+ The school serves an area of high deprivation (45% of pupils in receipt of pupil premium)
+ The school places great value on its relationships with their local community, and they were aware of how tricky life was going to be for many people through Covid – and the need to support them through this.
LiFE Multi-Academy Trust‘s vision states that “We have a compelling desire to provide high quality, personalised and rounded education for everyone, right in the heart of our local community… Each school is seen as a leader of and vital to its local community; each school is regarded as fundamental to the identity of its surrounding community.”
The work that Braunstone Frith have done throughout the Covid-19 crisis has given an incredibly powerful example of what that vision looks like in practice.
Braunstone Frith’s values through the crisis.
“Our drive has been very clear – how we can make life easier for our families?”
The school has focused on staying in touch and offering support to make a real difference to children, families and their local community.
Parents have responded positively, and the school feels they have never been a stronger part of their local community. One described them not just as a school but a “pillar of support in the community”. Another spoke for many when they said “School has been absolutely amazing” and no doubt many would agree with the sentiment that “I thank all the staff from my heart and you all deserve a medal. Thank You.”
Supporting children and families with food boxes
The school prioritised giving food to children and families that were vulnerable. They decided to give actual food boxes, as they felt this provided better value than vouchers. They began buying wholesale groceries and packing them into boxes, which gave families the most possible value and support.
Staff have been ‘amazing’, helping the school package and deliver up to 130 food boxes every week to vulnerable and isolated families. This also gives the school a way to touch base with families in a supportive way – to check in and find out how they’re coping.
The school has helped by “being on the end of the phone, providing lunches – saved money” said one parent. Another was “shocked at how much help that has been offered” and summed up how much of a difference the school’s inspirational work had made “I do thank everyone for all your help and support, food hampers have helped when I couldn’t get to the shops. Well done to all.”
Ensuring they meet the needs of vulnerable families and the children and families of key workers
The school aimed to give a flexible offer of support to all children, but particularly focused on meeting the needs of children of key workers and vulnerable families.
As well as the children attending school (which fluctuates between 10 and 40 during the period) they visited families at home that they were concerned about every week – and where necessary invited these children in to school so they could support them more (they even collected the children they needed in school where parents weren’t able to drop them off).
One parent simply said “you are always there when I need you.” Key workers have particularly valued the security of knowing their children are safe and looked after: “It has helped me so much. I am still working and it has helped me to continue to work and to have my child attend school, giving me peace of mind.” This was echoed by another, saying “with my child being in her normal school routine it has helped to keep things as normal as possible at home.”
Providing a high-quality, remote whole education
Providing a high-quality whole education at home has been another key part of the school’s approach. Teachers have emailed parents home learning each week, as well as the success criteria so parents can support their children. The school has also made sure to provide some feedback at home as well, and given certificates to recognise hard work. For children in Year 5 the school has done some online, live teaching.
Like all schools, Braunstone Frith Primary School know that parents aren’t teachers – ‘it’s difficult and we know that’, but parents and teachers have worked together to support children. Regular phone calls from class teachers and senior leaders have ensured the school can check in with parents who perhaps need a bit of extra support.
They have also listened to parents’ feedback and adapted – for example, given the digital divide and challenges around tech access they have photocopied physical packs of work for families that need it.
While recognising the difficulties, parents have valued this support with home learning – “it helped having online homework”. The wider support provided – the ‘whole education’ provision was just as important – in one example “it has really helped to allow my child to still have a normal routine of school, and support for her emotionally with regular contact from her class teacher.” This has greatly helped with the home learning experience – and children’s wellbeing. One parent was grateful that “my daughter is calm, happy and we learn together.”
How parents’ perception of the school has shifted
Parents have hugely appreciated the school’s inspirational response to the crisis. They have surveyed parents to develop and adapt their support and the feedback was very positive. One recognised the school has put in “a lot of effort and time to try and keep things running smoothly at such uncertain and worrying times” to put support in place “not only for the children but the parents too”.
The visits and calls by staff have helped parents feel supported – and during a time of lockdown, they were welcomed as a friendly face; one said “I look forward to seeing the staff when I collect” while another reflected this changing perception of the school slightly differently – “I will never shout at a teacher again.”
The difference this support makes to the lives of parents is vast – one captured this, simply saying “it has made a big difference as having two kids with extra needs and working was not helping me with my depression and anxiety.”
Well done to the whole school community for their inspirational work! Find out more about working with your local community in the keynote inputs from our annual conference, or Tweets from our recent webinar with Teach First.
What success have you had supporting your local community through Covid? Tell us: @wholeeducation #wholeeducation.