Ken James Headmaster at Red House School

Dear Parents

As you’re aware, all schools have been instructed to close by the government, except to educate a few pupils in certain categories.  As has been the case thus far, Red House will fully comply with the guidance.  Below I have answered a few questions you may currently have.  No doubt I have not answered all your queries.  Please do get in touch if you have questions requiring answers.

How will the children access their work remotely?

– EYFS (Nursery & Reception)   Mr Barnbrook McKay will send work to parents each week for the children in the Nursery.  His daily email will direct parents to the relevant tasks for each day.  Miss Dring will email tasks on a daily basis for the children in Reception.

– Years 1–5   The pupils have received some study packs containing various resources and have been told to take their books home.  You will receive an email each day from your child’s class teacher directing you and the children to various tasks.  The class teacher will also confirm how they will provide feedback for you on your child’s progress.  The email will be sent to parental email addresses only and children should respond from these addresses too.  Children should not email from their personal email addresses.

– Years 6-10   The pupils have been introduced to Microsoft Teams.  This is an interactive platform with work uploaded for the children to complete.  There will be a variety of tasks, using various mediums and different ways of assessing the learning of the children.

Will the school be setting holiday work?   It is not our intention to set formal work for the three weeks over Easter.  However, there may be some extension tasks, for example projects, for the children to complete should they choose to do so.  However, I would stress the need for the children to relax over Easter and to be encouraged to differentiate between term time and holidays.

How can I receive support from the school?   All class teachers will be logged on between 9am and 4pm during ‘term time’ to answer queries from parents and the children.  Teachers will also be working in school some of the time and undertaking other tasks.  Our intention is for all emails/messages to be acknowledged within the hour, during the times above.

How can I get IT support from the school?   Should you have a query about Microsoft Teams, Mr Butterfield is on hand (graeme.butterfield@redhouseschool.co.uk).  I suspect he will be very busy initially so an immediate response will not always be possible.  Issues with respect to individual tasks should be directed to the teacher who has set the work.  It would be a good idea to print some tasks off so that you are not totally reliant on the internet.  I know some of you may not have printers at home.  Given the open ended nature of the closure, I suspect buying one might be a good idea at this stage.

Can the Internet cope?   You may find many thousands of pupils are logging on first thing Monday morning.  There may be teething difficulties but please bear with us as the various internet and software companies resolve issues.  I know, for example, that Microsoft increased the capacity of Microsoft Teams in response to thousands of adults working from home last week.

What is the role of the parent in remote learning?   Thank you for helping us to ensure the children get the very best out of this difficult situation.  Please do not worry or feel alone whilst helping your child. Our staff are here to support you in any way they can and I will always be available.  The teachers have taken great care to allocate activities that are interesting and which we hope will motivate your child to learn. As is the case in school, not every activity will appeal to every child and your gentle ‘encouragement’ may be necessary at times.

Please also continue to encourage the children to look after their physical and mental well-being.  Breaks should be taken between activities to avoid your child sitting for long periods of time and encourage the children to work off-line at times too.  In particular, screen time should be limited in the evenings.  We will also be posting mindfulness ideas and sports workouts.  We want to see fit, well-balanced children returning when we re-open.

We would encourage that you try to get the children into a routine, wherever possible.  Sometimes it might be helpful to give the children a start time to their day (9am?), build in a morning break, a lunch break and a definitive finish time for the day too.  Getting dressed (I think we can dispense with school uniform) in the morning is important too and some also recommend changing out of the ‘work clothes’ at the end of the day to help the children partition their day too.

Having a designated work space is also useful.  Some find it helpful to have this space not in their bedroom so that children differentiate between rest and work.  Set the scene for learning too, with mobiles and televisions turned off (unless they are being used for an educational purpose).

