed date for the return to school of Y10 and Y12 children to Notre Dame. We will let you know as soon as we are in a position to provide more information about Y10 and Y12 students being in school.
Other Year Groups
At the moment there has been no guidance from the DfE as to when it might be safe to open schools for other year groups. Again, as soon as we are in a position to share more information we will do so.
For now, it is reasonable to expect that students in Y7 to Y9 will continue with home learning through until the end of this academic year.
Our teachers are continuing to share good practice and learn from one another, both within school and from teachers elsewhere in the city and across the country. One of the things we are working on is increasing remote contact that teachers can have with students through systems such as Microsoft teams and through phone calls. We know how this can help to motivate the students and can help with their studies. This will still be a part of the way we support home learning, as teachers are having to balance planning for students in school and also considerations about the different barriers faced by different students to accessing this kind of support.
I also appreciate your understanding that it is not straightforward to provide support which is accessible to all, manageable for teachers working remotely and which maintains sensible professional boundaries. I would repeat points from previous Blogs that we are so impressed with the way that children have been responding to home learning and want to reassure you that each person can only do their best.
Key Worker Children
A further aspect of the government's recent announcement is that certain sectors of the economy are now being asked return to work if it is safe to do so and if it is not possible to work from home. This could mean for example that a 'key worker' who previously had a partner who was working from home now needs to send their child into school. It could also mean, for example, that a key worker who was until recently able to work from home is no longer able to do so.
We previously sent out a survey asking parents to identify whether they were a key worker and needed to send their child into school. We are currently contacting this group of parents by email on an approximately fortnightly basis to ascertain when their children need to be in school. Typically the total number of children in school on any day has varied between 3 and 10.
If you are not currently receiving these emails and feel that your circumstances have now changed in relation to the key worker criteria, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can include you in our fortnightly communications.
Please confirm in your communication to us that you are a key worker as defined here
In order to help us to maintain provision for the children of key workers and be in position to offer some face to face teaching for Y10 and Y12 students, while maintaining support for home learning, we ask you to help us by only sending your child(ren) into school if you would otherwise not be able to carry out your work.
We ask, therefore, that you do not send your child into school if:
• There is another adult who will be at home (including an adult working from home)
• You are confident that your child can remain at home safely unsupervised during any time you have to be at work
Of course if your child, or someone in your household is showing Covid like symptoms, your child(ren) should not come into school until either the period of self-isolation is over or your child has had a negative test result for Covid and is not displaying any symptoms.
We plan staffing in school based on the information we receive from you, so your child will only be able to come into school at those times that you have previously told us that we can expect them. We cannot accommodate children turning up 'unannounced'.
Thank you for your support and cooperation with us in this so far. We certainly appreciate the considerate way that parents have worked with us.
Mr Scriven our Designated Safeguarding lead has sent out a link to students in Y7-10 and Y12 by email and SMHWK. The link takes them to a short survey on their experience of lockdown so far.
Many students have already responded to this - if your child has not been able to yet or is unaware of it, could you please encourage them to follow the link and take part in the survey.
The survey will give us important feedback from the student perspective on their experience of lock down and will be invaluable information for us as a school to try to support your child better during lockdown and on their eventual return to school.
The survey is provided for us by Edukit who are completely GDPR compliant. The survey is completely anonymous and returns no personal data. It tells us information like 50% of students think ... etc.
The results provided also allow us to compare our children's perspective and experience of lockdown compared to other students in other schools taking part in the survey.
Finally please do not complete it on behalf of your child as it is important we hear the actual voice of our students. There have been previous surveys sent for parental feedback and we will continue to facilitate this as we move forwards as well as providing further opportunities for student voice.
Keeping young people and families active
Our PE department have been sending ideas to students about how they can be staying active during lockdown. You don’t need me to tell you how important that is for physical and mental health.
To further help with this, Sheffield City Council asked me to share with you the links below which take you to some videos designed to inspire and help young people and families to find ways to stay active.
#ThisIsPE series of videos, developed by the Yorkshire Sport Foundation, AfPE, Youth Sport Trust and Active Partnerships. These can be found: https://www.yorkshiresport.org/get-active/thisispe/
Activities developed by the team at Thornbridge Outdoors which will help parents get their children active outside. https://www.thornbridgeoutdoors.co.uk/news/
Sources of advice and guidance for families
Sheffield City Council have sent some contact details of organisations that may be of help to families who may be affected financially during this time.
Universal Credit Help to Claim Line: 0800 144 8444
Citizens Advice Bureau Advice Line: 03444 113 111
Each week we have been able to share a little of what students and other members of the community have been up to during lockdown, as a bit of good news.
This week, I draw your attention to some of the fabulous photography that students have been sending in. My thanks to Mr Nunn who has set up an online gallery to display this work, which can be found following this link;
I will leave you with prayers for you and all your families and loved ones.