Newsletter: 8th January 2021

What A Week!

I expect like me, Christmas and New Year are now a very distant memory for you. In what’s been an extraordinary week, I’d like to start by saying thank you, both for your patience and understanding as we’ve implemented Remote Learning and Critical Worker Provision in very short time, and also for the many and public messages of support we have received from you. Teachers thrive on working with children and it’s hard to describe the emotional wrench when school is closed from under you – the positive messages we received this week have kept us all buoyed up and even more determined to make this surreal time work for everyone.

Updates to Regulations

The Department for Education updated their expectations for Remote Learning once again yesterday afternoon. The main change which will affect you, as parents educating at home, is that the time requirement for Key Stage 2 Remote Learning has been increased from 3 hours per day to 4 hours per day. This means that, from next week, there will be an increased offer for children in Stroxworthy, Alminstone and Ashmansworthy Classes. However, as on-site take up of places is reaching towards 45% for our school, I am also mindful that there is a limit to what teachers can reasonably achieve whilst maintaining a quality provision for all. This means that I have asked teachers to ensure that an additional hour of learning is set via Google Classroom each day, but that the additional hour won’t be formally timetabled as we are doing in the mornings, so your child can complete those tasks at a point in the day which is convenient for your family.

Another announcement by the Secretary of State appeared to encourage parents to complain directly to Ofsted if they don’t feel that a school’s Remote Learning Offer is acceptable. Given that our offer was implemented within 24 hours and is, I believe, a very strong one in terms of maintaining contact with our children and actively leading learning, I am very confident that our Remote Learning exceeds the expectations laid out earlier in the week. However, if you are experiencing issues or have concerns with it, I would obviously prefer you to contact me to discuss those concerns first rather than going directly to the Inspectorate. Incidentally, I know many schools are encouraging parents to contact Ofsted (, Twitter: @Ofstednews ) to tell them positive experiences of their school’s offer, rather than negative ones.

Remote Learning Assistance

I have been notified that by the end of next week, our school should be able to apply for DfE-supplied Chromebooks to support Remote Learning for our families. According to the DfE Portal yesterday, our allocation to support our 140 children is 5 Chromebooks, which we will receive very gratefully. These will be part of the school’s network so should work in exactly the same way as the ones children use whilst on site. Once we have received our allocation, we will be faced with the task of allocating them to families who need them – this might include:

  • families with many siblings sharing one device
  • families with no suitable devices but with existing Broadband
  • families with children in Y5 or Y6 who are required to produce a large quantity of writing but only have a tablet device on which to do it

If your child is working at home and you would like to be considered for a Chromebook to be lent out to you for the rest of the Lockdown, please email me with details of your circumstances ( Please note that Chromebooks only work if they have internet access so this provision is not suitable for families without WiFi (see below)

The DfE is working in partnership with mobile network operators to help schools support disadvantaged pupils in years 3 to 11 who rely on a mobile internet connection for Remote Learning.

Disadvantaged families may be able to benefit from free increases to their mobile data if they’re a customer of either:

  • EE
  • Three
  • Sky Mobile
  • Tesco Mobile
  • Virgin Mobile

(other providers may be joining the scheme soon)

If this applies to you, please contact me by email ( and I will take you through the information we need to gather in order to apply on your behalf. Please note, individuals cannot apply for this scheme, only schools, academies or local authorities can make applications. Similarly, we can also apply for 4-G wireless routers for you. Again, please contact me to discuss this further.

Preschool Wider Opening

Thank you to parents of Preschool children who have spoken to Sue this week as we grapple with the DfE’s clarification that they would like all Early Years settings, now including those attached to schools, to fully open as soon as possible. We are still waiting to finalise our plan for delivering this and will be in touch with you very early next week with an update. For the present time though, we will continue to only offer sessions to our Critical Worker and Vulnerable Children groups.

Free Fruit and Milk

Both our Cool Milk scheme and the NHS Free Fruit for Infants Scheme have now been suspended. This means we won’t have either to give out to younger children once our stocks run out. With this in mind, please could parents with children in Preschool to Year 2 send in an extra fruit snack if your child is attending school? Thank you.

Adventure International Parents’ Meeting

Rather bizarrely, in the middle of all of this upheaval, I will be running a parents’ meeting on Monday afternoon for Year 6 ahead of the (fingers crossed) Residential in late June. Children in Year 6 received their letter on Monday with the joining instructions for the meeting, which will be held on Zoom at 4pm. I hope as many as possible can attend so we can talk about the obvious challenges this year, and work out if there is sufficient support for the trip to go ahead (from our point of view, at least). If you didn’t receive the email and would like to attend, please email me for the link. Please ensure the displayed name on your Zoom account allows me to identify you as a parent of a year 6 child, I will not allow people with pseudo-names, for example, to join the meeting as several children will be on the call and I need to safeguard them.

Weekly Assemblies

Children who are working at home are very welcome to join our weekly assembly at 2:50pm on Fridays. This is entirely optional! Assemblies are on Google Meet and the link has been shared by your child’s teacher. To take part in the Assembly, your child MUST be fully logged in to their Google Account otherwise our security settings will boot them out, I’m afraid. There isn’t a work around for this at the moment, but if there is a significant number of children who want to get on but can’t, we will go back to Google for a solution – please let me know if you have any problems.

From next week, we will be re-introducing “home corner” in our Newsletter to share any amazing learning your child has done whilst on lockdown at home. If you have any contributions, please email them to me and I will include them next week, thanks.

Well done to everyone for coping with this week! Teachers have had a very tough job singling out children to receive particular recognition this week because you are all so amazing, but here are their choices:

  • Cranford: Evie – writing a great list of things she would take to the moon; Molly – great enthusiasm for online learning
  • Burscott: Isabeau – being amazing at maths!; Archie – excellent effort with remote learning
  • Stroxworthy: Aubri – great innovated story!; Genevieve – lovely alternative fairy story, with brilliant vocabulary!
  • Alminstone: Mary-Jane – a super eye-witness account of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius; Faris – really good reading and understanding in his Fiction Express work
  • Ashmansworthy: Emily – making good progress in maths this week; Hope – making a superb effort with remote learning


Matt Cole, Headteacher

1 response on Newsletter: 8th January 2021

  1. Thanks for all the work you are doing. I can’t praise the school enough. It is truly an impossible situation. However, for the DfE to decide, after one week, to increase home learning further is completely unrealistic for working parents. We will try our hardest.

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