To ensure we follow best practice guidelines for safeguarding, any oral conversations staff have with children will be through the Microsoft Teams programme.  We ask that any child talking directly to a member of staff using the camera on their device is sat in a suitable, communal area, for example a dining room or study; live broadcasts from bedrooms are not appropriate.  It goes without saying that the children should be appropriately dressed, wearing clothes they would wear for a non-uniform day in school.

Perhaps this is also an opportunity for you to guide the children towards old school activities: baking, crafts and board games.  Perhaps the children could keep a diary; this is a once in a life time occurrence (we hope).  For the first time ever I am find myself recommending social media too.  The children may need to make use of it to stay in touch with their friends.

As parents you may feel isolated too.  Remember to keep in touch with each other and share your ‘teaching’ experiences.  WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups are an ideal way to do so.

What happens if my child is ill?   Please let their class teacher/tutor know so they can inform teachers.  This will ensure we do not chase the pupils for work.

How will my child receive feedback on work they complete?   Not every piece of work can be marked.  However, colleagues will be offering feedback on a number of tasks throughout our period ‘on the waves’.  It would be great if you could discuss this feedback with the children.  If children are not completing work which has been set, the class teacher (up to Year 5) or the tutor (Years 6-10) will be in touch.

Where should my child keep their work?   Children using Microsoft Teams can save their work in this package. Each channel has a Files section where you will find folders marked Pupil Work. They should save there.  Children not using Teams are encouraged to save work to subject files on their devices where applicable.  Work completed in hard form should also be kept safe.

Year 11   Today we said goodbye to Year 11.  Our impromptu assembly was an emotional affair and I was delighted the absent pupils in Year 11 joined us virtually.  Whilst we remain disappointed that these pupils will not be sitting their exams and impressing the examiners, I hope they will appreciate their learning will travel with them throughout life; it hasn’t just been about preparing for the exams.  Sadly, their prom is unlikely to happen so we are looking to move this event to later in the year when we will host a joint event with parents.  It will be a wonderful opportunity for all of us to celebrate the achievements of an impressive group of young people.

Grease   We have taken the difficult decision to postpone the production.  We look forward to providing the performance dates in due course.

Readathon   Local hospitals more than ever require the resources provided by this charity.  Please continue to encourage the children to read and collect their sponsorship money.  Mrs Fryer is happy to offer any guidance should you require it (colette.fryer@redhouseschool.co.uk).

School for the Children of Key Workers/Vulnerable Children   We very much look forward to welcoming the children of key workers/vulnerable children over the coming weeks (this includes throughout the Easter period).  We will be opening both sides of the pond although only the office in the Senior School will be permanently staffed.  Booking forms will be sent out on a weekly basis to those who have been in touch to give you time to check rotas.  We know the situation continues to evolve; please keep in touch and we will remain as flexible as possible.

Holiday Club   I await further guidance as to whether we are allowed to be open for parents other than those in the category above.  Currently, we are at capacity (using the government’s guide of 10% of the school population) just taking into account the children of key workers/vulnerable children.  Therefore, I suspect we will be unable to look after children not in the category above.  I am so sorry that this is the case – I wish to help you all in the current circumstances – and I will let you know if this changes.

Collecting Essential Items   The children may not have collected everything they need.  School will be staffed with a skeleton staff throughout the period of closure and, therefore, forgotten items can be collected.  Please call the school number in advance to so we can limit the numbers of visitors at one time.  In exceptional circumstances, for essential items only such as inhalers and Epipens, we may be able to drop items off at households in isolation.

Thank you   I would like to thank you all for your continued support, encouragement and good wishes.  We will continue to strive to be the best we can be during this difficult time.  This is very new to us all but the staff are determined to make a success of the next few weeks.  I hope the pupils embrace our new learning environment and develop resilience during the challenges ahead.  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our parents who are key workers: this is the time we really come to value the brilliant work you are doing.

I will be available throughout our enforced closure and look forward to answering any queries you might have.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch.

With best wishes

Ken James

Headmaster

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