Dear Parents,

I’m sure that many of you will have been following the news and have picked up on the statement regarding school closures. It is worth reiterating that as schools, we don’t get any advance information before Boris makes his announcements – we all find out together.

 It has been rare, since the start of the pandemic that schools have been provided with much clarity or advance notice but we are pleased that we now have at least some certainty about what will be happening in the coming weeks. We are, of course, disappointed that we won’t have everyone back in school for a little while yet. The key announcements from parliament are as follows:

 The earliest schools might ‘begin to re-open’ will be Monday 8th March, which is the start of the third school week after the half-term holiday;

  • There will be a plan/review set out on Monday 22nd February (the first day after the half-term holiday), with further updates;
  • When the decision to return has been made, schools will get two weeks’ notice of this.

Sadly, this means that we have at least four more school weeks of home-learning under the current arrangements. I know that this will be disappointing for many families and the children, but I hope that it provides some hope that there might be an end in sight, at least in terms of getting the children back into school.

We also received a clarification from the Department for Education (DfE) that schools would not be asked to open over half-term for children of critical workers as was the case in the first lock-down. I don’t think anyone was particularly expecting there to be an offer, but I thought it was worth sharing in case anyone had been wondering.

Following the last lock down, we found that the majority of children caught up with the curriculum requirements fairly quickly. We did find that some become accustomed to the extra support they might be able to get at home. I know that in our own household, encouraging our children to work independently is not always straight forward! You may find that your child has lost some of their confidence in their own ability and is becoming more reliant on you. In school, we have our Bidborough Behaviours that we work to develop with the children; these are:

  • ü Courage – Have courage, be persistent, forgive your mistakes
  • ü Celebration – Celebrate, there’s so much you can do
  • ü Curiosity – Be curious, have hope, we don’t know it yet
  • ü Collaboration – Collaborate, koinonia, spur one another on

I thought you might like some suggestions for developing the children’s independence at home. This will not only benefit them when they return to school but hopefully give you a little more time too, especially if you are juggling work and siblings! They are just tips, I’m sure you’ve all got plenty of ideas too. You can find them at the bottom of the page. As I said, feel free to have a go at some of these ideas or not! We are here to help.

I’ve had the opportunity to see some of you in person over this week as some of you dropped by to collect books. It is great to see the children in person and hear how you are approaching this spell of home learning. If your child is in Year 6, please do pop by the office next week to pick up a copy of the new guided reading text. Don’t be tempted to read ahead, though!

I hope you have a good weekend and find some opportunity to get out into nature. If you spot some early signs of spring, please do pop up a photo on ClassDojo – I see them as signs of hope as we come out of these darker days.

Kind regards,

Julie Burton

Developing Independence

Make a plan

  1. Identify opportunities – make a list of things they feel they could do my themselves
  2. Target priorities
  3. Forget perfection!
  4. Make a list or a timetable for the day


Increase gradually

Start by giving them a small task and looking away while they complete it. Perhaps check your email or even pretend to engage on Facebook. Do something that makes them think you aren’t watching. Once they complete the task on their own, offer praise and then raise the stakes.

Set a time and complete a maths page with your child. At the end, announce how long it took to finish. Say something like, “Wow, you did this in just 10 minutes. Tomorrow we are going to play a game and see if you can do it yourself even faster.” Then do just that.

The next day set the timer for twice as long as it took your child to finish with you sitting there. Then remind them of the game and walk away. Children will often rise to the challenge to beat the clock.

Alternatively, use the timer alongside your daily plan. Break tasks up and encourage them to to try to finish the task before the timer goes off. When the timer is finished, they can have a break before starting to work on the next task.

You might start with “I’ll work with you for 10 minutes and then you have a go for 10 minutes.”


Gentle consequences/rewards

If you’ve tried the time/game approach and your child won’t work independently, it may be appropriate to try a consequence.  If you know he/she can do it, tell them that. Then tell them they will have to finish the task or face a consequence.

Make this consequence as logical as possible. For example, you might say, “Because I had to sit with you while you finished your work, I will need you to help me unload the dishwasher today before you can go and play.”

If your child has worked independently, you may be able to reward them with some of your time. “I was able to get my work done too, so I can sit and play a game with you.”

The key is to help your child see that if they can work alone, you will be freed up to do other things. If they refuse, you will need them to help you catch up. Be careful to make sure you are not implying that you won’t help them. That’s different. They can always ask for help if needed. But it doesn’t mean that you have to sit next to them and do every single problem with them.