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Working together, Learning together

Mr Mayer's News

15th January 2021

Dear Parents & Carers

Well here we are at the end of our second week of lockdown and I know this has been a very challenging couple of weeks for all of us. I am pleased to see that many of you are contacting us if you are having trouble with anything or are feeling overwhelmed and in most cases we have been able to help. The teachers, teaching assistants and the office staff are more than happy to talk with you or your child if something is a concern or you just need help learning how to do something.

If you do need help, please ask.

We are having trouble getting work from some children which means that it is impossible to give them advice on what to do next. This will mean that they may fall behind in their learning.  After speaking with several parent,s it has become apparent that sometimes because a child “appears” to be doing the work that has been set, they have not been checked up on. Can I urge you to make sure that your child shows you that they know how to do the work and what to do with it when it is finished or if they are too young, that you make sure that you know how to go about doing this for them?

Again, we are more than happy to talk this through with anyone one to one, either on the telephone or via Zoom. In fact, I believe that several of these personalized calls have taken place already.

Reading

Your child’s teacher may have set them up on “Bug Club” and sent them some online books to read. You may also have been sent information about “Oxford Owl” which also provides books online. You may be interested to know that you can now also register for free “e-books” from West Berkshire libraries. If you go to https://westberks.overdrive.com you will be able to borrow e-books from the library. This is for adults as well so if you like to read, this may help you too.

Reading is one of the easier things for children to do for home learning, so please do as much of this as you can. We found that the children who had done a lot of reading during the first lockdown last year, were really able to move on quickly with their reading when we came back in September.

Remote learning

If was really good to see classes starting to use Zoom to do some live sessions with children and this will be continuing over the coming weeks. If your child hasn’t joined one this week, please try and get them to join in the next one. The invites will be coming out next week, so look out for them.

Thank you to all those of you who have been coming up to school to collect the learning packs being put together by the teaching staff. It does make things easier. However, we do still have several packs left uncollected, which results in a member of staff having to hand deliver them. This really isn’t fair. The staff don’t mind doing this if there is an actual reason such as illness etc. but to just not turn up and expect the pack to be brought round, really isn’t on.

Laptop lending

We have now lent out over 30 laptops to families to help children access online learning. We do have others which we can also lend out. If you think a laptop will help your child (or children) please call or email the school office, even if you have been given one already. If we can, we will help.

The teaching staff have also uploaded a range of recorded teaching sessions to the DB Primary platform which will help your child understand better what they have to do. The beauty of these is that can be watched again and again if your child hasn’t understood the first time.

Some of you have asked about the possibility of a 4G router to more easily access the internet as a 4G hotspot. I have applied to the government for 10 of these. I will let you know shortly if we have been successful.

I am grateful to our Friends of HPS Chairman, John Shatford, who has applied to the Greenham Common Trust for 20 more new laptops and 20 printers to add to the numbers of machines in our “Technology lending library”.

I just want to say again that we realise how difficult home learning can be, especially if you are trying to work from home as well. Many of you will be feeling anxious that you’re not doing a good job because you can’t spend hours sitting with your children. So I need to tell you not to worry. Just do what you can, when you can. Use the CBBC programs on the television if you need some time to do something. They are really good and entertaining.

If you want to go for a family walk to splash in the puddles, then please do so. Doing these types of things were important in lockdown 1 and they are still important in lockdown part 3. The government guideline is for 4 hours of work to be done at home each day. However, this may not be possible for you. If that’s the case, then don’t panic. Just let the teacher know in an email to the year group email address.

Free school meals

If you are eligible for free school meals, then we will be starting the voucher system again from 1st February. Mrs. Best will be in touch with more information next week. Please do not contact the office about this just yet. Until then, FSM children will continue to be provided with a fortnightly food box by our school caterer, Culinera.

