This is the last message I will be sending this week. Thank goodness I hear you say!
As had become the norm things have moved on apace from the announcements over the last couple of days. We are digesting the information from both the Deputy First Minister and the SQA about exams and how grades will be awarded.
As I mentioned in my update yesterday estimated grades are not due to be submitted for a long time and there is still time to positively influence those estimates. Just one reason why working through the work set by teachers is important.
There might be some pupils wondering what they have to work towards with no exams to come but it is important to remember that:
- Learning for its own sake is a good thing
- If you are going on to further study at college or university it is important to keep in the habit of academic work and study
- You still have an opportunity to positively influence your estimated grade
- The vast majority of S4 and S5 pupils will return to Firrhill for next year and the work you do over these weeks and months will be essential preparation for those new courses
- Following a regular routine of school work will be good for your mental health
The school is now closed and will remain so until further notice.
There will be no staff in the building at all next week. As the week progresses Edinburgh will be working on its plans to support the children of those identified as key workers. If you receive communication from the City about this which requires a response please do so quickly. That will help get those plans finalised more rapidly.
We are all going to have to get used to a very different style of teaching and learning. Fortunately, many teachers at Firrhill have been using apps such as Microsoft Teams for a while and they and their pupils are well used to using them.
For some teachers and classes they are newer to these apps and are still learning the ropes.
To try and bring a bit of organisation this is how we will initially approach the setting of work through digital platforms.
Work will be set on a weekly basis. This work will be posted using whatever format the teacher has indicated by 12 midday on a Tuesday during term time. Some teachers may put work more often than once a week and if they do they will let their pupils know that. Teachers may want some work returned to them electronically. If that is the case they will let pupils know when and how to submit the work.
There are bound to be some teething troubles with this approach but if everyone can remain patient we will work them out.
I have written to every pupil today and suggested that once work is set by their teachers they discuss this with you and organise a timetable of how to get through the work. Trust me, that is a much better approach than just working through things at random.
It is important that your child(ren) build in reasonable breaks during the day and so should you too. No-one expects you to know everything about all the work your child is doing so don’t be worried about getting involved.
If your child is stuck these are good questions to move their thinking along a bit:
What do you think the answer/next step is?
Can you explain to me why you think that?
Can you show me a similar example of this question in your jotter/jotter/textbook/online and talk me through it?
Where do you think you can find the answer? Where else?
Who can you ask? (a friend? online search? teacher?)
Taking a break, doing something else and then coming back to it is often enough to get past the blockage.
There will be no-one in the school office so if you call and leave a message it may be weeks before we hear it.
If you need to get in touch please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This email address will be checked at least once a day, Monday to Friday, and messages passed on to the relevant member of staff. Please be aware that it may take longer than usual for you to get a reply but we will do our best to get back promptly. Please remember that not every member of staff works Monday to Friday.
I have reminded staff that their communication should be formal and professional and we expect pupil communication to be polite and in appropriate language.
Remember to look after your own health too. Not just in terms of the coronavirus but your physical and mental health also. The next few months will be a marathon not a sprint and it is important that we all pace ourselves accordingly.
Best wishes to you and your family.