Letter to Parents / Carers from NLC

Councillor Frank McNally, Convener of Education and Families and Derek Brown, Executive Director, have written a letter to all parents and carers detailing the plans for children and young people to return to schools and early learning and childcare settings after the summer break. Please follow the link below to read the letter.

www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/schoolplans

Letter from Mr Cairns

Dear Parent/Carer,

I am writing this note to you just shortly after The Scottish Government’s announcement around schools reopening in August albeit, the exact model of ‘blended learning’ is yet to be determined. The initial priority for the government appears to be around transitions and for us that means P7 into S1. Currently we have the following plans around this.

Transition arrangements

For Primary 7 pupils transferring to Cumbernauld Academy next year, a considerable amount of work has already been undertaken to ensure that everyone is able to settle in well in August. Miss Hart has worked closely with the primaries to ensure that we have all the information from the schools we need to make up the classes. We will also be providing some work for the P7s to engage in in June and we will be contacting all the parents and children directly to get even more information. Miss Hart will be in contact with everyone via the primary schools to let them know the details of this ‘virtual transition programme’.

Issues raised through parental consultation

I consulted with the Parent Council recently to ascertain if there were any particular concerns parents had that I might be able to respond to and give reassurance about. A number of the issues raised pertained to the curriculum, learning from home, using consortium arrangements for subjects in S6 once we are back in August and travelling arrangements to and from school, were among the issues raised. Clearly these are significant and will need specific answers and today I met with the Executive Director who confirmed that a local authority recovery plan is being developed and that. Following its completion I will consult with staff, parents and students on formulating the detail of a Cumbernauld Academy specific recovery plan. We can’t be returning to exactly what we had before, so we will focus on government priorities and do all we can to keep everyone safe and make wellbeing of students and staff a top priority. Clearly there are big questions around curriculum and exams for next session and whatever the arrangements are from the SQA we will continue to support all young people to be successful.

Assemblies on Microsoft Teams

I have organised virtual assemblies for next week and these can be accessed via the year group codes that were text to all parents. To take part in the Assembly, pupils should login to glow and select join a team from ‘My teams’. Then using their year group specific code they should choose the particular meeting for them. Parents are welcome to join us for the assemblies.  Hopefully, we will be able to provide some reassurances around some of the anxieties that our young people are experiencing. I intend to follow these up with further assemblies for current S1/2 pupils very soon. Details of these will follow.

Year Group

Meet scheduled for

S5 (New S6)

1pm on Tuesday 26th May 2020

S4 (New S5)

1.30 pm on Tuesday 26th May 2020

S3 (New S4)

2pm on Tuesday 26th May 2020

 

Accessing work from the school

I have been asked about how much time should be spent on each subject for each year group and I suppose that is difficult to quantify. Each household will have its own particular stresses to deal with and for me to give an amount of time per subject could cause additional stress. In my house we try and have three learning slots on school days of just over an hour. To be honest sometimes this works and sometimes it does not. It just depends on what I need to do and how everyone is feeling. I suppose we can only do our best and remember that in the good times, the school week was 5.5hours per day and that included exercise, reading and many types of problem solving.

The work from departments is available now mainly through Microsoft Teams. The school will continue to use Twitter and the Website to signpost work to families. Some work will ,inthe short term, continue to be available through Edmodo but we are migrating to Teams as the platform for digital learning.I appreciate that parents do not have direct access to Teams but you should know the work is there and your child has access to it via their Glow email address. The Pupil Support Team are on hand and have direct numbers for you to contact them on. All direct numbers for the Pupil Support Team are on the Website via Menu- Pupil Support.

From 26th May, the school timetable will move on to session 2020/21 and teachers will provide work for students in the senior phase based on their options. However, please do not worry about this since the courses will be taught from the beginning when we return in August. This is merely an opportunity for students to familiarise themselves with the course materials and get some digital support with them.  As yet, we do not know what the arrangements for the senior phase will be next year and what the requirements from the SQA around courses will be. As soon as I have any information on this I will pass it on.

Finally, as you know I have three school age daughters and I feel the pain of every parent trying to spin the plates associated with work and home schooling. I have had some positive feedback about my message on Twitter from parents and I would like to thank them for that and to reiterate that we just can’t do everything. Just do the important things well and don’t let your children harass you about work. (Although in my house it is more about me harassing them!) If they are unsure about what to do, just contact their pupil support teacher (or get them to do it). If they are unsure how to do something that has been set for them, get them to contact their class teacher via glow.

Hopefully soon, we will all have a clearer picture of what the next steps to reopening Scottish Schools will look like. If I survive the home-schooling bit, I will certainly be around doing what I can to support everyone in these uncertain times.

Take care

Mark Cairns

Headteacher

A Letter From The Head Teacher Concerning Session 2020-21

Dear Parent/Carer,

Usually at this time of year most senior phase students would be on exam leave and the school would be making the final preparations for the change of timetable scheduled for the 1st June in the Curricular Calendar. Given the current situation all schools are reviewing their plans for next session, and obviously we are awaiting further advice from Scottish Government about how and when schools might return.

In the interim, we have decided to make available the learning materials that students would have been using in school following the change of timetable. So if your child was in S1 this session, they would move onto the S2 materials and in the BGE these would be provided by their current class teacher.

If your child has completed options, as nearly all have then they would work on the subjects and at the levels they have chosen as best they can. The school will continue to support them with this. Bear in mind however, that the courses will be taught once the school returns and that this is really an opportunity to focus on meaningful coursework in advance of the courses being taught.

The school is acutely aware that each household has its own circumstances and therefore the ability to engage with online materials will vary. You should continue as parents to focus principally of the health and wellbeing of your children and not feel stressed about the work being made available online.

