Dernancourt School R-7 Newsletter

9th April, 2020

From the Leadership Team.

Dear Families, 

Today marks the official conclusion of the Term 1 2020, a term which has been incredibly different to the way we planned at the start of 2020. The rapidly changing COVID -19 situation has impacted on all of us. This past month has been different from anything we have experienced as families and a school community.

I would like to thank all of our staff members who have continued to show up for work each day and happily continue their usual duties in such a committed way during what has been a tough time. I particularly acknowledge the emotional challenges faced by some of our staff who have had to cancel their overseas holidays, usual trips back home to see family and for one staff member postponing her wedding and honeymoon.

As you can imagine, we have been busy this week. We have been on a steep learning curve as we move to online communication and learning. It has been a challenge for teachers to suddenly learn a new mode of teaching. We are all moving into the un-chartered territory of remote learning, assessment and feedback. It is important to note that this is new to all of us, and while we are thankful for the Pupil Free Days that allowed us time to immerse ourselves in preparing lessons for our learners, there will still be some trial and error. We remain committed to continuing to provide high quality learning programs for our students.

 Things could change during the holiday break so we ask that you please check notifications and updates on our SkoolBag app and School Facebook page regularly. Staff will be on holidays as of today and subsequently will not be answering emails or responding to posts sent via Facebook or Dojo.

 At this stage, Term 2 will commence on Monday 27th April. Unless informed otherwise by the Government and Department for Education, our school will remain open to provide remote curriculum delivery and to support students whose particular circumstances require them to be at school.

We will work with families of students who will require attendance at school during this time. This will include children whose parents are required to be at work.

Learning will be delivered simultaneously in school and at home. All students will access the same mode of learning; those at school will be supervised to access the same curriculum provided for those who will access it from home. During the holidays, information will be sent to families who need to access school, advising of the learning space their child has been assigned for term 2.

We value working closely with you. However, as family members should not enter school grounds, please drop off and collect your children at the gate. Should you wish to speak with us, please contact us by phone or email. We thank you for your understanding with this.

This will continue until we are advised differently by the government and the Department.

 We are aware that the move to learning at home and transitioning to online lessons may find families in unfamiliar territory, but it will be important to just do your best to balance learning and your daily responsibilities. What we want you to remember is that this is not ‘Home Schooling’ but more closely, has been described as ‘Crisis Schooling’. We do not expect you to ‘teach’ your child. What we do expect is that you support your child in the best way that you know how and focus on keeping their mind (thinking) and body (doing) active, that you support your child to remain socially connected to their peers and the school, that you support them to find joy in the little things around them and most of all that you support both theirs and your own wellbeing.

We look forward to reconnecting with you next term, quite probably in a different way to what we are used to.

We wish you a happy, safe and restful break at home.

Kind Regards

The Leadership Team.

Frequently Asked Questions About Term 2 Learning

Will we get a work pack for the holidays?

No there won’t be a work pack for the holidays. The holidays will still be the holidays. During this time, we will develop a new section of our website, Home Learning, where you will be able to access some learning resources next term.

What about next term?

Next term at this stage will look like children who have an adult at home, will be at home and those whose parents have to go to work will be at school. What will be different is that our staff will have a different program developed for your child to access. During the Pupil Free Days this week, staff have been working to set up our online communication and learning platforms and programs. We will follow the government directives at the time and let you know if anything changes.

Are we saying that children can’t attend?

No, we are not saying that. Everyone is being asked by the Government and Health Department to keep children home if they are capable to do so. Not all parents are in a position to stay at home; such as parents working in essential services. Consequently, school will stay open.

What will the classes look like?

We can’t say exactly until we know the numbers. We expect we will have mixed classes to accommodate students who are unable to learn from home. Students will have their own class teacher for some of their time at school but will also have others. Their classes may be located in a different classroom to their usual space. The program that students will participate in at school will be the same program that is being provided for home learning using the packs provided for all students. It is not practical for teachers to plan, deliver and assess separate programs for at school and home learning.

Am I expected to assess and mark my own students work if they are at home learning?

Assessment of home learning is something we are still working through very closely. Students can record work in the book sent home and there may be opportunities for work to be returned to school for assessment and feedback. There may also be times where you upload samples or photos of work to Class Dojo, Facebook or via email for the teacher to mark but you will be given clear instructions from the teachers if and when this needs to happen. 

