Coronavirus update – March 27th 2020

Dear parents/carers

As we come to the end of our first full week of school closures, I thought it might be useful to get in touch and keep you updated.

School Closures

Both schools are closed, except to those with an agreed emergency childcare place. Firstly, thank you to everyone who has made arrangements for their child as the safest place for them is at home. The best way to prevent unnecessary spread and any cross infection is for children to be at home, and for only those who are key workers in the fight against the coronavirus/Covid 19 to be using the emergency child care provision so we can keep it going.  

If you need to contact us you must ring the Junior school as the Infant school is in complete lockdown. 01362 694919. Please do check twitter and the website first to find an answer to your question as we have minimal numbers of staff in order to carry out social distancing and minimise the risk of the spread of the disease. 

Thankyou

A huge thank you to all of the parents and carers who are frontline key workers in the fight against this disease. Your contribution is much appreciated by us all, every day.

Twitter

We recently set up a twitter account for the Toftwood Federation. We have 95 followers already, but it would be great if every parent could sign up. On here there are daily updates and activities for your child, many of which do not require you to have any expertise or knowledge! There are links to virtual visits to zoos, museums and art galleries, live theatre and much more. There is also the most recent information, so it really is an excellent easy to keep in touch.

We would also like to see what your children are up to whilst we are closed, so if you tweet us a picture of them and some information, we will retweet it to share so we can all keep in touch. If you do tweet it to us, then you are giving permission for this to be retweeted and shared. We have enjoyed seeing the activities the children are getting up to.

Currently we have been asking people to put a bear in their window, related to ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ to show people out on their daily exercise or doing their key worker roles in the community.

We are also encouraging children to sign up for the Joe Wicks Body Coach challenge, and if you make a plan for this and tweet him and us, you can enter a competition. Check his twitter account @thebodycoach

Either search Toftwood Federation or use@ToftwoodFedera1 for our account

Please sign up to keep up to date – new ideas every day. There is something for everyone.

Free School Meals

There has been a great deal of discussion on free school meals in the media, on social media and between parents. Some parents are mistaken in thinking that all children in the infant school will get a meal voucher or a food parcel as they do not pay for their lunches. Please note this is not the case! 

To try to explain, all children in Infant schools get a daily free meal when school is open, but this is known as a Universal Infant Free School Meal (UIFSM) which is DIFFERENT to a Free School Meal (FSM)

It is only those who meet the criteria for a Free School Meal (FSM) who have any entitlement. Just because your child does not pay for meals at infants, it does not mean they are free school meals. The Universal infant free School Meals (UIFSM) does not apply when schools are closed, even for those with an emergency child care space.

Any parent who qualifies for free school meals (FSM) has already been contacted and informed about our arrangements for this. If you have not been contacted, you are not eligible and do not qualify.

Please note the national and local authority guidance on this has been, and continues to be, poor. They have not yet put anything in place for the voucher scheme for those eligible. We have no mechanism to buy these vouchers yet. We will keep you updated but please note that any provision, be it a packed lunch or a voucher does not apply in the school holidays.

For those who are eligible for the free school meals, we will keep in touch when we have any new information. We are unable to supply vouchers currently but will keep in touch with those entitled to the free school meals directly about arrangements.  

Home Learning

As a federation we are trying to take a sensible approach to the home learning. We know that the majority of parents are not teachers, and many parents are doing their very best to work at home with their children there. We know this is not easy as many of our staff are facing the same challenges in their families! 

A few parents have raised they thought more work should have been sent home. We have 650 children, all of different ages and abilities and all with different home circumstances, and it was a mammoth effort to print the workbook we managed to get out before the school closed. Unless you work in a school, I don’t think you would be aware of the efforts staff were making in the run up to closure, which we only found out about when the announcement was made on the television. We were printing and collating passwords, reassuring children and trying to make plans and gather information, as well as trying to keep things as normal as possible with a reduced number of staff.

So, what we say to you is this. 

