Update April 21st 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

The summer term has started, but it is a different summer term to one any of us have ever known.

The lockdown continues, and the Government continues to have schools closed. This is because the safest place for children to be is at home. We all want to do our best to help stop the spread of this awful disease and this will be a part of that.

We have had lots of questions and requests and we will do our best to answer them. We have put in some questions that sum up some of the things we have been asked.

I find it hard to do the online learning. Can you print some off?

Unfortunately, for many reasons, this is not something we can do. We have provided a range of activities and learning and as we always say, choose what is right for your child and your situation.

There are two new things that will help with this that have been launched in the past week.

BBC Bitesize. This has activities and lessons and sessions delivered by a range of people. You can access this through your TV, so no looking at small screens. You go to BBC1 and press the red button on your remote control. This will then take you through to the sign in page and give you easy instructions to set it up. I had a look today and there is lots to choose from and all of which the children can use independently if you are unable to help them for any reason. Choose what interests your child and what suits their age and stage.

The Oak Academy has also been launched. This was set up by a group of education professionals in response to the COVID 19 situation. It is all free. It has lessons delivered online. Go to https://www.thenational.acdemy

These will be a great support to all parents/carers.

I am finding it hard to support my children due to having to work from home/my own mental or physical health

This situation is difficult for all of us, whatever the situation, but we know there may be certain factors making it even more difficult for some families. We know it is not easy to work from home and support your children, or to support them if your own health is a concern. So, just do what you can. Set them up with things they can do independently, and set aside any time you can to do things with them.

Just be assured that whatever you are doing, you are doing your best and that is all anyone can ask of you. Don’t put yourself under any pressure; play games, go for a walk and spot things as you go, watch a movie. There are many things you can do and it does not have to be around a pen and paper or a screen.

Step back and do something relaxing if it becomes too much, just spend time together doing something you can all enjoy. Most importantly, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or says they are doing! Do what is right and works for you.

There are activities and suggestions for mental health and well being on the twitter feed and the website. If you are finding things difficult you can contact your own GP for advice.

Mrs Thompson, our PSA, is working during this time and can offer advice on the telephone or via email, and sign post you to people who may be able to help with support. Please note she does not work every day, so leave a message with the office at the Junior School and she will get in touch as soon as she is able to. We will also share details of organisations with you and websites and apps as we find them.

There’s not enough/too much work?

We have had some parents/carers say there is too much work, and others who say there is not enough. So what we say is, everything presented to you should be seen as a menu, and just as you wouldn’t order a takeaway and order everything on the menu, you need to select the diet for your family. If it works for your child to have a structured timetable, then this is what you should do. If it works to be more flexible and go with the flow each day, then that is what you should do. There is no perfect answer.

They should be in school, I want them to come in as they are missing their learning.

No child is in school, schools are closed. Every child in the whole country will be doing their very best at home, and when schools return it will be the teachers who will see where we are and what we do next. We really would like every child to read regularly, there are free online books, and for Junior children to complete some AR quizzes. Read stories to your child, whatever their age or listen to them together on some of the free audio stories available.

When will the schools reopen?

Nobody knows. That is the simple answer. Schools often find things out when everyone else does, when it is on the news. We can’t make a plan as we don’t know what will happen and when. Social distancing says to be two metres apart, with 30 children in a class, can you imagine how big that classroom would have to be? And how would we get hundreds of children in to school, most of them are brought by adults, how would they all stay two metres apart on the way to school, at drop off and pick up? There is no way that schools can practice safe social distancing. Several staff have had shielding letters or cannot be in due to health reasons, this shielding is for 12 weeks so all schools will have the issue of ensuring there are enough staff in schools to safely open. There are too many issues that cannot be overcome in the current situation and with the current guidance.

All we can hope is that the decision is made based on Science and when it is safe, because as much as we miss seeing the children, we only want to see them when it is safe to do so.

I didn’t know about some of the things that we can access such as the BBC programmes.

We do our best to keep you updated, and the quickest way is to sign up to the twitter page for the federation. Every day something new comes up and is shared. Follow us at Toftwoodfedera1

You can also see all new updates on the website, as always. Teachers will also be sharing information with you through class dojo.

There is no one method that will suit everyone, so we are doing what we feel is right to reach as many people as possible.

If you have any password issues, please contact the teacher through dojo first and they can help.

There is too much/too little information

We get comments saying there is too much, and comments saying there is too little. So we share what we feel it may be useful and you can decide what you look at and what is not relevant for you.

My child has a serious medical condition. I don’t know if I would want to send them if schools open soon

We can only take it one day at a time, and take note of the Scientists and medical professionals. We would always advise following medical advice, but let us discuss that when it happens. Please don’t worry about it.

In other news!

Online safety

As we are all using the internet more, it is important that parents and children know what to do if they have a concern about any online content.

You can report through CEOP and there is information on this on our website.

Links to support on our website can be found here:

https://www.toftwoodfederation.co.uk/safeguarding-and-child-protection/online-safety/

https://www.toftwoodfederation.co.uk/computing/ict-safety/

Food bank support

There are a range of services to help people in the lockdown.

We have three main food banks in Breckland;

https://midnorfolk.foodbank.org.uk

https://thetford.foodbank.org.uk

www.attleboroughmethodistchurch.org.uk/food-bank

The foodbank opening times aren’t the most flexible so please check on the timings. The support hotline is 0344 800 8020. People in need may qualify for the parcels they send out.

Please check those websites for more information. Mrs Feeke and Mrs Thompson can issue food bank vouchers also, so please contact us if you are experiencing difficulty.

We have had some kind offers of donating food to school for families in need, but we feel it is most appropriate to use those systems set up. In addition to this, people should not be visiting the school sites unless they are accessing the emergency child care. Our sincere thanks though, to those who have made these kind offers of help.

Help if isolating

There is a community group that can help if you are isolating. The details are pinned to the top of our twitter feed. The group is called Dereham cares.

If you are isolated and do not have friends or family nearby they can help by:

Calling you for a chat

Picking up a prescription

Organising a delivery of basic foods.

They can do this up to once a week, prioritising the elderly and the vulnerable.

You can register for yourself or someone else at

www.aboutDereham.org/Dereham-Cares

Or if you cannot go online you can call

If you want a phone call ring 07749 577212

For prescription collection ring 07867 522769

For a food basics delivery ring 07810 203803

Keeping in touch

Staff will be contacting you over the next few weeks to just check in and see how you are and how things are going, so we can keep in touch. This is to talk to you as parents/carers and not to talk to the children. For safeguarding reasons you may see ‘caller ID blocked’ or ‘number withheld’ so please be aware this could be someone from school trying to call you.

Please be aware that Miss Skinner left us at the end of the Spring term, and has relocated to the North East. We couldn’t share this with you as we usually would as but we were sad to see her go. We thank her for all she has done for us, and wish her well in her new adventures. We are pleased to be able to say that Mr Hardy is overseeing the class and the dojo and joining the Year 4 team to support in this time, so you may hear from him or another member of staff if your child is in CS4.

We hope all our families are staying safe and well at this time. With very best wishes to all

Everyone at Toftwood Infant and Junior School Federation