3 January 2021

Happy New Year!   Let's hope 2021 is positive for all of us.

I have recorded this update as a video message or you can read it below.  The written version contains the links and email addresses that I mention in the video,

The text of the video is:

Apologies for inflicting a video message on you - I know from feedback from families that sometimes people prefer to hear rather than read. There is a written version of this as well so you can turn me off now if you wish and read that instead!

As you will have seen from my updates over the last couple of weeks the government wants to reduce the numbers of children in school to an absolute minimum because of the rate of transmission of the virus.   We are also being asked to set up testing onsite.  Our priorities remain the same - the wellbeing of our students,  staff and families and the quality of the teaching, learning and support that we provide - those do not change

So, as directed by the government from tomorrow, all lessons will be virtual for the next week for Year 11 and for the next 2 weeks for everyone else.  Year 11 and Year 9 know how this works because they are the 2 year groups who, at some point last term had to all go home.  There is a remote learning page on the website and a dedicated email address for ICT support - ICTSupport@waltonledale.lancs.sch.uk.  I am just going to describe how it works so that parents and carers know what is going on....

The basis of all our remote learning is Office 365 which is accessed from a link on the school homepage - all students use it within school so really should have their logins - any problems email ICTSupport@waltonledale.lancs.sch.uk.  It runs on anything with internet access (phone, xbox, tablet, Smart TV as well as laptops and computers) and it means that everything can be opened in a browser without installing specialist software.  There are videos to help access it on the remote learning page.  As part of Office 365 students use Outlook for email which teachers will use to send information as needed and Teams - our main means of remote learning

At the appropriate lesson time on the timetable the teacher will send a message on Teams to their group and then start teaching, sharing resources, setting work, responding to requests for help as appropriate.  In most cases work will be completed in exercise books or on paper.  We are very aware that, especially with all students working from home we are going to have many students who do not have individual access to a device so it is important to be aware that all lesson resources are on Teams for later access if needed.  Teams and Outlook run on anything connected to the internet so lessons can be accessed on a phone or xbox, for example, and work completed on paper.

We will have a very small handful of students from each year group  in school as children of key workers or vulnerable students.  These students will be accessing exactly the same remote lessons through a computer on site.  There are a couple of changes from key worker provision during lockdown last year: students need to be in school uniform and we have to keep the year groups separate. It would be very helpful if they would bring their own headphones/earphones to plug into the computer that they are using.

As you will probably be aware the government is asking us to organise mass testing of students and staff on site.  This is being organised rapidly, but we are short on information from the government.  We do, however, know that we will need a number of additional staff on a temporary basis.  It would be useful to know if any parent or carer (or anyone you know) is interested in working with us as part of the team supervising the tests.  Let us know of any interest as soon as possible via the usual means - the best way would be an email to our Business Manager, Mrs Eckersley (s.eckersley@waltonledale.lancs.sch.uk).

I am going a similar update for students for them to watch tomorrow morning - with them I will be stressing the need for self-motivation. We use the word ASPIRE to capture our ethos and the S for self-motivation and the P for positive are very important at the moment. We can all see a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine and a time approaching when we can go back to normal.  At the moment we just have to do the very best that we can each day with what is put in front of us - that really applies to all our students -  despite the odd situation they need to do the very best that they can each day and not use the pandemic as an excuse - their teachers are there to help them - the key ingredient is the motivation of each individual student.

Best wishes and Happy New Year!

Posted by James Harris

Category: WLD Updates