As I did in April 2020, I am writing to check on your welfare as parents/carers. As school staff, we spend our time and are consumed with thinking about our young people, but how are you doing? It is tough isn’t it? I shift between feeling hopeful, positive that this will end, that everything is under control; to frustration that we are in this situation, sad, angry, inadequate, isolated, missing normality desperately. How about you? What I struggle the most with is one day I feel on top of things then the very next day I am so bereft at not seeing the students and interacting in person with my staff. Are you feeling the same?
What often happens with feelings of anxiety or a form of grief, is that people tend to take their angst out on other people. I am hearing some horror stories from colleagues up and down the country of the ways some parents are speaking to teachers and school staff. I suppose they are taking out their frustrations with the world on them as they are the closest thing to “normality”.
I feel deeply sorry for parents - who have not chosen this, and teachers - who have also not chosen this. I think some parents in the country are acting like that because a myth has been created by the “white noise” of some newspapers that teachers are superhumans who have no feelings, or families and suddenly have an immunity to this awful disease.
I will be honest with you - it is times like this that I thank my lucky stars that I work at Ormiston Rivers Academy. I couldn’t ask for a better set of parents and carers. Not only do we receive many, many emails of thanks and gratitude, we also have you enquiring about the health of teachers, school staff and their families. You also know, however hard it is, that your children have to stay at home to protect not only themselves but your family and the families of others. Our ethos shines through.
We would love to be superhuman but unfortunately all schools, all teachers and school staff are just trying their best. Again, you have all shown the school respect, loyalty, good old common courtesy and understanding. I will never forget this - ever!
We also deeply underestimate the resilience of children and young people. It really annoys me when people say children can’t do this, they can’t do that, they are missing this, they are missing that. Our students are so resourceful, motivated and have tenacity. Yes, they will have down days, days of massive anxiety, days with lack of motivation but, I promise you, they will be okay. I am deliberately not tapping in to the “white noise” of pessimism. You need me to keep things moving forward, you need me to create some stability for you, you need me to say it is okay to feel the way you do, you need me to create structures that support you and the students. That is what I hope - actually I know - we are doing.
Due to our community rallying together in support, including local businesses, churches and your generosity we have equipped more families with devices, provided food parcels for families in need from our food bank. It has been humbling to see how we have all united together. Last week in our minibus we handed out over 400 exercise books, 600 pencils, 600 pens, 200 rulers, 150 protractors, 100 notebooks, 25 rucksacks, 150 sharpeners, 100 erasers and sanitary packs.
One of our parents has set up a group to support the community. https://www.facebook.com/groups/321192782490939 The idea is people from the local community can drop donations for our local NHS Teams and emergency services. They are looking to put together 140 Hug Bags for our local GP surgeries and clinic and then hampers for ambulance, fire & police stations to show our heartfelt thanks. We are also doing a weekly food, drink & toiletry donation run to Broomfield Hospital (all items get quarantined for 72 hours before reaching the hospital).
The Dengie community have been so kind & generous, we have received knitted hearts, handmade bath bombs, hand made cards, book marks, candles. Local school and pre-school children have donated rainbow pictures & hearts. We are asking our students to create any artwork, cards, letters that we can include in the hampers and bags. Further details have been shared on each year group google classroom by Miss Victory. Our school will also be a collection point so if you would like to donate items, you can drop them into the box just inside the academy front doors.
I just wanted to touch base with you all on a human level. I want to constantly acknowledge with you that it is okay not to be okay and it is okay for your child not to be motivated some days. People train for four years to be teachers. I have been doing it for over sixteen years and am still learning about this craft. You have all suddenly been plunged into that role. I explained to a friend, it would be like someone saying to me, “Right, you are now going to be a builder - here are some bricks, build a house”. I would be petrified, so I would immediately seek help. I hope the help that you may need can be found with us at Ormiston Rivers Academy.
You know we are here for you and your child/children and we will do everything that we possibly can to ensure we keep moving forwards. There is light - this won’t be forever and will eventually be a tiny but profound moment in our lives. It will end! I was fortunate to be asked to write a blog regarding the work we are doing as a school, which you can read via the link below.
On Thursday afternoon, we introduced “no-screens” time to support our students’ and families mental health and well-being. This proved hugely popular, and I am pleased to be able to share some pictures with you of just some of the fabulous activities that took place.
With the announcement that school will potentially open from March, we have issued a new google form for our key worker provision, as the previous form only went up to February Half term. The form has now been updated to run till March, so if you are a key worker who meets the criteria and wish to send your child/children in then please complete the new google form for the updated dates: https://forms.gle/51biYG4UzBXDuiB57 The form is also on our school website under Parents/key worker provision.
Essex have also confirmed that they will be providing vouchers for the school holiday for those eligible (FSM).
I made this short video, I hope you enjoy it.
As always, thank you for your support, your understanding and your kindness.