Blog

‘Catch Up’ and Lost Learning

For me, and many teaching professionals- the political rhetoric of ‘catch up’ and ‘lost learning’ is unhelpful to schools and insulting to families. Our brilliant staff work with the children every day to ensure their progress and to develop their curiosity and we know that we know that every single one of our pupils here at Castle Carrock had a different experience of lockdown. Our children have returned to school with different levels of learning, different experiences and a wider variety of interests than ever.

Priorities

The priority for all schools is to make sure that our pupils are safe, and happy – this is a prerequesite for learning! As we are a small school we know our pupils really well and we recognise the changes in their well being. We can signpost families to services that may help, and we ensure that our children feel listened to at school. Books and stories can help, as can time with the adults in school. Time to play and express their feelings and emotions with one another, rebuilding friendships is also very important. We have invested in quality texts and resources that promote conversation and can support the children in learning how to express their thoughts. We have also given plenty of time to play, exercise and take part in school sports- using professional coaching staff where appropriate.

Quality not Quantity

Our staff are best places to support their pupils – and so we have spent some of the catch up funding ensuring that staffing is optimal and that teachers have the time to work with the pupils they know will benefit from this. This also means supporting staff to access training for some aspects of the pandemic. Whether it be adapting teaching for remote learning or supporting children’s mental health.

Some ‘interventions’ for the children in the form of pre-teaching (reviewing the lesson content in a basic from prior to the lesson) or individual focused work has been organised for some childen and if your child is benefitting from this then this will have been discussed at the meeting last month.

Adapting and Resourcing

As the pandemic continued, and school began to plan for both home and class based learning it became apparent that high quality resources, and adpating resources, would benefit our pupils. Online learning resources such as Spelling Shed, Times Table Rockstar and Espresso Learning have proven vital. We also bought into written work books such as White Rose Maths, and comprehension texts. These resources ensured consistency for the children at home and at school – maintaining challenge, vocabulary and, in the case of Spelling Shed and Times Table Rockstar, giving children a fun way to practise key skills. These resources now need to be maintained for the next year (and maybe beyond) as we aim to provide stability during the uncertain months ahead and ensure that any home learning resources have a similar feel and consistency to those in-school.

Links and Further Reading:

https://literarycurriculum.co.uk/blog/post/supporting-post-lockdown-recovery-in-the-early-years-and-year-1/

March 8th

Cautious Optimism – that seems to be the phrase everyone is using right now, and it stands to reason. As we come out of this second period of home learning we are all anxious not to find ourselves in this situation again.

As school opens up to all pupils on the 8th of March we are hoping for lots of optimism. We look forward to welcoming our children back and to have our school filled with happy, smiling faces once again. We know how hard learning from home has been for many of you, the juggling of roles, organisng time and trying to tick all the boxes. Planning and teaching those at home is not easy for staff either, and relying so much on technology does not come naturally to many of us.

From Monday, March 8th then, school will be opening as it was before the January lockdown. Key Stage 1 (along with EYFS) and Key Stage 2 will be two separate bubbles to enable clear track and trace in the event of any infection. Key Stage 2 will enter school via the gate on the field. School will finish at 3:15pm with afterschool club and breakfast club operating as normal.

Other risk-mitigating measures will continue:

  • Handwashing (which should be second nature!) will continue as before, and windows and doors of classrooms open to ensure ventilation
  • No items will be permitted from home – such as toys – with books and homework left for 72 hours before being looked at.
  • On PE days children will need to come into school in their PE kit – this is because we have to be much more careful about how we use space.
Routines

When we return our focus will be on allowing the children to reconnect with peers and with their teachers. Routines, learning behaviours and school expectations will be a priority – alongside the personal, health and wellbeing elements of the curriculum. The teachers will quickly grasp where the children are within their learning, and a focus on confidence and the ‘basics’ will allow us to plan topics and their curriculum for the future.

‘Lost learning’ is not always a useful concept; nor is the idea of ‘catch up’ – we know that the children will all have been doing things differently whilst at home, and we are aware that some children will have had challenges to face. There is a chance to talk to your class teachers on March 23rd and 24th – this Parents’ Evening will be online / by phone – and will give both yourselves and the class teacher the chance to share concerns, challenges and to discuss how your child has settled. Year 6 parents will have the chance to talk about the plans for transition to secondary school and I have already been in touch with the Year 6 parents regarding any concerns and questions for this.

