Dear Plashet Parent/Guardian,
Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister make reference yesterday evening (Sunday 10th May 2020) to the government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy.
In relation to schools his exact word were:
In step two – at the earliest by June 1 – after half term – we believe we may be in a position to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year (Years 10 & Year 12) will get at least some time with their teachers before the summer holidays. And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools.
The Prime Minister’s reference was to the possibility of a partial re-opening of schools in June as part of Step 2 being conditional on the 5 tests being met fully as the rate of infection remains too high to allow the reopening of schools for all pupils yet.
This means that there is no change to the current arrangements – Plashet is only open for those vulnerable children and children of critical workers who can not safely remain at home. All students will continue to be set work lesson-by-lesson, as per their normal timetable, via Google Classroom.
Whilst we recognise that the current arrangements continue to provide challenges for you and your daughter rest assured that Plashet and the local authority are working on the detailed planning necessary for the kind of reopening outlined above if the country moves to Step 2.
Please also be assured that the most important consideration in this planning is the safety and wellbeing of Plashet students and staff.
You might have seen an article in the Newham Recorder on 27th April about a new initiative started by an Ilford resident to support non-English speakers access Covid-19 information. The website can be found here and has a wide range of languages on offer in written and video formats.
Covid-19 Update 01.05.20
We have now completed the second week of the Summer Term. It was very clear from the Prime Minister’s words during yesterday’s Downing Street briefing that lockdown will continue for the foreseeable future.
Staying safe online during the coronavirus outbreak
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has published new guidance on what you can do to stay safe online during the coronavirus outbreak. The guidance also has tailored advice for parents to keep their children safe online. This includes using parental controls to manage what children can access, switching on family filters to protect children from inappropriate content, and having conversations with children to encourage them to speak to a trusted adult if they come across anything online that makes them uncomfortable.
Up to date contact details
Now more than ever it’s really important that we have the most up to date contact details for parents and carers. If your home or mobile telephone numbers, or email has changed please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the new details, and name and form group of your daughter(s).
Students with SEND
The BBC have launched a fantastic Parents’ Toolkit to support families homeschooling young people with SEND. It covers wellbeing, activities and learning and top tips and advice. It is entitled Parents’ Toolkit: SEND BBC Bitesize and can be found here. I hope that it is useful for our families. The following resources may also be useful:
Common Sense Media: here
Keeping children safe
The NSPCC has created a number of resources to support parents and carers during this difficult time. Topics include:
Talking to a child worried about coronavirus
Parents working from home
Children staying home alone
Lockdown and separated parents
How to cope with tantrums and other difficult behaviour.
The advice can be found on the NSPCC website here.
As your daughter is not allowed to socialise in person with friends at the moment, you may find that she is spending more time on social media. Please see this helpful guide on how parents and carers can keep children safe when using social media here.
As ever, if you have any concerns about your child’s safety or wellbeing, or that of any other child, please email email@example.com.
My thanks to you all for supporting your daughter’s in their engagement with online learning and it is important that momentum with this is maintained. I would however like to remind all parents to be realistic in terms of what you can do at home. Please do not put too much pressure on yourselves to replicate school or worry unnecessarily about your daughter falling behind. Share your calmness, share your strength and share your laughter with your daughter. No girls are ahead. No girls are behind. Your daughter’s are exactly where they need to be – with you at home and safe.
Ramadan Mubarak to all our Muslim families.
I will be in touch next week with a further update, but until then stay safe and well.
Parent/Guardian FSM Update 27.04.20
Extension of free school meals eligibility
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Government is temporarily extending free school meals eligibility to include some groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF), including:
– children of Zambrano carers
– children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
– children of families receiving support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction.
These groups are also subject to a maximum household earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum.
The Government is also temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This group is not subject to any maximum household earnings threshold.
This extension is temporarily in place due to the current unique circumstances. It covers both children who are attending school and children who are at home.
Please click this link to Newham’s Free School Meals page where you can find the application form here.
Parent/Guardian Update 23.04.20
Today I have sent all student’s an email containing a link to our Student Wellbeing Classroom in Google Drive. I have added some further wellbeing resources that they may find of use and interest. Plashet has been part of an organisation called Partners in Excellence PiXL for many years and the group has designed resources for use across partner schools. One is ‘A Kindness Diary‘ that girls might like to do for the next 30 days. There is a Kindness Diary Guidance Booklet to read through as well as a Blank Kindness Diary Template formatted in Word to type into each day.
