Coronavirus Update – Monday 30th March 2020

What a week that was! I hope that you are all still managing to smile through the first week of our new home study nation! Here at Henshall Towers, establishing a routine worked well for a time and then degenerated into “they’re setting me too much work” or “they’re not setting me enough!” from my two teenagers, in equal measure. On the plus side, the one piece of exercise per day means that we have got the fittest nine-year-old Labrador in Bedfordshire!

At the risk of patronising our savvy and well-educated parents, I wanted to give you a few things to bear in mind about the work we are setting and how to complete it.

Well-being is more important than anything else. If students are getting stressed about it despite their perseverance, then they should have a break or go onto something else, or both. The teacher is always there to email too, if all else fails. In a classroom, teachers break activities down into chunks and much of the lesson develops from what they can, or indeed can’t, understand. This is very hard to do when setting work online. Therefore, doing the above will help.

Try to keep a routine if you can. This could be done by beginning each day with a family meeting about what they will be working on that day or by supervising the first half hour to get them started, then leaving them to work through it. It could also be done by doing the physical workout on TV first (PE With Joe, The Body Coach) or indeed following the example set by our PE department on Twitter @RPS PE then letting them get on with their studying afterwards. It is having a routine that matters most, rather than what that routine is.

Reading is relaxing, it is educational and it allows students to pursue their own interests. I would advise them to read for an hour a day, if this is at all possible. Audible have made lots of online books available free during the lockdown. It is worth checking this out:

At RPS, we as teachers are learning about this new world too. Most feedback from week one seemed to indicate that we are setting a bit too much work due to the high expectations we have of our students. Whilst these high expectations remain, I have asked colleagues to set somewhat less work this week.

After Easter, we will move to a more medium-term plan. This will include more teaching input within it, via Google Classroom, as well as sometimes using recorded teaching of our voices or use of video technology. We are currently experimenting with and researching many of these options. You will see a shift in the style of work set after the holidays which will not only be mindful of the amount set, but will also see a greater prioritising of Year 10 and 12, who need to keep the momentum going for their GCSE and A Level courses respectively.

At the moment, we are asking Year 11 and 13 to finish their courses and practise the skills they need for the end of their key stages. Once this has been completed, we will be looking to set Year 11 work which is more appropriate for preparing for the next phase of their education.

We are mindful of how stressful this time can be for both students and parents. The link below should help with signposting help that is out there, as well as good advice. We will also be sending the student link to them via Show My Homework.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to all our magnificent parents who work in the NHS. We are so grateful to you for all you are doing for our loved ones and will be doing in the weeks ahead. I for one will be applauding every Thursday evening. To help in our own small way, we have donated a lot of our science masks and goggles to the NHS and we have made our minibuses available to NHS volunteers to deliver vital supplies.

We will get through this crisis together. Have a lovely Easter and I’ll contact you again after the holidays.

Kind regards

Alan Henshall