Teaching through crisis: how Stukeley Meadows Primary School are keeping things ‘normal’ during Covid-19
Whatever sector you work in, Covid-19 has brought with it a series of challenges and worries, and for many of us, staying at home is now the safest thing to do. For some, however, going into work is not an option. For schools remaining open to provide a safe environment for key workers’ children, it’s an incredibly strange time.
We spoke to James Singleterry, head teacher at Stukeley Meadows Primary School, to find out their plans for the next few weeks and how they’re providing support to children both in and out of school.
‘We’re trying to keep things as normal as we can’
“It’s certainly an anxious time for the children at our school, their parents and of course our staff, many of whom are still coming into school as normal. Last week (w/b Monday 23rd March) we opened the school for key workers’ children and we had, on average, 15 children in each day. It’s very hard to try and keep things ‘normal’ for those children and also for those at home, but we think it’s important that we try, and so we’ve been working incredibly hard to support those parents with how they can structure their day.”
“We’re very aware that many of our parents are trying to work from home and look after their children, so our job at the moment is to try and help with that. We’re also very aware that just like us, parents are being struck with hundreds of different bits of software and advice for how they should be home-schooling, which must be incredibly overwhelming for them. We want to make that a bit easier, so we’re using the technology we already have to regularly keep in touch, offer them resources, and ultimately be there for them when they need us. For many of our parents, these are going to be a tough few weeks, so if we can help make that just a bit easier, then we’ve done our job.”
Stukeley Meadows Primary has around 420 students from reception through to Year 6, and each teacher in the school has a dedicated Twitter account to regularly keep in touch with their class and parents. They also have an incredibly active YouTube account where head teacher James is uploading a daily assembly to keep some normality for the children. They also use ParentMail to send home useful documents to support remote learning and to keep in regular contact with parents with any updates on the school.
Making time for learning and for play
“It’s a really confusing time for children at the moment, so we’re trying to ensure there is time for learning but also time for play.”
“We like to do things in sixes at Stukeley, so we’re setting six tasks each day which all the children can access whether they are in school or at home. Children can do as many as they want to (or are told to be their families!) That consists of reading, writing, maths, attending assembly (done over video), completing a challenge and then some subject work (geography, history, music and so on.) If you take a look at our Twitter pages, you’ll see how engaged the students are – and their parents! For us, having an almost empty school feels very odd… logging on and talking to our students through technology is the next best thing.”
“Week one is done and yes it was a bit strange having less children in, but our job is about overcoming whatever is thrown our way; we’re here to do the unthinkable whatever that may be and we’ll keep going for as long as we can. It was a great first week; staff who are able to come in are up for it, smiles all round and making sure the children are having fun and learning.”
“Our long-term plan is to be able to offer remote learning for as long as we can. We’re here to offer whole-school solidarity and community support in a time when people need it most.”
Top tips for schools from head teacher Mr Singleterry
- Try and keep some normality for your students at home, whether that’s sending home materials they can work from, videoing a daily assembly or even just sending home a letter/tweet from their teachers when you can.
- Use technology – social media, YouTube, communication software has been vital during this time, we can reach parents instantly through their mobile app and will continue to do so. We can also send documents through ParentMail, so activity sheets or daily updates can be received every morning by parents.
- Stay positive, keep smiling, remember the children in your school are having to come in whilst their friends are at home and their parents are at work. Let them forget, if you can, what’s going on in the world for just a few hours of the day.
Hear it from the man himself!
On Wednesday 29th April at 2PM, Mr Singleterry is delivering a free webinar tackling the complications of managing education under the new ‘normal’. Mr Singleterry will share best practice on parent engagement, tried and tested techniques on facilitating home-learning and advice on how to support schools and parents. Register your place now!
If you’d like to discuss parental engagement software and how we can help, simply click here and we’ll give you a call.
And finally, a huge thank you to all the incredible teaching staff across the country who are continuing to work through these uncertain times - you are hugely appreciated.