Letter to parents and carers 27 January 2021
Dear Parents and Carers
I hope this letter finds you safe and well. The last month has been a very difficult one for all of us. I am sure that, like me, you know of significant numbers of people infected with Covid, sometimes with tragic outcomes. This brings the pandemic very close.
You will have seen that we are now conducting more ‘live’ lessons at Olchfa, as promised. Not every lesson will be ‘live’. Our safeguarding protocols dictate that there needs to be an adult ‘witness’ to each live lesson and this limits the number of lessons we can offer in this way to somewhere in the region of 50%. Within this overall figure, we are slightly skewing the provision towards those pupils in examination year groups. I am sure that you will understand the logic behind this. I also hope that your sons and daughters are finding the daily form tutor ‘check ins’ useful. I know that the teachers have found them really beneficial.
I have told you before that live lessons are voluntary on the part of teachers. This has been made clear by government and the local authority. It is also something that the teaching unions have insisted on.
At Olchfa, as we stand at present, nearly all of our staff are comfortable with using live streaming as part of the provision they think will best meet their pupils’ needs. A very small number of staff have elected not to live stream.
I now need to make a very important point:
Live streaming poses certain risks and vulnerabilities for teachers and some pupils have already abused this vulnerability. Images of teachers have been posted on social media without the teachers’ consent and, in some cases, the images have been manipulated.
The privilege of access to live streaming is conditional on the following:
· All pupils must read and abide by the acceptable use policy hyperlinked here
· No images or audio clips of teachers may be shared or posted on social media or via personal messages with others
· There is to be no recording of any live lesson by any pupil
· Pupils must only join classes they have been invited to by the teacher; they must not join classes they are not members of
I am sorry to have to be blunt about this but we are in the middle of a pandemic and we simply do not have the time to talk to individual pupils and parents about why they might have chosen to breach the requirements above.
Therefore, if any pupil breaches any of the conditions outlined above, he or she will be immediately and permanently denied the opportunity to take part in any lesson which involves live streaming. This will be effective as of Thursday 28 January 2021.
Teachers are working incredibly hard to keep meaningful learning going for our pupils. All the teachers I have spoken to say they would far rather be back in school because it is much easier than what they are having to do now, which is to juggle distance teaching with the demands of their own family situations etc.
In that light, I hope you will impress upon your sons and daughters the importance of respecting teachers’ workload and respecting the fact that misuse of teachers’ images or voices causes real anxiety and stress.
I would go further and say that if this were to become a consistent issue I am sure the teaching unions would advise their members not to live steam at all, rather than put themselves at that risk. I would fully understand that. This would be a real backward step as we attempt to ensure that learning, albeit remote, is engaging and multi-faceted.
I know this letter may sound blunt but I make no apologies for that. I also know that this letter might seem like a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’, since the vast majority of our pupils respect their teachers and their privacy. If you are the parent of one of these pupils, please pass over this letter quickly and understand that it is directed at the minority who do not show the same respect. As I’ve said, there simply isn’t the time to drill down into individual cases.
I hope that things begin to get better over the next month or so. I think we are still some way off from the full reopening of school and death rates continue to rise. However, there are some signs that the rate of increase of Covid is slowing down and this, combined with the vaccination programme, should make things feel a little better in a month or so.
With every good wish for your continued health and safety