Will the school keep in contact with the students who are at home learners?

Teachers and SSOs will touch base with families regularly. This may be a combination of phone calls, Class Dojo/Facebook messages or emails to keep a clear line of communication open. Equally, if families have questions about learning content, then please use the same methods to communicate with your class teacher. Please understand that your current class teacher may not be available all of the time and contact may be with another teacher or SSO. 

How do I manage more than one person at a time at home (having children of varying year levels)?

The learning content being provided by the class teacher is a guide and you are free to move around the content to best suit your needs in the home. We understand you may not have multiple devices for all your children to access and we also appreciate that you simply may not be able to cover all that has been planned. We see this as trying to maintain the learning process but just in a different context. Our staff will provide assistance and guidance as necessary. We also have some teachers planning tasks that are able to be self-managed by the students. The daily content will include a range of activities which can be done independently with help, online software and some viewing. Parents may also decide not to do some activities or to change some.

I don’t have a device for my child. What does this mean?

We have sought information from families to ask about access to devices. All of the platforms we are using are also available on your phone. We can help you set up for the platform that your child’s class is using or Skoolbag if you don’t already have it. We will still provide learning based on common household spaces and items, not all of our learning will be in front of the computer. The teachers are aware that not all family homes are the same. They will plan to cater for students with and without devices at home. It would just mean that on the daily schedule you don’t do the tasks requiring internet and a device for example if you don’t have the capacity to do that at home. 

What will the online learning look like?

The online content will complement the rest of the learning as well as provide opportunities for some independent tasks. Parents are not expected to plan the learning content for their children. It will be provided by the school. 

Do my children learn online or as a parent would I be following a learning schedule for my children?

The online learning would be a mixture of work with some digital programs such as Study Ladder, Reading Eggs or Literacy Pro, some video clips to watch and some learning work they can do independently.

Depending on the age and ability of the child, parents will support or direct the children using the schedule but personal parent suggestions from the online lesson may also occur as you provide learning for your family. 

Will there be streamed lessons in real-time?

Teachers may choose to film some short video clips to help you with the learning process at home and these will be sent through Class Dojo, Facebook or email for you to access at home. 

What if I don’t have internet?

If you don’t have Broadband or NBN etc connected to your home then you would not be expected to complete tasks requiring this. Part of the reason we are seeking feedback around devices and the internet in the home is to assist with this type of question as it gives our teachers direction with their planning. Another thing to consider is tethering your mobile phone internet to devices in the home if you are able. Many telecommunication companies are now increasing download limits for phones as they are aware people are expected to stay home for as much as possible. 

What devices do I need? What if they are old?

A general rule of thumb: If you have a computer, laptop, iPad or tablet that is less than 5 years old then you should be fine with managing online learning.

I find it hard to help my child with their learning 

This is going to be a common feeling for all parents as our time in isolation increases. Don’t worry about this as your child’s classroom teacher will make contact regularly with them and help answer questions or concerns. Some of the work will be online and some of it will be activities that students can do independently or with members of their family.

I’m worried that my child will fall behind in their learning

Although this may be a common feeling, please don’t worry. This is new for everyone and every child around the world is in the same situation. We will work this out and make sure the learning continues. Learning happens all around and right now your child is learning how to deal with this crisis. Comfort them and show them we can get through by being kind to each other and that everyone has a part to play in keeping safe.  

We will be working very hard to meet the needs of all children. We will be providing feedback for students who are at home as well as those at school. If students engage in the home learning to the best of their ability and follow the daily learning schedule, they will be meeting our goals. When students return to school, teachers will reassess children and work from there. This is different and we will work together and understand that all children progress at different rates. 

Deputy Principal

Earlier this term our Deputy Principal position was advertised on the Department for Education website. The panel process is now complete and I am pleased to be able to announce that Anita Becker has won this position.  Congratulations Anita.

We look forward to continuing our Dernancourt journey with Anita as part of our team.

Contact Details

We would like to ensure that all members of our community are kept up to date with the changes and ask again that you ensure we have your current email and phone numbers in the event that we need to contact you. This can be done via our Skoolbag app.