Today is the start of the Summer term for most schools. But instead of the nervous anticipation of impending exams and the smell of freshly cut grass, it is, for many of us, simply the start of another week of enforced lockdown at home. Our schools remain open – and have been for the duration of the Easter holidays – to cater for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable. I would like to thank the staff, especially the site staff and cleaners, that have made this possible. The numbers may be small, but you are providing an essential service in enabling other front-line staff to continue to work. Meanwhile, the majority of staff have been learning to work from home: getting to grips with Teams, Google Classroom and the myriad of different VLEs, video conferencing and learning platforms that exist across the Foundation. We understand that there are constraints on time and capacity; that distance learning can never replace the experience of the classroom; and that many teaching staff are also supporting their own families at a challenging time. However, we value hugely what you are doing to provide continuing education. To help with this, we have produced some guidance on distance learning which can be found on Basecamp, along with many other free, useful and informative resources. The Foundation’s Heads are working closely together to respond to the various challenges that the closure of schools has presented: from the provision of Free School Meals to the allocation of A-level, GCSE and BTEC grades. Government guidance on these issues has often been late and incomplete – understandably, given the circumstances - but we will continue to do what we can to make sense of the situation and provide a consistent response. In doing so, our primary concern remains to safeguard our staff and students. We know that schools will not be closed forever and that, little by little, social distancing rules will have to be relaxed. When that time comes, we will all need to be ready to work together to rebuild our communities and to consider how we respond to and learn from recent events. In the meantime, the most important thing that you can do is to look after yourself and those around you. The simple value of kindness has too often been under-appreciated: right now, it must be at the heart of everything that we do.
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