Parent/Carer Information– Closure due to Coronavirus Update 23/3/2020

Dear Parent/Carer,

This is an exceptionally difficult time for all of society and we find ourselves in unchartered waters. During this time, it is vitally important that we all follow the advice of the Public Health Agency, General Practitioners and other medical staff and the Department of Education. As of 23rd March 2020, Ballyclare Secondary is closed to pupils.

The uncertain period ahead will be unprecedented for the staff and pupils of Ballyclare Secondary School.  Lack of face-to-face interaction with our pupils for a prolonged period has forced us to explore and instigate a range of remote teaching methods to support our learners as best we can.  With this will come challenges that that our staff have endeavoured to overcome with ingenuity and creativity. I would like to thank all staff for their efforts to date in this regard and this will be an evolving process.

I appreciate that this is also a very new situation for parents and carers. Your children normally in our care are now at home and you are managing a completely different daily routine. I do not underestimate the enormity of the task as many of you are working from home as well.

The positive pupil – staff relationships and excellent pastoral care are the reasons why we continue to build our pupils’ personal success stories. At this difficult time, we all need to explore and utilise other strategies to ensure we continue to do this. As parents and carers you have always shown your support for our school this I believe, will encourage our pupils to continue to work hard even from home.

With a united front in the time ahead, our common main objectives should be as follows:

  • To continue to prepare Year 11 and Year 13 pupils for GCSE and A-Level examinations which they will take next year. (These two year groups are effectively missing out on possibly a full term of work in school.)
  • To maintain a degree of structure and routine for learners across all key stages
  • To support our pupils so that they can continue to acquire new knowledge and skills
  • To determine, if possible, whether the learners have made progress and achieved positive outcomes from the set tasks

This will not be easy and staff have already made excellent plans and resources to make these goals achievable. I commend all parents and carers who have already ensured that your children are prepared for learning remotely.

Providing structure and routine is important for all pupils when not in school as it will be difficult to be focussed every day particularly as there will be that end of term feeling.

I would suggest the following as a possible daily schedule for the pupils’ day.

Daily Schedule

8.00am Get up and get breakfast
9.00am Online Study Catch up with work / projects / research / coursework etc.
11.00am Break
11.30am Online Study Catch up with work / projects / research / coursework etc.
1.00pm Lunch
1.45pm Exercise – walk / ride bicycle etc.
2.30pm Offline study Create revision notes/ cards / complete past papers etc.
3.30pm Quiet time Read a book or get involved in a new hobby  
  Pupils may find it useful to follow the routine of their normal timetable where possible  

As part of our remote learning programme, work has been set for all year groups. 

It is important that parents and carers are aware that we have put in place work with the following guidelines, as we know that not one size will fit all. Home learning is very different to learning in the classroom to the classroom. The work should:

  • Be realistic – we know we need to cater for a range of home learning/parenting environments.  Some pupils will have extensive computer access with excellent broadband and some will have very limited access. We know that you may also have only one computer and more than one child! You may also need the computer to complete your own work from home.
  • Be planned to help establish a routine – Departments may be sending one communication per week to each year-group outlining tasks which would cover the normal time allotted to that subject per week.  Pupils can then manage their own time throughout the week for the completion of work set.
  • Provide a manageable pupil workload – Pupils will be set work that will take no longer, than their normal timetabled lessons to complete.
  • Be accessible and we will use the school website as a main channel of communication – Information will be regularly uploaded onto the school website. Some departments are also using pupil email, Google Classroom and My School. (Please refer to the user guides, already on our website, for further guidance on both of these platforms).
  • Pupils should use their own C2K school email account, or another school agreed on-line platform.

We would encourage pupils to engage in self-assessment as much as possible to reduce reliance on direct teacher feedback.

Please bear in mind that there is still uncertainty as to how Year 13 pupils go forward and that courses may still need to be finished for potential future external assessments and completion of UCAS and Higher Apprenticeship applications.

I would like to thank you for your ongoing commitment and support of our school in these most challenging of times. We will need parents and carers to continue to be   part of the team supporting our pupils. I appreciate that the task is not an easy one but even though we are remote learning we are still a team.

Please remember that you do not have to be an expert in any of the subjects your child will be working on as a remote learner. You do not have to become a “super parent” we fully appreciate you will have your own concerns and responsibilities at this time. You just need to know how best to spend the time you do have. Remember that you are an “expert” in your own child and you have always been their most important teacher. Your support, interest and encouragement will make all the difference to your child’s motivation and ability to cope with their school work while learning from home.

Yours sincerely

Mrs K Bell

Principal