Right back before the end of the last academic year, our attention turned to our ‘recovery curriculum’. This encompasses aspects such as the safe and happy return to school for all of our pupils, proactively addressing PHSE and child mental health and wellbeing needs as well as how to react positively to the time that has been lost in school for many of our children due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have all been amazed by the way the children have returned to school and are so proud of their willingness to reengage with friends, school work and school life (albeit very different to where we left).
At Fairfield, we have been traditionally very fortunate to have fantastic behaviour both in terms of being out on the playground or on the field and also great behaviour for learning demonstrated in our classrooms. We have worked incredibly hard as a staff to ensure this ethos is present across the school through having high expectations. Taking in to account the latest government guidance and the world we now find ourselves working within, it is clear that our expectations of children will have to be raised beyond what would have normally been expected. Staff will be proactive in being very clear in their demonstrations of expected behaviours, rules, routines and how the day to day workings of the school will operate, and where these expectations or rule are not met and routines are not followed we will seek to hold pastoral conversations and re-teach what is expected where necessary, as often as is necessary. We are very aware that having high expectations means having high levels of support on hand for children and we are also aware that all rules have exceptions from time to time. However, we believe that if pupils feel valued, that they matter and that their behaviour matters then they are far more likely to come to school and try.
Our focus in the early stages has been about re-setting expectations, PSHE discussions, relationship and team building activities alongside teachers being able to have one to one conversations with pupils so that they feel supported and comfortable being back in school, and with a new teacher. Our aim now is to introduce more academic learning by starting with what they should already know from previous year groups in different subjects before looking at any new learning for their year group. Our intention in doing this, is to enable children to feel more confident being back in the classroom, learning academically and not feeling overwhelmed by being faced with a new way of working within school as well as large chunks of new academic content.
We recognise there will be gaps in children’s understanding due to the time they have been unable to attend school and whilst we have done our very best to support learning from home, we also know that this is no substitute for learning in a classroom environment from a qualified and experienced teacher. During the period of school closure and over the summer, we have thought very carefully about this and what we can do in order to ensure children catch up.
One of our priorities has always been to ensure that our children can read fluently, accessing powerful knowledge provided in other curriculum areas so that they can become well rounded citizens in the future. In addition to this, we want our children to be fluent and flexible with number and have a good understanding of mathematical concepts to further contribute to their overall development. With this in mind, we have begun our phonics lessons for children in EYFS and Key Stage 1 alongside short maths sessions covering key concepts from the previous year. This is being mirrored in Key Stage 2 with phonics lessons for those children who still require them, alongside reading lessons based around comprehension strategies, and Maths lessons. Again, we will be starting with what children should already know from previous year groups, gradually moving towards new content. Alongside this, we have chosen a number of intervention programmes which are based on the science of how children learn so that we can begin the process of rapidly regaining any ground that has been lost. These interventions will be planned and targeted within year groups and needs of the children.
We are also going to be formally assessing our children in reading and in Maths very early on so that we can gain an overview of how children have returned to school and then make plans to amend our curriculum accordingly so we can address areas of need both as individuals and as year groups and as a school. We feel this approach will enable us to make good progress and impact on areas of I hope this clarifies any questions that parents and carers may have had. If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us. Unfortunately, we unable to offer face to face meetings at this time however we can make contact over the phone, through SchoolPing or our class e-mail address.
Above and beyond all else, teaching is a relationships-based profession. We are doing all of this because we care.