Thursday 7th May 2020

Bore da! Breaking with tradition, we are posting this Blog on a Thursday for good reason. Tomorrow is VE Day, and indeed 75 years to the day since the guns fell silent, marking the end of the war in Europe, although conflict continued until 15th August when it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II. The 75th anniversary of ‘Victory in Europe’ will provide our nation, and our friends around the world, with an opportunity to reflect on the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination of people from all walks of life who saw us through this dark and terrifying period.

The Royal British Legion is calling on people across the UK to join in a moment of reflection and remembrance at 11am on Friday 8th May, and pause for a two minute silence. It will be an opportunity for us all to remember the enormous sacrifices that were made at home and abroad and to celebrate, as people did 75 years ago, the arrival of peace in Europe. The recorded speech by Prime Minister Churchill is also being broadcast by the BBC at 3pm tomorrow, and this occasion presents us with the opportunity to pay tribute to the many millions at home and abroad that gave so much to ensure we can all enjoy the freedom we share today.

In partnership with our friends at Hope Parish Church, we had planned to join in the community celebrations they had put so much effort into organising. As we are essentially unable to do that, it would be great if your children would share with you in our school VE Day Celebration on Google Classroom, using the code l44owry.

I’m sure we’re all eagerly awaiting any news the Prime Minister may bring on Sunday, but we are certain that this news will not mean an imminent return to schooling. We are all in total agreement that the health and safety of our children is of paramount importance at all times, and that this must be our guiding light when eventually we are asked to phase in a return to a more standard school day. This process will be a bumpy road, and one which has not been trodden before in living memory. Returning from lock-down is likely to be a far more protracted and complicated process than entering it was. We will, of course, do all in our power to ensure the path runs straight and true for all students, and we will endeavour to be guided by specialist national advisory bodies, teaching unions, Flintshire Local Authority and, of course, the Welsh Assembly Government in all that we do.

We have had generally encouraging feedback from many members of our school family recently. For some the new routine is getting easier and for others it’s getting more difficult. Any novelty factor has truly worn off, and we now have the reality that life is not going to revert to the way it was for some time. With Mental Health Awareness week later this month, we wanted to include some advice we have recently been sent by mental health experts, some of which parents/carers/students might find useful over the coming weeks. We’ve certainly found it useful as many ofus continue our roles as teachers and support staff in school, and parents to our own children at home.

· It’s OK not to be perfect! Everybody is finding adjusting to the new normal difficult. We’re not used to spending all day, every day with the people we live with – no matter how much we love them.

· Give everyone in the household some time to themselves every day, and also spend some time together.

· Don’t be too hard on yourself – it’s not possible to be everything to everyone and do everything you’d really want to.

· Taking up a new hobby during lockdown is not for everyone, but it can help some people. Lots of companies have offered free activities/memberships to help stave boredom while we’re staying at home.

· Don’t feel guilty if you are struggling to cope. Perhaps take a look at some of the support available elsewhere, for example:-

Headspace – Mobile app

Calm – Mobile app

Young Minds

· Some parents / carers may find supporting their son / daughter directly with home learning challenging, but learning doesn’t have to be confined to the qualifications your child is taking. Perhaps….

Set a cooking challenge:

Why not give your teenager the challenge of cooking dinner for the entire family?

Explore the family tree:

Perhaps your child could begin making a family tree, with photos and personal stories of family members they know, going further back in history as they do more research. This also helps to create a sense of belonging and certainty during a time when life has changed suddenly.

Cultural activities:

You might want to get your child to take a round-the-world trip by visiting two or three virtual museums, or perhaps going to the virtual theatre (National Theatre streams something new each week).

Watching meaningful films:

True life stories usually have worthy life-lessons, often about how people cope with difficult situations or natural disasters, perhaps how opposing personalities find ways of collaborating when they have no choice.

Our Continuation of Learning Plan is constantly under review, and we have had favourable comments from parents / carers of students in nearly all year groups over the last 2 weeks, with the tweaks we have made to Year 10 provision specifically being appreciated by some this week. Our pastoral teams are on hand to support wellbeing and learning so emails and possible follow up phone calls may be received if staff have concerns that students are struggling to engage with the set tasks.

I hope you are all able to enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend.