As I put this week’s communication to you together, I am lifted by the early signs of spring in the air. The days are beginning to get longer and the sky is clear and blue. However, I am aware that there is a significant drop in temperature coming and snow is expected over the weekend, which will bring us back to feeling all wintery again in no time. This strikes me as feeling very much like the unusual position we find ourselves in at the moment – almost like one step forward and two steps back.
I am getting the sense that many of you are finding things difficult at this time. The length of time we have been in this situation and your worries about education, health and mental health continue as the cold weather and dark nights don’t seem to be helping us to see where or when this will all come to an end. What I would say, is that the spring will come, the lockdown will end, the children will come back to school and life will return to something less constrained. We just need to focus on one day at a time and we will get there.
The members of the Ainslie Wood team want to be here for you and your children in any ways we can, so we are opening up more opportunities to drop in and chat with more of the team. Your child’s teacher offered a zoom drop in this week, which they’ll continue to run. If you or your child would like a quick, personal catch up on zoom, or to gather advice on anything that’s going on for you at the moment, please feel free to join the zoom. They’ll let you in in the order you arrive in the waiting room, so please be prepared to wait your turn.
Other people who will also be available for Zoom meetings are Philippa, Ms Poole and Coach Symeon. If you would like to drop in and chat with any of them, you will find their times and zoom links on our website from Monday.
Throughout the lockdown, we have been asked to share our advice and thoughts in lots of ways. Recently Philippa and myself appeared on the Kath Temple show on KindaSound Radio talking about learning during lockdown. You can find a link to the show on our Case Studies and Articles page of our website where you can also find other podcasts and articles about Ainslie Wood and the work we do here.
Please keep in touch with us through the zoom links or whatever form of communication works best for you. We want to be here to support you in any ways we can until the time we can be together again.
Enjoy your weekend
We are already reaching the end of January and moving into the second month of the year in lockdown, I was pleased to hear the government announce the potential return date for schools as March 8th. While this is not as soon as we would like, we recognise that it will be safer to wait a couple more weeks and then start the return process, rather than returning early and potentially putting people in danger.
This lockdown has felt different to the first one, I’m sure the weather and early darkness have something to do with it, but I wanted to just share some words of encouragement with you. Myself and the team have been so impressed at the commitment that so many of you have shown through this difficult time. We know that you are managing a vast range of challenges right now and most of you are managing a structure which includes supporting your children to engage with their learning – either live or at another time in the day. Well done. We know this is not an easy ask but one which is being asked of you anyway.
As we move towards another winter month, I ask that you look after yourselves and your families so that you can maintain this kind of focus until we can take your children off your hands and fully take over the learning again.
In regards to the remote learning, our intention has always been to offer the equivalent of a full day of learning across the whole curriculum for every child. It should be noted that this is more than the government have asked for. The government requirements are to ensure we provide 3 hours a day for Years 1 and 2 and 4 hours a day for Years 3-6. There is no time requirement for remote learning for Nursery or Reception. We have always been clear that we do not want any child sitting and staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time, which is the reason for the 30 minute live sessions (uploaded to watch again or later), and the assigning of other learning which can be done away from the screen. While we are tracking engagement in live and ‘turned in’ learning, please find the right balance for you and your family. Do what you can – whether it’s a little more, or a little less – but try to make sure you do some. I do hope this system is working out for you. I will be sending out a survey next week for you to share your views about this provision.
The number of pupils we have on site right now is higher than it has been previously but we are still fully focused on balancing the needs of our families with the safety of everyone on site. We continue to work to the government advice that all children who can be safely at home, should be. This supports us in keeping our numbers low and reducing the risk of transmitting the virus. Thank you to those of you who have worked closely with us to ascertain your specific needs and to those who have kept their children at home following discussions with our office team.
This may be the halfway point in this lockdown and so I wish you resilience, energy and stamina to reach the point when we can move towards something we recognise as more normal again.
Enjoy your weekend
Dear Parents and Carers,
Here we are at the end of our second school week of the year and who would have thought we would have been back in another lockdown? I don’t know if you agree but this time feels very different to the previous lockdown that was started in March to me. While the world is not moving in the way we’d like or expect, we seem to be ‘getting on with things’ in a much more matter of fact manner. I hope that you and your families have been able to find a routine that is working for you over this period and that the remote learning is helping with that.
I would like to congratulate all of our children and thank all of our parents for your engagement in the online learning we have been providing. While we’re keeping a close eye on attendance in sessions and engagement in assignments, I can share that every year group has a 95% or higher rate of engagement. Congratulations to Year 4 who have had 100% of their pupils engaging in the learning this week!
You may have seen on the news that the Government have cancelled all end of year statutory assessments this year. The SATs that would usually have been taken at the end of Years 2 and 6, and the Year 1 phonics screening will not now happen as they usually would have. I want to reassure you that, although the statutory assessments will not be taking place, we are continuing to assess your child’s learning throughout the whole year. Teachers are constantly engaged in assessing all learning from the children remotely and we will return to our usual assessment methods when the children and teachers return to school in more usual times. I just want to remind you that our standards and expectations have not dropped because we are not in school in our usual ways and that our assessment methods will help us to identify any gaps or issues when we return so that we can address them.