I am aware that some teachers in specific departments have already successfully engaged a number of learners in materials for the ‘next level’ and that this process works better in some subjects than others and that teachers are continuing to be creative in this regard. This process will continue developing with the majority of subjects and levels having the materials available by 26th May.

Clearly there will still be some important decisions to be made around how, when and which classes will actually run next session and the basis of these decisions will come from beyond the school. In the meantime, while guaranteeing nothing regarding how education will run in Cumbernauld Academy next session, I hope you will find this move beneficial.

Mark Cairns

Head Teacher

School Uniform

Dear Parent/ Carer,

A few days ago for a brief time, a communication from Baru to the school about uniform for next session appeared on the school website. It was quickly taken down, however a number of parents may have received an email linked to this mistaken communication. My apologies for this.
At this time no decision regarding school uniform for next session has yet been reached. We are awaiting further Health and safety advice from Scottish Government about this. I will also discuss this with the Parent Council before issuing advice on School Uniform for Cumbernauld Academy next year. Over the next few weeks considerable work around planning for next session will be taking place and uniform will be considered then. Please disregard any email you got from Baru at this time.
I will be in touch again soon. In the meantime please take care of yourselves and your families before you start worrying about anything else.

My very best wishes to everyone

Mark Cairns

Headteacher

Message from Performance

Virtual School Show


Since it looks like we’re not going to be able to go ahead with our school show as planned this year, we’re bringing the show to you! I’m sure you’ll have seen some videos online of virtual performances – we’d love to create some virtual singalongs to some of the numbers from We Will Rock You!
This would be a great way to get to show off all the hard work you all had put in before school was closed.
If you want to get involved add yourself to the team and more information will be posted there. Glow Team code – 9th4g9h

Message from the HT

Dear Parents and Carers

I remember being at Glasgow University in the 1980s and feeling low heading in each morning on the subway when we got to about week 7 of each term. Lots of work on and impending class or degree exams. Well, now we all begin week 7 of ‘lockdown’. It really is having an impact on people’s health and I suppose we are all wondering when this might end or what will happen next? “How can schools reopen?”, “What about safe distancing?”, “Will there even be exams next year?” and so on. It is I suppose only natural that we are struggling to find answers for these most difficult questions but really all we can do is to focus on the much larger issues facing the whole world, take care of our own families and friends and support those who are putting their lives on the line for everyone.

The challenges for me around management restructuring, interviewing staff for jobs via Microsoft teams, the day to day stuff in the hub and staffing constraints for next session are indeed real and have at times caused me much anxiety. We have also been trying to do our best to look after the most vulnerable kids in our community and someof those younger children are now attending the hub situated within Cumbernauld Academy.

Now although being in the hub brings its own challenges, really, home schooling while trying to take care of the previously stated work commitments of a head teacher is something that is just on another level. Yes, my children all have timetabled slots, their own desks and spaces in which to work, tasks set by the school, ridiculous quantities of ICT equipment, and a dad with almost 30 years experience as a teacher to help them. Surely, you would think, that’s a perfect setup for home schooling. Before the HMIE start looking at how well we are doing with digital learning, I wonder if my most recent publication ‘How Good Is My House1?’ (HGIMH1) might help? Given the disrespect shown to me by the pupils (my three girls), the ineffective discipline system, the clear lack of, peer support or positive feedback from staff to pupils, the HMIE would for certain shut down my house as a highly unsatisfactory place of learning. Do I need the framework of HGIMH1 to know that home schooling is a disaster? No I absolutely do not. In fact no parent does. It just does not work. So please give yourselves a pat on the back for surviving thus far and remember that even in houses where there is good support, everyone is struggling to some degree. There is no doubt now for me, that being a parent is a far more difficult job than being a head teacher. Rather than offer you advice on home schooling perhaps I should be looking for advice on parenting?

My eldest daughter has now decided that moving her energy from learning calculus for the first time to what looks pretty much like work experience as a barrack room lawyer has not really helped with attempts to keep the peace. She has asked if her timetable can begin at 4pm when everyone else is finishing. Not sure where that fits with my 35 hour week?

My middle daughter who until recently was a model, gentle, lovely, helpful and studious child, has turned into a teenage sloth addicted to video games!! She is 13 later this month, but lockdown has accelerated her demise into teenage angst, insolence and indolence. This has left me feeling almost desolate.

My youngest has decided that every day will begin with ‘Gym’ and be followed with ‘Snack’. My wife has strategically placed herself at the kitchen breakfast bar as her workspace to ensure that snacks are not continually consumed throughout the day. Great to see on Friday at The Hub that the vulnerable kids from Redburn and Glencryan were in making use of the cinema in our theatre. They had a great time!

Thank you all for the outstanding work you do in taking great care of your children. These are very strange times but I am as sure as I have ever been that the values of our Cumbernauld Academy community will help to get us through this. None of us yet knows exactly what life will look like beyond lockdown. Things like transition programmes, changing timetable, buying school blazers and uniform for next session, school exams, school prom and many other things which would have been happening just now, are just not. When plans start to emerge about coming out of lockdown and ensuring we all keep safe, I will consult with you all. In the meantime, I will try to do my best to balance the work of the school, with that of being a Dad in lockdown. No question which is the more difficult. All bad things pass, stay safe, take care and remember you are doing a great job in unprecedented times.

 

Mark Cairns

Support

Due to COVID-19 we are all experiencing a period of major disruption affecting our families, friends, and communities. If you are finding things difficult or would just like someone to talk to, Katy our counsellor is available for drop in chats on Thursdays from 1:30 – 2:30. She can be contacted on 07593586704. Whatever you want talk about, we are here for you.