The Covid 19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has caused immeasurable disruption to people’s lives and children’s schooling. With parents working from home, most pupils unable to return to school, and many families worried about lost income, the additional stresses and strains that home schooling brings have been profound.

The most important message for parents is that they are doing enough. Teaching children at home is very different to their daily experience in school, and parents are not expected to become teachers in any way that is comparable to what teachers do in the classroom. When pupils do return to school, teachers will be there to support the children, and to work with families and children to help them continue their educational journeys that were interrupted so suddenly by the pandemic.

At our school, we are lucky enough to be able to continue to run 6 lessons a day through our parent portal for the Senior School, and to set, mark and return work online. It has been an extremely steep learning curve, and staff who had never used Teams before are now experts, our YouTube channel is full of stories, lessons, assemblies and all manner of helpful hints, from handwriting tips for Year 2 to drama lessons for Year 9. With Junior School pupils meeting teachers ever more online, and having had lessons uploaded on a daily basis since virtual school began in March, things somehow have never seemed busier

How parents and pupils access any school’s online provision is dependent on circumstance, and every family will be different. Motivation for both pupils and children has inevitable peaks and troughs, and that too is OK. Children need time outside, they need opportunities to play and process the world that has changed around them, and if everything set by school is not finished every day, that is not a parenting or home schooling ‘failure’ – it is just part of life.

Teachers know learning opportunities are everywhere, and are often very adaptable themselves: as an English teacher I have stopped what we were doing to go to the school orchard with Year 9, or to enjoy the outdoors with a Year 7 class and link this to what we can do in a classroom because this too is a valuable learning experience.

Sometimes it will also be technology that can easily derail the best laid plans. With three primary age children ourselves, as well as both having very busy teaching jobs, the router choosing to pack up is something that can bring everything to a grinding halt. Teachers experience the same thing: the great frustration when a wonderful PowerPoint complete with video for Year 4 and voiceover proves too large to upload and needs starting again, small children wandering in during a live Teams meeting, the realisation that a Governors meeting over Zoom shows just how much you need a haircut.

As with so much around school, communication is so important. We have been writing to parents regularly and keeping them informed at every step, both as closure approached and since. We have kept up the weekly newsletter through the Easter holidays and each week since: it has even grown during lockdown, and we love seeing what the children are up to at home. Parental inventiveness is wonderful to see.

Asking your children’s teachers when something is unclear is always better than turning to WhatsApp or social media – teachers will want to make sure things are clear, and to support. They are not there to judge your ‘home school,’ they know all too well the pressures of inspection!

It is really important to remember that although ‘home schooling’ is a phrase so many are using, this does not correlate to elective home education as existed before schools moved online. Those who do choose to home school do it not because they are suddenly told to, they do not remain in lockdown, and they have, most importantly, made a choice. For all those whose schools moved to remote learning, this was not a choice. Home is a place different to school, although both should be places where children feel happy, safe and supported.

Even when remote learning ends for the summer term, there are parents who are worried about how to fill the summer holidays, with uncertainty over the lifting of lockdown restrictions in everyone’s minds. While so much of the South West economy relies on the tourist trade, this year the need to get up and running is greater than ever, but mixed with genuine worries about the broader impact of the influx of tourists. For our children, the summer should be a time to regroup, to meet friends as restrictions allow and to ensure as much normality as possible.

While many children are remarkably resilient, as our lovely returning Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 classes have shown, we need as parents and as teachers to be very aware of the broader impact this enforced isolation may have had upon their wellbeing, and their mental health.

The summer is an excellent time to help them vocalise and process their concerns, their worries, and the changes that have affected them. Making time to listen to these concerns, even though our lives are full, is very important. Finding time to play with younger ones is equally important, and ensuring older children have opportunities to re-establish social connections that are fundamental to the development of their sense of selves, and of the young adults they are becoming, needs to happen sensitively.

There will be many opportunities to continue learning over the summer should any families wish to do so, and resources such as BBC Bitesize are tailor made for this, and free for all. As a school we can prepare summer consolidation work is appropriate, but time away from schoolbooks is needed for those who have worked through the term of online school just as it would be for any summer holiday.

Parents should take the time to congratulate themselves on their successes working with their children at home in the face of technological disasters, hardware difficulties (or the absence of any internet enabled device) the stresses and strains of trying to get children to learn in a home environment that is, quite deliberately, very different to that at school. We have had to get used to very different routines, and parents should be very proud of all they have achieved, and not worry about those things they have not completed.

