Messages from Mr. Prior
20.05.20 Day Thirty Two
Firstly, I know that parents are keen to know of our plans for re-opening, once it is safe to do so. I should be in a position to be able to share our plans either later today or early tomorrow. As you can imagine, it is not as simple as just throwing open the doors and welcoming everyone back in! The safety of pupils is important; just as important is the safety of the staff and we have been working hard to put things in place which will make the school as safe as we possibly can.
Did you know that today is 'Thank a Teacher' Day? I would like to give a personal thank you to all the staff at Broom Leys, not just the teachers, who have worked hard over the last few weeks to keep things going as well as possible.
The classroom and IT staff have been regularly updating suggestions for home schooling, they have been making phone calls to parents to keep regular contact and to help with any queries. They have come into school to provide care for children of Key Workers. They have also been working as teams to plan work and have taken this opportunity to complete a range of online learning. Thank you.
The pastoral team has continued to offer help and support to many of our families and have been in communication with other services and agencies to make sure that families continue to access any support they may need for any reason. Thank you.
The office staff have made sure that there is always someone available in school during normal working hours. They have managed to sort out the Free School Meals vouchers (what a task that was!), they have answered queries from parents and they are currently putting together a welcome pack for our new starters. Thank you.
The premises and cleaning staff have been in school throughout the closure to give every room a deep clean so that the buildings are as safe as possible. Groundswork and maintenance tasks have been undertaken to keep our learning environment in good condition, including some external redecoration. Thank you.
Who says that schools have been closed?!!!
11.05.20 Day Twenty Five
I am sure that many parents have a number of questions in their minds about the re-opening of schools after Boris Johnson's statement yesterday. In spite of what parents may think, we are not given any more notice than anyone else about what is to be announced so I have probably as many questions in my mind as you, if not more. All we know at the moment is that primary schools are expected to open on 1st June for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
The first thing to say is that, whilst we miss your children being at school and would love to see them again, safety is paramount. The Prime Minister indicated that 1st June is a possible opening date but that this will remain under constant review. I am awaiting further guidance from the government today, regarding issues such as social distancing, class sizes, adult:pupil ratios, PPE, cleaning, start times, break times etc. Once a plan is in place, this will be shared with parents.
As a result of the statement yesterday many parents may have been asked to return to work and may be hoping that school will be able to provide care. Please remember, though, that one thing we do know is that schools are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home. Sending a child into school is still the last resort; every child who can be safely cared for at home must be.
We know that for now the list of key workers remains unchanged. The advice we have been given is that it would be very unlikely that someone who is a key worker would not have been at work until this point, as ‘key workers’ are the people who were needed to keep everything going during the last 6 weeks. I am sorry that I have to be so strict with this, but in order to protect the health of the children in school and the staff, it is necessary to continue to keep numbers as low as possible until we are given further guidance.
Information about 'Critical Workers' can be found on the government website.
So for now the message is: watch this space! I will update parents as and when things become clearer for us all.
07.05.20 Day Twenty Four
I hope that everyone is ready for their VE Day Celebrations tomorrow? Perhaps a picnic in the back garden? If you need some ideas about what activities you could do with your child to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe please remember that we have a page full of suggestions for you on our website. If you fancy a good old sing along and a little flag waving, the Royal Albert Hall is streaming a live concert, We'll Meet Again for VE Day 75 with Katherine Jenkins. The half hour concert will be broadcast live from 6.00 p.m.
As mentioned in my previous message there is still no word on schools re-opening, although that may well change over the weekend. IF there is any announcement relating to this burning issue then we will, of course, keep parents informed about what we will be doing here.
A parent has very kindly alerted me to a competition which it would be great if all our families could enter during lockdown: the chance to win the school £5,000 in National Book Tokens (and if your entry is picked, you get £100 of tokens too!). To enter the competition, please head to the National Book Tokens website. Thank you for your support.
I hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend. The forecast for the next couple of days is good so you might manage some time outside!
01.05.20 Day Twenty
Some parents are starting to ask when schools might re-open. There is no simple answer to this and I do not know any more than you do. All we can do is to keep an eye on what is said by government ministers and the Prime Minister and at the moment they are telling us that there are no plans to re-open in the immediate future and when we do there will be some sort of phased return. I am concerned for the children in Year 6 who, other than missing out on their SATs tests, are missing out on visits to their secondary schools. As part of the Apollo Partnership Trust, however, I am working closely with colleagues at Castle Rock and Newbridge to plan what we can put in place to make sure that the transition works as well as possible. I will keep parents updated about this.
I am also concerned for the children who will be starting with us in Foundation Stage after the summer, as well as their parents, as we are not in a position to offer the usual level of induction. We are looking at what our options are and, again, will keep parents updated about this.
Next Friday (8th May) is a Bank Holiday. Parents will know that the date of the Bank Holiday was changed to coincide with the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. Had we been at school, we would have marked this occasion, both as a national celebration and as a way of remembering the events of the Second World War. Mrs. Collins has put together some ideas which you might like to do at home with your children so that this day does not go past unnoticed during the lockdown.
I would like to send a huge THANK YOU to anyone who donated items to our community appeal. At the start of this week we delivered all the items to the Leicester Royal Infirmary. We had so much donated that we needed a lorry!!! Our thanks go to Elan Removals of Coalville who did this for us, donating their time and use of their vehicle.
I am aware that there continue to be some problems with Free School Meals vouchers, although these are now mostly resolved and my thanks go to Mrs Roe who has spent many hours making sure that parents receive their entitlement. The issues have been with the ordering system, which has been unable to cope with the level of need. Aldi has now been added to the list of supermarkets where the vouchers can be used. If your personal circumstances have changed recently and you think that you may be eligible for Free School Meals, please read our advice page.
Teachers are making a start on writing children's annual reports, which we will be sending out as normal (although commenting on two terms' work rather than the full year). One aspect of report writing is to include your child's voice. Usually this would be done in school but we would ask you to help us with this aspect this year by submitting your child's comments to their teacher. You can find the comments forms for children in Years 1 to 6 on the relevant year group page:
Communication of any sort is vital during these times. The staff are enjoying their phone calls to you, which often include the chance to have a quick chat with your child. Please remember that these calls are there for reasons of help and support; if there is anything with which we can help please ask. If the member of staff making the call can't answer a question then they will find someone who can. You can also contact your child's class teacher directly through a message system on our website.
Whilst on the subject of keeping in touch, how wonderful do the school railings look with all the messages to each other? I am in school every day and I see so many people stop to look at the children's messages, not just people who are associated with the school. A big vote of thanks goes to Miss Cavendish for this idea - and for putting together the staff video which we sent to you on Monday.
Have a good weekend with whatever you might be doing at home.
27.04.20 Day Sixteen
Today we have a special message which is as much for the children as it is for parents. As a means of keeping in touch the staff at Broom Leys have put something together to say hello.
24.04.20 Day Fifteen
It seems a long time since school closed but it has in fact only been three school weeks! I have enjoyed hearing from the teachers how well children are managing at home and the learning which is taking place. It has also been good to see examples of this shared on our Virtual Noticeboard.
Children and parents have been walking past school during their daily exercise time and have been leaving messages for one another through our suggestion to 'Decorate the Gate' (see below). One of the hardest things about the lockdown is not seeing your friends and we thought this would be one small way of keeping in touch.
We are very aware that children will be using the internet a lot at home, both for school work and for leisure time. We all know that the internet is a wonderful thing but there are also hidden dangers. At school we constantly teach the children how to keep safe online and this is something which parents may want to do at home too. We have updated our e-safety page with the latest guidance and suggestions for parents.
