Coronavirus 3

It’s strange to think that the term, ‘social distancing’ was so little known until just recently. Looking at the term, it seems that the theory of social distancing really came into its own in 1918 when Influenza was raging around the world: Philadelphia had its first cases but then went ahead with a planned parade of over 200,000 people – and pretty soon the hospitals were full and many people died. St. Louis, on the other hand, had its first case and the city took two days to implement several social distancing measures, including closing schools, theatres, and other places where people get together. It banned public gatherings, including funerals. The actions slowed the spread of influenza in St. Louis and a spike in cases and deaths, as had happened in Philadelphia, did not occur.

Anyway, we are all social distancing now! I know there are lots of complaints about people not doing it properly – especially at first – but it seems to me that everyone takes it very seriously… people are keeping well away from each other.

The strange thing about all this is that at the end of it all, many people will be very much fitter than they have been in their lives (thanks to Joe Wicks, in part), the world will be much less polluted and people will be appreciative, especially of those people who serve us (NHS, bin collectors, shop workers, postal workers – even teachers!) and people will have been through a period of being kinder towards each other and much more spiritually aware – and it is a pity that it has taken a crisis to make this happen. I hope that schools and society can learn lessons about what really is important (love, decency, creativity – and not just testing!)

I hope that everyone is enjoying keeping in touch through the YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter and the website. Stay safe.

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Coronavirus blog 2

Time is moving very slowly as events are travelling at breakneck speed. When I wrote the first blog, I suggested that parents made use of the outdoors so that children could explore nature: of course, we are now expected to stay indoors as much as possible with limited exercise in a day.

We have had our first week in school since the closures. It has seemed so strange to have the spaces of school housing so few children and strange to shrink back from each interaction to maintain that safe distance…

I think it is true to say that no one can guess what is on the horizon. Who would have thought that the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, and the Prime Minister should both contract the virus in the same week?

It perhaps isn’t strange that this time away from school has led to all sorts of creativity and innovation. We now have a school Facebook page and a YouTube channel. If you go onto YouTube and look up Conisbrough Ivanhoe Primary Academy, you will see a range of videos uploaded by staff for the amusement of children – and one (the most brilliant) created by a child. Please look and see.

We hope to move to a voucher system for Free School Meals after Easter, so if anyone is entitled to FSM but isn’t claiming them (some people don’t bother because infants get free meals anyway, but these are not FSM) get in touch with the office. I guess that some people may now be on benefits that weren’t before, so contact us if you think you have an entitlement and we can help. Currently, we are providing grab bags during the school term.

I hope that everyone is managing – it has been lovely to see so many pictures on Twitter and Facebook of children making use of their time.

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Coronavirus blog 1

How strange that just a week ago, we mentioned the coronavirus in a homework front page for the very first time – and now all schools in the UK are closed to most pupils.

This has been a strange few days for us all – on Monday of this week we were saying that we were cancelling ‘Learner of the Week’ and by Friday we were making plans to limit the school to only 38 children for the foreseeable future and to ration places even for key workers.

This school will be open over Easter, presumably for the first time ever, and staff are organising themselves to give whatever cover we can so that children of key workers have a safe place to go.

The world has turned upside down – my children kissed their Gran last Sunday for the last time for a few months and I shall only be dropping off a card for her on Mothering Sunday and I guess that even then, she will have to wash her hands once she’s opened it .

A lot of this week has been about preparedness for the school closure and partial re-opening. It has been very difficult because the government gave confused messages and then no messages (!) and we were left in the dark. It is really difficult to organise partial opening – there are a million things to consider – and then you get the situation where emails aren’t arriving as the broadband is really slow due to excess demand!

I hope by now that parents have been able to access the work that we have prepared for children at home – it’s on the class pages (and you can use the link in the green box on the homepage.) The most successful way in which your children can ‘work from home’ is to have established routines so that they know when they are working and when they are playing – please don’t make them work too hard, but at the same time, please keep them learning.

It was very sad in school today as the Y6 got their T-shirts signed, which is something they would normally have done on the last day in July. I really hope that we can at least have a leavers’ party and a last assembly in July (even better would be to manage to get on the residential at the beginning of July) but I am not holding my breath as it might not make sense to get back together just before a six week closure.

My message to parents and children is to stay safe – an upside of this is that parents and children will have to make much greater use of the outdoors that many would normally do – so it will be a walk by a stream rather than a play area. I hope that parents make full use of their time with their kids – it’s precious time, after all.

