Welcome back to your learning. We hope you were able to find time to rest and relax at home over the Easter holiday and that, as well as exercising, you were able to take some virtual days out together.
It is a very unusual start to the new school term (Monday 20 April 2020). While there are just a handful of staff in school with a small group of pupils, it is reassuring to know that there is a lot of productive and creative activity going on at home in response to the tasks set in Show My Homework and, for pupils in Key Stage 4, in their first live lessons in Microsoft Teams.
I am very grateful to all of our teachers who have been on a very steep learning curve over the last four weeks. They have clearly demonstrated all that Deer Park stands for in terms of their resilience and resourcefulness. They have reflected on their practice and adapted our schemes of learning and resources so that they can be delivered remotely. It is important that all pupils engage in their assigned tasks across the curriculum and that they embrace the challenges in new and unfamiliar subject content and do not just choose what they perceive to be the easier options!
Everyone should aspire to be the best they can be and challenge themselves and each other to achieve more! I was impressed by the high levels of pupil engagement in learning using Show My Homework before Easter, and I trust we will continue to see this commitment as we all work together again this term.
Learning in a new environment and improving skills can relate to areas outside of the curriculum too, as demonstrated ably by our Year 7 juggler!
Starting in this first week of term, pupils in Year 10 are being invited to virtual lessons in MS Teams led by their teachers in real time. This will help them stay connected and will provide the opportunity for more direction regarding their current GCSE courses and feedback. Teachers will be able to explain key concepts and model the skills required. They will also encourage questions and discussion, as well as providing both challenge and support.
'Some of the teachers who have begun teaching in Teams have already reported back to me that they had a high turnout of pupils in their virtual classrooms. I'm so pleased to see pupils looking to work on their learning despite the current adversity. I think this demonstrates the resilience that many of our pupils have worked on in their learning over the past few years.' Liz Lang, Head of School.
I am also grateful to the support for individual pupils being provided in Show My Homework by our Teaching Assistants. This is helping them to continue to access our curriculum and progress in their learning.
We all share a determination to keep our pupils’ learning moving forward in all year groups. This will ensure that they all have the breadth of knowledge and depth of understanding required for further study when they return to school.
While there is a lot of speculation about when and how schools will re-open, we are already beginning to think about how we will manage our pupils’ return to school and we are working on a plan for what we have referred to previously as ‘Phase 4’ or Term 6 i.e. after the May Half Term. We appreciate this may be optimistic. In line with our established practice, we aim to roll our curriculum forward again in June this year, promote our year groups and start a new timetable. This always provides a fresh start and, with a significant break from formally being in school, we feel that this year, it will be even more important to reset our expectations and provide fresh impetus for learning.
However, our current focus is on providing some stability for our pupils and their learning and we are not yet in a position to respond to individual enquiries about our new timetable or pupils’ groups etc. More information about our plans for the return to school will follow in due course. We are also working with the local authority and other schools in The Corinium Education Trust to achieve a coordinated approach.