I hope you and your families are keeping safe and well. If there is anything we can help with, please get in touch with either your child’s teacher or the school office.
As you will have heard from the news, all London primary schools will be operating remotely for the first two weeks of this school term with a review planned about full reopening on 18th Jan. This means that most of our children will be learning remotely from tomorrow (Tuesday 5th Jan) while today we run our planned INSET for all staff.
Please see the live session remote learning timetable and the support guide for Google Classroom. All of the live sessions will be recorded and uploaded onto your child’s classroom so, if you are not able to make the live time, you can access the session at a time more convenient to you. As well as 3 live sessions per day, learning ‘assignments’ will be set for your child which can then be ‘turned in’ for your teacher to see. This can either be done by typing on the screen or taking a photo of paper learning and sending that. There should be no need for printing. If you feel you do not have adequate technology for your child to access their daily learning, please get in touch with the school office to discuss.
Ainslie Wood will be open during this period to the children of key workers and those classed as ‘vulnerable’. While we believe we can safely run this important provision, we will be continuing to reduce contact as much as possible by only providing places to key workers who have no other childcare support. If you are listed on the key worker list and need to request a key worker or vulnerable pupil place, please contact the school office to discuss.
If your children qualify for Free School Meals, we will be in touch to share the arrangements over this. If you do not qualify, but would appreciate some additional support, please get in touch with us so we can work out a way to help.
As we move into 2021 a little unsure of what’s to come over the next few weeks, please note that we are focused during this time on providing school style learning. This means that engagement in learning during this time is expected for all pupils. Please keep in touch with your child’s teacher via Class Dojo and the school office if you need us.
It seems almost fitting that the final school week in a year of unusually challenging school weeks, would turn out to be one of the most challenging of all – but that seems to have been the 2020 way.
You may have been aware of the disagreement between the Government and the Local Authority advice for schools to move to remote learning and the difficult situation it left schools in. Just to keep you abreast of the situation, Waltham Forest schools were eventually offered the opportunity to change these two final days of the week to training days. Ainslie Wood accepted that offer but didn’t want last minute training to impact the learning schedule that has been arranged for all children across the school. For this reason, today and tomorrow all learning will continue as previously set but all adults are spending the rest of these days involved a full timetable of training. This means they may be less accessible outside of your specific learning times.
Moving the whole school to remote learning has shown us where there are still small glitches and technical issues that we are working to solve, so please bear with us.
On a different note, I thought you may like to hear some results news. The phonics test, which is usually taken in the summer of Year 1, obviously wasn’t taken this year. The Government requested that we administer the test to those children before Christmas, which we did. I can confirm that 92% of our pupils passed the phonics test successfully (the last national measure was in 2019 when 82% of pupils nationally passed). This excellent outcome is not something I would usually share in this way, but I thought it may help to reassure you around potential concerns about ‘missed learning’ and children getting back into formal learning structures. Well done to all of those pupils and their teachers.
As we move towards the end of what has been a challenging year for everyone for so many reasons, I wish you all the time and space to reflect on the things that you can be thankful for. I hope that you are able to share messages and at least virtual time with those who are special to you. I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year and I look forward to a time when we can all be together again safely.
We seem to be flying through the term and I can’t believe that we are just days away from December. We are deeply embroiled in arrangements for festive celebrations and remain determined to find new ways to have fun and not lose our Christmas cheer. We will be sharing our plans imminently, so until we do, please do not send anything extra into school with your child like Christmas cards or similar.
Since our full return in September, as a school we have managed to stay relatively clear of positive cases. This is because of clear plans and everyone working together to make sure the plans have been followed. In regards to this, I need to share some very important reminders with parents:
I recognise that we have all been facing significant restrictions over a long period of time, which could potentially lead to less vigilance around the measures we need to take. However, I must remind everyone that every single member of our community has a responsibility to follow these measures in order to keep our building and everyone in it, safe.
As we move into the final month of 2020, I can share that we are in our final stages of proof reading reports for pupils in years 1-6, so you will be receiving those shortly. Once you have had your reports, we will open up appointments for virtual parent/teacher meetings. These meetings are being held a little later than we would have usually held our first set of meetings, but we thought it important to get reports out to you first. As always, if you have any questions about your child’s learning or want to share anything with your child’s teacher, you can do this at any time via Class Dojo.
Please stay safe.
Dear Parents and Carers,
While the country is entering its second week of Lockdown#2, I am pleased to be able to share that things inside school have been running smoothly and seem much calmer than last half term.
Part of the reason we are feeling calmer is that we have been able to welcome some new members to our team. I am glad to introduce to you to Ms Clarke and Mr Graham who have joined the Year 1 team; Ms Ayto who has joined the Year 3 team, and Ms Aktar who has joined the Year 5 team. Their roles include supporting individual pupils, working with groups of children, and working with whole classes. By expanding our team like this now, we have been able to solve some of the staffing pressures we felt in the first half term and aim to be able to provide more consistency for our children as we move through the year.
