Newsletter – 29th January 2021

Another week of remote learning is over, and it seems like a lifetime ago yet only two minutes since I was last writing a newsletter to you at the end of the Autumn term. My team and I are so amazed by, and grateful for, all of the hard work our pupils are putting in at home, or for those children attending school each day, as well as the amazing balancing acts that parents and families are dealing with.


As you have likely seen in the news this week, the government has confirmed that the school closures have been extended until at least 8th March. The whole CHJS team shares with you the very mixed emotions this creates; we all very much would like to have everyone back in school as normal, but do not want this to be rushed in a way that puts anyone in our community at too great a risk. Far too many families in our community have now either had someone in their household or close circle of friends experience the pain and suffering the virus can bring, and we must all do our bit in limiting this as best we can.


We know that as lockdown goes on, new stresses and strains will emerge and we are here in school to help you at home in whatever way we can. However, we must be clear that in-school provision is only for those who absolutely need it, and that the safest place for almost all pupils remains their home.


The government announced this week that all schools are to be fully closed for February half term, with no key worker/vulnerable pupil provision. This means school closes at the end of Thursday 11th February, due to the training day on Friday 12th, and reopens on Monday 22nd February.


We are always looking for ways that we can improve our remote offer, and we value parent feedback on our offer so far. Even where there may be differing views on what is best, we always look for common ground where we can tweak our provision to improve the experience for the whole community. We will always do this whilst maintaining the core features of our remote learning offer, which are to provide the greatest flexibility possible for our families whilst maintaining a good quality of work and regular access to teachers to provide feedback.


As such, we have been working on a few projects that we hope will further improve our offer over the coming weeks:


  • The pupil/teacher Teams meetings that began over this last fortnight have been positively received from pupil, parent and staff feedback in the meetings. They are now going to be regularly available for booking every other week, in line with staffing rotas and with slightly adapted timings. The new booking forms will go live from Monday.
  • We are going to be further extending the level of detail in the teacher input for all subjects, in response to the positive feedback we have had from the greater detail in maths. We hope this will further reduce the need for intense parental support on tasks, and our staff team have been trialling out different methods of presenting their teaching through the videos to mirror what the children are already familiar with in class.
  • We are setting up a one-to-one direct messaging channel for each child to have with their teacher, which can also be monitored by other staff but children will only see their own channel. This is to encourage children to address misconceptions, worries or misunderstandings about the work without the anxiety or embarrassment of making their post public on the chat space or class wall. Teachers will also use it to initiate check in conversations with each child as needed, alongside the regular calls and family email check-ins that our team are already doing for those families that we have identified as needing more support. This new channel will appear on Teams over the next couple of days.


Mr Birkinshaw has explained all of these changes, along with some images of what the new chat space will look like, in today’s assembly video, which can be found here:


Another new development this week is that we have received rapid Covid-19 testing kits for all of our staff. This is a measure provided by the government to help reduce the risks of asymptomatic transmission within our school community, and staff will begin twice weekly testing from Monday. Rapid tests for asymptomatic persons are also available is our area alongside the regular testing routes. More information on testing for families can be found here:


Name the Chalkwell Hare competition

Hares About Town is a spectacular public art event in partnership with Wild in Art that will weave its way across Southend on Sea from July for 10 weeks in 2021. Hare sculptures, each one individually designed by an artist and sponsored by a business, form a free, fun, family-friendly trail of discovery for local people to explore and enjoy!


After entertaining and bringing people together, the legacy of Hares About Town continues as many of the sculptures will be auctioned to raise vital funds for a local charity Havens Hospices.


The children of Chalkwell Hall started the process for creating our hare by completing their designs back in March 2020. We have combined many different elements of their designs and there is some careful painting going on behind the scenes. All that’s left to do now is come up with a name!


Between the two schools, we have shortlisted 4 names for you to choose from in the poll, which will be shared on the class Teams pages today and closes on Friday 5th February.


While it has long been the common signoff for newsletters, in this current time I really do mean it when I say thank you all for your continued support in these challenging times.