School update – 07/01/2021

Dear Families,

We hope this finds you safe and well and taking care of each other. So much has happened in the last few days; as a school community, we are in a very different situation than we expected to be in just a week ago. The last few days have seen us cast back in to lockdown with frightening statistics on the television and new rules dominating our lives. Lockdown means no one should be going anywhere unless it is essential; exercise is the only other reason we should be leaving our homes. We all need to play our part in reducing the risk of infection by staying at home. Throughout lockdown, we are still here to support you. The school office is open each day from 8am – 4pm, contactable by phone or email. As well as keeping in contact with the staff in your child’s year group, Linda Battigan and Teresa Grix are available to support you and your family. They can be contacted on pastoral@st-williams.norfolk.sch.uk or by phoning the office. So many things are worrying and complicated at the moment, so please do let us know if you need us and we will help in any way we can. Because we are again in lockdown, we will be providing Edenred vouchers to children who financially qualify for Free School Meals. If you think you might be entitled and haven’t registered, please go to our website or contact the school office.

We know that having your children at home with you can be a joy but it also brings enormous pressures. Many of you are working from home and many do not have the equipment you need for your children to access remote learning easily. Remote learning is a real challenge for you and for us. We have been working hard on the offer we give you but we have never worked this way before either; it is difficult for us too! Years 5 and 6 and some of Year 4 had times of self-isolation last term but for everyone else this is a brand new way of working. What they tell us is it does get easier as you get used to it. The expectation from the Department for Education is we will give your child several hours of learning per day; staff will have sent you the way each year group has organised this. We do not want this structure to make your lives more difficult; if things are done at different times or in different ways, that is OK. Our staff want children to engage but don’t want this to come over as heaping pressure on you in these already difficult times. As we have said many times before, your best is good enough. For some families, the access to devices is a real challenge; either there aren’t any or there aren’t enough. We have some laptops to lend to families, some we have been given by government and some of ours. We are expecting more to become available and will get these to families as soon as we can.

We will continue to keep you informed as our Remote Learning offer changes and adapts (we are learning new things every day!) The feedback parents have already provided us has been very valuable and we will do our best to find alternatives to families who are experiencing difficulties with technology, so please let us know. Please be assured that we know that remote learning will be harder to manage some days than others; if children manage to do one thing, that is ok. Please do keep an eye on your emails as we build in changes gradually to not overload you.

As you know the building is open for some children. This support is there for the children of Critical Workers who have to go to work to provide critical support to the COVID-19 response. However, all our advice is this should only be used if absolutely required. Please do not ask for a place if you have an option for your children to be at home or can form with another household for childcare. The more people that move about the community, including coming to school, the more chance there is of infection. The demand for places in this lockdown has been much higher than when the first lockdown started in March, not just in our school but in many others too. We need to keep the numbers in school to a minimum; the more people that are here, the more there is a risk of us having to shut groups down and there being no provision for that Year Group at all. Norfolk County Council has now published advice on how schools should prioritise this provision, which may lead to further limiting of places. From Monday, if you have a place and don’t need to use it on a particular day, please let us know in the usual way, by telephoning or emailing the school office. From Monday, lunch can be provided for all those children in school; this can be ordered in the usual way.

We remain your school, here to support everyone in the community. We may not always get things right but please know that your children are at the heart of everything we do.

Keep safe, look after each other and keep in touch, Sarah Shirras and Vicky Buxton