It’s May already …
How on earth did that happen?
The whole thing is strange and unbelievable. In the real world, year 11 would have started their GCSE exams this week and the Urdd Eisteddfod would be two weeks away. At least we’ve had a bank holiday, but as it was on a Friday, even that confused us.
One of the main things that has gone crazy during the lockdown is the concept of time. March and being in school now feel like years ago. I think that we’ve just had the longest April in history. We’ve been on lockdown longer than our usual summer holidays, and yet every day just disappears under our noses.
For May is on the lawn
A quickening hope, a freshening glee
It’s fine for Wordsworth to say that in his Ode composed on a May morning; he obviously never tried to drag teenagers out of bed to do some lockdown work. Welsh language poet Emyr Lewis seems to be closer to the mark, mentioning “amser amherffaith” (imperfect time) in one of his poems, and if there ever was an imperfect time, now is that time.
Thanks to everyone for keeping going, thank you for your continued support of the school, and thank you for the positive messages in our latest questionnaire. Many parents expressed their appreciation of everything the school is doing in an effort to continue educating Bro Edern pupils at home. But thank you too. We know that it is not easy to motivate teenagers to work all day, and we appreciate that some of them are not happy to get “school instructions” from their parents! But please, keep at it.
Comparison is the thief of joyTheodore Roosevelt
The pressures on social media seem to be even more intense under lockdown. Remember that the allegedly perfect lives you see in photos on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat don’t equate to happiness in those posting them. It doesn’t mean that your friends and acquaintances are necessarily happier than you, or coping better than you. The pictures are often posted with multiple filters, obscuring all blemishes, hiding the dust, poised at an angle to avoid the mess in the background. The fact that your friends may be posting these pictures means nothing, really. It may just be their way of coping at the moment. Please remember this, and remind your children regularly of this important message.
You will know by now that our Education Minister Kirsty Williams has announced that schools in Wales will not reopen after Whitsun on June 1. Since then, the lockdown in Wales has been extended for a further three weeks by the First Minister, Mark Drakeford. With so much of our media output coming from over the Severn Bridge, it’s a job to keep up with the messaging relevant to Wales, ignoring everything else. We know that the Welsh decisions come as a great relief for many of you who were worried that you would be forced to send your children back to school, when you did not consider it safe to do so. We also understand that this is highly frustrating for others, who desperately want their child to return to Bro Edern, in order to return to some form of family normality that will allow you to work unhindered. These decisions are beyond our control, and we, like you, watch the latest news bulletins to keep up to date.
Therefore, school life continues, in some imperfect parallel universe, with teachers working day and night behind the curtains of their homes to ensure as smooth a continuity as possible for your children’s education.
Thanks to everyone who responded to the latest parental questionnaire. We received over 500 responses about our families’ digital circumstances, as well as your latest feedback about work set for pupils. The information about the digital circumstances of our families has been forwarded to the county, and we have already been able to help some families to access the school’s online resources. Cardiff Council is now looking at internet connectivity for some Bro Edern families, and families across the city.
The feedback on our pupils’ homeworking is very similar to our previous questionnaire, with the vast majority of parents happy with our provision, and recognising that it is accessible for their children. The comments we have received have been very helpful in refining our provision once again. You should see some of your suggestions already in place.
As with our first questionnaire, the responses came from a good range of year groups, bearing in mind that there are far more younger pupils currently at school than older pupils, as we continue to grow:
The accessibility of the work is even better than last time, as everyone gets used to daily procedures. Many families have also received further help since the questionnaire:
The timings for the work vary from year to year, and it must be noted that many year 11 parents reported “no time at all”, or “less than 30 minutes a day”, after their children’s exams were cancelled. We would like to encourage parents across the school to ensure that their children do as much work as possible during the day. We understand that it is difficult under the current conditions, but every effort will lead to success.
As you can see, very few parents disagree with the time required daily to complete the work. The heads of year have also been in contact with some parents to discuss points arising in the questionnaire. Normally, your child would receive over 5 hours a day of education. Some parents have asked for more work, and we are already looking at the opportunities to provide additional work for some groups of pupils.
Once again, the difficulty of the work is suitable for the vast majority of pupils, and the newly differentiated tasks 🥇🥈🥉for year 7 will meet the requirements of some parents who say the work is too easy.
A number of parents praised the staff’s instructions in their questionnaires, and we have received very positive responses to the Parental Guidance that has appeared on all tasks since Easter for our non-Welsh speaking parents. We’re still striving for perfection, though …
We were not surprised at all that many Bro Edern pupils do not enjoy working from home. The non-enjoyment of homeworking has increased since the last questionnaire, which is also not a shock, as the lockdown drags on. As explained in a previous blog, a school day is so much more than just work. With the current circumstances, the social elements are missing, as are the immediate responses, support and feedback from teachers, which are a key part of your child’s daily life at Bro Edern. We are aware that many pupils miss the regular support they receive in lessons, as well as the opportunity to work in pairs and groups.
