Dear Parents and Students
As we approach half term I am writing to thank you for the support and help you have given your children with their lessons during lock down. My thanks also to those teachers who have been supporting the small cohort of young people who have been in school with us, and all of those staff who have been supporting learning and achievement via the phone and email. Thank you also to parents who have taken the trouble to send notes of thanks and encouragement to our teachers.
Let us reflect on what has been achieved in our on-line offer during the last half term of 28 school days.
Lockdown live learning
Over 3,600 live-lessons have been taught by our teachers and these have been accompanied by 3,608 Show my homework posts including PowerPoints and follow up study. There have been 56 morning numeracy lessons giving each student in Year 7-10, II extra catch-up hours of mathematics education. We have held 56 assemblies led by our Chaplain, James Noakes, with supporting materials from the diocese and CAFOD.
Overall, a staggering 175,000 hours of live on-line learning have taken place for our students over this half-term. Where do we get this figure? Well, this is the average number of hours per day, multiplied by the number of days, multiplied by the number of students! I am delighted that we have been able to provide these lessons as well as Directed Study for students in all year groups Year 7-13, since 5th January.
Online learning begins again on Monday 22nd February 2021. Please note that the school day starts for all students in Years 7-10 with additional Mathematics or English at 8.30am. Students must attend all online sessions.
I am very proud to say that our teachers have nominated a large number of students for Commendations for their work and effort during this half term. This is wonderful news, especially during such trying times for all families. The certificates will be posted home in the next few days. Thank you to Mr Cajkler, Mrs Edwards and the administration staff for coordinating this.
Parents' Consultation Meetings
Thank you very much to everyone for attending parents' meetings via the Parents Booking app. Teachers and parents alike have adjusted very well to the new format, which nonetheless does take a bit of getting used to! Whilst this has not been without its challenges on occasion, I am pleased that overall the system has worked very well and I would like to thank everyone for their commitment and patience. Please don't forget that we are always here to help using more familiar modes of communication and don't ever hesitate to pick up the phone.
Year 9 Parents' Consultation Meeting - 4th March
Year 9 is our largest year group with 240 students. Accordingly we need extra time for the Parents' Consultation Meeting. This meeting will take place on Thursday 4 March over two sessions 12-2pm and 3.30pm-6pm. In order to free up the teachers, session B will not be taught live on that day, instead work will be set for students on Show My Homework.
Extending learning during half term
Please do not forget the school free online library which every student at English Martyrs' has access to via their school email logon. Students can read humour, historical fiction, suspense, classic literature, science fiction, mystery, romance, horror as well as a variety of non-fiction, and we encourage everyone to read at least one book for pleasure during the half-term break.
Oak Academy resources
The Oak Academy, which provides free online lessons at KS3 and 4, has just been made zero-tariff for mobile users, meaning that using it doesn't count towards your data usage: this means it is totally free. There are some great lessons to be viewed. Do avail of this service! https://classroom.thenational.academy/subjectsby-key-stage/key-stage-3
Year 8 Options process
This process is now complete and forms should be returned by today. My thanks to Mrs Biddies and Mr Neville for coordinating the process and to Year 8 students for their excellent and most thoughtful questions.
Spotlight on Sixth Form event
Students in Year 11 have a further opportunity to explore the subjects that they have chosen for Sixth Form in the Spotlight on Sixth Form event which is taking place on line between Tuesday 23rd and Thursday 25th February. The event will also include talks about applying for Medicine and courses at Oxford and Cambridge universities. If anyone has a friend at another school who is contemplating joining our Sixth Form, do please put them in touch with Mrs O'Hagan who will help them with their enquiry and application.
When can we return to school on-site?
At present the government has not changed its original date that more young people will return to school from the week of 8th March. However we await confirmation and the details of this. It is possible that the date could change or that students could be readmitted in a staggered approach. More information as soon as we have it.
Mental Health support
During these unprecedented times, we are aware of the effect that the current situation could be having on people's mental health. Last term, during tutor sessions we spent time with all our students discussing how to acknowledge and deal with these feelings. We have implemented the STOPP an acronym, Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Plan and Proceed, this is to give students strategies to deal with feelings of being overwhelmed. All students were given a bookmark to keep in their planner, with strategies to help them deal with any overwhelming feelings. For both parents and students there are a number of useful websites on our well-being page accessed through the school website, this will offer advice and organisations that maybe helpful to you. Please take time to have a chat with each other and take time to express how you are feeling.
Drawing inspiration during lockdown
Recently we commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day and our students in Sixth Form and Year I I once again made a very significant contribution to the Leicestershire commemoration. This year the theme was "Be the Light in the darkness".
Anne Frank is one of my great heroes of the holocaust. She was a teenager during the second world war living in Amsterdam. Because the Nazis were rounding up Jewish people and deporting them to slave labour or death camps, Anne's family went into hiding in a secret annex in her dad's factory in 1942 - the entrance to their cramped attic hideout was concealed behind a bookcase in the factory's office and they lived there for two years, never going out. No school, no visitors. Our lockdown gives us only a partial glimpse into how terrible life must have been for the Frank and Van Pels families, imprisoned in their secret annex. You can see their hiding place here: https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/
Anne's ambition was to become a famous writer. Sadly, she and her family were arrested by the gestapo in August 1944 and she died six months later in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Anne didn't get to grow old, but the amazing diary she had been writing when in hiding was published after the war, and has been a best seller ever since. She is now a really famous writer and her diary gives us a unique perspective on the dreadful events of the holocaust. Anne didn't wait for tomorrow, or for the war to end, to live her ambition. She did her best in the circumstances of the day.
She wrote this:
"Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news.
The good news is that you don't know how great you can be,
how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is."
As we too are in lockdown, but a lockdown with the optimistic prospect that we will soon return to school, let us draw inspiration from Anne's words, encouraging one another and our young people to seize the day and to become the good news for others, being people of courageous love.