I hope that you have all logged on to your Google Classroom accounts, as we are moving as much over to that platform as we can at this time. It was great to see Venture Class’ assembly go out on there today. Keep a look out for the date your child’s class assembly will be uploaded onto Google Classroom for you to watch at your leisure.
Another important reason you need to be sure you can access Google Classroom, is for your child’s report. Teachers from Years 1-6 have been busy putting together class reports, which will be uploaded to Google Classroom. We hope to have these to you in the next few weeks so, if you are still having trouble getting access to Google Classroom, please get in touch with Ms Baldwin and she will help.
We are currently fine tuning our plans for Christmas here. Please make sure you respond to the email about Christmas dinner. We are sad that we won’t be able to invite parents and carers in to share our festive meal with us this year, but that won’t stop the children having a great time.
While things in school are definitely different, we are taking advantage of technology to connect us to the outside world in lots of different ways. Yesterday, pupils across Years 5 and 6 took part in a huge, virtual careers fair, where they had access to some of the top companies in the world and got to think about possibilities for their own futures. We are excited to be starting a pilot of a virtual mentoring programme that we have developed alongside a charity that I have been working closely with for the past couple of years. Finally, plans are being worked on which will link our school with others locally, nationally and internationally for learning and competition opportunities. Ainslie Wood is the pilot UK school in this plan. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on the progress of all of these exciting projects.
Please stay safe and enjoy your weekend.
Dear Parents and Carers,
I write this week with happier news than I was able to share last week. After quite a difficult week for lots of reasons here at school and for the families of Journey Class who had been sent home to isolate; I am super happy to share that, after today, they will be due out of their isolation with no further cases. I am excited for them to return to school on Monday, to congratulate them for sticking so well to the plan that the one confirmed case did not spread, and to find out from them about their experience of our new remote learning platform so we can make sure it works well for everyone.
I’m also able to share that, while we are still working on the plans and risk assessments, we believe we will be running holiday camp during October half term. We will get the plans out to you as soon as they have been finalised so that you can work out if the club meets your holiday needs. Arrangements will work in a similar way to our Breakfast and Tea Time clubs with children separated into age group bubbles but, in order to be able to cover the running costs, we will once again be open to children from other schools. As soon as it is ready to go, you will be able to book through the ‘Activities’ section of our website.
So, as the weather changes and we officially move into autumn, we continue to get better accustomed to the quiet running of the school with no parents or visitors and no children wandering around the building. While it is definitely different, we know we are keeping everyone as safe as we possibly can while also doing our small part to help restore some routine into the wider community. Thank you for helping us to keep the school safe, and remember to stay vigilant to signs and symptoms that we need to keep out of the building.
Dear Parents and Carers,
It almost comes as a surprise to me that the date I’ve written at the top of the page still says September. So much has happened during the past 3 weeks that I feel we should be nearing Christmas already. I have lots of information to share with you, as this has been a particularly eventful week.
As you will know, we had to close a class bubble within the school due to a positive COVID case early this week. While I recognise that news like this is alarming to everyone, I firstly want to assure you that we remain committed to working together to keep everyone in our school safe (which includes sharing all relevant information with our school community), and secondly to talk you through the process that happens when a case has been confirmed in the school (as this was information we did not have previously).
Something that we have learned during this period is that our bubble system is working and people had been mostly sticking to the distancing rules. Those who had let those slip at times have now had a stark reminder about maintaining them and we are now surer than ever that our plan is working.
While I must retain confidentiality for any member of our school community who has received a positive test, I want to request that if you are hearing rumours about specific people or other things that are going on inside the school, please help to maintain calm for yourself and others. We have been inundated with false rumours this week. These are unhelpful to your peace of mind and to the effective running of our school. WE WILL inform you if there is any increased risk to your child.
So, we find ourselves in the third week of September, with a class bubble at home trialling our new remote learning system (we’re looking forward to seeing you back soon Journey Class), with children and staff in and out of isolation periods all over the place. Some members of staff have been contacted by the NHS Track and Trace system and are needing to isolate at the moment – I’m sure some of you have been contacted also. This is the Government action to reduce or eliminate the spread of the virus and something we all need to help out with, however, it leaves us very short staffed at the moment. We have worked hard to make sure that we are able to stay open to all pupils at this time but the reality is becoming apparent that if additional pressures were to fall upon us in the near future, we may not be able to stay open for all groups. This is not a message I want to be sharing but one I feel it necessary to prepare you for just in case.
I can assure you that we will continue to do everything we can to keep everyone in the building safe and to remain fully open and I thank you in advance for your support in helping us to do this.
