31st May in School
31st May 2020
Dear Parent / Carer
I hope my letter finds you and your loved ones safe and well.
As always my thanks to all our staff and community partners involved in supporting the children in the Hubs; in delivering free school meals; in preparing the food boxes, of which there were over 1200 parcels delivered this week – what a fantastic achievement; and of course in delivering learning opportunities to our children online.
The focus for schools since the announcement that our doors were to be closed has been to both keep our community safe through staying at home and by providing pastoral support through our Guidance teams; whilst providing learning opportunities online to keep our youngsters mentally active and prepared for a return to school. Running parallel to this, our staff have been continuing to learn new IT and teaching skills to allow us to deliver more varied and improved learning opportunities online. This has been, and will continue to be crucial as we move into the recovery stages noted by the First Minister last week and we provide a “blended approach” to learning on our return to school in August.
Scottish Government update
Last week I provided the Scottish Government guidance on recovery and the implications for schools. Copies of everything are on the website: http://www.obanhigh.argyll-bute.sch.uk/
You can now find the more detailed Scottish Government documents around our return to school here https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-re-opening-schools-guide/
There are a wealth of documents published within the above link that are very helpful to staff, pupils and parents. These links will give you a knowledge about the instructions to Local Authorities and schools, helpful guides on staying mentally and physically well during this difficult time and responses to frequently asked questions. As I am aware not everyone likes reading lots of documents but still naturally wishes to know what’s going on, I have made a wee video answering the FAQs and placed it on our YouTube channel and Facebook page. Like the letters, the video is sub-divided so you can scroll through the sections that interest you.
You can view the video here https://youtu.be/IvFwkwzLO3U
In summary. We continue to plan towards welcoming back all our children in August. They will need to return in a phased manner where we have some pupils in school and some learning from home using Google Classroom. This is referred to by the Government as a “blended approach”. Our planning with our Local Authority and community partners is quite advanced but we still need more time to fine tune our provision. I will keep you informed as aspects of our planning are agreed between all the agencies involved.
Online learning continues to be fairly successful and is improving in the amount and quality of content as we all, staff and pupils, get better at using this new way of learning and teaching. I would remind everyone that this method of learning is still new to us all and that we are all trying to learn and teach whilst trying to work in home environments where there is competing demands on our time; and our devices. Teachers, parents and pupils should to be mindful of the stresses each face in trying to work and learn from home. We must continue to be realistic around our expectations and be flexible in how we achieve our weekly goals.
We expect school staff to provide learning opportunities and/or pastoral support for all pupils across the week, we expect pupils to engage with those opportunities and we expect parents to support the pupils to engage. Although engagement with school is essential, this can be done at any time that is convenient for parents, pupils and school staff throughout the week. This flexibility will ensure families have time to spend with each other as they feel appropriate, that devices can be shared across family members and that school staff can try and provide these learning opportunities whilst facing the same family – work demands our parents face each day.
I noted last week that we have a new survey to evaluate our support to everyone; staff, pupils and parents. This survey closes on Wednesday 3rd June. Please find time to complete it if you can.
Transition of P7 to S1
I would encourage all our new S1s to keep logging onto the Google Transition class where you will find new posts and warm up lessons posted every Friday. This week, there were some English and Maths videos posted. Remember, you should feel free to do these but only if you wish to. You may still have Primary work online to get through too.
As not all children have joined the Google Classroom yet, a reminder of what to do when you do help your child sign in. The new S1 (P7s) Google Classroom code is uv247l6. Please note that what looks like a 1 in the code is a small letter L. (Uniform, Victor 2 4 7 Lima 6)
Just log into Glow, then into Google Classroom, click the plus button and add this code. If you do not have a Glow Login or password, please contact your Primary school.
I have discussed with Fran Bichard, plans for our children’s return to our school hostel. We are able to accommodate our children in the school hostel so that they will access the school’s “blended approach” in August. Fran will be in touch after we confirm the timetable changes necessary to return to school as soon as possible. We of course are following the Scottish Government guide which you can read here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-re-opening-schools-guide/pages/residential-boarding-and-hostel-accommodation/
This site includes learning activities for parents and carers to support children with learning at home; hints and tips for helping children who need additional support; advice for parents and carers on social media; and Information and advice to support children making transitions Creativity challenge.
Learning on line safely and sensibly: https://wellbeing.google/families/
Mental health and wellbeing week
All secondary age children are being sent a guide to looking after their wellbeing in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The leaflet is available here https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/sites/default/files/yp_mh_flyer_22.5.20.pdf. This ties in with mental health awareness week from 18th May. This guide offers advice and tips on maintaining good mental health, and directs them to freely available resources to support their emotional wellbeing and mental health. If you’re looking for information to help you talk to your child about coronavirus you may also find these links and resources helpful: https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/sites/default/files/coronavirus_response_resources_.pdf
If you are having ongoing concerns about your child you may wish to consider contacting the Argyll and Bute parent and carer support line please see https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/education-and-learning/educational-psychology for more details.
Remember, if there is anything at all you wish to ask us about, or require support with anything, please contact us at:
Stay home, stay online, stay safe, stay learning.
P A Bain
Executive Head Teacher
Oban High School, Tiree High School & Tiree Primary School