Whānau grateful for support

Issue: Volume 99, Number 6

Posted: 7 May 2020
Reference #: 1HA7Ku

“Thank you Jacinda Ardern!” says nine-year-old Charlee in a video his mum Nicole posted to Weston School’s Facebook page after he received a package of learning resources from the Ministry of Education.

It was a bit like Christmas – Charlee took maths to bed with him and has read a journal already,” Nicole Pamment posted.

Principal Deidre Senior says the school requested hard copy packs for all 245 students at the semi-rural school just outside Oamaru.

“We decided to order the packs after having Otago Anniversary Day followed by a planned Teacher-only day before lockdown, meaning we didn’t have the chance to make up packs to go out to our children,” she says.

Deidre invited parents to post photographs of the children on Facebook(external link) and plenty of them posted photographs showing the delight of their tamariki when the learning packs arrived.

“With our online distance programmes and these hard copy packs we feel there is a great balance for our learners to keep them learning and inspired in what they do.

“We thought the hard copy packs would add another element and a bit more variety and the opportunity for our students to engage in learning that was at their year level. I’d been keeping a good eye on the Learning at Home site the Ministry had set up and they let us know they were going to be sending some journals and maths work. 

“It’s given teachers time. They’re going to make up additional packs to meet the individual needs of some children to supplement these packs,” she says. 

Deidre says her staff have risen to the challenge of distance teaching even though they had little time to prepare and many of them had not used technology like Zoom before. Students are being offered a variety of learning opportunities including sets of tasks such as, prior to Anzac Day, baking Anzac biscuits and posting photographs of their baking online. 

“Our teachers have been running Zoom lessons, which the children are hooking into. We started off by doing whole-class meetings but very quickly realised that was too many children to be talking at once, so now they are setting up reading groups and writing groups and just having some one-on-one sessions with some children.” 

Communicating to close-knit community

Weston School works hard at communicating with children and whānau. Its Facebook page has 748 followers and 370 people subscribe to the online school newsletter. 

“We’ve got a very supportive community. What is lovely is that at this time when things aren’t normal, that support of the school is just happening in a different way. I have had a number of emails from parents thanking us for the effort the teachers are going to and how responsive they are in supporting their children at this time. It’s nice to know it’s been appreciated because we’ve all been thrown into this situation and we just have to deal with it.

“I understand that at times, this is stressful for parents, but I’m hopeful that they are also getting some nice time with their children and getting an understanding for how their children learn and engage in learning,” says Deidre.

Whānau kōrero

Shelley McGeown (parent)

Q: How are you coping doing school at home during the lockdown? What are the best things/worst things?

A: We are coping well, we have been doing lots of activities like puzzles, baking and Ruby has been writing stories about what she has been up to. It’s nice to be able to take our time and not be in a rush while doing some bookwork and also using the iPad to play the learning games/activities online. We have got into a good routine each morning. 

Q: What has helped you and your child the most?

A: We have been following the Weston School Facebook page and have found the links provided useful, such as listening to e-books and the Lego challenge. There has been great communication from the school with updates each week and also a newsletter to keep us parents updated with any information/news.

Ruby’s teacher has been in contact through email with website links and logins for learning websites which Ruby has enjoyed using. She is able to work through the activities herself and listen to e-books, which has been good as she doesn’t need me to be with her while she is doing this.

The Ministry of Education learning pack looks great and we are working our way through a few pages each day. It was such a great idea to have hard copies of activities to do instead of staring at screens. Ruby watched the learning channel that was on TV but would rather do activities on the computer or iPad or write in books instead. She has enjoyed the Les Mills kids’ fitness classes that have been on TV every afternoon. 

Ruby McClea (aged 7)

Q: What did you think when your pack came from the Ministry of Education?

A: I was HAPPY. It is very cool and I really love the ruler. I am excited to read the books.

Q: What’s it like doing school at home with your family? 

A: It is fun, I can read to Mum, Dad and Mason (younger brother). I like to play Prodigy and listening to books on the computer. 

Q: What are you enjoying the most about school at home?

A: I liked seeing my teacher and friends on Zoom. 

Q: What do you miss the most about school?

A: I miss my friends and teacher – and playing with my friends.

Learning packs

The learning packs are a limited resource and have been targeted to those schools and students that need it the most, especially where there is no online learning. 

Schools should continue to follow the School Bulletin(external link) for information on learning packs. The first round of orders has now closed.

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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:24 am, 7 May 2020

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