Dear Parents and Carers,
Firstly, I want to thank you for helping us to keep everyone in our school community safe by following health and self-isolation guidelines and working better to the school systems when dropping off and collecting your children. By the end of this week, we have seen a significant shift in the amount of people arriving at any one time as you have been arriving closer to the right time for your child’s start. While I recognise that dropping off and collecting may take a little longer than it would have previously, I fully appreciate your patience as this is the best way to support distancing. This has been a great change – please keep it up.
We have been so pleased with the way everyone has come back to school. Lessons are focused (as they always are at this point of the year) on learning about individuals and what they need right now to move them forward, and staff and pupils are maintaining our bubbles well. As it is more difficult this year to get to know the members of staff in the quad teams and especially across the bubbles, each team has made a one minute, movie trailer type video to introduce themselves. They’re great fun. Find them in the Who’s Who? section of our website: www.ainsliewood.co.uk/whos-who/
As you will have seen on the news, numbers of cases across the country are rising. I am still watching the figures for Waltham Forest closely, and while we remain behind the national average, we are also showing a rise. Two weeks ago, the number of new cases in the borough was 47 and last week it was 60. While the numbers are currently relatively low, the rise is something we all need to be aware of so that we are able to follow the government guidance to try to ensure we keep the virus out of the school.
Let’s keep working together to keep each other safe.
Enjoy your weekend.
Dear Parents and Carers,
I couldn’t be happier to have everyone back at school and getting back into school routines and learning behaviours again. The children have grown so much over the past few months that it took me a little while to recognise everyone again. The new ways of operating inside the school have gone really well and the parent arrangements for dropping off and picking up the children are working almost as well.
Bubbles for learning and play are working well and lunchtime is running smoothly. The kitchen is operating at full capacity and all children from Reception to Year 6 have the option of a hot lunch (please see the menu attached). Please note that meal patterns must be set for the half term so will not be able to be changed until October half term. As we are just starting back, please let us know your decision if you want to join the school dinners option for the rest of this half term by next Friday 18th September.
Before I get into the last tweaks we need to need to make sure we are running as smoothly as we possibly can, I want to thank you all for your cooperation and support over this time. Thank you for delivering your children back to us so happy and smart in their uniforms. They all look so smart and grown up. Thank you also for remembering the items that they can bring into school and not bringing in anything else and for remembering their PE kits on PE days. While you are all working to this, we are able to be consistent across the whole school and reduce the amount of external things coming into our building.
Thank you also for respecting the distance of others and waiting in the marked spaces. This took a day or two to get used to but is working much better now. In order to make this system work better, I need to request that you come to school for your start time. As we have so many keen parents and children, it seems most of the school is arriving around 8:45 and then having to wait in the lines, which is dull for you and your kids and fills the playground with people. If your child’s start time is 9:00, unless you have another child starting at 8:45, please try to arrive just before 9:00 so we can have as few people on site as possible.
The other thing I need to remind you of in order to support people’s distance is to keep the walkways clear. You will be able to do this by not stopping and chatting with other parents (as the guidance asks of you) and by standing in the 2m marked spaces.
I am so pleased to have everyone back and, by following the return to school plan, we can be sure we are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe. I’m excited to start our second full week back on Monday.
This week we have moved to our newest way of working; a wider opening of the school to children from Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 and a new remote learning plan for the children still at home.
Firstly, an update on our wider opening. Thank you to all of the children and parents who have brought children back to school this week and have followed our plans and protocols so carefully. You have made it an incredibly smooth transition - it has been such a joy to see smiley children returning to learning. While things have been different around here, everything has worked well and so we’re looking forward to seeing more of you back next week.
Following our phone calls to the families of children who have been invited back but haven’t returned this week, our numbers have shot up much higher than expected for next week’s entry. If you have said that you would like your child to return to school next week, you will now start receiving your information pack so you know where to go and what to do (the key facts you need are the start and finish times and if your child is joining group A, B or C). If you haven’t yet sent your child back but are still thinking about it, I need to let you know that we are getting close to our maximum capacity (full capacity is 75% of each year group) and that when we reach our full numbers, unfortunately we won’t be able to accept any more children due to staffing and space.
For those of you who have started the new remote learning programme this week, you may be interested to read the full strategy (you can find it by clicking here). Here I have set out the ways we are approaching the remote learning challenge and the reasons why. Please feel free to get in contact regarding this if you have any questions about it.
Finally, I would like to share that I hope you are all getting at least some of the things you need to continue to be well. With lockdown slowly starting to lift and contact with loved ones becoming easier, I hope you are able to be with those important to you in some ways or other and that you are able to find yourself returning to the world with new learns and treasures that you gained as a result of an unusual time.
Dear Parents and Carers,
We have been working super hard to prepare our school and our staff for reopening next week. The tracking of the virus shows that there have been a total of 2 new confirmed cases in Waltham Forest in the past 2 weeks, which adds to our confidence level that opening now can be safe enough.
