Dear Parents and Caregivers
It is very strange in school at the moment!
We currently have just under one-quarter (23%) of the school population accessing in school provision (at different times throughout the week) with 87% working from home either via Google classroom (69%) or paper copies (18%). We currently have 1.5% of the school population who are not accessing any school provision. We are working with these families to resolve this.
You can see that the numbers don’t quite add up. This is because we have some families who are accessing both in school provision and Google classroom, or Google classroom and paper copies. Some are accessing all three! This is an increasing workload for all involved, especially with the preparation and distribution involved with paper copies weekly.
It also means that the marking of work has increased. Children who are attending in-school provision can ask questions and get immediate responses from the adult and they can be provided with verbal feedback. Online learning is harder. If children don’t understand a question, they will often email/ add a comment to the work. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to help immediately, especially if we are in class at the time. Children who are receiving paperpacks are starting to return their completed work when they pick up the next pack. Teachers will not mark this work and return it (it seems silly to pass paperwork back and forth more than we need to in the middle of a pandemic!). They will read it and make a response via Class Dojo to the parent. This cannot be in-depth marking and feedback – more an acknowledgment and thank you for doing the work, with a few pointers for development. We hope that you all understand the challenges involved in a blended learning approach!
Due to the numbers involved needing in school provision, teachers and support staff are in school, not every day as we have moved to a rota system where possible, but a large part of the week teaching the children in the class. In addition to this in the time when they are not class-based and, more often than not in their own time, they are setting and commenting on work in google classroom, trying to reply to requests for help on google classroom, responding to parents questions on Dojo and distributing and providing feedback on paper copies of work when it is handed in.
This is our job and we will do it to the very best of our ability, despite what is often said about teachers in the media, but please bear this in mind when you try to communicate either via Dojo or Google classroom – the response cannot always be immediate. We will always try to reply to each and every query (within reason) as soon as possible. On this note, every time a child comments on Google classroom or sends a “hello” message to their class, the teacher receives a notification. They then need to sift through the notifications to find the questions/ queries to respond to. Please could you help by monitoring your child’s contributions? Thank you- this will be hugely appreciated by all!
The teachers and support staff are also trying to do their weekly check-in and check out video call with as many children as possible. We do not have the capacity to phone and check-in with every child daily so if your child can join the weekly check-ins, it would be appreciated. They could do this on a mobile device. It is harder to do the classwork on mobiles but the video call could be done fairly easily. Please see the note below, if you would like us to apply for a free data increase on your behalf.
Alongside this provision, Mrs Bartlett and Andy Leafe will continue to do their check-ins and home visits.
As we stated last week, if you do have any concerns about the remote learning we are providing, please talk to us first. There has been much in the press and on social media sites about reporting schools to Ofsted where there are concerns about provision. We would hope that our families would talk to us first.
Take care, everyone, and stay safe,
Tracy and Mike
Communications – a reminder
Our weekly newsletters will be very different from previous ones. We will update you each week on any new developments. Please make sure you read the newsletter. If you know of anyone who can’t access it, please share it with them. This is our only way of communicating with all parents and caregivers.
We will add links to any message posted on the website during the week. It should be your first port of call for whole school matters.
Class Dojo and Google classroom should be your first port of call for all classroom matters.
General questions about whole school queries can either be posted on the Facebook page or you can call the school office. If it is a matter of urgency, please call. Facebook messages may get missed.
Any safeguarding concerns should be directed to the Designated Safeguarding Lead, Mike Lawrence. The contact number for out of school hours is on the front of the website. During school hours please use the school number, 01458 442979. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time. Please remember that if you believe a child is at risk of significant harm you should telephone 999. If you are unable to contact anyone from the school the telephone number for Somerset Direct, where you may share any concerns, is 0300 123 2224
Website posts you may have missed:
An older post but a useful reminder of different contacts: Parent Health and well being
Remote access – a reminder
Our twenty Chromebooks should be in school next week. If you are eligible, you will be contacted by the school during the following week. You will need to sign a user agreement for the duration of the loan and collect the laptop from the school. If we contact you and you do not need it, please say so – it can then be loaned to another family in greater need. Thank you for your support in this.
We have also been able to apply for the Government laptops. We now need to be patient and wait for them to arrive. We were able to apply for thirty-nine so, with our own twenty, we should be able to help out many families. Priority will be given to those families who have no access to the internet/ google classroom at all. Please be patient. We will contact you to discuss your needs and access etc.
Although not as ideal, you can also access Google classroom on an X-Box or Playstation. It is easier if you have a plug-in keyboard but children may be able to use the controller more easily as they are used to it. Try it out:
Increase to data allowance – deadline reminder
We are also able, as a school, to apply for increased data allowances for families who would benefit from it. More information can be found here:
If you would like the school to apply on your behalf, please complete the application form here before the end of the day on Sunday 17th January and we will submit the applications on Monday 18th.
