19th June 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I do hope you have all had a good week.

The situation we have found ourselves in has been going on for a considerable amount of time now and I know many are finding things harder than at the beginning. Below is some wellbeing information which I hope will help.

Wellbeing update

The wellbeing team have been trying different ways of supporting you with your wellbeing throughout Covid-19 and we hope that you have found some of the resources on our social media and website helpful. We have started running virtual coffee mornings through Facebook Rooms on our Friends and Family page and we would love more parents to join us, children are welcome too! https://www.facebook.com/groups/PalatinePrimarySchool/?ref=bookmarks

 

We have noticed that our current way of doing Wellbeing Weekends, as an event on the Friends and Families Facebook page, has only been joined by a few parents. From this weekend we are going to reduce the content that we share for Wellbeing Weekends and we will be going back to posting on the Friends and Family page, rather than in an event. Everyone is still welcome to share their own wellbeing posts and what is working for them but the team will be reducing the amount we put up. Everyone will have received a text with a questionnaire attached to help us gauge what is useful, if you could fill that in then that will help us understand what is helpful to your wellbeing.

 

The art challenge has been the most popular so we are going to continue to post this. On Saturday we will start a thread where you can upload your child’s pictures and on Sunday we will share the challenge for the next week. We want to provide other opportunities for you and your children to do things which will support your wellbeing together so we will be delivering resources for each pupil to take part in a cake competition! The winner from each hub will receive a £10 voucher, keep checking our Facebook page for more details.

If you have any comments or questions about our wellbeing provision or would like to be part of our team, please email smilner-smith@palatineschool.org

 

 Reminders

 Thursday 9th July: new family welcome day

We have finalised our plans for this day and all families new to Palatine will be receiving invites and instructions for their visit shortly. As part of this we have produced a tour video which is now available on our website and social media links. I know some families within Palatine already have found it useful as a means of connecting their son or daughter with school so please do have a look at it.

 

Friday 10th July: Year 6’s celebration day

Those of you in year 6 will have received an invite to your special day. We do hope you feel the arrangements suggested will keep you safe within the current situation whilst giving your son or daughter the chance to say goodbye and us all the chance to celebrate together their time at Palatine. We are really looking forward to seeing you! Please do contact us if you need any further information.

To ensure safe social distancing school will not be open to other children on these days. Please remember to plan for this.

These days replace two missed INSET days and are essential to supporting those joining and leaving us. Thank you for your understanding.

 

Therapies in schools (TIS) have a new wiki site:

TIS WIKI site is now live!  https://wiki.rixwiki.org/west-sussex-mmm/home/tis-wiki-2

Internet safety

During this time we are all using our internet more for our work, to support learning, and for entertainment. As parents it can be very hard to navigate the world of children and young people’s games / popular apps etc. We attach an information leaflet which we hope will be of help in this. Please do take the time to read this carefully.

Communication

It is really important at this time that the information we receive is accurate. I keep you up to date with everything through regular letters and website updates. Other contact from our Family Liaison Officer, Learning Mentor and class staff also provides other communication channels.  I ask that you only take account of official school communication from these sources about the particular circumstances of school. Rumour, speculation and inaccurate information shared on social media spreads panic and causes undue stress which we want to avoid.

As I said last week school is currently at capacity. If the circumstances at school change I will of course notify you all.

The staff are working hard to provide learning and welfare support to those at school and at home. We are also working towards planning next year alongside this and I will contact you as soon as we have plans. The current situation does make that harder and the process longer. For example, recruitment cannot take place face to face for people not within school currently and we have a number of staff leaving (maternity leaves and retirement). Transition cannot take place as usual. We know video is proving to be a really useful tool to support this and to support learning. These do take time to make.

What I can assure you of is that we are doing our best to make things as smooth as possible and we will provide you with as much information as we can in regards to the current situation and ongoing.

I have seen some smashing progress this week; one of our youngest pupils got in the pool for the first time and some children who find waiting so difficult are managing to do this so well. Please do let us know of what the children learning at home are doing well at; we do love to hear about it!

Thank you as always for your ongoing support and kindness. I have received some lovely emails this week which I do appreciate.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any further help.

Have a lovely weekend

Catriona

 

ESSENTIAL PARENTS INFORMATION

Most children today have access to the Internet through a variety of different devices, at home and at school – through phones, tablets, games consoles, laptops and PCs.

They play games and use apps that allow them to chat with other children, share videos and photos and make in game purchases.