Now, as ever, all those involved in the care of children should celebrate them for the individuals they are, and work together to overcome any barriers to them achieving their potential. In international, independent and maintained school teaching through 18 years, this has been a constant with great teachers, working together with parents in the best interests of children. The importance of a trusting relationship between teachers, parents and pupils has only been reemphasised in recent months.

This summer, take the time if you can to play on the moor, to visit friends (in line with guidelines of course), to run with the children on the beach and in the surf, to splash in the river, to remember to laugh, to encourage reading in whatever form children will do (I remain an English teacher at heart) and to recognise just what a journey we have all been on. Parents: take a collective bow for just what you have achieved for, and with, your children.

We are delighted to announce that recently released Department of Education League tables for summer 2019 have proven just what exceptional results are achieved at St Joseph’s School, Launceston.

The percentage of pupils achieving GCSES at Grade 5 or above in Maths and English was an excellent 67% against a national average of 40% and a Cornwall average of 39%. The best performing state-funded school in Cornwall achieved 40%, and St Joseph’s was ahead of many South West Independent schools – including a number with selective intake – by a wide margin.

The school’s Attainment 8 score was also one of the top two in the county – an outstanding achievement for a non-selective school. Attainment 8 measures a student’s average grade across eight subjects and is designed to encourage schools to offer a broad, well-balanced curriculum. With St Joseph’s scoring 57.2 against a national average of 44.7 and a Cornwall average of 45.4, it is clear that this balance is being very successfully struck at St Joseph’s.

St Joseph’s is a dynamic and forward-looking school with traditional values and results from Reception to Year 11 demonstrate the pupils’ engagement with all they do. Children’s wellbeing is at the heart of the school, and success is built on the fundamental belief that a child who is happy and safe will succeed – and we know that success takes many forms.

Confidence and happiness underpin the academic results, results that demonstrate the benefits of small class sizes where children are keen to learn from passionate, dedicated specialist teachers.

While Year 7 is currently full, places are available for September Year 7 2020, and we are taking registrations for our Reception Class 2020.

We are very aware that Early Years are vital to a child’s education, and the fact that in 2019 100% of pupils in the Early Years achieved the expected level across the five key areas – Reading, Writing, Speaking, Numbers and Shapes and Space – against the national average in writing of 72% shows the strength of the firm foundation for life that we build.

We take pride in the success of every child, whatever their ability or areas of strength. Their results, and the school’s performance, shows just how much pride the children take in their own results – and how well they work to achieve them.

 

 

 

 

Eco-Schools Bronze Award

November 25th, 2019 | Posted by Rebecca Walker in Gallery | In The Press | News - (0 Comments)
Congratulations to our newly formed Eco Committee who in less than a term have already achieved the Bronze Award! Working with Mr Cattell and Mrs Jones, the Junior and Senior committee have been given this award to recognise their achievement in working towards a sustainable future for the school. The Junior and Senior committees each have action plans and now have varying targets to work towards. The next steps for the councils are:
1- To present their audits and action plans on a display somewhere in the school – watch this space!
2- To meet as a full Council, inviting governors as well as staff, and work out their first steps in addressing our action plans and making sure real change is effected in the school.
Well done to all of our enthusiastic Eco members: we look forward to working with them to achieve the Silver Award.

Children In Need 2019

November 19th, 2019 | Posted by Rebecca Walker in In The Press | News - (0 Comments)

Last Friday, schools around the nation raised money for Children In Need. St Joseph’s school decided to take on the feat of collectively achieving the distance of Cornwall’s coast which is a massive 483 km. Throughout the day all students from Reception Class right through to Year 11 used the rowing machines, treadmills and bikes to reach the target. The Junior School pupils collectively swam 27 km during their swimming session, giving the rest of the school a great kick-start to the challenge. With great efforts and red faces we managed to swim, cycle, run and row a victorious 531km (330 miles) and raise over £280! Well done to everyone who participated and thank you to all who donated.
Ellie Tucker – Marketing Prefect

Full Steam Ahead

September 26th, 2019 | Posted by Rebecca Walker in In The Press | News - (0 Comments)

We love this article recently published in the A+ Education Guide written by our very own Mrs Skerry!