Some parents have asked once again about Zoom lessons in the questionnaire, so as well as informing you that Zoom is banned by the county for safety reasons, we refer you again to this Guardian article which was also in our last blog:
This new article also highlights why schools are so concerned about live lessons and generally avoid them:
There is another reason. Live teaching is live.
In order for live lessons to work, it stands to reason that everyone in the class would need to be online at the same time. For some pupils and their families, this is just not practical. Parents also grapple with online meetings during the day, and some families have three children in different years at Bro Edern. If everyone needed to stream different live lessons at the same time, that would cause family wranglings, let alone a nervous breakdown for the wifi.
At the beginning of the lockdown I took part in a webinar with eminent American educator Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion, in order to explore the options available to us, and to ensure that we made the right decisions for Bro Edern pupils. During the webinar, we had a taste of live lessons on the one hand, and some lessons that pupils followed in their own time on the other. The arguments for and against synchronous and asynchronous lessons were interesting, but in the end, only one solution was right for Bro Edern’s pupils, namely the opportunity and freedom for everyone to work at their own pace, at a convenient time for the whole household. There are plenty of opportunities for pupils to leave messages for their teachers in Google Classroom and by e-mail, in order to chat about the work or to get some help. Although they are working home alone, we do not want pupils to think that they are alone with the work.
There are many things to report back to parents and pupils:
As you know, the ClassCharts app allows parents to see their child’s latest progress and behaviour. The only relevant settings at the moment are the green and red points for submitting work. Many parents appreciate this information that appears on their ClassCharts app, now that their child is working from home. This is how many parents know that their child has missed some tasks, but it’s also how they know that their child has completed some praiseworthy tasks. The individual codes for the app have all been distributed on paper to parents throughout the year at various parents’ evenings.
If you would like your code again, please e-mail Mr Trystan Williams, stating your child’s name, surname and class in your message. More than one child can be registered on the same app. The e-mail address is: TWilliams@ysgolbroedern.cardiff.sch.uk
Qualifications Wales Consultation
Qualifications Wales, the body that oversees all qualifications in Wales, has a consultation running until Wednesday 13 May at 5pm. This is an opportunity for all this year’s GCSE, AS and A Level pupils and parents to express their opinions on exam standardisation and appeals this summer: https://www.qualificationswales.org/english/get-involved/consultations-and-surveys/consultation-arrangements-for-summer-2020-exam-series/
Most year 12 pupils are working independently and diligently, as expected for Sixth Form courses. Thanks to everyone for their hard work. Miss Land is available to respond to any queries about the Sixth Form and pupils should be in regular contact with all their subject teachers.
Year 13 need to enjoy their lockdown freedom, while starting to prepare for university. We are aware that many pupils have requested reading lists from their universities and have made a start with their reading. E-mails need to be regularly checked for any UCAS developments. The school’s predicted grades have been prepared for WJEC, but final grades will be announced on the usual results day in August. See further details below in the year 11 paragraphs.
During the week, year 11 finally received their reports. These were written just before the lockdown, and were almost ready to be distributed when the school closed. You should have received the report by e-mail to your child’s school account. The main thing that parents will realise is that the reports were written before the announcement came to cancel all exams. This means that many of the targets may be irrelevant, yet extremely important for the subjects your child wishes to study in the Sixth Form.
We have received some queries about the reports, with some of you asking whether the grades on the reports are the final results. As explained in the notes accompanying the report, these are not the final results. The usual national GCSE results day will be held in August, when we will all find out our pupils’ final grades. The school has prepared predicted grades for WJEC, which are all a fair reflection of our pupils’ performance and potential in all subjects. The final results will be awarded by WJEC, based on complex national statistics and logarithms. As is the case each year, WJEC will need to take into account the grades entered for each pupil in Wales in each subject. The final grades will be awarded by WJEC, and as with every summer, grades may be higher, the same, or lower than we expected.
Year 11 – Virtual Sixth Form
We look forward to welcoming year 11 pupils back to the Sixth Form on the morning of Monday 11 May, when we open our virtual Sixth Form. Many year 11 parents have asked for work for their children, and have asked us to provide work to prepare them for Sixth Form courses. We are more than happy to provide this for our pupils who have seen their time in year 11 come to an abrupt and unexpected end. We have prepared a new website, with lots of resources for preparing for life in the Sixth Form and preparing for life post-Sixth Form.
Our teachers have prepared brand new Google Classrooms for transition to the Sixth Form. Pupils should join the Google Classrooms for the subjects they wish to pursue in the Sixth Form, and complete all the work provided by the teachers. It is essential that all pupils complete the same amount of work as the rest of the class, so that they’re all in the same place when the courses really begin. The Google Classrooms contain transition tasks, exam details, reading lists, as well as a host of important resources.