I think it is important to keep a focus on being kind and making this an intention. As Ramadan begins for many students this might add to a time when they focus their minds on spirituality.
As well as the Kindness Diary I have also put a ‘Coping with Change‘ booklet for students in the classroom to try and help them navigate through some of the feelings they might be experiencing. I have attached a version for parents/carers too as we all need reassurance. To support you I have also outlined responses to questions that might be circulating in your mind.Coping with Change Parent Pamphlet
When will schools reopen?
There has been a lot of speculation in the media over recent days about when schools may reopen. In response, the Secretary of State for Education detailed five tests that the country would need to meet before schools could get “back to normal”. These are:
First, we must protect the NHS’s ability to cope and be sure that it can continue to provide critical care and specialist treatment right across the whole of the UK.
Second, we need to see the daily death rates from coronavirus coming down.
Third, we need to have reliable data that shows the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels.
Fourth, we need to be confident that testing capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) are being managed, with supply able to meet not just today’s demand, but future demand.
Fifth, and perhaps most crucially, we need to be confident any changes we do make will not risk a second peak of infections.
Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, was clear that we can think about getting more children into schools again only when the country has met these five essential points. He committed to working with the education sector to consider how best to reopen schools when the time is right.
Our working assumption is that it will not be feasible for schools to reopen before the May Whitsun half term, and teachers are planning the curriculum on this basis. If the situation changes, I will, of course, let you know.
Whilst I fully appreciate how challenging this can be for all families, I implore you to do all you can to support your daughter in continuing to access education to the absolute best of your and her ability. Routine and a sense of purpose are going to be incredibly important over the coming months.
Please be aware that we cannot provide a ‘school away from school’. In the short term, your daughter needs to try her best and keep in contact with her teachers who will facilitate by providing resources and remote guidance. Please also be aware that it is a challenge to teach new content effectively remotely and therefore work set will be a combination of new learning, as well as provide opportunity to recap prior learning, develop skills and deepen students understanding.
Will my daughter be given feedback on her work?
It is unrealistic for all students to receive individual feedback on every single piece of work they complete. Where possible, during normal school hours, staff will be available to communicate with students and provide feedback and help on the work that they are being asked to complete. I am aware already that the vast majority of the girls have been in regular contact with their teachers.
What if school is closed for a very long period of time?
We firmly believe it is important that all students are supported and encouraged to keep up their studies but appreciate that this will become increasingly challenging the longer the period out of school is. The best way to maintain it in the medium to long term is to maintain a daily schedule so that this becomes your family’s ‘new normal’. Should the closure go on for months then we will be looking at how best to introduce more new content in a way that students can access it but this will take some time establish.
Assessments and Exams for Years 7, 8, 9 & 10
Don’t worry about your daughter’s assessments. Everything is on hold for now. Once we have a better picture of how and when we will be returning to school, we will work on rescheduling our Year 10 and Year 7 parents’ meetings as these have not been able to take place. The next internal school exams are likely to be in the autumn in November and December but we will plan for these at an appropriate time, and after the girls have had some guidance and support from their teachers.
As the month of Ramadan starts for many of you I wish you ‘Ramadan Mubarak’.
Mrs Rachel McGowan
We would like to highlight two possible sources of support for you and your family.
The first gives an outline of how to care for an unwell or injured child:2 covid19_advice_for_parents_when_child_unwell_or_injured_poster
The second is a recently launched website (please access it here) linked to supporting your mental health.
The government has extended the national lockdown and associated closure of schools for at least another three weeks.
I will continue to update parents via email at least weekly. All information emailed is also posted on the Covid-19 section of our website. Having the main school phone line open each day requires me to have a member of staff on-site and given the stringent lockdown this is not possible. Please do not phone school whilst the lockdown is in place. We continue to monitor all emails, including the main firstname.lastname@example.org so please do use that where possible.
Free School Meal Vouchers
Those parents of students in receipt of free school meals will know we are using the government’s Edenred evoucher system. This web portal is struggling badly with the volume of transactions it is required to handle and crashing constantly. We are frustrated with this national system. Our School Business Manager will continue to closely monitor the site and endeavour to search for our transactions and order a further three week’s vouchers.
