I think it will take us all time to digest and reflect on what has happened over the last week.
I don’t think any of us would have thought a couple of weeks ago that DHSB would be closed as a school and would reopen as an emergency child care provision, with the whole country in a lockdown.
I don't necessarily want to focus on the Coronavirus in this Head’s Blog; as a school we have tried our best to communicate clearly and appropriately with our school community and to all stakeholders concerning what we all currently face. I am sorry if there have been issues around our communication but please be reassured that we are working hard to do the best for all stakeholders.
We have had to communicate often since we closed and I know that the sheer volume could feel overwhelming.
However, we will be continuing to write a weekly Head’s Blog and in it we will try to focus on our school community and how we will continue to look out for each other and work together in the future.
At the start of this academic year in September 2019 one of my key messages was about the five things we wanted our community to take note of and follow, I will remind you here of what they are and how they apply to now.
The fact that the majority of us are in lockdown is a new beginning, a new way of living, a new way of working and a new way of learning. Once again it can be a fresh start, if things haven’t been going well recently, before this happened, then this is an opportunity to reset and form new positive habits in all aspects of your life, for example with your learning. If you were behind with a few assignment loggings then try your best to start well as teachers set work on Homeworky, keep up with it all and don’t fall behind.
You need to remember to continue to treat everyone equally, with dignity and respect. The majority of your communication will be online and digitally during this time; please be extra careful, extra kind and extra patient with everyone you interact with. You can easily misinterpret what people are saying, ensure that you are understanding, with empathy and humility.
Please make sure you look after each other, all your friends and family whether they are in the house with you or wherever you are. Make an effort to contact and keep connected with your family and those close to you, particularly if they are vulnerable or could be isolated. Reach out and talk to them perhaps more than you normally do. This is a difficult time for all of us so be there for others.
With a completely new way of working and learning you will have to be organised and keep on top of things. You also won’t necessarily have members of staff keeping strict checks on you, so there may be more freedom than you are used to and you will have to be more independent than normal. Parents and families can engage and help our students make the right choices but also please don’t put yourself under too much pressure with this, no one has all the answers so be patient. Everyone is juggling a lot at the moment so don’t set objectives that are unrealistic.
There are so many different resources out there, every day more and more are being made available for free, try not to be distracted by these unless you have some spare time. Focus on being directed by your teachers and when these tasks are completed then yes, take up the opportunity of all these great resources on offer.
It is difficult to balance your screen time at the moment with working online, however ensure you are being creative in your approach. You can fit into your routine, regular breaks, exercise, fresh air and other learning or enrichment that are not online. It is really important for your mental health and wellbeing so consciously think and plan for this.
At this challenging time it is important as members of our community that you stand up and take responsibility to support others if you have the capacity and within the regulations that are in place to keep you safe.You are brilliant as a community in helping others, you have the chance to continue to make a positive difference to others, you may not be able to do it in your normal methods but think and be creative, how can you support others?
Let us know what you are doing
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have examples of how you or your children are doing their bit to support others in the wider community.
Finally, if you are a student, a parent/carer or part of our wider family please don’t put yourself under too much pressure. It really takes some time to adapt and to form new habits, new ways of learning and working. I am certain that you are all doing much better than you probably think, so keep positive and please look after yourselves and each other over the next few weeks.
Amid all the uncertainty and strangeness of last week, the Digital Leaders had some great news as they found out that they had got through to the final of the Nesta Longitude Explorer Prize. This is a competition for students from secondary schools and youth groups to design tech solutions to major global challenges run by Nesta Challenges with the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Our team’s idea is an app to help navigate the difficulty of selecting food that is ethical and also appropriate for the user’s health needs. To make it to the final we were judged by a panel of experts from areas of STEM, entrepreneurship and education and we were selected from 230 teams to the final 40. The next phase of the competition is for us to receive resources, mentoring and support to develop our concepts into a detailed idea between now and July. One team will win the grand prize of £25,000 and three runners-up will receive £10,000.
Nesta have promised that the competition will continue and I look forward to seeing how technology will help us work together, whilst being apart.
Congratulations to Callum Lyons 11N for his silver medal performance in the British Schools Judo Championships in Sheffield earlier this month. Well done Callum!
Originally the beehive painting project was part of a competition run by Pollenize CIC who are based at Devonport Guildhall. They are a pollinator conservation project and this has grown into a city wide project with a number of beehives at different schools and locations around the city.
The competition was to decorate the beehive and our beehive will be going to the Marine Laboratory Plymouth and will be home to thousands of bees!
Mrs Burdon and Mrs Flack helped a small group of students to design and decorate the hive. I added some of the details on the front and it has now been collected ready to go out later in the spring!
I hope we will work with Pollenize again in the future.
With school closed it’s natural that the amount of time we all spend on devices will increase. Whilst technology is a fantastic way to access online learning, stay social, do your shopping and have some down time, you may be feeling more anxious about what is being accessed. This is a guide to what parental controls are and how to set them up and how they can offer peace of mind at home.
Parental controls are software and tools that allow you to set controls on all kinds of internet enabled device, there are many available and these can be summarised as:
- Network level controls are set on the hub or router and apply to all devices connected to that hub or router (covering your whole household.)
- Device level controls are set on the device itself, such as a smartphone, and will apply regardless of how and where the device is connected to the internet.
- Application controls are set on the platform or application that is being used. Examples of this would be the settings applied to Google or YouTube. Check they are set on each device your child has access to.
Most internet providers offer free filters giving you control over what internet content comes into your home. This means that any device that connects to your home broadband is subject to the controls that you have set on your home router or hub.
All major games consoles come with controls as do the majority of internet enabled devices.
Internetmatters.org is a website that allows you to find and get how to guides to see all of these up.
Please visit: https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/ and use the search feature to find out how to set these up.
Internetmatters.org is a not-for-profit organisation that has a simple purpose; to empower parents and carers to keep children safe in the digital world.
Our example of Excellent Work (home learning) is from Mr Manley this week.
He said, "This is a great example of excellent work from Solly Hunter 9S. It's a poster highlighting the importance of exercise which is particularly useful at the moment”.
DHSB Ten Tors training walk five started in driving rain and reduced visibility as both the 35 and 45 mile teams took on the central and east side of Dartmoor. Thankfully as mid morning around the sun came out albeit in rather cold temperatures.
This training walk pushed both our teams in terms of terrain and mileage.
Navigation across both teams was of a good standard again which was really reassuring. A really great effort from both teams who continue to show strength of character and a maturity to ask more of themselves when tiredness, fatigue and mental attrition begins to set in.
And finally - Student reflections from the last seven days
How are students finding working more online?
‘Online school is okay because you know exactly what you have to do and you can just go ahead and do it.’
‘I am enjoying it because I have structured my work to at least be doing three pieces a day depending on the time it takes. I also enjoy it as you don't have to be stopped in order to do another task. When online you won't get stopped to do another task you can just carry on’
‘Structuring your work is crucial when you get sent lump sums of work however it is easy to get distracted online so making sure you stay on task works well.’
For a couple of our Year 7 students one of the best things has been getting priority access on the astro turf during lunch time:
‘I have loved being able to play football on the astro, however it is weird how I have to stay two meters away from everybody but I understand why.’