Headteacher’s Newsletter April 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians

I hope you and your family are all safe and well and that you are finding ways to adapt to the new and extraordinary situation in which we all find ourselves.A lot has happened! We hope that your child is now a well-supported pupil of a new ‘virtual school’ – our aim is to keep everyone learning until the time comes for us to re-convene. Setting up this new school has been a challenge and we know that we have made mistakes along the way. We are aware that there have been technical difficulties but we hope that these are steadily decreasing. We are also aware that our expectations of how much pupils should be doing and what support they (and you) will need have taken a while to settle at the correct level. Thank you for your patience with this.
One of our challenges is to try to meet the needs of every pupil in every household without seeing and hearing from the pupils each day – as you can imagine, every family is different and so is the level of supervision and support that each parent can provide. We don’t want pupils to be idle, or bored, or to stop making progress; on the other hand, we definitely don’t want them to feel overwhelmed or stressed.

As such, the best single piece of advice remains that they should be studying for about five hours each school day – not much more and not much less. As Mr Jeckells said in his last message:

If pupils have spent an hour (ie a lesson) on each of the subjects they would have on any one day but have not finished the work set, then that is fine! We want our children to keep learning and developing but we are aware that this is a challenging time for everyone and we do not want to cause unnecessary additional pressure within families. If you feel that your child is genuinely doing all that can reasonably be expected of them but struggling to complete tasks, do let us know and we will inform their teachers.
I am particularly grateful to Mr Jeckells, who has kindly taken on the task of getting the online learning set up.

He writes:

Dear Parents
I want to thank you for your continued support of your child’s education at these challenging times.
I really appreciate the numerous positive messages we have been receiving about the learning activities that we have been setting and also the way that parents have clearly been trying really hard to juggle their own commitments with those of their children in their homes!
I absolutely appreciate that there have also been some teething issues at our end, however, as we have moved into this strange new world and rest assured that we are trying to resolve these as quickly as we possibly can. We remain committed to providing our pupils with the best learning experience that we
can in the current circumstances and we have tried (and continue to try) to respond to as much of the feedback that we are receiving as possible.
So that you are aware of our key messages to teachers at Kings’ moving forward, post-Easter, I thought it would be helpful to share some of these with you.

1. Teachers have been asked to title each task set on Show My Homework in the following way: Date, Lesson, Subject, Teacher – so for example…Weds 25th March p1 English Mrs Payne.

2. In order to prevent work appearing on SMH later than we want it to, we have asked that for each lesson, the due and hand in date is the same – i.e. the date of the actual lesson.

3. Currently, staff have been asked not set to homework for pupils on top of their work for their timetabled lesson on any day. We will review this for Year 10 pupils in the near future as it is important that they do not fall behind with their GCSE studies.

4. I am suggesting that for all 4 years, staff could consider setting a Core Activity that we expect all pupils to complete and an Additional Activity that pupils can complete – but only if they have time within the allocated hour. The next lesson would be based only on an expectation that pupils have completed the Core element. I have asked colleagues to keep instructions very simple and to remember that they are not there to explain the tasks to the children themselves.

5. Colleagues have been asked not to follow up on missing school work from before the holidays for pupils in Years 7 to 9. We have decided that for our lower school year groups, we need to ‘wipe the slate clean’. Staff have also been asked only to follow up with pupils and parents where much / most of the work is missing.

6. Teachers have been asked to give pupils feedback via Show My Homework on a fortnightly basis and to make this as positive as possible. I hope that sharing this information with you is helpful. As always with new things, it may take us a while to move to this position but this is the direction of travel in which we are hoping to head after the holidays.

Please accept my best wishes for the forthcoming Easter vacation, which clearly will be very different to usual, and also please note that there is no requirement for pupils to complete school work on Friday 3 April as this was scheduled to be one of our staff INSET Days.
I hope you stay safe and well – thanks once again for your support.
Wish best wishes
Mr R Jeckells
Deputy Headteacher
Kings’ School

Keeping fit
I hope you may already know about the Kings’ PE YouTube page. It’s great! There is a real variety of different sporting challenges and some simple exercise routines for us all to follow. There is also the amazing Keepy Up Challenge – it really is worth a look. It is here:

IT access
We think every pupil needs internet access at home using a device larger than a phone. We have lent nearly 40 laptops out to families that we knew needed them; we have also helped a smaller number of families with wifi access. We hope that everyone is covered, but we might have missed someone. If you son/daughter cannot easily access the online learning on Show My Homework, please email me and we will see if we can help.