Thank you to those parents from Nursery, Reception, Years 1 and Year 6 who responded when asked if you will be sending your children into school next week. Now we have firm numbers, we have been working over the weekend on the lists. Please remember that if you didn’t complete the form or have still not decided, that you should not bring your child to school next week. We will be in touch with you each week to ask about the following Monday and you will be more than welcome to add your child to the list for upcoming weeks.
If your child is on our list, you will receive some information this week about where your child will be learning and how to enter and leave the school site. You will also be contacted by one of the adults who will be working with your children to introduce themselves and answer any questions you may have about the return.
If you are staying at home, please note that there will be a change to the remote learning arrangements, we will be sending out more information about this later this week. While we are making these changes, please note that there will be no live zoom sessions running this Tuesday or Friday, then the new plan will start from next week.
I cannot tell you how much I’m looking forward to opening our school to more children again. I know it’s not what we’re used to and not everyone has been invited yet, but it’s a start and I hope it won’t be too long before I get to see how tall everyone has become when we finally all return to school together.
I sincerely hope you are all well and are able to be enjoying the good weather.
Myself, the team and our governors have been working tirelessly on the return to school plans which I'll be sending out for you all to see tomorrow. While I believe we have set the best possible plans we can, I do not believe that we will be able to have everything in place and able to be running safely for 1st June. For this reason, the plans we are working to right now are aiming for a full opening to all invited year groups from Monday 8th June.
Having said that, and not wanting to cause confusion or frustration, I, like many of you am waiting for the next government announcement on 28th May to make a firm decision about if I believe it will be safe to open or not. With this date being only one working day (albeit in 'half term') before the 1st June, this is another reason I am pushing our potential reopening date back by a week.
Please read through the plans and get in touch via email* if you have any questions or comments about the plan. I will try my best to answer all questions over the coming week as best I can and then I will look forward to gaining some more clarity next week in the announcement.
Please stay safe and stay connected
*To contact the school, you can use the 'contact us' box in the welcome menu of our school website, or just email the school on school@ainsliewood.Waltham.sch.uk
I hope to find you all well and moving through this stage of the lockdown as well as you are able to at this tricky time. I'm sure you will have seen the news that the Prime Minister has moved the country to start planning for the next phase, and part of that is the phased reopening of schools. Since the announcement, myself and the school team have been busy setting out the new ways of working and so I wanted to share some of that with you today.
The guidance that was issued has been set based on an approach formed by The Scientific Group for Emergencies who have been advising the Government, and follows the principles they say will keep us safe on our return to school. These are:
You can find the guidance document that we are working from here:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings
and one created for parents here:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june
We have put together a plan which works fully to these requirements, as well as the other elements listed throughout the full guidance. You can read the full guidance that we have used and further guidance produced especially for parents are carers on the .Gov website, or use the links on our News Update page on our website to find them.
In the guidance, it has been suggested that we could cap our numbers to be able to manage such small groups and the ability to keep them completely separated throughout the day, but we believe we should be able to manage by using all of the available classroom space in the building. The difficult part of the plan for us is to know how large or small the actionable parts of this plan need to be right now. For this reason we will be contacting all parents of children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, to ask if your child will be returning to school on 1st of June. Please help us by answering this question, so we can be fully prepared for the return of our children.
I will be sharing full details of the plans in over the coming weeks so that all parents will be aware of our new protocols and practices and how we can all work together to maintain our safety. In the meantime, stay safe and connected.
So we've made it to May and I hope things are as well as they can be with you. I know that lots of you are finding your 'new normal' and have settled in to a way of living which, although not ideal, is meeting your needs as best they can be met in the present circumstances.
In regards to this, and following on from the message I sent last week, I wanted to clarify the strategy that we at Ainslie Wood have set for this period. We have shifted all focus into the following 2 areas:
What I mean by all of this is that we want to be able to do the things that will support your family through this time and not add any additional pressures. I also want us to keep in communication as much as possible as I believe that is not only crucial to wellbeing right now, but it will also help us to transition back into school easier.
I want to assure you that if we are able to focus on the wellbeing of our children, when we get back to school, we will be able to catch up on any missed learning much quicker. We have lots of experience of filling in gaps and moving children forward quickly and so anything that is perceived as 'missed' over this period will be caught up.
My hope for all of our families is that you are able to focus on the things that are important to you during this unusual time. Focus on the things that the usual time constraints of 'real life' don't allow us to do. Find the learning that the children love and let them do that. Remember, right now try to focus on the process and love of learning rather than having a preoccupation with too much content.
Please stay well and I look forward to seeing and hearing from you all again soon.
Well, what a time! Things are so unusual right now, I think the most used word of this year may end up being 'unprecedented'. As we're technically 'back at school' in summer term number 1, I wanted to update you on what we've been working on and how we are here to support you over this continued time of minimal contact.
I am very mindful that every single one of our families is approaching this new way of life from your individual perspective which is impacted by factors which include health, money, working from home arrangements, physical space issues and much more. For this reason, I believe that our job right now is to support your family's wellbeing and continued development and we intend to do that by providing fun and interesting learning opportunities for your child/ren to get involved in, with or without you, but without the pressure of expecting you to 'teach' them.
