Letter to Schools – 09/04/2020


Dear Headteacher,

I hope you, your family and your school community are keeping as well as possible in this extremely difficult and unique situation.

I wrote to you recently explaining how GwE would be supporting schools in this very difficult period. This support is ongoing if you require it.

As I noted in my previous letter, we have been preparing a distance learning strategy that will help guide learning between schools, parents and their children during this difficult time.

The main priority for any distance learning strategy has to be the well-being of learners, parents and staff in schools. The main priority for all is to ensure that as many people as possible remain fit, healthy and have a positive attitude towards life and will be ready for work or learning when this traumatic period is over.

Knowing that schools are going to be closed for an extended period gives opportunity to plan a different kind of experience for learner and for that planning to take into account an extended period of time away from school. During this period it is not reasonable to expect distance learning experiences to mirror learning which learners get at school.

Distance learning should be an enjoyable experience for all. There is an opportunity now for schools to ensure that learners experience a new kind of learning, facilitated by their teachers and supported by their parents.

The next stage of our work will be to identify and support schools in establishing and delivering an effective distance learning model. As part of the strategy, there is a distance learning guidance document. This document provides schools with ideas as they adapt to a new way of working. As part of the guidance, a range of distance learning models will allow schools to decide which model suits their local context best. These models will be based around the following experiences for the learner:

  • enjoyment with learners encouraged to have a go and enjoy the creative opportunities offered.
  • supporting skills development [main focus on literacy/numeracy]
  • supporting independent learning and learner resilience
  • developing creative, investigative and collaborative skills.
  • supporting well-being and keeping learners healthy through advice on diets and physical fitness.
  • supporting family interaction and empowering parents
  • and where possible supporting interaction and maintaining peer group friendships.

We are in the process of investigating different models that could be used by schools and much work has already been undertaken by various members of the team. Members of the team are also working in partnership with other regions and Estyn. Models suitable for different sectors, phases, localities and individual needs will need to be considered. Once examples of distance learning models are completed, these will be collated and shared with you as a library of possible models for you to use.

These models will support our discussions with you as you consider and develop your own distance learning strategies and rationale for your own contexts. We will hold discussions with yourselves on how best we can support you in developing a shared understanding of what is on offer and what we should offer learners of different ages, and the kind of support you feel that is needed for your own staff, parents and different groups of learners in your school.

If you need to discuss anything over the Easter weekend please get in touch, either through your SIA, Core Lead or Marc B Hughes / Elfyn V Jones. If not, your SIA will contact you next week.

Best wishes, keep safe and I hope that you get some rest over the weekend.

Arwyn and everybody at GwE