IT safety
I have attached some recent advice on staying safe online. We are aware that pupils will be using the internet even more than they usually do (sorry) and so it is doubly important that they and you are aware both of the dangers this can present and of sensible steps one can take to stay safe.
These websites are useful too:

Support from CAMHS
We are very grateful for the support we get from our colleagues at CAMHS (the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). They have updated their website and it includes some very sensible ‘top tips’ for all young people and also some ‘signposting’ to other helpful websites.

On-site pastoral care
During term time, there is always an experienced and trained member of the pastoral or welfare teams on site. They are available to help any pupil who is struggling with their school work or the wider pressures of the lockdown. While they are not trained counsellors, they do have contact details for a variety of support agencies; they are also wise and kind people, who want to help. If any parent or child wishes to speak with the member of the pastoral team on duty on any given day, they can be contacted via the main school telephone number, or in a genuine emergency, by coming to school reception.

Additional places to find what you need to support your child
I know that many of you are putting a lot of time and energy into supporting your children’s learning. Some of what they are learning is very familiar to you; other parts less so. I am grateful to our SEND team who have found these links, which are specifically aimed at parents:

Year 11 pupil and exams
I am afraid we do not have more details on how Year 11 pupils will eventually receive exam grades – we will of course let you know when we do.

Key workers, pupils eligible for Free School Meals and pupils with Education and Health Care Plans
As you know, we have been providing childcare for children in these three groups – on average about 15 pupils have been coming in each day. This provision will continue throughout the Easter holidays.
If you think your child is eligible and you would like them to benefit from this offer, please do get in touch – we know that families’ circumstances will continue to change. They will be very welcome but it is ESSENTIAL that you contact us in advance so we know they will be coming in.
Pupils who are eligible for free school meals are welcome to come in just for lunch but, again, we need to know they are coming.

Mr Clarke writes:
Hampshire Music Service are in the process of developing a range of resources to support students receiving instrumental tuition from HMS in their learning at home. It is hoped that details of this extensive range of provision will be available next week (w/b Monday 6th April). Full instructions about how parents and pupils access the site will be communicated as soon as we have it from Hampshire Music Service, with a link for parents to use.

Mrs Lee writes:
We are very disappointed to have had to postpone our 2020 Whole School Production of ‘Les Miserables’…but fear not…there will be ‘One Day More!!’
We are delighted to announce that Music Theatre International have continued to grant us the licence to perform the production in 2021. If your child still has their script, please do tell them to keep hold of it, as rehearsals will recommence when we return to school.
Thank you and stay safe, Mrs Lee and the Drama & Music departments.

7 Habits
We know that many families have found the 7 Habits helpful. Mrs Gittins has kindly provided an update.
Mrs Gittins writes:
To quote Dr Stephen Covey (author of the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’) “The Habits are most effective when they are used to solve a problem.” Right now, many of us are trying to overcome all
kinds of new and unforeseen problems on a daily basis. Here are some top tips from 2 particular Habits that your children will have learnt about, that may help them and YOU in this challenging time.

Habit 1: Be proactive
Three things to practise:
1) Try to press the pause button and take a breath or a time out when a situation or a person is making you want to explode. Use that space to choose a response that will bring about the best result for all.
2) Be aware of what the words we use – try and use positive language …I can, I am able to, I will find a way. NOT I can’t!
3) Try to focus your time and energy on all the things that are within your circle of influence. (This is really important at the moment as so many things are totally out of our control)

Habit 4: Think WIN WIN
This one is priceless at this time. For example, many parents will feel like they have been going into battle every day keeping their teenager on task and focused on school work. Try sitting down with your teenager and asking them what their WINS would be in this home schooling situation. Perhaps, once they feel truly listened too, you will find they are far more willing to listen to what your WINS would be. Draw up a WIN WIN agreement and sign it! To give you an example, one of my son’s Wins was for me to stop checking on him every five minutes and for me to trust him. My Win was for him to come up with some kind of firm plan and stick to it, so that I could relax, trust him and be able to get on with my work.
If you are interested in more information on what the 7 Habits are and how they might help your family, then please do visit our Parent guide on our School website and also visit Leaderinme.org where you will find many FREE resources suitable for 4 – 18 year olds as well as parents! When you hit the home page, scroll down to find bite size lessons, cartoons for little ones, videos for teenagers and as well as a variety of activities and articles.
This is the link to the actual full families’ guide to the 7 Habits. It is FREE!

I, too, hope that you and your family will all remain safe and well and that you will be able to make something of the Easter holidays. It has been a very strange time for us all. I will leave you with this quote, which I have always liked.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
(Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971)

Yours faithfully
Matthew Leeming

Useful links


Information and Online Resources

Things to do in the Easter Holidays