Welcome 2021!

Hello everyone …

We hope that you all had a healthy and safe Christmas, and I would like to send you all the very best wishes for a better 2021. At present, the situation in 2021 looks very similar to the situation at the end of 2020, with the school closed for the majority of pupils, and everyone receiving online lessons from home. The situation regarding school closures is also changing regularly at the moment – this blog has been changed four times during the week, to keep up with the latest announcements!

The new term started for pupils on Wednesday, and the numbers accessing online lessons in Bro Edern are consistently high. We are aware of how difficult it is to juggle your own work and trying to ensure that your children join their online lessons at the times they are supposed to do so, that they complete work that has been given to them and then ensuring they go to the next lesson … Thank you very much for your perseverance in ensuring that your children receive their education, and for your support of our efforts as a school.

Arrangements for January

As of this morning, the Welsh Government has stated that all schools in Wales will now be closed to pupils until 29 January in the first instance. If the current situation with high numbers of COVID-19 cases continues, then the government will consider extending this until February half term. Should a further announcement be made regarding dates, our live learning arrangements will be extended to coincide with the new date.

This means that currently, and in accordance with government directives, pupils are not due to return to school until Monday 1 February at the earliest. We will provide live lessons for your children until your child is back at school and following their normal timetable. Live lessons start at 8:54 each morning, as usual. Here is a link to remind you of all our live learning arrangements and expectations, which are exactly the same as the last week before Christmas:

https://sites.google.com/hwbcymru.net/disgyblionbroedern/cyfnod-clo-ionawr

Live Learning

The messages from the authorities about online learning have changed in tone for the new year. The focus is now firmly on continuity of learning, and on pupils continuing to make progress, despite the fact that they are at home. The days of considering online lessons as some form of glorified childcare or entertainment are well gone. At Bro Edern, we believe that we have all the procedures in place to ensure that pupils are able to fully access their usual school curriculum. Our regular staff training has also focused on ensuring that pupils have a wide range of educational experiences online, and have the opportunity to make steady progress, despite the fact that it is seemingly impossible to transfer normal school day conditions to Google Meet. We thank you as parents for your amazing support of our live learning provision and your positivity in our questionnaires before Christmas. Our parents’ seal of approval has enabled us to move forward confidently with our live learning provision in 2021, which we believe provides the best possible opportunity for Bro Edern pupils to continue to succeed.

All you need to do is send your child to us punctually by 8:54am, fully dressed, having eaten breakfast and ready to be fully engaged online with all their resources. We’ll take care of the rest!

At the end of the first week, here is a gentle reminder of some live learning expectations so that our staff can run their lessons as smoothly as possible, as stated in the Live Learning contracts issued to parents and pupils:

  • punctuality is essential – see times in the link above
  • pupils must be fully dressed in day wear
  • no pets
  • no eating
  • no mobile phones or computer games in sight
  • microphones muted, cameras on

If there are technical or digital problems while trying to access lessons, then please remember that the Genius Bar is the way for you to inform us of your problem. Heads of year often teach all day, so please do not e-mail them with your digital issues – it may be several hours before they see the message.

Here is the Genius Bar link: https://forms.gle/g6Xk5xzkptjWA5Us7

Screentime

We are aware that attending lessons online all day is a concentration challenge for both staff and pupils, but the 8 minute gap between lessons, as well as the usual break times and lunchtimes give everyone the opportunity to leave the screen at specific points during the day to stretch their legs. Of course, due to the nature of some subjects and some tasks, pupils will not need to be in front of a screen throughout each lesson, as they will be given some tasks to complete without a screen in front of them the whole time.

In addition, we have specifically asked staff today not to set homework for year 7-11 pupils. In our opinion, completing all the day’s work by following 6 online lessons is sufficient. As long as pupils have completed all their lesson tasks on time during the day, no additional tasks will be set. If pupils have wasted time, however, then we will expect all classwork to be completed after the lesson. There is one exception to this, namely skills homework, in order to reinforce the Welsh language and basic skills while pupils are away from school. These skills tasks, which include watching one S4C programme per week, are weekly set tasks.

At the end of the school day, please encourage your child to go out to get some fresh air, before it gets dark.

Educational provision for pupils in the care of the ALN Department

If your child attends the Additional Learning Needs Department regularly at school (Hafan or Cwtsh) then your child may be able to come to school at certain times. Members of staff in the ALN Department will contact you to arrange suitable times.

Educational provision for children of key workers

If at least one parent is a key worker, then you are entitled to apply to the school for your child’s place at school between Wednesday 6 January and whenever the school will re-open for pupils. The County defines key workers as people who work in the following areas, which are different from previous lockdowns:

  • Emergency services (blue light)
  • National Health Service
  • Social Care
  • Education

If at least one parent works in the above categories, or if you are a single parent in one of the above categories, then you can apply for your child to have a place at school during the day. Currently, it is not possible to book a date on the form after 22 January, as dates are updated regularly on the form. The school will be open from 8am to 3:30 pm every day for pupils. Please apply for a place by following this link:

https://forms.gle/3jDBKi13CEik3po2A

If your child attends Bro Edern during the day, they will need to follow their usual timetabled lessons and go from lesson to lesson, to their teacher who will teach everyone else online from their classroom.