From Monday parents of children in EYFS and Year 1 will be able to access daily phonics lessons. These lessons will follow 'Letters and Sounds', which is a resource we use in school and with which your child will be familiar. There is a letter for parents about the lessons which will be available from Monday on YouTube.
Parents of pupils entitled to Free School Meals should receive their vouchers soon. Every child will receive £15 per week to spend on food at a supermarket. It has taken much longer than anticipated to get the vouchers to you; this is no fault of the school but of the online system through which they are ordered. If your personal circumstances have changed recently and you think that you may be eligible for Free School Meals, please read our advice page here.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Please remember to get in touch with your child's class teacher if there is anything we can help you with.
21.04.20 Day Twelve
It is so important for us to keep together and to think of each other whilst on lockdown so we have come up with the idea to decorate the school gate, leaving messages for each other and for the wider community (see the letter below). If you choose to do this, please make sure you follow the rules of social distancing.
Some of the messages which have been left so far ………………..
20.04.20 Day Eleven
After two weeks of 'Easter holiday' we are now officially back at school. I hope that families have enjoyed Easter, one totally unlike we have ever experienced before, and that everyone is safe and well.
Teachers have started ringing home again today and will continue to do so a couple of times a week during term time. The phone calls are our way of touching base with you and offering our help with anything should you need it.
Over the last couple of weeks a lot of new resources have been made available for parents to use at home. Today the BBC started their new education programme BBC Bitesize Daily. Every day, 6 x 20 minute programmes are aired on BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button targeting six age groups, from 5 to 14, where teachers, experts and famous faces cover what that age group could be learning that day. Details of several new resources, most of which are available for all year groups, are here.
The North West Leicestershire School Sports Partnership, which our school belongs to, has started a new project which they are calling the 'ISOLATION GAMES' which all children can take part in. Each week there will be a 'Personal Best' Challenge and a 'Creative' Challenge for all children. There will also be a weekly Virtual Competition which will be aimed at a different year group each week. This week the competition is aimed at Year 3. The Isolation Games can be found on our Stay Active page, the same page as Mr. Holyland's daily challenge.
Please do not hesitate to contact your child's class teacher if you have any questions about how best to support them at home; we are here to help!
03.04.20 Day Ten
Schools up and down the country have now been closed for two weeks. It has not been an easy time for anyone but I have to say how well I think everyone is coping. Had schools been open today would have been the end of term and we would be breaking up for the Easter holiday. Strange as it may seem, term dates still stand as they are so we will be treating the next two weeks as a school holiday.
What this means for parents is that staff will not be making phone calls for the next two weeks to touch base with you; those will start up again in the week beginning Monday 20th April. Parents of children who are entitled to Free School Meals will not be receiving vouchers as these are term time only (as would a school meal be).
Mr. Holyland’s daily challenges have been going down well. There have been some technicial issues with today’s challenge after a text was sent to parents and we hope to resolve those as soon as possible. It’s another challenge involving toilet rolls – to see how many you can balance on your head. For inspiration take a look at the photograph submitted by a member of staff on the Challenges Gallery. Thank goodness toilet rolls are back on the shelves now!
Please continue to send any photos / videos of the challenges being completed or any activities which your child may have been doing so that we can add these to our virtual noticeboard or challenges gallery. Several parents have said that they have found both of these pages useful for ideas of things to do with their own children.
Finally, schools within Apollo Partnership Trust would like to do their bit to support our colleagues in the NHS by sourcing as much PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) as possible and delivering it to the hospitals in Leicester, where there is a shortage. We have raided cupboards and stores in the schools and wonder whether there may be parents who work for local companies which have any equipment which could be donated?
I would like to wish everyone a very happy Easter.
31.03.20 Day Seven (counting the school days!)
The feedback which I have been getting from the staff who have been speaking with you is that most people are now into a settled routine after the madness of last week. It's good to hear how well the children are getting on.