Our Virtual School
It has been a quite a learning curve for parents, students and staff as we have attempted to adapt our tried-and-tested methods to distance learning via Google Classroom. I continue to pass feedback received on to teaching staff who are developing new ways of setting learning so that it is manageable. Lots of families have been grateful for there being plenty to keep Plashet students busy, but I know that for some families the work set has caused some anxiety, especially where they have other pressures to juggle as well. Our principle has been that we would rather Plashet girls have more than enough rather than not enough to get stuck into, so that parents who really want to ensure their daughter does not get behind have lots to get them to focus on.
Please do not worry, though, if your daughter does not manage to complete everything that has been set. In lessons in school, teachers make judgements every day about whether to push an individual student on, or to stop for now, but we are not able to do that from afar. At the moment you are in the best position to judge what your daughter is be able to manage, and so please do so. Girls should not be doing school work at the expense of their emotional wellbeing or mental health at this time. As parents, please do let us know if you have any concerns about your daughter’s wellbeing.
Having said this, for safeguarding reasons we will continue to monitor whether students are engaging with the tasks being set, and submitting work if this has been requested. Our pastoral teams will be doing virtual wellbeing check-ins over the next week or so and we will contact students and/or parents to follow up where we have concerns that students are not engaging with school during the closure period to see what we can do to help.
I have attached a ‘Parents Guide to Coping with School Closures’ given that the lockdown has been extended for at least another 3-weeks. I hope this may offer some further support.
Look after yourselves and your families. Stay at home and do not take any risks. You, our ever supportive parents/guardians, together with your wonderful daughters and all of the Plashet community, mean the world to me. My heartfelt best wishes go to all of you.
Mrs Rachel McGowan
Dear Year 11 Students and Parents,
The Department for Education has announced that Year 11 students will get their GCSE results on Thursday 20 August 2020. This date is the same as that published at the start of this academic year. There had been speculation in the media about GCSE results being given out at the end of July but this is not the case. I hope this email provides clarity for all Year 11 girls receiving results this summer.
Further information will be sent to you in the coming weeks about the time school will be open for Year 11 girls to come in and pick-up their results on Thursday 20th August.
Parent/Guardian Update 06.04.20
“There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen” Lenin
At the end of this Spring Term it certainly does feel that over the last few weeks more than a decade of events has happened. None of us would have thought when we came back to school in January that the nation would be in lockdown, the school would be shut for the foreseeable future, public examinations cancelled and Plashet operating as a ‘virtual’ school.
Out of adversity hope arises – and the Plashet School community has certainly shown that it is able to deal with challenges. I have been overwhelmed with how well we have adapted to our new way of working. The excellent number of responses to our parental survey last week reinforced the positive relationships between home and school. Once again, my congratulations to you all and also my gratitude for the way you have all supported each other and the school.
We now move to the school holiday – a very odd one in that the country remains in lockdown and many of the things we normally enjoy during a school holiday period are not possible. However, this holiday gives us all a chance to rest, relax and reflect on the last very busy few weeks and, more importantly I think, to start to plan for the future. This national crisis will end and when it does we will all be able to get back to our normal routines. So, I suggest students take stock on what they have achieved in these last few weeks of being part of a virtual school and set themselves goals for what they want to achieve as a virtual learner when the new term starts on Monday 20th April and also goals they wish to achieve when we are all back together as a school community in person.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement” Helen Keller
So even in these challenging times, we must all remain optimistic. To aid you I attach support information from the charity Young Minds that you may find supportive as well as a link to their website.
The Anna Freud Centre also offer supportive materials this is a link to their website:
During the current school closure we know that Plashet girls are accessing more content online whilst trying to keep in touch with friends and accessing their home learning. This means that it is more important than ever to ensure that you have a good awareness of online safety and that you talk to your daughter about staying safe. There is a lot of support available to keep your daughter safe online.
Think You Know advice from the National Crime Agency regarding online safety https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
Internet Matters: https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/staysafestayhome-tech-advice-and-resources-to-support-families-at-home/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIk5WR4O7T6AIVyLHtCh2PGwqFEAAYASAAEgL13_D_BwE
Safer Internet Centre: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/parents-and-carers
I wish you and your families a restful home holiday, if you are able to have one. Stay optimistic and stay safe.
Mrs Rachel McGowan