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Dear All,

 

I wanted to ensure that everyone is clear how we will continue to support the girls both pastorally and academically through the next few weeks. Realistically, we are not expecting to be back in school for some time after Easter. Although there is much that is out of our control, we can control how we respond to the challenge. 

 

It is really crucial that we are aware if your daughter will be in school next week. Please email Mrs Jokelson (westfield@westfield.newcastle.sch.uk) as soon as possible if you are a key worker who may need this support so we can create the staffing to support that. We will be providing a space for key workers’ children and girls with an EHCP, if they wish to take advantage of this, school lunch will be provided as usual although your daughter should bring in her own break time snacks. The girls will be in mixed age groups with others from their Key Stage, as our teachers have busily prepared work for our students to complete remotely. These groups will not be taught individual lessons but will be supervised and assisted to complete the set work whilst in school.

 

It is important for our girls to maintain as much structure in their daily routines as possible in the current circumstances. Although much of the teaching can be accessed asynchronously – in other words different pupils accessing and completing the same lesson at different times of the day – we would urge families to try to maintain the normal school timetable during the day. One key aspect of this for Senior House will be that all girls must ‘register’ by emailing their form tutor by 9am every morning (Monday to Friday). This registration period will allow for a structured start to the school day. If a girl is unwell and not able to register, parents should email Mrs Jokelson in the usual way. Form tutors will follow up non-registration with parents.

 

During the start of this new style of working, girls, parents and staff will need to get used to different routines. For this reason, we intend to start with one level of work and communication and gradually increase this as everyone gets used to the new style of working. One thing I can reassure you about is that our Westfield girls will have the best possible set up for their future learning. We will ensure that there are no large gaps in their schooling which may affect their success in future public exams.

 

Girls in Key Stage 3 should establish a structure to their learning.  This could be achieved by accessing their set work on the days they would have had that lesson. Work will be set on TEAMS for the first fortnight then, as the girls settle into this way of working as being normal, their teachers will start to add more interactive elements to the lessons. Often this will be the teacher leading a ‘live text-chat’, to go through any problems and to facilitate discussions; girls should play an active role in these sections of the lessons. In order for girls to maintain a real sense of contact with their teachers, staff will, as a minimum, hold a live text chat with their classes each week to pick up on any issues from the previous learning. Every girl in the class is expected to be a part of this at the same time (unless they are ill); these chats will be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance and will last for up to 20 minutes maximum. Please ensure you have returned the Online Home Learning agreement so your daughter can participate in these.

 

Girls in Upper and Lower 5 should continue to follow their normal lesson timetable and will have work posted via TEAMS but will also have either a face to face video lesson or a live chat (depending on subject) at least once per fortnight (once a week for Upper 5). These lessons may be used to clarify any confusions although girls shouldn’t wait for that opportunity and need to be more pro-active than normal in approaching their teacher for help. 

 

Girls in the Sixth Form should continue to follow their normal lesson timetable and will have work posted via TEAMS but will also have either a face to face video lesson or a live chat (depending on subject) at least weekly.

 

All girls in Senior House will also have contact from their tutors on a pastoral basis at least weekly.

 

We are still awaiting announcements from Ofqual, who have been meeting today, about external examinations. All we know is that exams will not take place in May/June but there are a range of other possibilities on the table. We have been promised an update by tomorrow.

 

Although we have invested in technology to enable some face to face ‘video’ lessons to occur, we must be aware of some issues, such as broadband speed in remote areas and a global overload of such systems, that may disrupt such types of learning. In those cases, TEAMS provides back up message facilities and work can be downloaded, completed then submitted online. In trial lessons using this technology some hardware and Wi-Fi signal issues have arisen at times of day when there is a great demand on the networks; the teacher will not usually have the technical expertise to be able to advise on what you need to do at home to fix the issues.

 

Pupils may communicate with staff using TEAMS or school emails if they have particular difficulties with the work, such as not being able to complete the tasks set. Neither students nor staff should use personal emails for such communication. Staff have been asked to check and respond to emails each day. 

 

In the meantime, I would be grateful if you could encourage your daughter to remove all of her text books, sports bags and other belongings over the course of today and Friday. For those students who are already in isolation, we ask that they collect belongings only when their period of isolation is over.   School will be open from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm.  

 

Finally, we are conscious that the ongoing public health crisis, and its coverage in the media, is likely to cause concerns amongst our pupils. It is important that they feel able to speak to someone about these anxieties and teachers are available to support girls where necessary. Can I commend this short video containing 5 tips for staying mentally well during the Coronavirus pandemic: youtu.be/8GmQijmUrkk and Mr Dunn’s Happiness Action Plan from his assembly on Tuesday.

 

Please continue to check emails regularly for information from school and we shall update you as and when we have anything to pass on.

 

Best wishes

 

Mr Neil Walker

Headmaster

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