Last night the government issued its guidance on provision of free school meals vouches whilst schools are closed; details can be found on our Free School Meals page. This has caused some confusion amongst parents. If you have children in EYFS and Key Stage 1, all children are provided with a school meal under the Universal Infant Meal scheme. You are NOT entitled to the vouchers under this scheme. You ARE, though, entitled to the vouchers if you have previously registered for Free School Meals due to your personal circumstances. We have already contacted all parents who are eligible for the vouchers.
If your circumstances have recently changed and you believe that you may be eligible for Free School Meals, please contact the school office so that we can help you.
It has been pleasing to see how many parents are checking the website for updates and looking for things which can be done with the children when at home. There are two new additions to which I would particularly like to draw your attention:
- At the top of the Virtual Noticeboard I have advertised a poetry writing competition which is only open to 7-11 year olds in North West Leicestershire. Give it a go!
- Mr. Holyland, our Apprentice for School Sport, Health and Wellbeing has been busy at home. On our Stay Active page you will find a link to a short workout which he has put together for the children but even more excitingly you will find today's first CHALLENGE! Every normal school day, Mr. Holyland will be giving the children a physical challenge to attempt. Today's is the toilet roll challenge. What will tomorrow bring?!
27.03.20 Day Five
So schools have now been closed for a week. All the staff at Broom Leys are thinking about you and send their best wishes. We have now contacted just about every family to see how things are and we will continue to do this whilst schools are closed. The staff have been telling me that it has been lovely just to touch base and to know that you and the children are getting on well.
There is now a lot of information on our 'Beating Coronavirus' page and this will be updated on a regular basis. A big thank you to those parents who have shared things for the Virtual Notice Board. You're being incredibly creative!
There are further links on the 'Stay Active' page, things which you can get your child to do to burn off some energy and to stay active whilst we are all confined to our homes, including suggestions for table tennis (even without the right equipment!) and yoga for children!
We have created a Mental Wellbeing page which parents might find useful during these uncertain times. Children may well be unsettled by the sudden change to their routine or by the current situation. This page offers ideas and resources for working with your child.
If your child has Special Educational Needs and may be finding some of the work slightly tricky, please take a look at some of the resources which have been put on our SEN page. Alternatively, please take a look at some of the learning activities for the year group below.
Into Film is a charity which supports schools to use film in education. Parents of children in Years 3 and 4 will remember that we managed to get free tickets to take the children to see Peter Rabbit and How to Tame your Dragon in the Autumn Term. They have created a collection of 50 film guides to support learning at home. So why not watch a film together then do some of the activities which they have suggested? There are films which are suitable for ages 5-7 and 7-11 and for those of you with older children 11-14 and 14-16.
Enjoy your weekend; I will be in touch again next week.
25.03.20 Day Three
I hope that you are all well. By now you should have been contacted by a member of staff from Broom Leys just to touch base, to make sure that all is well with you at home and to see if there is anything we can help you with. There were some parents who did not answer the call but if you would like to get in touch with us then please do! You can contact your child's teacher here. We will be trying to contact all families on at least a weekly basis so that we can keep you updated and help wherever we can. Some teachers, who are working from home, are using their own phones to ring you so you might get a call showing that the number is withheld. Please answer!
We are in the process of updating the home page of our website so that it becomes a 'Beating Coronavirus' page. We will be putting links to help, guidance, advice and useful resources for parents so please check that regularly.
Have you been doing anything exciting with your child over the last few days which it would be worth sharing with other parents? Take a look at our 'Virtual Noticeboard' page. If you would like to contribute to the page please feel free to do so over the coming weeks. It will be a way of us all keeping in touch as well as perhaps giving simple ideas to each other of what can be done at home during the closure.
Whilst we are all confined to our homes it is important to try to stay active. We have put some suggestions on our 'Stay Active' page.
Finally, thinking of pointing parents in the direction of useful resources, have you seen that David Walliams is releasing a free audio book each day for children to listen to? Today's story is Grubby Gertrude and you can find it here: www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses