Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh Senior Primary, Laytown, County Meath, A92 E273. Principal: Bláithín Maguire Deputy Principal: Ciara Winters
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org School Roll No: 20017F Telephone/Fax: 041-9828091 E-mail: email@example.com
1st July 2020
School is the heart of a community. It is the fulcrum which draws us together on a daily basis. School plays a fundamental role in our broader society, supporting pupils to thrive and flourish in a holistic way. It defines the fibre of who we are as Irish citizens and how we understand ourselves, and our rights, within the broader globalised world.
The last couple of months have brought considerable change, uncertainty and anxiety but in the midst of all this the school community has responded in an extraordinary fashion to ensure continuity of learning for our pupils and prioritising their well-being. The response of our Teachers has been characterised by their incredible efforts to learn and implement new IT skills; to develop, create and share online teaching resources; to support each other and collaborate in embracing online teaching platforms and to develop skills and competence in recording lessons and engaging in both recorded and live online teaching.
Our Teachers care deeply. The work of Teachers and SNAs in Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh is deeply embedded within the relational and emotional work of building, nurturing and supporting relationships. These relationships are so important in supporting pupil’s learning and holistic development through a pedagogy of empathy. Much of the work undertaken by Teachers and SNAs in our classrooms is embedded within this ethic of care and empathy.
The pandemic has truly exposed the absolute importance of a positive and open relationship between home and school. New ways of communicating during school closures has established/strengthened the foundation upon which these relationships can be nurtured into the future. To do so is to enhance the learning experiences of our pupils at home and in school.
As partners in your child’s education we acknowledge the significant role you have played in the last number of months. You embraced the online platform with vigour, enthusiasm and commitment to the extent that the pupils’ digital portfolios which represent a breath of holistic educational activities will be of historic merit in years to come, the classes of 2020.Thank you for your ongoing support and positivity, we appreciate it very much given the challenges of the past few months.
Change can be daunting at the best of times. Given the uncertainty about school plans for August/September, it will require even further flexibility as the Board of Management begin to consider the implications for the re-opening of the school. Classroom bubbles and hand sanitiser stations will be the norm.
Schools are particularly conscious of supporting pupils’ wellbeing as they transition back into the classroom in August. The Staff have reviewed the SPHE policy (Social Personal Health Education) in line with the Weaving Well-Being program in advance of the re-opening of school. At the heart of this transition will very much be a focus on the emotional and social well-being of each of our 480 pupils. The pupils’ friendships and their relationships with their Teachers and SNAs are critical to supporting their positive experience in school.
The greeting at the door, the smile on the corridor, the positive affirmation, the nod of reassurance all play an important role in signalling pupils’ sense of belonging and achievement in school. These informal interactions are as important as the structured lesson planning and delivery of resources. They contribute to the pupil’s sense of learner identity while building their confidence for engaging in the classroom.
The Staff will prioritise the engagement of our pupils in fun, self-directed activities allowing them to explore, take risks, build confidence and learn new skills ultimately fostering their creativity and innovation. The importance of creativity and innovation has emerged as especially important for problem solving during the pandemic and we will continue to build on this skillset along with further development of resilience and adaptability skills.
Technology has emerged as a really important lifeline for us all during the pandemic. It has enabled our school to transition to a virtual platform to contact and engage with pupils in myriad ways. Indeed, at this point in time we are all well and truly Zoomed, Class Dojod, Kahooted, Padleted and Databized out! It is an opportunity to continue to develop digital literacy further and also to address the inequity of barriers to remote learning for some pupils.
An opportune time to reflect and to discuss and to review!
The new Minister for Education says she is “very keen” to reopen schools at the end of August or start of September. Newly-elected TD Norma Foley from Kerry was appointed to the role yesterday. She said that one of the particular challenges facing her in this job is reopening schools amid Covid-19.”I’m very keen that would happen. But I’m very keen that would happen as a consequence of engagement with all stakeholders and also acting on the very best public health advice available to us”, she said.
Ms Foley said that as a teacher herself, she “values the expertise and talent” of teachers, SNAs, Principals and Deputy Principals. “I see them as very valuable”, she said, adding “but equally so I see the parents as valuable and important stakeholders. They too must be engaged with”. Ms Foley said that her goal as minister will be to make the best decision with the best possible outcome for the children and young adults that she serves.
For the moment I would like to wish you all a lovely summer holiday, stay safe, stay healthy and stay connected. www.ssnlaytown.ie