COVID-19: Dear Parents …

As none of the Bro Edern staff followed the pandemic module as part of our university teacher training courses, it’s quite difficult to know what to share with you as “advice for parents”. We have heard the word “unprecedented” more times this week than we have ever heard before. And it really is … it’s unprecedented.

Congratulations on surviving the first school week of lockdown. What. A. Week.

We know that many of you are worried. Your logistics regarding work, childcare, key worker status, shift work, freelance work, next month’s salary. Some of you have health worries. You are worried about elderly relatives. You have small children to entertain. You have teenagers to get out of bed. And then we all have the daily barrage of news, updates, non-stop notifications and nonsense on social media to add to the mix.

One thing we don’t want you to be worried about is Bro Edern.

Bro Edern is here to support you and your family. Bro Edern is here now for your children. Bro Edern will be here for your children when these very strange times come to an end. Bro Edern is not going anywhere.

We don’t expect you to run Bro Edern from your kitchen.

When pupils spend their day at Bro Edern, they go to registration, assembly, wander to their lessons, have a break, have lunch, play on the yard. They go to the sports’ hall, to the cwtsh, to the canteen and hang out under the canopy.

During their usual lessons our pupils do pair work, group work, discussions and interactive quizzes against the rest of the class. They have class discussions, debates, they think of whole-class solutions to tasks. In some lessons they perform music and drama with their peers, create some art or DT work. They seek advice from their teachers. And every now and then, they do some individual tasks, in silence, on their own.

The only things we have been able to send home are these individual tasks. The lockdown and its restrictions don’t allow much else. We cannot send peers, teachers and groupwork along to your house. Therefore, without distractions and peers, your child may well work through the daily tasks very quickly. Also, without peer support and teacher input, your child may struggle to complete the daily tasks at all. They need to do what is possible. In an ideal world, it is important for your child to attempt any tasks, in order to build up some resilience and independence. At the moment that may not be possible, and it may not be the priority. Ask them to try, it’s the best you can do.

We know that the vast majority of our parents don’t speak Welsh

When you made the decision, many moons ago, to educate your child through the medium of Welsh, you hardly thought that one day your child would be educated in Welsh from your kitchen or lounge, due to a pandemic lockdown, with you having to navigate the intricacies of a Welsh-medium curriculum.

This is why we have tried to keep tasks as straightforward as possible. This is also why we have given our pupils plenty of links and activities to stay in touch with the Welsh language. It’s essential that they have as much contact as possible with the Welsh language while they are away from school. There are plenty of resources online, and we have tried to include as many as possible as part of our online provision. The music playlists are great, the suggestions for S4C viewing are age-appropriate. All S4C programmes are definitely not rubbish, as teenagers seem to think automatically. Please encourage them to stay in close contact with the Welsh language, as this present scenario may go on for a while. It will help in the long run.

Replicating a “normal” Bro Edern day at home is impossible

What is normal? Is there such a thing as normal? Is there ever a “normal” day at Bro Edern?! Over the next few weeks, we are all going to find our new level of “normal”. A new definition of “normal”. And as long as everyone in the house is fit and healthy, this is possibly a slower normal, a quieter normal, a chattier normal, a more creative normal. Or it may be a more hectic normal, a noisier normal, a messy normal, a frustrating normal, especially if you have small children in the house, or you’re trying to do your own work from home. You need to find your new “normal”, set your new “normal” and try to enjoy your new “normal”. You don’t want to look back at the 2020 pandemic and only remember the family arguments.

Setting the correct amount of work for everyone is impossible

Our staff have tried very hard to set distance work for our pupils. It has had to be created in a very short period of time. We have tried our best. In a normal 53 minute lesson, your child does a variety of tasks, most of which involve other people. This is not possible at home. Therefore, we are never going to win this one. Some parents want more work, because their child finishes everything between 8 and 9:28am. Some parents want less, because their children want a lie in and want to do the minimum. Some pupils are struggling, some pupils are lapping it up. Year 10 and 12 pupils will face exams next year, year 11 and 13 seem to be off the hook.

Years 8, 9, 10 and 12

Pupils need to do what is realistic. If your child is in year 8,9,10 … they have a school iPad and access to all their Google Classrooms. Bro Edern pupils are very familiar with online learning and are used to accessing digital resources. Hopefully most year 8,9,10 pupils will get into the swing of things pretty quickly, despite these strange circumstances of working from home. All information for our pupils, including all their Google Classroom codes are on our brand new central website for pupils: http://wal.broedern.cymru

Year 10 and 12 pupils should be well into the swing of their GCSE and AS courses, they know their teachers well and they should be old enough to access what they need to do, once they are out of bed. This summer’s exams may have been cancelled, but they still need to keep on going for next year.

