Optional school work from Monday 30th March 2020

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Dear Parents / Guardians,

I hope this message finds you well, even though I am obviously aware of the challenges Covid-19 and this school closure has had on you and your families.

Following the Minister for Education’s confirmation that schools will remain closed until 19th April 2020 (at the very least), the staff of Tyrrelstown ETNS have been busy developing a plan on how we will approach the delivery of educational content to children and parents, until such time we are instructed to reopen.

This is not a task we have taken lightly and it has required many meetings and considerations before settling on an action plan that we feel best supports families given these restricted circumstances.

First of all, let me acknowledge that work sent home does not directly replace the learning that happens in school. This is an unprecedented scenario not just educationally for your children, but for the family unit as a whole, and presents all of us with issues we could not have foreseen a few short weeks ago. I acknowledge and commend all parents and guardians on their ability to adapt and absorb the challenges of running their households, whilst also trying to ensure a level of educational routine for their children. It is not easy!

As a result, the following are examples of the considerations and acknowledgments we have made, in developing a plan for setting OPTIONAL work for children to support their learning from home. We appreciate that:

  • Parents and Guardians are not be in a position to have all the resources and equipment needed to replicate school learning.
  • Parent’s and Guardian’s primary concern is keeping their families safe and well and teaching their children about social distancing and Covid-19 protection protocols.
  • The children’s routine has completely changed and a lot of the younger children and children with needs are no doubt very confused about why school is closed and why they can’t see their friends and teachers.
  • Parents and Guardians are under considerable pressure in terms of remaining indoors for long periods of time, child minding, running the household, having to attend work if part of an essential service, working from home, losing a job, family illness, relatives at home and abroad, finances, restrictions on movement etc.
  • Children respond well to structure and boundaries and these elements have been altered massively.
  • Families may have a number of children at different stages of their school life i.e. pre-school, primary school, secondary school and university etc., meaning learning content coming from numerous classes and schools. This is very difficult to manage!
  • Many families have children with special needs, various diagnoses, EAL (English as an Additional Language) which present further challenges to home schooling.
  • Families will have wide ranging types of home accommodation, internet and broadband access and IT equipment.
  • Some families may have returned to another country to be with their immediate family.
  • School staff also have some of the aforementioned issues to manage in their personal lives and this has to be considered when developing a plan for delivering work.

There are many other personal challenges that families will be required to manage and endure and the above is just an example of a few of those. With these in mind, our message to parents and guardians when it comes to approaching the work the Department has instructed us to set for your children, is as follows:

  1. This is not school, parents and guardians will be unable to provide the same level and standard of engagement so do not put yourself under pressure to do so! Children and Parents can only do their best!
  2. Everyone’s home situation and challenges are different! 
  3. The work set is OPTIONAL but, we would encourage everyone to do as much as they can to support the children.
  4. Work is set to support your family. If it is causing huge friction in the household, reduce the level of engagement with it.
  5. Only do as much work as you realistically can, given your personal situation. This is only a platform to use to keep an educational routine at home, if you are able.
  6. If your child is not able to do some of the work, move onto the next section or task they can do. 
  7. For the most part, work set will be revision and reinforcement of past learning. 
  8. When school reopens, our lessons, as always, will be based on the ability and level at which your child / class is at. Teachers will teach the next steps in your child’s learning not ‘jump ahead’ with the curriculum to make up for lost time and leave gaps in your child’s learning. Please, do not feel that if you can’t get all the set work done, that your child will be disadvantaged when the school reopens. They will not!
  9. Teachers Will NOT be putting children and parents under pressure when school reopens and checking all of the work done over the closure. We do not want children worrying about this before they come back to school.

I hope the above gives you comfort to know that we are fully aware of the difficulties you all have at the moment and that ultimately, we want to support you by being as realistic as possible given the situation.

From next Monday, the following will happen to support learning at home:

  • Work will be placed on the school’s website (ww.tetns.ie) and emailed to all parents and guardians for the week.
  • OPTIONAL timetables will be included. They have not been created to make things more challenging for you as a parent. DO NOT feel you have to do everything on the timetable. It is there to help you structure the day if needed. Do whatever works for you. If the timetable doesn’t work for your family do not use it. If you want to change it to suit your circumstances, feel free to do so.
  • Work has been set by all teachers in the same year groups, no one teacher has set all the work for a particular class. This is to avoid different amounts of work being set across classes.
  • Should we be instructed to remain closed after the Easter Break, work will be uploaded every Monday until we reopen.

I hope the above gives you a sense that we are trying to strike a realistic balance between how we support home learning whilst not putting further pressure on families, who are already struggling with the demands Covid-19 has placed on them. We will continue to review our current method of work delivery based on our school context and community and make necessary adjustments where needed. If you need to contact the school you can do so by emailing info@tetns.ie.

Finally, I can’t reiterate enough that the number one priority is to keep yourselves and your families as safe and healthy as possible. We have faced difficult situations at Tyrrelstown ETNS before and we have come out the other side and we will do so again!

Take care, be safe and we will be in contact soon.

Tim Stapleton