I hope this message finds you well and in good health. For many, there is still the challenge of uncertainty and the daily task of juggling family and professional responsibilities continues. My apologies, in advance, for a lengthy newsletter. There is much to report.
It is clear that the French schools, this term, will not return to the normality we knew before the 17th March. Below, is a summary of how things stand presently. It is a constantly evolving situation. Nonetheless, by the end of this term, all year groups will have completed the anglophone curriculum for this year.
In Primary school, nineteen priority children returned on Thursday. Of these pupils, there are only six anglophone children. Mrs Waddington was in school this afternoon to see them. From the 25th May, it is likely that there will be more places available, for children attending for 50% and 100% of the school week. The functioning of the school has to respect the strict protocols which means complete isolation of each group and children staying in the same room, even for lunch. While every effort is being made to keep age groups together, this cannot be guaranteed and children may find that they do not have the class teacher they had prior to the confinement. The vast majority of the section children will remain at home.
Remote teaching and learning will remain the mode of curriculum delivery until the end of term. The SeeSaw application is the key tool for setting, collecting and assessing work. As from the 25th May, there will be a new timetable of Zoom sessions, increasing contact time from two to three sessions a week. For those students attending Primary school 100% of the school week, Zoom sessions will be on Wednesdays, when there is no school. The French teacher will give these students time to work on the SeeSaw tasks during the school day. Furthermore, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, Mrs Waddington will be on hand, physically in school, to assist these students. Parents with children attending Primary school for the entire school week should contact Mrs Cazzoli, the section Bursar, to arrange the lending of computer equipment. Please note that for students attending Primary School for 50% of the week, they will remain with the current pattern of remote teaching and learning.
Primary parents, you will have also received a number of new initiatives to reinforce your children’s learning in Primary. The section has a subscription to the ‘First News’ newspaper hub. This is a wonderful tool where students are awarded points for completing activities for each of the newspaper’s articles. It is also used for collège students. For the younger Primary students, they are now able to access the digital version of the Oxford Reading Tree, the reading series we use in our curriculum. This week, we have also launched ‘Fiction Express’ for older Primary children and for 6e. This tool will encourage reading for pleasure. There are three live books on three different reading levels to which a new chapter is added every week. Students read the chapter and at the end, they are rewarded with the option to vote to decide what happens next. The author then writes it in real time.
All collège and lycée students will continue learning from home. The current situation will be reviewed by the French authorities at the end of May. If the collège were to reopen in June, it is probable that this would be for 6e and 5e only, with reduced numbers of students being consolidated into groups. It is unlikely that the normal timetable would resume. Consequently, the section curriculum would continue to be delivered remotely and this is likely to be the case for the lycée also.
This week, Mrs Liptrot has started to work alongside Mr Coverdale as she returns from maternity leave. The marks the beginning of the handover period to ensure a smooth transition. Mrs Liptrot returns to the full teaching of her classes on the 25th May. The section is immensely grateful to Mr Coverdale for his sterling work with the children through these exceptional and unforeseen circumstances.
If the lycée were to reopen in June, each year group would be rotated by week, beginning with 1e. You will appreciate that this means that students, at best, would benefit from two weeks of lessons in school. The Proviseur has been exploring with the lycée team how best to balance marks across the year, including pupil performance data since the confinement. Some form of conseils de classe and bulletins are envisaged. To have the most accurate measurement of current student achievement in their final year, current Te studies will be complemented by internally organized orals in both Language – Literature and History-Geography. Our 1e students continue with their OIB course and 2e students now start bridging the gap between iGCSE and the OIB syllabus.
The Learning Objectives for pupils have not changed during the confinement. The teaching and learning techniques, however, have had to adapt. We learn most effectively by doing and this principle underpins all our pedagogy. This means ensuring that our children are actively engaged in a variety of learning tasks, albeit a different range of learning activities to those we are used to in a conventional classroom – homework scenario. In the classroom, the teacher is able to lead the students through a range of tasks, observing how pupils are performing and gauging to what extent they have grasped the skills and knowledge. This directly informs the teacher’s feedback and follow-through. The SeeSaw and Google Classroom platforms are our main tools and allow the teachers to set effective tasks which engage the student in the learning process and which provide a means for the teacher, not only to track progress but also to give feedback. This offsets the restrictions of face-to-face screen time, where concentration and pupil engagement with a task is limited as is the opportunity to gauge the progress of the individual student. Zoom is not the remote equivalent of a conventional lesson, particularly with children. Instead, it is a vital point of connection in the week, which supports the key learning tasks set that week via SeeSaw or Google Classroom. In line with other fee-paying international sections, our policy is to ensure that each group has at least one face-to-face session with their teacher per week. In Primary, children have two sessions and from the 25th May, they will have three sessions per week.
To support your child’s learning, we have looked out a range of helpful resources. Please check out the Parents’ Hub on the section’s website. Here you will find digital book collections, activities and even contemporary literature where children can give feedback to the author.
We are very grateful for the many positive messages we have received from you. At the same time, we realise that it is not all plain sailing. As we review and plan for the future, we will be coming back to you next week to seek your feedback on what has worked well and what has worked less well. We are committed to providing the very best learning experience we can for your children and in closing, I would like to pay tribute to the hard work of the teachers and administrative colleagues who are all working tremendously hard to innovate, adapt and create the very best learning environment for your children. Finally, thank you, to you the parents, for accompanying your children with their schooling and supporting us in our mission.
Stay safe and in good health,