Other options available:
We are also keeping a close eye on the BBC Make a Difference campaign. If you do have any surplus laptops, tablets etc and you are happy to donate them to a family in need, please get in touch either with the BBC or with us directly. Thank you.
Thank you to the parents who have already sent in donations – we will get these out to families in need as soon as possible.
Additional ideas for home learning
The Sports Project, a non-profit community interest company, has set up a variety of fun and challenging online sport and physical activity after-school clubs. Starting 11th January, these will help with the children’s physical and mental well-being during lockdown.
Click on the link below for more information and to sign up.
Parents/carers or older siblings can join in for free!
Joe Wicks is also doing his morning workout online on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
A walk is free and also does the job!
Who’s managing to get their daily exercise in during these crazy times?
Remember daily exercise can really help with your mental health and believe it or not but it will also make you happy
The ESA have set a mission for all families. Who fancies a walk from Lands End to John O’Groats? It’s an amazing 2,299,172 steps!
Details are attached below. Just download the App, fill in your email address and a password which suits you, click on the menu button and click on groups stroll down and you’ll see the ESA group. The details are very easy to follow once you’ve done your walk – just add your steps to the group.
This isn’t a race nor is it a challenge to see who can achieve the most steps. It is a free activity so let’s see as a group how far we can get. Please follow and remember the government’s guidelines for exercise and social distancing.
Alternatively, Capoeira is for anyone interested in martial arts, music, acrobatics and dance. Have a look: https://www.capocoms.co.uk/ – the first session is free!
For those families who are unable, at this point, to access online provision, the BBC is also providing daily televised lessons from 9 am. The BBC is bringing together BBC Two, CBBC, BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and online services to deliver a new education offer to children, teachers and parents that is designed to ensure all children can access curriculum-based learning even if they don’t have access to the internet.
The latter is an issue for some families but in a first-of-its-kind agreement to support such accessibility, the BT and BBC deal will see customers of EE, BT Mobile and PlusNet Mobile accessing BBC Bitesize for educational purposes will be able to watch, read and interact with as much immersive content as they need, even if they have run out of data. To make the process as easy as possible for families, no registration will be required, with zero-rated access to educational Bitesize content through the BBC website and Bitesize app made automatically.
These articles give you more information:
FSM hampers – update
Just a reminder that all food hampers need to be collected weekly on Mondays. The hampers are delivered here between 11.00 and 11.30. We are happy for families to collect the hampers between 11 am and 12 pm or at the end of the day 3.00- 3.30 pm but we do not have the staffing capacity to allow for collections outside of these hours. We do not have the capacity during this lockdown to deliver all the hampers.
Luckily, we have some very lovely parents and carers who have said that they could help out if needed. Thank you, you know who you are! If you will genuinely struggle to collect the hamper on Monday, please contact the school and we will be able to put you in touch with someone who may be able to help.
If you are collecting, we would suggest you bring a strong shopping bag with you when you collect as it will definitely make it easier to carry.
ALL HAMPERS MUST BE COLLECTED ON THE MONDAY OR TUESDAY MORNING AT THE LATEST. WE DO NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO STORE THE FRESH PRODUCE FOR LONGER THAN THIS.
Okehampton, Hestercombe and hot lunch refunds
Unfortunately, we have had to make the decision to cancel the Okehampton and Hestercombe residentials this year. There are simply too many unknowns and we feel strongly that parents and caregivers would appreciate any monies paid being returned.
Mrs Twitchen will action refunds as soon as possible but please be patient. It isn’t a straightforward process! We have been informed that it can take at least two weeks.
We wil also be refunding any lunch monies paid for hot dinners for the Spring term. Again, please be patient. We will get it to you as soon as possible.
Our WAP is currently only operating for children of key/critical workers, and only where absolutely necessary.
If you are using our WAP, please note the evening collection time is strictly 5 pm and failure to collect your child on time will result in an additional charge. All bookings are to be made on ParentPay the week prior to use.
As above, we are also in the process of refunding any payments made by families who are not able to use WAP at this time and who have already paid.
Gardening at Elmhurst
Mrs Chard and a team of willing children in year 5 have been out and about in the garden over the last two weeks. They will be doing this for the half term. You can read Mrs Chard’s blog and see some lovely photos here: Gardening at Elmhurst.
Photos for the website gallery
Please email photos (JPEGs) of any work completed through to me, Tracy Edwards at TEdwards1@ejsch.co.uk. Alternatively, if easier, you can send via Messenger. By sending them in, you agree to share them in the Elmhurst gallery on the website. Thank you in advance.