Headteachers message – 22.2.21

Dear Families

I hope this finds you safe and well and looking after each other. I trust you had a happy half term ‘break’ – I know for many of you the break from home learning will have been very welcome but for others it meant less structure to the day and less contact with others. I know, for some of you, there are other enormous pressures on you, some related to the pandemic and some not. Whatever is happening for you and whatever you managed to do last week, I hope the warmer weather and longer hours of daylight not only lift the mood but give us hope that the joys of Spring and Summer are fast approaching, with the prospect of being able to see friends and family again.

Today, some children returned to school and others returned to their remote learning. As we keep saying, we know this can be a real pressure for some families. Please look after yourselves; don’t let this get you down and let us know if you need any help. Of course learning really matters but you all do too; being safe and well is the most important thing. There are days when things flow smoothly and seem fine and others where it all feels like a very emotional uphill struggle. When it does, shut the laptop and do something that makes you happy! Get your pyjamas on and watch a film or get your coats on and get outside; there aren’t so many puddles to jump in but there is plenty of mud!

Today, we await the government’s announcement about what happens from 8th March onwards. We have no prior notice of what the news will be apart from the speculation in the newspapers and social media this morning, not the best way to try and plan for what comes next. It does appear as if schools will be expected to open in a much fuller way than they are now. Like many announcements over the last year, this brings a mix of emotions. We miss seeing our classrooms and school full of children; we miss catching up with you on drop off and pick up. However, our top priority is everyone’s safety. For many of you, getting your children back to school, seeing their friends and playing and learning together, is top of your list right now but for others it comes with some anxiety. When we have the news, we will talk as a staff team and let you know as soon as we can what this means for St William’s and for your children. You may remember, back in June as we headed out of the first lockdown, we did things a bit differently from most schools, opening for smaller groups of children for sessions across the week. This gave more families the confidence to return and meant we had a far higher uptake than most schools. In September, we opened fully for all children with a wider range of health and safety measures in place. In January, we did not open on the first day of term, the day this lockdown was announced in the evening. On each of these occasions, we talked through our plans as a team and did what we believed was the right thing for our whole school community. Once we know what we are being asked to do, this is what we will spend today and tomorrow doing; planning to best support all of you in as safe a way as possible. We will then let you know what this means for you and your children.

Another part of the media coverage at the moment that doesn’t help any of us is the constant talk about ‘catch up’ and children falling behind. We all know that learning at home has brought a huge range of pressures for many families and this idea that anyone is letting their children down is so unhelpful. What most people seem to want right now is human contact, to laugh and chat and be carefree with people we love and care about. Talk of extra lessons, longer school days and holiday learning can feel like a huge additional pressure. When we have everyone back at school, we will plan to support them in the best way we can but our feeling is that when newer, safer freedoms come, children should spend time with friends and family, playing and getting to know each other again. It is vital we support their learning but this will come when their ready. One headteacher described it last week as being like when a child has a badly broken leg. We don’t plan for them running in Sports Day next Summer; we do everything we can for their leg to get better and grow strong, taking it literally one step at a time. When their leg is better, they can then run as much and as far as they want or need to; it is a marathon not a sprint. This is not a ”lost generation’ of children but an incredibly special one who deserve all we can give them once we are back together as a school.

Please carry on taking care of each other; it has been lovely to see some of you as you have collected your grab bags today and we hope to see more of you tomorrow. As soon as we can, we will tell you how we will be seeing all of you very soon!

Sarah Shirras #proudheadteacher