Expectations

I would just like to remind everyone that the usual school rules and regulations apply when it comes to uniform, shoes, PE kit, hairstyles, nail varnish and jewelry, even if we are in lockdown. Actually this is true for anytime. I expect children who are in school to have the correct school uniform and PE kit. I am beginning to see little variations creeping in. Jewelry is limited to a wristwatch and stud earrings (no loops). Children will be asked to remove any earrings that are not studs, as these could be dangerous. Hairstyles must not be extreme i.e. dyed an unusual colour or cut in an extreme/ unusual way i.e. stripes or a Mohican. Children should not have nail varnish on, of any colour. These are all similar to what is expected in any secondary school and for consistency we have similar expectations. I know it is tempting to do something different during lockdown, but I would ask you not to during term time. Thank you.

Once again, I would like to thank all my staff for their continuing hard work. The teachers and TAs of course but also the support staff who get very little recognition. My cleaning team of Pat, Laura and Michelle led by Ronnie, are in every day (Pat and Michelle after a full day working as a TA) and do a brilliant job to clean and sterilize the school to Covid-clean standards. The office staff of Rosie, Alice and Lisa, are the backbone of the school, without whom nothing would happen. Literally…nothing! Alice and Rosie have developed a new role providing tech support to parents struggling with home learning as well as monitoring attendance, completing all the ordering for school supplies and dealing with phone calls that come in almost continuously.  Lisa, as School Business Manager, has been managing kitchen projects, catering contracts, roof repairs, health and safety, planning the budget and doing all the really complicated stuff to do with finance, and building projects. Daniel, our tech guy, has been absolutely vital during this pandemic. He has set up every laptop we have out on loan, configuring them for safe home use and then if necessary, troubleshooting any problems. He maintains our school machines and our network and is the keeper of all passwords. Online learning simply would not be happening without him.

So I just wanted to give a shout out to these unsung heroes without whom the school would just not be able to function.

Enjoy the weekend. Follow the rules. Stay safe.

Best wishes

David Mayer

Headteacher

Hungerford PS 01
Hungerford PS 08 (1)

Reading

This will be our biggest focus this year and will continue to be for the next few years. At Hungerford Primary School the children will “Learn to read and then read to learn”.  Whatever else they learn, reading will be our focus with the aim that every child leaves us as, at the very least, a functional reader, ready for their secondary school education.

We genuinely cannot do this without your support. I have said this before, but I say a big thank you to those of you who do listen to your children read, read stories to them and talk to them. Your children will do better than those who do not have these things.... by a significant margin.

To those of you who want to support your children but are struggling for one reason or another, then please come and speak to us. It could make all the difference to your child’s future. We won’t judge you but we can help you. If you struggle with reading yourself or don’t know what you should be doing or saying when you sit with your child, then you should talk to your child’s teacher or anyone else in school that you feel comfortable talking to. They will be only too happy to help you.

For those of you who don’t see this as important or don’t see it as your responsibility please think again. Imagine your child as an adult and what their life might be like if they can’t read or write or communicate effectively. Teachers in all their schools will do their best but without backup from home it is as effective as building a house on sand.

Technology Lending Library

One of the things that the Coronavirus lock down has shown us is just how many of our families don’t have access to suitable technology at home for children to use to help them with their learning. We loaned out 28 of our own laptops to families who didn’t have one or something similar at home. We are now hoping to develop a “Technology lending library” to help families and we are very grateful to West Berkshire Council who have generously provided us with 3 brand new laptops to loan out to families who would benefit from having one.

Mr Dominic Boeck visited the school to personally hand over the first of the laptops to two of our children, Stanley and Finley.

Safeguarding

safeguarding(1)

I was asked last term by a parent what they should do if they have concerns about a child’s welfare outside school. The answer is simple. If you believe that there is imminent danger to the child, then you should phone the police straight away. If you have any other concerns around neglect or emotional abuse or a child’s attendance or anything else then you should Children’s Services. Their number is 01635 503109. This can be done anonymously.

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