Learning is Layered

The consensus around the school is that it feels like we have been in this latest period of lockdown and delivering our home-learning provision for such a long time now. It must be remembered, however, this is only the first full week and the offer is still being tweaked. That being said, I continue to be blown away by the way the staff have established routines and amended content to ensure our curriculum can be delivered as planned (or as close to it as possible) through live contact with their classes.

Your feedback continues to be very valuable to us. We especially love the positive emails which are shared with the staff on a daily basis to provide much needed energy boosts! In the coming weeks, I will send out a link to a parent survey, similar to the one we did in lockdown one, to see how pupils and parents are coping with the current demands. Although the initial indication was that this current lockdown would last until half term, I think we need to prepare for it extending. Therefore, anything we can do to improve our provision is worth considering. Of course, if you think it is perfect, I will take that too!

Some such positive feedback from some of our parents was sent to the local online news recently. Hitchin Nub News shared an article in which a parent’s perspective on how we had switched from being open to working online and how the school is supporting you. If you haven’t seen it yet, there is a link below for your convenience.

Hitchin Nub News Report – Professionalism During Lockdown

The community spirit has really shone through, even at this early stage. Over the past week, we have received several donations from parents and also neighbours without a direct link with the school. These donations, which have been both financial and also hardware-based, have enabled us to provide devices to even more families so that they are able to access the learning from home. It really is lovely and inspiring to see how the community spirit shines through in these times of challenge. Another example of our hashtag, #teamwhitehill.

To try and make communication with the school easier, I shared with you three different ways of getting in touch if you need support with home learning. By directing the emails to the right Whitehill inbox should hopeful minimise the stresses and strains at home.

Based on some of the communication we have received, I want to try and reassure you that you are all doing a great job. We have had a few conversations with parents to try and reassure them that it is ‘ok’ if a child doesn’t fully understand the objective of a lesson they have just taken part in. This isn’t unusual and happens in school when we are teaching face to face. It is just that parents wouldn’t necessarily see this. Learning is layered and the teachers will build up understanding and confidence over time based on the feedback they receive from pupils. I am not saying don’t keep in touch but please don’t be overly concerned after just one lesson. We will all work together to ensure progress continues to be made. I hope those of you who have been in touch this week have been reassured by the phone calls we have made home.

Over the course of the week, I have managed to spend some time looking at some of the work being produced across our year groups. Moving forward, I hope to be able to do more of this and provide some supportive feedback on the class feeds.

Miss McGurk teaching a Year 5 music lesson

In Year 3 this week, I have enjoyed looking at the work being produced around the shared text, Grendel. There were some great illustrations produced, including Adelaide and Bella who surely have futures as illustrators. I was also particularly impressed with Tanveer’s pictures. Maya also deserves praise for the ‘freeze frame’ she handed in, in which she also called in the services of her sister, Chantal (Year 5) and some creative computing skills. Either that, or they visited a forest!

Some of our critical worker pupils in the Year 4 bubble were enthused by their Japanese inspired artwork. They insisted I paid a visit to the classroom and I had to agree with them and Mrs Keeling, they were really good and thoroughly deserved their Headteacher’s Awards. I still want to be able to award Headteacher’s Awards to pupils who are working from home so that they can continue to earn house points. To this end, throughout lockdown, I will post a digital image of an award on the class feed for the attention of any pupil I feel deserves one. It can then be printed and filled in at home, or just enjoyed digitally. I hope pupils keep an eye out for them.

Another Year 4 recipient was Florence, who submitted an incredible video of her creation story which featured her playing the piano. Such a creative way of completing the task.

One of the key features of our home learning offer this time around is our desire to deliver as much of the whole curriculum as we possibly can. We want to move forward with our schemes of work so that very little teaching and learning is lost even though the majority of pupils aren’t in school.

A great example of this surely has to have been Year 5’s music lesson this week. A music lesson which required pupils to source six pieces of cutlery and a couple of pencils. It had to be seen to be believed but it was a truly inspirational lesson. I think I am right in saying that this percussive lesson looking at rhythm was even enjoyed by some parents who took up the challenge. Ailsa’s name was given to me at the end as someone who was particularly good at using both hands. Lewis posted a film of his success on our twitter feed for all to see. I also need to admit that I had a go in my office at the end of the day and, despite being a musician, couldn’t get my left had to do something different from my right hand. I wonder what Miss McGurk and Mrs Cornell will come up with next.

 At the top end of the school, Year 6s have also been impressing with their commitment and hard work. Within the critical worker bubble, twins, Fred and Stanley were able to provide a little feedback for each other whilst developing their gothic writing. This partner work is something that usually forms a key part of classwork when pupils are in school and therefore we are thinking hard to see how we might be able to facilitate or encourage this aspect of learning whilst pupils are at home.

Fred and Stanley sharing each other’s expertise

Sticking with the gothic theme, Helena’s artwork was outstanding and earned her a Headteacher’s Award. Equally as inspiring, down to the timing of the candle being blown out, was Monty’s reading of the Raven.

Helena’s Gothic Artwork

I will try and highlight different successes each week in this blog and therefore please feel free to send me photographs or examples of home learning triumphs or dare I say spectacular failures and we can celebrate and enjoy them together.

Another example of the whole curriculum being covered are the PE lessons being offered by Mr Miley and Mrs Small. On Friday, I joined a fitness lesson with Mr Miley leading the whole of Year 6 in a series of activities. Loved the fact that Mr Miley still managed to chat to group despite taking part in workout himself. Not sure I’d have been able to talk, let alone teach! This then turned into a lacrosse lesson! Just incredible! 

At the end of my blogs, I usually look forward to what we can expect in the upcoming week. Whilst the school calendar has paused at the moment, mine hasn’t. On Monday, I am conducting some mock interviews for some third-year student teachers from the University of Bedfordshire. Despite schools being closed to most, some will soon be on the lookout for an NQT and it is important that these NQTs can practise their interview technique.

I have two NAHT meetings, including one with the National Vice President. I will take part in two webinars on lateral flow tests and then at the end of the week, join Mrs McConnell Smith for some training on ‘Families First Assessment’. Although all these virtual meetings save me time (and money) I can’t wait for the opportunity to attend an actual meeting in person again.

That’s it for this week. Please do keep the feedback coming in and don’t forget to share photographs of your home learning experiences.

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

All comments (1)

    I am so so impressed of how the school has managed to get a balanced learning week every week so far. Its taken a lot of pressure and worry from us parents, just to know they are getting a full, high quality learning experience everyday is amazing. The teachers are so patient and supportive. Thank you and
    keep up the great work 👍

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