From the conversations I've been having with parents and children from around the school as I've been speaking to as many as I can on the phone, I know that some of you prefer much more structure and formal learning to keep your days running to a regular routine; some of you are focusing on learning in looser, skills based ways; and lots of others are working somewhere in between those different approaches. All of these are perfectly valid and I just hope that you are finding the way that is right for your family, which is helping you to come together, rather than cause any additional stresses.
You will notice that now your teachers are back from their Easter break (and some have also returned from illnesses before the break), they are offering more 'live contact' opportunities and you should start receiving some learning videos which you can watch as often as you like to keep you in contact with Ainslie Wood staff and other children. We will also be sending some videos and links about mindful practices and relaxation to help you and your child/ren find some calm mental space during the day. Please also get in contact, and allow your child/ren to get in contact with Philippa during school hours on 079484 929 599 if you or they are feeling anxious or stressed, or just want to talk.
So far as our new, virtual life is concerned, we are all still finding our way and are keeping up to date with safety guidance for virtual platforms etc. Please help us to keep our children safe (in the same ways you would if you were coming into the school), by not posting any photos of other children on social media platforms etc.
I will be back in contact next week and hope that you have a safe, peaceful and productive time in between.
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope you and your families are keeping well and you and your children are adjusting to the living arrangements that we are all living with right now.
I know that by now you will have all heard from your child’s teacher to say that they will be ‘signing off’ dojo for the next two weeks so they can be with their families and do the things they need to do over this Easter holiday. I hope you have been able to keep involved with the learning activities they have been working hard to provide for you all over the past two weeks. Unusually, they will still be working over this holiday by keeping the school open for the small number of key worker children who need to use our provision while their parents go out to do their important front line jobs. I’d like to thank all of our teachers and support staff for the work they’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks supporting our families and I’m sure you’d like to join me in that.
Now that the teachers have disappeared for the next couple of weeks, I guess it’s time to hand fully over to you. I reiterate my thoughts about not putting too much pressure on yourself or your children and instead, think of the future. How will you and your children remember this important and difficult time in our history? I hope you are able to look back on it and focus on some key positives: it was the time our family started a new tradition, learned to play the guitar/paint/sing/yo-yo/beat the world record in keepy uppys.
My son is now grown and not living with me (lucky him), but if he were still at home, I would aim to keep him busy (apart from mastering a new skill) with; a bit of reading every day (independent, with me or an audiobook) and then lots of chat about the story; some free writing (anything of choice - diary, comic, etc), daily physical exercise (on our own, with the help of a YouTube class or creating our own assault course), some fine motor work (Lego, cutting, play dough, sewing, etc.), and loads of practical, hands on activities (I’d hide as much maths in there as I could), cooking, making, building, cleaning (yes, definitely cleaning!). This would all be interspersed with imaginative play and researching and presenting new ideas or learning. The poor little tyke wouldn’t get a minute to himself!
I hope these ideas help you at least a little over the next couple of weeks and we look forward to being back in touch either because school is open again, or via the platforms we’ve been using so far.
Whatever you put your time into, I hope you are able to look back and think of it as time invested rather than time wasted and we all come out a little more developed, a little more experienced, and a little more grateful for the things we can enjoy.
Stay inside, stay safe and stay connected.
Since our last update and the school closure last week, so much has happened. As the whole country has gone into lockdown, I wanted to get in touch to share some of my own thoughts.
We are currently in the midst of an unprecedented situation which is fuelled further by uncertainty which can result in fear and anxiety. This can cause strong emotions and we need to be mindful at all times that despite the fact that we are all in the same situation, we are all facing our own challenges. Any of us may have fear and concerns about our own health and the health of our loved ones. We may also be feeling anxious about possible financial implications in the short and longer term.
We should all recognise that this sort of worry can have negative effects on eating, sleeping, concentration and health. And it is important to recognise that these are normal reactions to abnormal events. I hope that you are able to reach out to those around you to give and offer support. If your children would like to reach out to someone at school, please remind them that they are able to contact Philippa between 9 and 5 during the week on 07484 929599.
I hope that you are taking good care of yourself, your friends and your family and are working out a ‘new normal’. Please don’t feel additional stress about your child missing school as this is the case for everyone right now. As you are not set up for true homeschooling and not many of you are teachers please take this opportunity to build the relationships and fill the time with things that are meaningful to you and your family.
I know that lots of you are accessing the learning that is coming on a regular basis through class dojo (well done to class teachers for some superb acting performances), but there are a couple of you who have not yet accessed this learning. We are trying to contact you and so if you have not been able to access anything please get in touch with us as soon as possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the staff of Ainslie Wood for pulling together in such difficult times. For offering the children and families support and running a safe and fun provision for the children of key workers who need it. It is at times like this I feel honoured to do the job that I do and work with the people that I work with.
Please observe the social distancing rules, keep yourselves safe and keep in touch with your teachers over this coming week.