It will be the responsibility of year 11 pupils to join Google Classrooms for the subjects they want to study in the Sixth Form, and get started on the work. Pupils’ acceptance on their Sixth Form courses is subject to their GCSE results in August. In the meantime, it is important that they start on the work for courses they wish to follow.
The Virtual Sixth Form opens on Monday morning at 9am. This link will go live then: http://chweched.broedern.cymru
We are aware that many year 10 pupils are working very hard from home, with many having arrived at an effective pattern of working from home independently. For others it is more challenging, but the detailed instructions for pupils and the translations for parents help everyone to have full access to the work. Year 10 pupils are now well acquainted with their teachers, and many contact them with queries, and to ask teachers to assist them with their work.
We wish Mrs Lowri Loader, the deputy head of year 10, all the best on maternity leave. Miss Bethan Yapp will take over Mrs Loader’s responsibilities in due course, but in the meantime, any queries for years 10 and 11 should be directed to Mr Huw Voyle.
We have had a lot of positive feedback about year 9’s work from teachers, although some pupils need to try to respond more quickly to their teachers’ tasks in the respective Google Classrooms. With two weeks to go until Whitsun half term, year 9 will begin their GCSE courses straight after half term. They will continue as usual with the core subjects, and focus only on their three option subjects alongside the Bac. This means that they only have two weeks left in many subjects, so it is essential that any remaining work is fully completed. The full arrangements for the year 9 timetable after half term will follow closer to the date.
Many year 8 pupils continue to work hard and deserve a lot of praise for their efforts. However, some pupils need to try to get out of bed a little earlier to benefit fully from what is provided for them! Remember that Google Classroom codes for each subject in every year are on our wall: http://wal.broedern.cymru
The art department is delighted with the work received from the year 8 project based on the work of photographer Gregg Segal. This creative work gives us a taste of the experiences of some year 8 pupils as they work under lockdown. Here’s a taste of year 8’s creative talents:
Year 7 continue to enjoy the varied tasks available to them on their daily website. Some enjoy their daily virtual visit, the animation lesson and writing a diary, while others enjoy the daily German jigsaw. The daily focus task that needs to be submitted via Google Classroom is a good way for pupils to keep in touch with their teachers, and we have received many messages from parents explaining that their children really enjoy receiving teacher feedback.
While settling our pupils into homeworking procedures, our priority was to ensure that everyone was able to complete the work set, as year 7 pupils are taught in mixed ability classes. We are confident that the settling-in period is now over for most pupils. In the questionnaire, some year 7 parents have asked for extra, more challenging tasks for their children, while others have reported that their child finds elements of the work difficult. Therefore, last Monday we launched our medal system 🥇🥈🥉 to provide different levels of challenge for our pupils. The Maths tasks are now all differentiated to different levels on Google Forms, as well as the weekly vocabulary lists, the German tasks and some other tasks.
We look forward to more feedback from parents on how the new system 🥇🥈🥉 is working for their children. It should mean suitable tasks for everyone, whatever your child’s ability. Remember to push them to the next level, if they consistently get full marks at their current level.
Please remember that all year 7’s work continues to be in one place: https://sites.google.com/hwbcymru.net/blwyddyn7broedern/
and is updated, day by day on a new page.
In order to submit the daily focus task, pupils are automatically registered in their respective class, once they log into Google Classroom (on a computer or in the app) with their Hwb login. There are Google Classroom instruction videos on our YouTube account: https://youtu.be/jU3HPsjadNU (Cymraeg) and https://youtu.be/h-UPqL1VOPA (English).
Recently, the art department was also delighted with the year 7 response to the focus task based on the work of cartoonist Jon Burgerman. Here is some of the artwork we received:
After the bank holiday weekend, we look forward to hearing the year 7 compositions, using only glasses and water. Here is Mrs Awen Thomas, modelling good practice. Families other than year 7 are welcome to tweet us their videos too!
Contacting the Head of Year
Thanks to Mr Gary Ellis for this lovely video, which was published at the beginning of the summer term, reminding pupils and their parents that help is always available via the Head of Year. The e-mail addresses of all Heads of Year are in the video:
Why not return to the merry month of May before we finish? Miss Ffion Owen, who works in the Hafan and the Cwtsh with the ALN Department, has produced a great calendar for May. Here are copies for you, in case you haven’t seen them on the @BroEdernADY twitter account https://twitter.com/broedernady:
Please take care and remember that your children need to continue to follow all Welsh Government rules and regulations to reduce all pressure on our NHS. Any new announcements from London are not relevant to us. This means that our pupils still aren’t allowed to go out to mix with other children.
Thank you again for your continued support of the school.
Best wishes to you all. Please remember to get in touch via the Head of Year if you need anything.