I hope you are all well. Teachers are continuing to make phone calls home and this will take a few weeks to get through everybody.
Apologies in advance for any 'typos' or missing words in the following as I am doing it on a tablet as my school laptop had a fight with the floor and lost ! (Now having a screen repair).
1. Support - thank you for the positive comments around the Hereford Times letter and for the people who responded, it is much appreciated. 'Todays news, tomorrows 'virtual' chip paper' but it does have an impact on community perceptions, potential new parents and people not associated with the school who are driving past (no - one has asked for an autograph yet though !). Also I feel it was a little unfair on the great majority of parents/carers who always show good awareness, care and 'flow and go.' We have not asked you to wear a mask and leave it to your own 'common sense' if you feel you need to, your time in and around school is very limited (less than 10 minutes and you are asked to keep moving as well as keep 2m apart, this lowers the risk of infection).
Madley is not immune to cases and we are doing all we can to minimise the risks, we can only hope that all parents/carers are too.
2. 'Flow and go' - the observations from the person driving by were a very limited picture but it does make you think ! Whilst the vast majority of our parents/carers do 'flow and go' we do have a few who block pavements, have chats and gather in groups out of sight of school. Please don't as it reflects poorly on the rest of us !
Observing parents/carers dropping and picking up is like watching the human Red Arrows as you negotiate space, cross pathways and stop/start to let people go ! Thank you for your awareness, care and understanding.
There are no 'rules' for face masks when picking up/dropping off as you should be 2m apart on school grounds (you have very limited access to the grounds anyway) and white dots mark the places to wait. We just ask you to exemplify the care, awareness and understanding that we ask of everyone, you have a responsibility to us, other parents/carers and the wider community.
3. Forest school feedback - every class has been to forest school for different lengths of time. Year R have been learning how to work as a team and exploring the site for the first time, Year 1 have been using their senses to explore, Year 2 and Year 3 have been enjoying a story walk around the bigger woods, Year 4 have been working on the music garden by making instruments, Year 5 have been building wilderness shelters and Year 6 enjoyed a writing session at dusk in the woods. Our children do not even realise that they are practising mindfulness and enhancing their mental health at forest school (that is because we see it as an embedded part of our culture not an 'add on' or 'flavour of the day.' )
Not many schools nationally have as many trained Level 3 Forest School leaders as we do (we have 12 !), this is a qualification that takes a great deal of time and effort from staff to complete and has a formal assessment process.
4. Story telling ideas - attached are some photos from Year 2s forest school experience this week. We observed a variety of trees as we went outside of the boundary and walked different paths at forest school. They found a cauldron, turtle tree, elephant foot tree and a cauldron ! They then constructed a story from their observations, an idea for walks at home as well.
5. Jewellery - the only jewellery allowed in school are plain, small stud earrings. You must provide micro tape to cover the earrings if your child cannot remove them for PE. Children are not allowed make up or nail varnish.
6. Self isolation learning - if you are self isolating then school will provide work on a daily basis. Teachers are obviously still teaching a class so it may take a day to get 'up and running' depending on when you let us know. Work will be e-mailed via Parent mail or posted on your work area of Seesaw, you can then post it back for comments etc.
7. Christmas and the Spring term
The announcements of being able to meet up to 3 families for 5 days will be good news for many, especially those who have had limited contact with others. It is a concern for school as it could result in cases or isolation if families do not abide by the 'rules' and guidance. It is not our place to tell you who to meet or what to do but we do need to raise awareness of your social responsibility and our concerns. We want everyone to enjoy Christmas safely.
Return to school is Wednesday January 6th which will give our school a 'firebreak' of a week from the 27th December.
Please be really mindful of what you do as we have staff who live with vulnerable adults and we are very mindful of what we do in order to keep your children safe.
8. Mental health awareness - everybody has anxiety of some sort (it is a normal human condition) and it is heightened in the current climate. Staff coming to school, children and adults being around other people, anxiety around family members they haven't seen etc - all of these can result in behaviour changes, mood swings and a raft of other issues (sleep patterns, eating, worries etc). Our aim is to keep school as calm, ordered and consistent as possible for everyone (children and adults) but children may have issues with their friendships, concentration and behaviour. Below are some ideas that may help:
Stories are good - reading, story telling and sharing books is good for children of any age. Books also give a good way into conversations and feelings. I will include some good resources for people to use. Books like Happy by Nicola Edwards is good for making children think positively.
Music - music is a good outlet. We have 3 classes learning instruments together through Encore while Mrs Blaker is teacher Year 2 the Ukele. Every class has music each week and we use music a lot for relaxation and mindfulness.
Walks and 'getting out' - we use forest school for a wide range of learning and give children ideas for things they could do at home as well. Awareness walks 'noticing' what is around you engages the children and allows beneficial time outside.
Idea - alphabet walk = in order spot or find things that begin with the letters of the alphabet in order.
Art and drawing - the attached photograph is a view of forest school using only found resources at forest school to create texture, perspective and form. Something you could do on a walk at home.
I have also attached a piece of photography from a child, taken by an 8 year old, documenting what they noticed. Again something they could do at home.
Exercise - PE in school is still really important and regular exercise keeps the brain and body engaged. We have maintained our 2 hours of PE and exercise as well as break/lunchtimes.
9. Lunches and manners - I know it has been on the news but we always insist on a high standard of manners regardless of where we are and the children display these whether in school or at forest school.We have special cutlery for Reception to assist with cutting food and independence when eating and our children eat from a plate (we don't use the trays with everything on one tray).
10. Ventilation - it is vital that we maintain good ventilation in every class at all times, whatever the weather ! Children and adults may need an extra layer underneath and we allow children to put their coats on and off sensibly.
Have a good last 'lockdown' weekend. News about Christmas parties, Christmas dinner etc for the children next week (there won't be any church celebration, whole school talent show, Christmas Fayre or some of our whole school events). We do have lots planned and we will 'make the best of it.'