We are preparing to close until further notice and so want to keep you up to date with our plans for closure.
From Monday, our school will be closed to all children except those of key workers. Use the link below to check if you are on the list and let us know if you will be needing a place for your child through the closure period.
School will be open for children of key workers from 8:30-4:00pm, and we will be running holiday camp/style activities. We will be providing hot, free meals for all children and staff who will be attending.
Please note that the government have requested that any children who can safely be kept at home during this time, should be.
If your child receives free school meals (any child in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2, or those who are otherwise entitled to it), you can come and collect a takeaway hot meal each day between 11:30 and 11:50am. We have been contacting you today to find out how many of you will want this service. Please let us know if you haven’t already so we can order food for the right numbers,
I have spoken to the children in assembly this morning about staying at home during this period, which is the reason for the school closure. While you and your child/ren are social distancing, please keep in touch with class teachers through Class Dojo as they will be sending learning activities and ideas through but please don’t feel the need to turn your home into a second school (unless you really want to). Use this time to do the things we find it so hard to find time for in our usual busy lives. Teach your child to tie their shoelaces, to bake, to sew buttons, to do magic tricks and other time consuming but useful things.
If children are feeling anxious, sad or upset during this closure period, we have set up a number for them to contact Philippa (just like they would if they were at school). They can call her between 9 and 5 on 07484 929599.
Please do all you can to stay safe, stay at home and stay connected and I will look forward to seeing you all when we open fully again.
On our last day of being open in our normal way, we thought that people might need cheering up a bit, and so we surprised our children by dressing in wacky bright colours to celebrate International Happiness Day.
There were definitely more smiles than usual as parents and children came through the gate and saw Ms Scott looking even more brighter than she usually does. 😁
Ainslie Wood will be closing from the end of the day tomorrow (Friday 20th March) until further notice.
The government have announced that schools are to close for all except the children of key workers from Monday. While we wait for the list of key workers from the government, if you believe you are a key worker or if your child falls into the 'vulnerable' category, and will be looking for a place for your child over the closure, please get in touch with the office immediately so we can plan numbers.
All other children will be expected to be cared for at home. During this time, teachers will be in regular contact with learning for you and your child. We have been planning to the idea that not many people have access to printers, so we are focusing on mainly online opportunities and practical activities. All of this contact will be made through Class Dojo. Please check your Dojo account is working and up to date - we are contacting any parents without an account today to give you your access code.
I will also be updating this news section of the website as we get more news so please check it regularly.
While we are not sure how long this closure will last, we know that it is an important decision for the country and are happy to play our part to help slow down the spread of the virus and help essential workers continue to keep our country running.
Stay safe and stay connected.
The latest government advice has issued some new coronavirus measures that we should all be taking:
If you or any member of your household shows symptoms (a temperature of 37.8 or above, and/or a new, persistent cough), you should all self isolate for 14 days.
This means that children who have been sent home from school, or that you have decided to keep home from school because of symptoms should also have all people they live with self isolating too. Please note that we cannot make the decision for you and your children - we can only ask that you follow the Public Health guidance and make your decisions based on that.
Here at the school, we have taken the decision to cancel all events in the school to limit the amount of visitors. This means there will be no class assemblies, instrument concerts or parent workshops. Sadly, we are also cancelling the Easter Disco and the Easter Bonnet Parade.
We are continuing to support our children to wash their hands frequently and not touch their faces and taking extra care to keep contact surfaces clean.
This is a difficult time for everyone in the country and we appreciate you working with us to support our community to stay safe and healthy.
We've had such a great time learning the sport relief dance with Coach Symeon this week. Click here to see Yellow Quad dancing it perfectly. Click here to go to the Red Quad video, Click here for Green Quad and if you'd like to watch our little one practicing the moves, you'll find Reception here and Nursery here
March 11 2020
As people across the world and country are taking precautions and preparing themselves for the spread of Covid 19, we at Ainslie Wood are keeping up to date with and following all government advice, which is being shared with us daily.
Our children and staff are being reminded and supported to wash their hands regularly and to make sure that any coughs or sneezes are directed into the insides of their elbows. Visitors will also be sanitising their hands on arrival from this point on.
If you are looking for a way to persuade your child into more frequent and thorough hand washing, try showing and learning this song with them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9VjeIWLnEg
So far we have had no cause for any further concern at the school. If anything changes and when government advice changes, we will let you know immediately.
Seats were sold out for our annual film night this year. Children, parents and other guests were seated to watch Toy Story 4 and the popcorn machine finally worked to make sure there was enough for everyone. Thank you to those who came to support (and enjoy the film), but an extra big thank you to the members of AWP who organised and ran the event.
Our children and staff are now used to the fairly regular visits from Estonian school leaders. This time, we were visited by 17 headteachers in their first year of the best job in the world. They came to see Ainslie Wood and how we approach learning for our children and development for our adults. You can find out what they come to see by learning about our curriculum approach by clicking here and our adult development by clicking here.
