12th February 2021
Dear Parents and Carers
I write to you at the end of a unique and exacting half term for every member of our school community – parents, carers, students and staff. None of us could have predicted such a start to the 2021 New Year, and we wait patiently for the announcements that will follow our half-term holiday – announcements that will shape school life in the weeks leading to Easter and possibly beyond.
Today, I have sent a video message to all students thanking them for their continued hard work, dedication and perseverance this year. What they have accomplished this half term has been exceptional – students have had to learn to adapt and respond to the demands and dynamics of remote learning, and they have done so magnificently. They can be rightly proud of all that they have achieved over the last six weeks.
Over the course of the school closure period, we have been tracking each and every student’s engagement on a daily basis, using many different metrics and indicators and responding appropriately to ensure that everyone at St Nicholas is engaging with their learning. The most recent data demonstrates 99% – 100% engagement with learning across all year groups which is testament to the students’ own thirst for learning and the skills and talents of their teachers here at St Nicholas.
Our recent remote learning survey has also provided us with the following information:
- Almost all students said they could easily access their learning resources
- Almost all students said they know how to keep safe on line
- Three quarters of students said that their remote learning is stretching and challenging them
- Nearly 80% of students said that they are regularly learning new things online
- Nearly 80% of students said that they knew where to get help and support from school
- 48% of students said that they found it difficult to keep focus last week
- 40% of students said that they are finding it hard to complete all of the work set
In response to this information alongside other communications we have received from students, parents and carers, we introduced ‘screen free’ homeworks for this week and last week, and we have also implemented a ‘no homework policy’ for the half term holiday.
Subject Leaders have also met with their departmental colleagues to discuss how remote learning strategies can now be adapted and strengthened in response to this feedback, and we have also arranged for our assemblies after half term to include further guidance for students on keeping focused, keeping motivated and being kind to themselves – taking time away from screens where possible.
Next Wednesday is ‘Ash Wednesday’ which as we know marks the beginning of the Lenten season, and we have produced and posted home to all students their own ‘Living Lent’ booklet for 2021. Mairie, our Chaplain, has compiled a series of activities, reflections and prayers that students can complete to support their journey through Lent – none of which require a screen !
After half-term we welcome back our colleague, Mrs Keeble, to the Science Department. It is with great sadness that I inform you that Mrs Keeble’s son, Ethan, died in October last year. His death was due to a cardiac condition. Mrs Keeble has asked that we let the students know about her loss and we intend to have a short prayer service on the morning of the first day back – Monday 22nd February. You may feel that you want to share this information with your child in the meantime. If you feel that your child may be affected by this information, please let their Form Teacher or Year Leader know or access the learning mentor drop-in by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Please keep Mrs Keeble and her family in your prayers.
As always, thank you for the continued support you offer the St Nicholas community and I wish you a relaxing and enjoyable half term break.