Dear parents / carers,
I hope you feel that our home learning offer is working for you.
At South Parade we have decided to put together a learning package that is flexible for as many families as possible. This, as I am sure you can imagine, is a challenge. Our school is larger than many primary schools and we have around 140 pupils still in school. We feel that all our pupils, irrespective of their family circumstances, deserve the best learning we can possibly provide.
Our teachers never went into teaching to do this job over a computer where their pupils are not sat in a classroom with them. Teaching is a two-way process where children question, listen and discuss tasks that we set them. Primary age teaching was never designed for young pupils to sit at a screen whilst the teacher teaches. We need our teachers in school for half of the week for our face-to-face teaching and then providing home learning too. A dual task which is really difficult. Our teachers are really working so hard supporting families with learning and also providing the teaching in school (and also home tutor their own children and care for loved ones). As usual at South Parade, we will adapt to this situation and make things work as best as possible to suit our families.
We decided to offer our learning package with a mix of tasks and activities for children. Some of this learning may be via Powerpoint, teacher tutorials, links to government learning websites etc. Whilst I am sure 'live lessons' may be great for some schools, particularly the older pupils, we have decided to not do daily live lessons as for young pupils/some families - particularly larger families, this does not offer the flexibility we need. Our teachers are also in school half of the week. Each family I am sure will have its 'ideal' for a home learning package but we must remember that schools are not classrooms - there are distractions all around; we need to safeguard pupils and staff and live learning makes this a real challenge; all children learn in different ways - lots of our pupils would struggle with a computer based learning approach where a teacher teachers and the child engages well; larger families may not have adequate technology or internet access; some pupils hate the feeling of being 'live' on a Zoom call or speak out if they are stuck - some adults find this intimidating too! In addition, we also have parents who struggle with technology, some parents are carers, some parents have toddlers and babies in the home with feeding patterns/sleep patterns - and the possible noise, some parents need the flexibility of lessons that can just be logged into at a convenient time. All these challenges make this a complex decision to find an approach where we want children to continue learning.
We have received lots of positive feedback about our bespoke class dojo system from our parents so we are confident that this home learning offer is working well for the majority of our families, offering the flexibility for many of our parents who are still working from home.
I hope these points help clarify some of our thoughts... we have asked teachers to do a weekly task to show their faces and possibly engage all pupils together during the week.
I can honestly promise you that our teachers are working harder than they ever have and a partial opening is so much more challenging than a full opening. We are exhausted but we are working hard for our families and to help combat this terrible situation that we find ourselves in. Please trust that we always look at an inclusive approach for all families and whilst this may not be everyone's preferred option it is hard to find an ideal.
Thank you once again for your continued support.