  • If you are doing your best, because you are working at home, have several children or just don’t feel confident, then you are doing very well. Everyone is facing different challenges, but we have to acknowledge that every situation, every family and every child is different. You will all, I am sure, do your very best and that is all anyone can expect.
  • Your prime concern at this time should be keeping you and your family as safe as you can. Don’t get stressed or worried about school work! Everyone will do what they can. Watch a movie, practise some mindfulness activities, do some colouring! Just do all that you can to reassure your child in line with their age and needs. 
  • If your child needs a timetable, make one together. This could help, and you can adapt it according to your child’s age or ability. You can include:
  • daily reading (use your own books or some of our free online books – see the website) We will be sending further information for Junior children about accelerated reader and how you can use this to quiz at home, but please note this must be done independently and this is one thing you must not help with! 
  • read to your child whatever their age (we have a  daily storytime in school for all year groups, you are never too old to hear a story) . You could have a free audio book and listen to it together.
  • Daily maths. You can use Corbett maths five a day which is free online, or the White Rose Maths which was sent to you yesterday. You don’t need to print it – write it on a whiteboard, a chalkboard, a piece of paper or in a book. White Rose has instruction videos and Corbett maths has the answers! You can also use ICT games if your child is Reception to Year 2 or has additional needs, as they have free and useful interactive games. You can also do daily TT rockstars if your child has this, as times tables are vital to a child’s progress in maths, or start to learn their tables if they are ready. There are also other maths platforms such as Carol Vorderman and others. There is also free good practice for Years 5 and 6 using questions that cover the whole of the KS2 curriculum, which generate randomly. Information is on our twitter page. 
  • Daily writing – be it a story, a diary, a book review, questions you would ask someone in an interview, a letter to someone in the family; get the children writing!
  • Something active. The Joe Wicks daily session is free on you tube. We have also sent you information about how you can do real PE at home. If this is difficult, go in the garden and skip, run, play swingball. Anything active. We would do two hours minimum PE a week at school. 
  • Look at Science – there are many activities on line for this.
  • Look at other subjects and what you can manage. You might find a History programme to watch together or that your child could watch, or a Geography programme. Many zoos are doing a virtual tour, as are art galleries, there is a lot to choose from and it is all learning.
  • Look at something relaxing – cosmic yoga is something we do in the Infant School and this is free online.  
  • Cook, do some gardening, paint, do a creative project linked to a topic. 

Please note it is not reasonable to expect them to do a full day of learning, it is so much more intense than a day in school. Start at 9 if you can, do an hour, have a break and a snack, do a little more and then have a proper break and rest for lunch. In the afternoon, do a maximum of two hours with a built in break. 

If it works to do this over more days or in the evening, then do what is right for you. We hope to share some ideas on our twitter feed of what families are doing. We have heard today one family with four children has a daily register, a special person and has built a reading den with their clothes horse! That is fabulous – well done. Very simple, but highly effective.

After Easter we will set a daily plan for each year group weekly and we will see how that goes. You will need to check this each week. It will be put on the website for ease, so you need to check on the Federation website – www.toftwood.norfolk.sch.uk

  1. Then coronavirus tab 
  2. Then home learning packs 
  3. Then click on your year group. 

Reception will set this through Tapestry so make sure that you log on as we can see who has and who has not. We would love you to continue to post what you are doing.

Some tasks will be set on purple mash and all passwords were generated and shared before Easter for all 650 children. This in itself was a huge job, but we did it! Work set on this is able to be monitored and feedback given if required. It is all things the children can do independently so please do keep up with this. 

Please note it is not reasonable to expect them to do a full day of learning, it is so much more intense and this is a difficult time for everyone. No one knows what will happen, so the important thing is we all feel able to manage our own mental health and well being and that of our families, and we all pace ourselves so we can get through this.  

Reception staff will keep you updated through tapestry, responding to your posts etc as and when they are able.

Teachers in Years 1-6 will have a weekly communication through class dojo with you, so please ensure you have logged in to this app and get on it if you have not. They will give some overall feedback and information to keep in touch and keep it manageable. 

So:

  • Please try and do some learning each day or as and when you are able. Daily work on maths and English, especially reading is really useful. Time to relax and look after your wellbeing is also vital.
  • Use our online learning activities through purple mash, my maths, TT rockstars, numbots as we can set these accurately and they will support the children. Use also White Rose Maths and Corbett Maths.
  • Sign up for our twitter account – please note this is to maintain contact with the community and any unsuitable tweets/abusive tweets will be deleted and users blocked.
  • Every piece of home learning and information about the work being set and information for the closure is under the coronavirus tab. This is your go to place for information about what is happening, advice, updates and home learning. Mrs Coy will be adding some SEN specific information and activities, such as fine motor skills. 
  • Keep yourselves and your families safe. Unless the children are in the garden, please don’t send them outside in the public areas. We have been told some children are out on their bikes and this is most likely not advisable. We know they will find it difficult, but maybe consider a daily family walk for exercise, maintaining social distancing from other families. Children should not be meeting up with friends etc.
  • Check our website on the coronavirus tab regularly for updates and information.

Our thoughts are with you and your families at this difficult time. If we all do the right thing as advised by the government, then we can help stop the spread of this disease. Thank you to all of the kind messages and support from parents and carers and a huge thank you to all of our staff who are doing their best to support children and families in this difficult time, as well as support and protect their own families, as well as those of you who are working tirelessly in the fight against this disease.

Take care everyone

Best wishes

Joanna Pedlow