COVID 19: supporting learning and development during the lockdown
As parents settle into new ways of working, learning and just being, I thought you might appreciate some guidance on how you can support home learning for your children at this unusual and difficult time.
Guidance to create a positive home learning environment
Be realistic about what you can do! You’re not expected to become teachers and your children aren’t expected to learn in the same way as they do in school. Simply providing your children with some structure at home will help them to adapt. Use the tips below to help you make this work for your household.
- Share the load if there are two parents at home. Split the day into 2-3 hour slots and take turns so you can do your own work.
- Take care of your own health and wellbeing. Take a look at the links at the end of this newsletter for some advice on mental health and wellbeing.
- Keep to a timetable wherever possible – create and stick to a routine if you can. This is what children are used to. For example, eat breakfast at the same time and make sure they’re dressed before starting the ‘school’ day – avoid staying in pyjamas! Stick the timetable up on the wall so everyone knows what they should be doing when, and tick activities off throughout the day
- Involve your children in setting the timetable where possible. It’s a great opportunity for them to manage their own time better and it’ll give them ownership
- Check in with your children and try to keep to the timetable, but be flexible. If a task/activity is going well or they want more time, let it extend where possible. If they are finding a task challenging or frustrating they can email or ask their teacher a question in teams, leave the task and come back to it later.
- If you have more than one child at home, consider combining their timetables. For example, they might exercise and do maths together – see what works for your household
- Designate a working space if possible, and at the end of the day have a clear cut-off to signal school time is over
- Distinguish between weekdays and weekends and holidays, to separate school life and home life. At weekends and in the holidays make time for other family activities as well as giving children their own time and space.
Free Learning opportunities (in addition to what Avanti is providing)
You may have seen that many social media feeds are periodically sharing activities and free learning opportunities, some of which are listed below.
Oak National Academy
This is a new collection of high-quality lessons and online resources. Backed by the Government, it has been created in response to the coronavirus lockdown. The online classroom offers free access to great teachers, delivering video lessons, quizzes and worksheets. Available for both primary and secondary levels, it covers a range of subjects. All of the lessons are ordered so your child can learn along a clear plan.
Daily lessons are here! The BBC has at least three new lessons every weekday, with videos, activities and more.
The National Theatre
The National Theatre is streaming full lengths plays for free every Thursday, these are available for 7 days following too: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/
The Royal Shakespeare Company
The Royal Shakespeare Company has released a wide range of resources, videos and access to live performances on their website. https://www.rsc.org.uk/news/watch-rsc-shows-from-home
Keeping healthy and keeping in touch
You may find the parents’ guide to coping with school closures helpful – see link below. This website provides helpful tips and advice for parents to support their children academically as well as look after their physical and mental health.
For guidance on supporting your own mental health and that of your children the ‘Mind’ has a useful section on its website about the coronavirus and your wellbeing:
While schools are closed, staff remain available to support and provide advice and guidance for all our students. Please do remember you can get in touch if you need to. Your first port of call should be an email to your child’s tutor or subject teacher.
I hope all our families are managing to stay safe and well, while keeping up to date and following the advice on how to limit the spread of COVID-19.
AST Education Director
We are concerned about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on pupils currently eligible for benefits-related free school meals given the fact that schools will from Monday March 23 be closed to pupils unless they are the children of critical key workers. We know that the government is seeking to put plans in place to ensure that families eligible for FSM will receive additional payments during the closure period but we recognise that this may take some time. As an interim measure we intend to make a one-off payment of £3 per day for pupils to cover the final few weeks of the spring term 2020. Details of how this will work will be sent to parents by email today, March 20 2020.
DfE guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision during the COVID 19 pandemic
The government has now published guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision during the COVID-19 pandemic – see link below>
The guidance makes clear that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children but emphasises that the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society. Our schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
To help us plan for the provision and staffing that will be needed from Monday of next week (March 23 2020) we are asking parents to complete an online form that can will be sent to all parents today, March 202 2020.
In light of the decision by HM Government to close all schools from the end of the school day on Friday March 20 2020 we want to make clear that with effect from Monday March 23rd 2020:
- ALL children of key workers will continue to receive provision in all of Avanti’s schools;
- ALL vulnerable children (as defined by HM Government) will continue to receive provision in all of Avanti’s schools;
- ALL children on roll at an Avanti school will receive online provision and books;
- We will keep working to provide ALL of Avanti’s students the education they deserve.