Children’s curious nature can lead them to easily stumble across content that may not be age appropriate. Children may be exposed to upsetting or inappropriate content online, particularly if the platform they are using does not have robust privacy and security settings.  The content might be sexually explicit or it might be harmful in other ways, such as radicalisationbullying, or content that’s upsetting.  Children may be at risk of being groomed if they have an online profile that means they can be contacted privately.

The NSPCC estimate 90 cybercrimes recorded a day against children. In 2019, the NSPCC found that 16% of surveyed primary school-age children said they had seen content which encouraged people to hurt themselves.  4% of primary school-aged children surveyed had been sent or shown a naked or semi-naked picture or video from an adult.

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet, via computers, tablets, mobile phones and other internet-enabled devices. It can happen anywhere online that allows digital communication, such as:

  • social networks
  • text messages and messaging apps
  • email and private messaging
  • online chats
  • comments on live streaming sites
  • voice chat in games.

 

  • Video chats are live face-to-face conversations that happen through a mobile camera or webcam, either with one person or a group, using apps like Skype, WhatsApp and Messenger
  • Video sharing is when users create and upload short videos to an app or site for other people to watch (and often share).  The most popular apps for this at the moment are TikTok and Instagram
  • Livestreaming is when users film and broadcast videos in real time on sites like Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter

It can be hard to keep up to date with all the apps and games that are available to your children so a good starting point is:

 https://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers and https://www.net-aware.org.uk/

Net aware provides guides to a variety of different apps letting you know what you can do in the app, the recommended age ranges and what any risks might be. However, these are some of the key ones to know about:

 

Social Networking websites allow users to connect and communicate with others. People use social networking to keep in touch with friends, family, colleagues and to meet new people they haven’t met in the real world. The top ones are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, all of which have a minimum age of 13. 

TikTok

Purpose: TikTok is an app for creating and sharing short videos. Users can create short music videos of 3 to 15 seconds and short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds. It encourages users to express themselves creatively through video. Special effects can be added to the videos.

Why Parents Should Be Worried: 13 is the minimum age, but there is no real way to validate age so anyone can download the app. Although TikTok has recently announced that messaging for under 16s will be disabled, they might still see unwelcome comments on their own or other people’s post (under the video).  Also, parents express concern that there is a lot of inappropriate language in the videos so it’s not appropriate for young children. Lastly, by default, all accounts are set to public so strangers can contact your children.

Instagram

Purpose: This hugely popular photo-sharing site is owned by Facebook, so you may be more familiar with it than with other photo-sharing apps. Users can add filters or create collages of their photos and share them across Facebook and other social media platforms. 

Why Parents Should Worry: The app is rated 13+ and users can find mature or inappropriate content and comments throughout the app (there is a way to flag inappropriate content for review). “Trolls” — or people making vicious, usually anonymous comments — are common. A user can change the settings to block their location or certain followers, but many users are casual about their settings, connecting with people they don’t know well or at all. 

Snapchat

Purpose: Snapchat is an app that allows users to send photos and videos that disappear after they’re received. It’s rated age 12+. The filters and special effects allow users to alter pictures.

Why Parents Should Worry: Some children are using the app to send inappropriate texts, pictures or content because they believe the images can’t be saved and circulated. But Snapchat pictures do not completely disappear from a device, and users can take a screenshot before an image vanishes in the app.

YouTube

Purpose: YouTube is a place to house and share your videos. You can control privacy settings. It’s also a great resource for educational videos and entertainment.

Why Parents Should Worry: Inappropriate content has been sliced into both all-ages content and children’s content. Also, comments on videos can be extremely inappropriate and hurtful. It is rated 18+ but users can sign up at 13 with parental permission.

YouTube Kids has been designed as a child-friendly version of YouTube for 0-12 year olds. It gives parents tools to help tailor what videos their children can watch. YouTube Kids uses a mix of filters, human reviewers and parent feedback to minimise the risk of children seeing something inappropriate or harmful.

 

Purpose: Kik is a mobile app that people can use to text with friends at high speed and with more of a “face-to-face feel” than regular texting (users’ profile pictures appear in a little bubble next to their text, and they can quickly text photos, sketches, or even pre-designed greeting cards to individuals or groups). 

