20 August, 2021
Kia ora Aidanfield Whanau
As I write this, I have no idea about what tomorrow or next week looks like. This afternoon around 3pm we will find out if we are to remain in lockdown at Level 4 or shift to something else. We have had three days of a snap lockdown and as a school we have made decisions about how we would deal with snap lockdowns. You may be listening to what other schools may be doing and wondering why we are doing what we are at ACS.
Our focus is on the long learning journey of all of our pupils not the moments. Admittedly the moments make up the long journey but the impact of the moments is varied. Our logic for not providing work for our pupils at home in the first three days of a snap lockdown is based on the following:
- At the start of a three-day lockdown there is as much chance of coming back to school at the end of it as not.
- If we provide work for three days it is fill-in work and not excellent learning work. We know our families are quite capable of having their pupils at home without the school providing fill-in activities. For many families this simply adds a pressure not needed.
- If we provide work quickly it is not related to the work our pupils are doing in class as the teacher planning is for delivery in the classroom environment not over a distance. So, immediately provided work is most likely from a generic pile of activities, which may link to classroom learning but mostly not, in other words simply busy work.
- Our experience from the past tells us that families take time to adjust to lockdown and so giving space to allow this without school work turning up in email inboxes helps the adjustment. We are very clear that lockdown learning is not just normal classroom teaching delivered at home – it is very different if it is to be effective.
- We know that three days of lost learning is not going to make any difference to the overall learning journey of our pupils if we all stop at the same time. What do I mean by this? If a family goes on holiday and takes their child out of class for a period, the whole class continues the learning journey and the one child misses what is being taught and reinforced through that period. They do lose learning and have to catch up or miss the learning from that period – and this can compound if it is a foundational skill. This can have an impact. If, on the other hand, everyone stops at the same time (e.g. in a lockdown) and then starts at the same time no one loses and the impact on the overall learning journey for the year is not even noticed.
- Our testing and results last year showed that coordinated interruptions have little impact on the overall journey. Our results last year were as good as ever if not a little better.
- At ACS we provide devices for pupils. Many schools require parents to supply the devices at parent cost. At ACS, the BOT cover this cost for you, which is a significant cost saving to you. The downside is that in a snap lockdown we cannot get the devices out to families fast enough and by the time we do get them out we may be back at school. We know that families have such different access to devices at home, especially when everyone in the home needs access to them. If we have an extension of the lockdown we have plans in place to get the devices out to those who need them to support the learning programmes.
- And finally, our staff also have their own family dynamics to adjust to and they need space to be able to do that well because it is the long journey that counts.
Our aim as we manage different lockdown scenarios is to do the very best for all our pupils, not only for their academic learning but also for their wellbeing generally and that of families. Sometimes there is wisdom in making haste slowly. We have determined in a three-day lockdown allowing space for everyone to adjust is very helpful for most people.
Please look out for another email from the school office later today, which will be a link to our computer loan agreement. We are doing this early to pre-empt any decisions about a longer lockdown so we are ahead of the game early in the week. At this stage, we do not know if we will need this but we want to be ahead of the game if we are in lockdown longer than these three days just gone.
If you wish to have a school computer device at home to support our distance learning programme for your children then you will need to sign the agreement which says you will take responsibility for the device. We will work out how to get these to you at the start of the week should we be in a longer lock down.
As always, I welcome your feedback, comments or pushback to anything we do. Please feel free to contact me via email or if you would like to talk, let me know and I will get in touch with you.
Grace and peace as we make our way through Friday.