The Island Learning Trust - Update Letter 12: 07.05.20

I hope you are all riding the Corona Coaster and holding on tightly, the peaks, troughs and the stomach churning bits too.

In my head I thought that during this enforced quiet time I would be highly efficient: catch up on all paperwork, attack the planning required for the new year, spring clean the house, tend and develop the garden, diet, exercise, enjoy some down time, possibly engage in yoga, having done a bit before, run a bit, reconnect with my husband and children. Indeed, I would emerge from the lock down feeling and looking a bit like Wonder Woman:

Slimmer, more relaxed, more organised, better skin & hair, well-adjusted, happy children who have kept pace with learning, a harmonious marriage, I would be energised and my house would be like a show house.

That was the plan…

Suffice to say I have failed miserably…

I have been comfort eating and drinking. I have only left the house to go to school, no exercise at all, except chasing the kids to tidy their rooms: they are currently advertised on EBay, Buy 2 get one free (no bids as yet)! The house did benefit from a spruce but the delight in that has gone and very quickly, with 5 of us here, 4 dogs, a rabbit and 2 tortoises my Spring cleaning is no longer evident. I started work in the garden but it is not finished: awaiting plant deliveries. I have swung from feeling incensed about the reopening media frenzy (I have expressed this in several online forums and indeed typed so furiously I have broken 2 nails)! Moreover, on other days I have not bothered to get dressed. I have now trimmed my own hair and attacked my roots too. Now a more realistic visual comparison would be Mrs Twit certainly not Wonder Woman!

I have had days where I have enjoyed the isolation and quietness but equally days feeling agitated, irritated and all at sea. Whilst I have worked, I am aware I am not able to concentrate, feeling at times emotional and I am not even functioning at 50%.

Forgive my therapeutic off-loading; the key message here is, as we live through this pandemic our emotions and moods are riding a rollercoaster: they are unpredictable and changeable, just as we settle a turn leaves us breathless. This is no time for unrealistic Wonder Woman expectations, we simply need to hang on in there and use whatever means we can to try to stay positive and upbeat. If you are struggling to do this, as I have on some days and you feel you need additional support please use the tools previously shared: look on our websites, ring family, a friend.

I say again:

Home learning must not be the straw that breaks your back.

Many parents ask will my children fall behind?

Firstly, pupils learning is always relative to their peers and all their peers are in the same boat – so no-one is falling behind, education has just been paused. Secondly, this is the wrong question. Catching up is the last thing we should be worrying about. Our children are unlikely to be able to just pick up where they left off.

When we return to school, we will be more concerned with finding out how the lockdown has affected the emotional wellbeing of our children:

· Are our children scared of catching the virus?

· Have they managed to maintain a circle of friends?

· How we can best support those who have experienced loss, or grief?

There any many more areas we will need to focus on too. We know our children will worry about whether they’ve done enough work, worried whether their family are safe, worried if their friends still like them, worried about separating from their family. All of these things need to be considered and supported ahead of a push for learning and progress.

Catching up isn't the priority – catching our breath and taking care of our pupils will come first.

Moving Forward, Schools Opening

As you will be aware from the latest news reports lockdown is due to be reviewed on Sunday 10th May and at that time the government plan to make public their plan for the reopening of schools. Please ignore press speculation until then. It really is sensational and founded in conjecture not fact.

We have started to draft a plan for the return to school, it is heavily focused on well-being and other areas to be considered: staffing, cleaning, rather than the actual physical re opening: we need the details due on Sunday to enable more detailed operational planning ie. If a phased return which years, when, with/without social distancing etc. We sincerely hope that the government are planning for a September opening: this would mirror the plans in Ireland: schools are unable to easily facilitate the current level of social distancing required (8 children per classroom).

We know that this time is extremely worrying and as such, I will aim to write again next week as soon as we have a steer from the government.

We are missing your children, take care of them and yourselves. We hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.

Kind regards

Debbie Wheeler

CEO The Island Learning

To be the best we can be

©  Sunny Bank Primary School  2020