I will be blogging every Friday – please do blog back.

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Frailty…

Frailty is such a lovely word (although not describing a lovely thing…) it means the condition of being weak and delicate. So something is said to be frail if it is weak or delicate – but I think the word itself sounds delicate…

The Y6 have chosen ominous as a word, it means, giving the worrying impression that something bad is going to happen – ‘those clouds look ominous’ is something you might say. The other Y6 word is rhapsody, which means an effusively enthusiastic or ecstatic expression of feeling. For my own class, our word is mentioned, which comes up in a Michael Rosen poem and it means, refer to (something) briefly and without going into detail. The final word is anaesthetic, which is a substance that induces insensitivity to pain.

Try and use one of these in a piece of writing…

 

New Year Resolution…

Many, many people use the start of the New Year to try to make changes in their lives which will help them to live better or do better: these are called New Year’s Resolutions. Some people give things up and some people try to do things – the most obvious thing that people often do is resolve to take more exercise – so many people join gyms in January or start running. Grown ups often resolve not to drink any alcohol during January to give their livers a rest and maybe even to recover a bit after the Christmas holiday. For myself, I have resolved to drink nothing but water in January – this is because I think I drink too much coffee and need a break from it. I have also resolved not to eat any sweets, biscuits, cakes and so on until February 5th as I definitely have eaten too much rubbish over Christmas! What do you think you would decide for a New Year Resolution – let us know, and let us know if you are actually succeeding with your resolution…

Jeopardise…

Jeopardise is a great word – looking at the spelling, it reminds me of leopard: a very unusual spelling pattern is being used here.  It means  putting someone or something into a position of danger, loss, harm or failure. So I would jeopardise my job if I broke the law – and a child would jeopardise their chances of having a playtime if they cheeked their teacher. Miscellaneous is a word that just feels great when you say it – and you feel clever if you can spell it! It means various or varied – and often is used about gathering together a set of different items; so you could say, ‘he had a bunch of miscellaneous coins in his pocket’ or ‘some miscellaneous crayons in his pencil case’.

Quaint from the Y6 class means picturesque, charming or sweet – when I am driving through the country and I come across a beautiful little village, I might say ‘how quaint‘. I also like the word gravity because it has different meanings. Obviously, gravity is that force that pulls an object down, but it also means something that is serious – so I might speak to a parent with gravity if I were excluding their child from school. I know that Y4 are looking at a text about the sun at the moment because two classes have chosen sun-related words: Miss Moseley’s have used photosphere which is the sun’s outer shell from which light is radiated. Finally, the word countenance means a person’s facial expression: Mr Brian wore a grave countenance when he excluded the naughty child. See if you can learn to spell these words and to use them in your writing…

Seize…

By a strange coincidence, two separate classes came up with the word, ‘seize’. One class said it meant to ‘grab something/someone suddenly or firmly’ and the other said ‘to take hold of something.’ Seize has any number of meanings – but there is always something about it being sudden behind its meaning. It comes from a variety of sources:Middle English: from Old French,  from Medieval Latin and from old German. I think that it is quite a difficult word to spell…

I love ostentatious from Mrs Noble’s class. It means something that is very showy-offy, or pretentious, flamboyant or obtrusive – all difficult words, but we know what that means when we say showy-off (even though that is not a proper word…) Distinguishable (another tricky word to spell) means where something can be clearly differentiated from something else. I really love the word bask as well, it means to lie in the sun for relaxation or pleasure – which I guess is what the basking shark (the second largest living shark) must do. And the last word that I have got is futile, which means pointless or useless.

Why not try to use these words in conversation – or just explain them to someone at home. Certainly, write a few sentences for the blog using one or more of these please.

Tetchy…

I fell in love with ‘tetchy’ as Word of the Week because its first known use in the English Language was in Romeo and Juliet – by Shakespeare. Tetchy means irritable and bad-tempered, a sort of grumbling anger. I guess we can all be a bit tetchy sometimes (I can be if I’m tired…) No one is really sure of its origin, but it probably comes from old Scottish or French.