Provision for vulnerable learners

During the lockdown period before the summer, it was possible for some pupils who were identified as vulnerable to attend the Hub at certain times. The same provision will be offered to vulnerable learners during this current lockdown period. The pastoral team will identify a list of learners who could benefit from this provision and will contact parents in due course. If you are worried about your child and feel that they are a vulnerable learner, then please contact your child’s Head of Year in the first instance to discuss the situation.

Literacy and Numeracy Interventions

From Monday, those pupils who usually receive help in small groups with their literacy and numeracy skills are going to continue to get this help online. A team of staff have been working hard on the logistics so that pupils can access this important provision from home.

Pupils who receive interventions will need to attend a different Google Meet from their normal lesson and these pupils will be informed on Monday of the details, including relevant day, time and code of Google Meet and Google Classroom in order to arrive at their online intervention lesson punctually. The information will arrive by the end of Monday via an announcement on ClassCharts.

School Transport

Generally, school transport will not be available for pupils during the lockdown. Normal school transport will resume when the school re-opens to pupils.

Free School Meals

If your child is eligible for free school meals, you will have received vouchers from the county for the Christmas period. This procedure will continue until the school reopens to pupils. The vouchers arrive via your ParentPay account, as before.

The Canteen

During the time the school is closed to pupils, the canteen will also be closed. Any pupil who comes to school will need to bring plenty of food and drink for the day.

External Exams 

Following the announcement before Christmas that GCSEs, AS and A Level exams have been cancelled this year, WJEC issued new guidelines for conducting external and internal assessments during this term and the summer term. However, this morning a further announcement was made, stating that the assessments due to be held in February and March have now also been cancelled. It is not clear at this stage what will replace these assessments, so when a further announcement comes, we will provide you with an update once again.

In the meantime, it is essential that pupils continue to work hard, as other elements of their courses, such as coursework, are still being assessed at present, and staff may need, at some point in the future, to look at all the whole year’s evidence for each pupil.

A letter came from Qualifications Wales this afternoon for every learner, explaining what will happen next. Here’s a link to the letter:

8/1/21 Qualifications Wales letter

November exam results

In November, some of the school’s year 11 pupils and Sixth Formers sat the following external examinations:

  • Mathematics Numeracy (year 11)
  • English and/or Maths (Sixth Form resits)

If your child is one of the pupils who sat the above exams, the results will be released next Thursday 14 January. Your child will be able to receive the results by e-mail from Mrs Mererid Thomas, the school’s Examinations Officer, or they may come in at a specified time to collect their results. In order for us to know how your child would like to receive their results, and for us to prepare accordingly, we ask you to complete our Google Form by following the link below. Please complete the form by 9am on Tuesday 12 January:

https://forms.gle/suG6UJjQEGWkS13N6

Armed Forces Children Questionnaire

At Bro Edern, we are committed to understanding the needs and supporting all our learners with their unique experiences throughout their education. One such group that we are aiming to support is children of Armed Forces personnel. Part of our support for Cardiff Council’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant involves identifying our Service children so that we can support them appropriately.

By identifying the number of Service children at Bro Edern, we can be proactive in identifying their needs, making support available and accessing funding if required. If you are a Armed Forces family, please complete this short questionnaire by Sunday evening, in order for us to pass the number of pupils on to the county:

https://forms.gle/uKCP32ardzweGs1j8

Year 9 Parents Evening

Please note that the Year 9 Parents’ Evening will be held on Thursday 28 January. This is our next parents’ evening. This online parents’ evening will be hosted on School Cloud. You will receive a personal login, and then the booking system will open at 6pm on Tuesday 19 January. Please put the date and time in your diary, as the time slot booking system will operate once again on a first come, first served basis.

We have postponed the year 10 parents’ evening, and the one for years 12 and 13 until we have a clearer idea of your child’s qualifications and how they will be assessed. We are still no clearer, despite this morning’s announcement.

Joining the Bro Edern Sixth Form

Year 11 pupils and parents can re-watch our Sixth Form Open Evening presentations at any time. There is plenty of time for year 11 pupils to consider their options and we look forward to welcoming many of them back to the Sixth Form next year. The Sixth From application process will take place in due course.

Here’s the virtual Open Evening:

https://sites.google.com/hwbcymru.net/6edbroedern/noson-agored

Our Sixth Form prospectus is here:

https://sites.google.com/hwbcymru.net/6edbroedern/prosbectws

Welsh at home

We are always looking for different ways to share the Welsh language with Bro Edern families, so that your children can hear as much Welsh as possible at home. In the middle of another lengthy lockdown, this is more important that ever, for pupils to stay in touch with the Welsh language as much as possible.

Here’s our latest playlist for you – Helo 2021. Remember you can get a free Spotify account:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2s0pOfJvJM0ulqgAoBKqk5

Track of the Week is also shared on the school’s Twitter accounts.

For our pupils’ homework for Sgiliau (Skills) lessons, we have put together this website, with S4C television programme recommendations, in order for your child to hear Welsh regularly at home:

https://sites.google.com/hwbcymru.net/gwaithcartrefsgiliaubroedern/4-ionawr-2021

Remember that you can also watch S4C via the BBC iPlayer, by selecting S4C under the ‘Channels’ option at the top of the screen.

Need help?

Please remember that we are here to help you and your children at all times; if a problem arises, please contact your child’s Head of Year in the first instance. Here’s a list of who they are, and their email addresses, to remind you:

That’s it for now …

Please take care and remember to contact the school if we can help you and your child in any way.

Best wishes

Iwan Pritchard
Headteacher

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