Exam classes

We know as much as you at the moment. Here are the Qualifications Wales FAQs which may help you: https://qualificationswales.org/english/coronavirus—covid-19/frequently-asked-questions/

And here they are in Welsh – Cwestiynau Cyffredin Cymwysterau Cymru: https://qualificationswales.org/cymraeg/coronafeirws—covid-19/cwestiynau-cyffredin-ynglyn-ar-coronafeirws/

Year 7

Year 7 pupils unfortunately do not have a school iPad and have not accessed a Google Classroom in the majority of subjects. They are not as used to navigating digital technology. This is why we have put everything in one place: https://sites.google.com/hwbcymru.net/blwyddyn7broedern
This is a one-stop-shop for year 7. It should make things much easier for everyone. Pupils need to pick the correct day and access the relevant materials. They can do things in any order. They can do their favourite things first, or last. If they get stuck, they need to try their best and then move on. Once finished, they can explore the general tasks listed as bullet points below. Unfortunately, due to the fact that we had very little notice of the closure of schools, we could not photocopy many materials for all our pupils. The maths department’s 180 year 7 booklets were prioritised on the photocopier, but not much else was possible in the time. Now with the lockdown, we are stuck with what we have, but we are working on different digital solutions.

Pupils who attend extra sessions in the cwtsh to have particular interventions for literacy and numeracy have been added to a Google Classroom with specific activities tailored to their needs. This is being added to, day by day, by specialist staff members. If your child is involved in these particular interventions, they will know, and have access to the materials.

Pupils who are still under the care of the language immersion unit, learning Welsh from scratch since September so that they can join mainstream Welsh-medium education at Bro Edern, also have their own provision. Parents have been e-mailed a booklet called Hanes Caerdydd which is year 7 work about the history of Cardiff, but in much simpler language. It includes translations of key vocabulary and bilingual instructions for parents. Parents and pupils also have links to websites and vocabulary learning exercises on Quizlet. Only 4 parents have confirmed receipt of these resources, so the language transition unit staff are slightly worried.

Contacting staff

Staff members are available to contact during a usual school day. They will be able to answer e-mails as soon as is practically possible. Many have small children at home. Some will be running the Welsh-medium Hub for key-workers’ children at Glantaf. At weekends staff will need a break from pupils’ queries, in order to start planning for the following week.

Screen time

Hmmmmm. Screen time. The truth is, all our children are probably going to spend more time in front of a screen over the next few weeks. Does it matter? It depends. If it’s screen time completing work, typing an essay, doing some online quizzes, watching a play, watching S4C, watching Joe Wicks, or doing some digital editing for their latest keepy uppy challenge, then that’s probably fine.
If it’s 12 hours a day playing Fortnite until 2am, then that is never going to be fine.
Set the parameters, agree on set times, ban everything digital at mealtimes, confiscate digital devices over night. Switch off the wifi. Try your best.

You want to keep your children busy.

We understand this, so we have tried to come up with tasks that will help pupils learn, but also help their parents keep them “entertained” and “busy”. This is a list of open-ended tasks for your children. We are providing you with a translation of the list, so that we can help you see what is possible:

Try and enjoy the fact that you don’t need to rush around! Have a chat. Have a cwtsh.

Easter is Easter. Make sure you have plenty of chocolate.

The Easter holidays start next Friday afternoon, 3 April. We have one “school” week to go until then. The “holidays” will last a fortnight, as usual. We will probably still be in lockdown for the duration of the holidays. However, no daily work will be set for pupils during this time. It should be a total break for pupils and staff (and parents?!) Pupils can, obviously, carry on working, they can complete some daily tasks, they can read, they can write, they can be creative, but nothing specific is required during this time. Staff members will be “on holiday” with their families during this period. All planned exam revision sessions are, obviously, cancelled. The work for pupils will restart on Monday 20 April.

Our staff will be helping to run the Welsh-medium Cardiff Hub at Glantaf, which opens on Monday 30th March. This will be open for the fortnight of the Easter holidays for the children of key workers (but closed on the 2 Bank Holidays – Good Friday and Easter Monday). During this time, any children will have the opportunity to undertake some of the open-ended tasks in the list above.

Twitter

All the latest from Bro Edern is recorded on Twitter. You don’t need a Twitter account to see a Twitter account. They open in any browser on a phone or a computer. Ignore the prompt to set up an account. Here are some links for you:

https://twitter.com/BroEdern (main account)

https://twitter.com/AG_BroEdern (PE Dept – lots of fitness ideas, the keepy uppy challenge and the latest PE kit design entries)

https://twitter.com/MathsBroEdern (Maths Dept – updates and details of daily work, Maths puzzles)

https://twitter.com/ITM_BroEdern (MFL Dept – updates about work, tweets about France and Germany)

https://twitter.com/SaesnegBroEdern (English Dept – news about books, plays, ideas and words)

http://twitter.com/DyniaethauBroEd (Humanities Dept – all the latest news from the department and elsewhere)

https://twitter.com/BroEdernADY (Additional Learning Needs Department – support for pupils and parents)

https://twitter.com/TG_DT_BroEdern (Technology Dept – lots of latest news from the world of technology)

https://twitter.com/siarteriaithYBE (Welsh Language Charter – with details of our track of the week and other news about the Welsh language)

Only at Bro Edern …

We leave you with video channels featuring two of our Bro Edern Dads. We’re sure that you’ll agree that they are very contrasting YouTube accounts! We suggest you compare your curfewed days with Richard Ellis’s Lockdown Dad days:

Richard Ellis: Lockdown Dad

Then chill out to Jeff Howard’s stunning reworking of some Welsh hymns for solo piano. Please keep safe, and keep your children inside. Pob lwc! And try to #joio …

Jeff Howard: Y Darlun

Cyhoeddwyd gan Ceri Anwen James

Athrawes Ieithoedd Modern sy'n Bennaeth Cynorthwyol yn Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern.

Gadael Ymateb

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