Skulk, is a great word and it means lurking, or loitering – as if keeping half-hidden but there nevertheless. It was probably a Danish or Swedish word originally. Conquer is more of a Latin word – meaning to defeat or overcome. William the Conqueror beat the English king, Harald, at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and became King of England. Authentic is a super word to be able to use: I paid £10 for a Ralph Lauren shirt the other day, and I am hoping it is authentic as it will have saved me a lot of money: authentic means genuine or real… Impervious means that no liquid can pass through, but more obviously, it means that you are not affected by something. Finally, condemn means to express disapproval of something – if you think something is bad you can condemn it – but it has other meanings: if a building isn’t fit to live in, in can be condemned so it has to be torn down…

Why not blog a sentence or two using one or some of these words? Remember, the better vocabulary you have, the better chance you have of doing well in life.

Obstinate…

Obstinate (L) is our word of the week for this week: and what a great word it is! I think we all know someone who is obstinate, which means that they rigidly stick to their viewpoint and cannot be changed even by reasoned argument. People who behave like that can be very frustrating – I can remember when I was about ten or eleven, when my mum asked me and my brother to meet her at the cinema and she would treat us to a film. I knew the cinema, but my brother obstinately refused to listen to me and he literally dragged me (he was older and bigger) to the WRONG cinema – so we missed our treat 🙁 . Obstinate is from the Latin and Middle English.

Vague (L) is a great word – and it describes something ( or someone ) who isn’t clear about things. I showed what vague was in assembly today when I asked a child to fetch something but I wasn’t very precise so they didn’t know what to fetch me… I love acquiesce (L) (such a difficult word to spell with the letter ‘c’ used twice in unusual ways!) it means to accept something – my brother wouldn’t acquiesce when I asked him to listen to my advice about the cinema: he wasn’t acquiescentFrivolous(L) is another lovely word, and again from Latin – meaning silly or trifling (in Latin) – and it means something that isn’t very serious – or even the opposite of serious! Finally, we have indistinguishable (L) (that’s a mouthful!). The base word is distinguish, which means that you can tell the difference between things – but by using the prefix ‘in’ it makes the word the opposite of that, which means you cannot tell the difference between two or more things – one is indistinguishable from the other.

New School Week…

Letters went home today about the changes to the school week that are to come into effect from September. The same details are also on the front page of the homework. Already, I have had positive comments and some negative comments about the changes so I thought it might be an idea to have a public forum to get all those ideas available in one place – which is why we have the blog in the first place…

I have to apologise if the timing of the change seems hasty but we have been taking our  time as a staff to consider this carefully since we saw the state of the budget in April – and we have spoken to schools where this happens (indeed, it is increasingly happening around the whole country.) We needed to talk to governors first (and the majority of our governors are parents) and we shared it with the whole school community as soon as we had done that.

Every parent knows that the staff and governors at this school share the aim of providing excellence at the school – making the school a safe place where children enjoy their schooling, make fantastic progress and attain highly. We do that very successfully because all the teachers work selflessly for the children (five of us are away on residential this weekend with the Y6 and we have given up our weekends because it brings down the price and makes it more affordable.) But there are a hundred ways in which we give everything for your children…

We believe we will provide a better education for your children by changing the school week. Teachers will work longer hours and children will get the same amount of schooling – but the quality of that schooling will improve because the teacher and LSA  (learning support assistant) will be in front of the class for the whole of the week rather than trying to cover each other and thus diluting what we can offer. We know that parents understand what we are trying to do because so many people from Conisbrough and beyond go out of their way to get their children into Ivanhoe because of its outstanding reputation.

We have chosen Wednesday as the shorter day because every member of staff works on a Wednesday and therefore the shared planning will be more successful; we also wanted to avoid the idea of the week tailing away, which would have happened had we chosen Friday.

The only negative comment I have received so far by email has asked how I think that other schools cope: and in my view, that’s what other schools do – they cope: they manage to run a five day week, but they don’t provide anything like our education, which is why we have been the top performing school in Doncaster for the past two years.

I understand that some parents are concerned about the cost of wrap-around care on the Wednesday afternoon. I would welcome ideas especially on that – we would not be able to offer a free service, as providing the wrap-around is expensive, but we could perhaps reduce the price to £2.50 an hour if that made it easier and then have a sliding scale such as two children costing £4 an hour and so on.

Please use this blog as a public forum so that all views can be expressed (just remembering that it is  a public forum accessible by children…) I will be back in school on Monday morning and very happy to meet anyone face-to-face, but it would be great if the school community used the blog so that all ideas could be accessed by everyone.

Joe Brian