Why Parents Should Worry: The app is rated age 17+, but there is no age verification so anyone can download it. Like some other instant messenger apps, Kik allows the user to connect with others using just a username (rather than texting from her phone number). The app has been connected with cyberbullying

Minecraft – is a game that lets you build, create and explore virtual worlds with building blocks. https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/minecraft/. Official age rating 7+

Expert view of the risks…

Sexual

Low Risk

Violence & hatred

Medium Risk

Bullying

Medium Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Medium Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Medium Risk

 

Roblox – is an online game and app where you can create and share your own games and games that others have made. There is an option to chat to other players. https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/roblox/ Official age rating 7+

Expert view of the risks…

Sexual

Medium Risk

Violence & hatred

High Risk

Bullying

High Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Low Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Medium Risk

Fortnite is a popular survival action game where up to 100 live players can fight each other to be the last one standing. The game includes heavy violence but with little blood or gore. You can talk to other players using public, private and voice chat. https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/fortnite-battle-royale/ Official age rating 12+

 Expert view of the risks…

Sexual

Low Risk

Violence & hatred

High Risk

Bullying

Medium Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Medium Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Low Risk

 

Check out this page for guides to many more games and apps: https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/

 

Help keep children safe online by:

  • Enjoy going online together
  • Talk to your child about staying safe online
  • Understand why they like the games they do and choose age appropriate games
  • Consider the quality and quantity of online activities
  • Supervise their use of online activities and games
  • Set up parental controls, however, be aware that parental controls and filters are not always 100% effective and you cannot rely on them alone to protect your child
  • Turn off location settings
  • Report any inappropriate content straight away

 

 

12th May 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

As many of you will no doubt be aware the government issued further guidance last night. I know many of you will be feeling somewhat confused and anxious about what this will mean for our school and your child. As yet we do not have all the answers. Nevertheless, I thought it would be helpful to share what I do know and what our next steps will be.

First I would like to reiterate that the health and wellbeing, safety and happiness of our pupils and our whole community comes first and I will continue to work with the staff team to do everything I can to keep everyone as safe as I can.

Over the last two days the government added to their guidance ‘our plan to rebuild’ with ‘actions for education and childcare setting to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020’ and ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings’. These documents are for the nation and the school system as a whole and not specifically for special schools. We are expecting there to be some further detail shortly and hoping that some of it will be specifically for special settings!

What we do know is:

 

  • Special schools have not been advised to open for specific year groups but to ‘work towards a phased return of more children…without a focus on specific year groups’. This is good news because we believe as far as possible our children are best served by returning to their usual classes and teams. The expectation is that special schools will ‘work towards welcoming back as many children and young people as can safely be catered for in their setting’.

 

  • To ensure safety schools need to follow social distancing guidelines, reducing group sizes and contact. In a special setting we also need to ensure we do have enough staff in order to keep the children safe. This is a careful balancing act. We have arrangements in place already to stagger lunch and play, clean resources throughout the day and to teach the children how to socially distance and these systems have been working well. These will be added to as we receive more guidance and welcome more children back to school over the last half term of the year.

 

  • The children of key workers and the most vulnerable within our setting will remain coming to school as others join.

 

  • There is no expectation that staff or pupils will wear / use more protective personal equipment (PPE) than would usually be used unless someone becomes unwell with symptoms.

 

  • Those children who are shielded remain so and there is no expectation they will return to school. Those children living in a household with a shielded adult are only advised to attend if stringent social distancing can be adhered to that they understand. If this applies to you we will discuss this with you. Please do not worry about attendance fines and so forth the guidance states ‘Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time and school will not be held accountable for attendance levels’.

 

These are the overall principles for the next steps that I have to work with so far. Once we have more detail which I can apply to our setting, I will of course share it with you.

 

Our next steps

Over the next few days a member of the senior team will ring to talk to you about the particular circumstances of your family so that we can work together to find out what would be best for your child. Once we know this we will plan to move towards a phased return of more children through the summer term.

 

You will be very aware that our school serves over 150 families and each and every child here has their own specific needs.  What is ideal for your child and your circumstances may not suit many others or may not be practical for the community as a whole.  Once we have discussed with you what you think will work best to keep you child physically and emotionally healthy we will do the best we can for the school as a whole. This will be within the guidance from the government in regards to social distancing and employment guidance too.

Please do bear with us. At Palatine we have tried hard to provide a bespoke service to our families over this time and to do the very best we can for you all. This takes time and planning. I think it is important we talk to you all and work with you as we plan to move forward and you will appreciate this will take time.

Thank you for your ongoing support. The team spirit and community support our school has shared during this time has been fantastic and much appreciated! Thank you. We will contact you by telephone over the next few days and will then issue plans moving forward towards the end of next week or early in the week after.

 With best wishes

Catriona

 

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