11th January 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope this message finds you all well. Following the recent Government decision not to reopen school buildings after the Christmas holidays, all school pupils will return to distance teaching and learning. School work for each class will be posted to the school website tomorrow 12th January.
Our approach to distance teaching and learning has been heavily influenced by our 2020 experiences and also feedback from parents on their experience of delivering it to their children. Some parents found that too much school work was set for pupils; others felt there was not enough; some indicated a preference for traditional book based learning whilst others were very keen to exploit technology for the advancement of their children’s learning. All of these opinions have been taken onboard and we have considered the difficulties some families have with broadband or access to devices – especially where there are a limited number of devices in a household with many people all in need of their use. With this in mind we have tried to take a moderate, ‘middle of the road’ approach that will meet everyone’s needs to some extent.
We will focus on the core subjects – English, Irish and Maths daily plus one SESE subject per week. This work will be structured by day and date outlining the English, Irish and Maths tasks to be completed that day. SESE subjects will be worked on over the course of a week. Some tasks we request that you photograph and return to us by email once completed. This will allow teachers to keep up to date with children’s progress and provide feedback to them. We hope that this approach will make the school work to be completed less daunting and easier for you to manage. We know that you cannot replicate the 5 hours of school time in your own homes and we do not expect you to. This approach, we hope, will enable the children to complete a few key learning tasks every day without it becoming too burdensome.
The school books were sent home with pupils on 22nd December to allow for more traditional book based learning which many of you expressed a preference for. Those of you who prefer digital learning are being catered for by tasks being set for your children on SeeSaw and Google Classoroom. The children have been practising using these tools since September but we will begin gradually with this digital approach to build up familiarity and confidence using it. Teachers of classes 3rd – 6th , will also be assigning tasks on www.managhigh.com – a digital maths learning platform with which teachers can monitor pupil engagement and progress. Further, teachers will also be preparing pre-recorded teaching lessons via Screencastomatic as they did in the previous lockdown. Links to these pre-recorded lessons will be in teachers’ plans. If your child cannot access the digital learning, please do not worry – the book based tasks will be enough. For additional work, apply traditional ways of teaching the time; tables; spellings; reading; cooking etc. – these are activities that are essential life skills and will never go to waste.
Children attending SET have been allocated into colour coded groups for additional/ more specific learning tasks and there will be a separate page on the school website for these tasks. No child’s name will be referred to on this page to protect their confidentiality. Parents with a child attending SET will be sent a message informing them of their child’s colour group either today or tomorrow. Again, we recognise that you cannot replicate the approach of our highly trained SET teachers in your own homes, so tasks will be designed to be manageable.
Some parents requested a guide as to how to structure the day. This is difficult to provide as the appropriate approach will vary greatly from home to home. Some families prefer to do all the school work in one sitting; others prefer two learning sessions with a short break of 15 minutes in between whilst other families are juggling the learning of several young children and work with one child at a time completing all tasks over the course of the day. My advice is to do what feels right for your family situation; try to build in some exercise during the day and tick off tasks as they are completed to give the children a sense of accomplishment (it also keeps them at the table if they can see that they have only one or two tasks left to do!).
Once again, I would say that you should try not to be too hard on yourself. Yes, keep the children’s learning going but some days will inevitably go better than others – try not to feel bad about that. We are all in an enormously stressful situation; working from home whilst educating children; running a household and managing ill health is no easy task.
The teachers are all making themselves available by email for one hour per day to receive completed schoolwork and/ or queries regarding learning. I am available also in my role as teacher and principal at the email address below and I will make myself available to receive phone calls later in the week – I will text you the day and time in the coming days. I will also communicate with you regularly via text message and notices to the school website titled “Message from the Principal”.
I would also like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to Mr Jonathan McKenna who is joining our teaching team at All Saints’ NS. Mr McKenna is teaching First Class during Mrs Murphy’s period of maternity leave.
I wish you all ongoing good health and will be in touch in the coming days.
Mrs Fiona Gallagher
Mrs Gallagher firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs Duffy email@example.com
Mrs McKenna firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs Shannon email@example.com
Mrs O’Connor firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Duffy email@example.com
Mr McKenna firstname.lastname@example.org