What’s been happening in recent days has proven to be a testing time for us all. What I have witnessed in our schools this week and last has been hugely humbling. Avanti’s teachers and support staff are some of the most dedicated, loyal and humble public servants and in this present climate they are acting like the fourth emergency service. This is a difficult time for us all but also a period that is bringing out the very best in many of our pupils, staff and parents. I for one have nothing but admiration for how our staff are managing our schools and leading our communities.
If you can find the time please let them know how much you value and appreciate them, I know how much such messages of support mean to them.
Mike Ion FCCT
Avanti Schools Trust
We have all watched with concern as the incidence of COVID-19 steadily increases in the UK and around the world. As yet we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of Avanti’s schools but we anticipate this could well change in the coming days and weeks. We are keeping a close eye on the situation nationally, regionally and locally and we are in regular contact with school principals and other senior leaders.
If an individual school should need to close, we have detailed plans as to how this will be managed and how we will communicate with parents and other stakeholders. Should central government decide to close all schools nationally we anticipate we will have several days to implement a formal closure plan and establish learning platforms for students, details of which we will send to you separately should schools need to close.
We also recognise that this is an anxious time for parents/carers and that you may continue to have questions and queries about what closure might mean, about decisions that need to be taken to keep pupils and staff safe and healthy. We will provide what answers we can via a dedicated page on our website that will be frequently updated but if you have specific queries please direct them to the principal of your child’s school in the first instance.
We are in unprecedented circumstances where the need for compassion and understanding has rarely been more acute. We will continue to keep you updated and will always act in the best interests of the communities we are here to serve.
For your information, the links below provide the latest government and NHS guidance on COVID-19 that you might find useful:
Nitesh and Mike
Nitesh Gor OBE AST CEO Mike Ion AST Education Director
We would like to reassure parents that each school in the Trust is frequently updating information to be shared with parents and staff – via email or via statements on the schools’ websites – about the ongoing international Coronavirus situation. We are actively following and using the latest advice from Public Health England (PHE), local Public Health Teams and the Department of Health and Social Care. Parents can be assured that:
- Avanti Schools Trust default status is that each school will remain open unless stated otherwise via parent email, websites and social media pages.
- School principals are risk assessing on a regular, often daily basis and are in frequent contact with local Public Health Teams.
- We will keep you updated with all of the necessary information as and when it becomes available on the designated page of our website and update parents via email should there be a significant change in advice issued.
- We will keep this page updated with current information about what we are doing to keep everyone healthy. We will also post other helpful information.
Questions and answers for parents
What is the situation across Avanti’s schools at the moment?
Everything is running normally across all of our schools but we have made a number of small sensible changes to keep everyone healthy.
- We’re emphasising to all staff and students the need for regular thorough hand-washing throughout the day and if available via the use of hand sanitisers.
- We are asking all visitors, staff and students to wash or gel their hands when coming on-site.
- Decisions on whether scheduled school trips will go ahead as planned are under constant review and will be informed by advice from local Public Health Teams and the school’s own risk assessments.
- Organised swimming lessons will continue unless advised not to by local Public Health Teams or informed by the school’s own risk assessment.
How can I help protect my child?
Follow the public health advice. The NHS has an excellent page here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/common-questions/. Hand hygiene remains the most effective measure. That means washing your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds and whenever you:
- get home or into work
- blow your nose, sneeze or cough
- eat or handle food
- It’s important to use soap and water or a hand sanitiser.
What do I do if my child is a little unwell?
Carry on as normal – if you would normally send them school, please do so.
If I think my child or someone else in my home may have contracted coronavirus, what do I do?
Call NHS 111 or use the service’s simple new online service https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 that will advise you what to do. Let the school know if 111 says that you should take action.
Are you thinking of closing any schools?
The Department for Education is very clear that no school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.
Will you tell us if a child or member of staff has confirmed Coronavirus at any of our schools?
Yes, of course.
What happens if there is a confirmed case within an Avanti school?
The school principal will immediately contact Public Health England and the Local Public Health Team and then share their advice with parents. If the school is then declared not fit for the purpose of education the local Public Health Team will mobilise and lead the response onsite coordinating with the school via the principal.
Where is the best place to get information or advice about Coronavirus?
The government has several very good regularly updated sites:
- www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public – the best starting point
- www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/common-questions/ – health advice from the NHS
- https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus – advice about travel