We remain optimistic that we will be able to continue our return to normalty as the government has mapped out.

As usual, if you have any questions please get in touch with the school office!

Keeping Active!

The importance of keeping active for our health and mental wellbeing.

This lockdown is definitely more dark and dreary than the first one in March. During the summer it felt easy to get outside; we were able to have running challenges, to play games outside and when we had finished work we still had hours of daylight!

However it is important to keep active, and whilst it may not always be possible to get outside there are plenty of other ideas that will help you to keep active. I thought it might be useful to collate some ideas here – and, whilst it may not be possible to recreate PE lessons at home, your class teachers over the next few weeks will be setting some home challenges to give your family a bit of a movement focus- and there will be a few links shared on facebook.

You can also try some dance classes at home – Oti Mabuse has some fabulous ‘Kids Dance Classes’ on her You Tube site.

One of Oti Mabuse’s online classes.

The aim here is just to have some fun – keep your spirits up – and remind our children how important it is to keep fit and how much better it can feel when you are active! Take a look at some of the links below.

Links to Activity Sheets for the different age groups.

Updated for January 2021

Dear Parents / Carers

Happy New Year. I hope you have all managed to have an enjoyable Christmas break and you are all safe and well.

As you may be aware, this morning Cumbria County Council and Colin Cox (Director of Public Health Cumbria) formally wrote to the Department for Education requesting them to close all primary schools in Cumbria due to high infection rates and hospital admissions. This move was denied by the Department for Education, however they have committed to a review of this decision early next week. 

In addition to this, the advice for teaching staff from their professional associations has been to work from home due to health and safety concerns.

Taking into consideration all these issues, the governors and I have taken the decision to move to online learning from Tuesday 5th January for the first 2 weeks of term, following which we will review the position in line with local and national guidance.

However, school will be open for Critical Worker and Vulnerable children only, from Tuesday 5th January.  The list of Critical Workers can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision  Please consider very carefully whether you need to access the provision for vulnerable and key worker children as we are limited in the staffing provision we have available – and the lower the numbers of staff and children in school, the lower the risk for everyone. If you do meet the criteria for a Critical Worker and wish for your child/ children to take up a place, please contact Dee with what you need over the next two weeks: finance@castlecarrock.school.cumbria.sch.uk. We will contact the parents of those children who fit into the ‘vulnerable’ category to make suitable arrangements. 

For those children who are accessing school, breakfast and after school club will be open – although again, please consider whether you need to use this. If you do, please email Dee with times and dates needed for the next two weeks. 

Without a doubt a huge strength of Castle Carrock School is our community, and we need to look after each other now more than ever. If you find yourself struggling at all please do get in touch – we may not be able to help, but we may know someone who can! It goes without saying that our actions in and out of school are fundamental in keeping everyone as safe as possible.  For more information on the current restrictions for our area please see this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home

Once again I thank you for your support in these matters,  this is not a decision taken lightly, but we are following the advice of public health here in Cumbria and our own professional associations and strongly believe that this is the best option to ensure the safety of our staff and pupils at this time. 

If you have any questions or concerns please do contact me. I will be meeting with governors tomorrow and can relay these to them. 

Christmas at Castle Carrock

Things will be a little different this holiday – but we are working really hard to try and make sure that our children don’t miss out on any of the usual festivities.

Nativity and KS2 Show – we are still restricting visitors and so we are hoping to send home DVDs of the Christmas Shows in the last two weeks.



Christmas dinner will be in Thursday of this week – of course the bubbles will be eating separately. We have the usual turkey, with all the trimmings, cooked on site. The turkey, sausages and crackers are all paid for by the PTA group – so thank you to everyone who has supported us!

On Christmas Dinner day the children can wear their Christmas jumpers to school.

Panto! A little different this year – we have not been able to go and watch the Panto in Newcastle this year, so we are watching one from the comfort of our classroom. All classes will watch Jack and The Beanstalk on Thursday after their dinner.

Party Time! Again a little different – usually the older children run a party for the younger children but we can’t do this this year due to the bubble organisation. However these parties will be just as fun! (Maybe… ) For Christmas Parties the children can come to school in their party clothes. We may also manage a little video-visit from Santa…

Christmas Parties will be on Thursday, 10th December.

Christmas Cards: This year we have had to do Christmas Cards a little differently. We are asking the children to bring in their cards by December the 11th so we can quarantine them before giving them out in the last week.