Our focus at the present time remains firmly on our response to the coronavirus outbreak, particularly the continuation of our educational and wellbeing programmes. We will continue to keep our community informed with committed communication.

Who would have thought at the start of the school year that parks, cafes, cinemas and pubs would now be closed; that there would be runs on toilet paper, canned goods, pasta and minced meat; that we would have to keep our distance from one another and that we would be teaching our students from home?

No one could have anticipated the tsunami of consequences that the COVID-19 pandemic would have on us personally, locally and globally, touching so many aspects of our lives. Daily we are bombarded with COVID-19 updates and information. As the virus quickly spread and finally reached us, it has caused us to rethink a great deal about what we thought we knew. For us at Peter Moyes, that meant not only re-thinking how we managed the changes necessary to adapt to given mandates, how to keep the School clean and free from viruses, but also how we could continue the education of our Primary Students if they could no longer be at School.

This was rather a daunting task to consider. As educators we know and value the importance of face-to-face and one-to-one contact with our students. We understand that this relationship and the socialisation it requires has a significant impact on students’ engagement with each other and their enjoyment of the learning experience. 

My staff in the Primary School rallied together when set the task of developing an online programme and then positively accepted the challenge of entering this brave new world of remote learning. They reviewed the School platforms that we already had in place such as Seesaw and CANVAS and went to work to understand TEAMS as a collaboration tool. They worked tirelessly, considering the age and stage of the children in their educational care, and planning engaging activities to occupy these platforms. They have recorded and delivered onto the online learning platform explicit demonstrations, stories, provocations and a wide variety of lessons to engage learners in all areas of Primary School.

We have carried on planning for our students, acknowledging that we need to continue and further their education whilst understanding that learning at home would not be like learning at School and that the children would not have the regular access to their classmates or their specialist teachers that they did in the classroom. Activities have been devised to engage, to be fun and that could be completed with as much independence as possible. We realised that we needed to shorten the school day because we know that the home would be busy, parents might be working, and the tasks set might take longer.

We also know that the children need some face-to face time with their teachers and valuable time provided for play and physical activity. Despite this being a transition period, from most of the anecdotal feedback we have received, this programme has been a success. We do know that some families are still finding their rhythm in all this and adapting to change is no easy feat, especially in setting up boundaries and expectations for their child/ren when learning at home.

We understand the challenges of our Early Years children that have not yet acquired the skills of working independently and of those that are still developing these skills at various ages and stages going up the Primary School. From a school point of view, it is difficult to create tasks for such children that do not overly rely on parents and we whole-heartedly recognise the challenges faced from the home perspective. 
As we move forward and are, as yet, to review the Parent, Staff and Student surveys, we will regroup and refresh what we are providing for our Primary children. We are, in a sense, drip-feeding the educational learning as we all get used to this new challenge and adjust to the demands and expectations of distance learning.

Until we may meet again, and it is my hope that it is sooner rather than later that we will be back together soon, I wish you well as we face these shared challenges. My prayer is that you are kept safe, have the patience needed to deal with the adjustments to family life and that you can take on a little of the positive aspects this experience brings to us all. 

Mr. Roderick Wood
Associate Principal Primary School