Congratulations to Year 4 who wrote, created and performed their own version of Anthony Browne's 'Into the Forest'.
Children from around the school and parents were treated to the final outcome of the performance on Tuesday afternoon, as well as being treated to popcorn, oatballs and juice made and served by the catering team.
Everything in the show (including the script, the music, the props and the food) were all created by the children as part of their project and the marketing team made sure the hall was full on both occasions.
Congratulations to everyone in Year 4 for putting on such an excellent show. See the class page for more information about the project.
Friday evening saw the coming together of another fun filled and action packed Christmas Fair.
Nikki, Sam and the AWP have been working for months to bring together the selection of crafts, stalls, food and even rides which opened to the public soon after school ended. Children and parents were treated to cosy Christmas music, face painting and festivities inside, and the rain held off so we could enjoy fairground rides including Teacup Twirlers and a Disco Bouncy Castle outside. It seemed that the 30+ prizes in the raffle were destined for one family as their tickets were pulled again and again from the box - turns out, the strategy to keep winning, is to have more tickets than anyone else in the box! (seems obvious now!)
The most exciting part of the evening though, was the arrival of our special guest. Santa and some of his elves took time out of their busy pre Christmas schedule to meet some of our children and give them an early Christmas prezzie.
I would like to thank Nikki, Sam and the AWP for all of their hard work and all of our parents and children for your support. As soon as we know how much we made, we'll share the figure with you. :)
Christmas Dinner Week has officially become a tradition here at Ainslie Wood! Every child gets to invite a guest to join them to munch through turkey and all the trimmings and this year, we have more guests than ever before. Across the four days, Sharon and her team cooked and served Christmas lunch to almost 1000 people! As we know, the children in the rest of the school also need lunch, so Sharon and her team also cook a different hot menu for them every day too!
We loved hosting you all for Christmas lunch this week, well done to the parents who returned more than once as they have children in more that one quad. We have a couple of parents with 3 children in 3 different quads, but this year, no one matched Ms Scott's title of 3 Christmas lunches in 4 days! (January will be mostly spent in the gym I think). We ended the week with a special staff breakfast (no more turkey please) which was also cooked by Sharon and her awesome team.
Thank you so much to Sharon and the rest of the kitchen team for all of the hard work - it's so worth it. We look forward to doing it all again next year.
Congratulations to our Nursery and Reception children for putting on such an incredible nativity this week!
The children in Early Years have been working really hard to share a new version of the nativity story which included 8 new songs which everyone learned brilliantly. A great big thank you to the adults who worked so hard to help the children learn their lines and all of the songs and helped our children look and sound so great in their performances. All of the children in the school got to see the show and so many parents managed to make it to at least one of the three performances. Thank you for supporting us, as ever, it feels like Christmas can officially begin now. :)
What an honour it's been to have hosted 30 students and 4 adults from China this week.
They came to London to learn about British culture and spent this whole week at Ainslie Wood learning alongside our pupils. Our Year 4, 5 and 6 pupils developed projects that would help the Chinese visitors to learn from us about British culture, while we got to learn about Chinese culture.
(click on each of the year groups to go to their learning pages and see videos from our sharing event).
By the end of the week, great friendships had been made and learning was shared in a fantastic celebration event. Our visitors treated us to some dances and a shadow puppet show which were all a feast for the eyes.
The second visit from groups Estonian colleagues this year happened this week. This time, the group was made up of 11 aspiring headteachers who, as part of their course, came to spend the day with us. The Estonian Government Department for Education (Innove) has written Ainslie Wood in to their courses for aspiring and new headteachers and we couldn't be happier to host them! Ms Scott has been mentoring one of the aspiring heads, Kristi Mumm, since her previous visit to Ainslie Wood in 2017 - it was lovely to see her in the flesh, congratulate her on how well she is doing and support her in the next phase of applying for a headship.
The visit this week focused on topics like; 'Leading Changes at a School', 'Life as a Headteacher', 'How to Motivate your Staff' and 'Building Cooperation with Parents'. There was also plenty of time for our visitors to look around the school and to see learning in action. They were particularly impressed by how confident and polite our pupils were and that they were so open to sharing their learning with them.
Thanks to everyone for continuing to be so open and welcoming to our international visitors.
We are super pleased to welcome Ms Alderman to red quad and Ms Ortega to Nursery. We are also pleased to welcome Nadia our new Student Social Worker to our Family Support Team.
Well done Maple House for winning the first token count of the year!
The children from Years 1-6 collected tokens across the first half term and made sure they were in the token tubes in time for the count last Friday. Maple only came first in 2 out of the 4 categories - showing themselves to have the best manners and able to show the most respect this half term, but they had gathered enough tokens overall to beat their closest rival (Willow) by 15 tokens.
Their prize was to learn to be a forensic scientist and solve some terrible crimes!
Watch out criminals, we seem to have the next generation of crime solvers growing here at Ainslie Wood.
Year 6 are currently forming their team and building their confidence on their 5 day residential at PGL Liddington. Read their daily blog here...