20 Mar
Weekly20 days ago

Weekly Update #25, 20 March 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a perfect storm of many unknown factors from many different angles: this includes testing and treatment for the virus itself, school and business closures, and the uncertainty of how long this will last. This week has presented many new challenges for the HeadStart teaching team due to the sudden need to change our mode of operation. Countless hours have been spent discussing how we as a team can support students and parents during the mandatory school closure. Teachers have had to learn how to use new technology, that while simple for our tech-savvy new generation, has presented a challenge for others. As of Friday 20th of March, we are happy to say that we have successfully launched our online learning platform across the school. Although online learning is certainly not as effective as if students were in their actual classrooms, we are determined to do the very best we can to support you during this difficult time.

We would like to thank you, the HeadStart community, for your fantastic support.

Here is What You Need to Know About Home Learning in Foundation
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Hannah Brown

Deputy Head of Foundation
[email protected]

Hello, My name is Hannah Brown. I joined HeadStart in August 2019 as the Deputy Head of Foundation school. I have lived in Phuket for 18 months having previously worked as both a teacher and a member of the management at another school. On leaving secondary school I was very aware of the career path I should take. Whilst studying I worked in various early years provisions as an early childhood educator before completing my degree education at the University of Plymouth, UK. I was part of the management team for a large group of early years provisions in England. Throughout my early career I focused my research and professional development around speech and language development and children learning English as a second language, which put me at a great advantage when it came to moving to this beautiful island. I am very excited to lead a team of dedicated and creative EYFS teachers in order to give your children the best possible education experience in their early childhood. I believe that for children to achieve, discover their talents and become resilient young people they must feel safe and secure both in their personal and home lives. As teachers and education providers our role stretches further than what subjects we can teach them but rather educate and support the development of the ‘whole child’. Taking a holistic approach we are able to focus on the personal, social and emotional needs of children whilst supporting their cognitive and physical ability. Children spend much of their childhood studying and preparing for exams, it is my mission to ensure that every child we enrole at HeadStart looks back on their early years with fun and happy memories, knowing that they were given the opportunity to grow and explore in an interesting and diverse environment. When I’m not at school I like to explore the beautiful places Thailand has to offer, spend time with friends, swim in the ocean and eat lots of delicious food! I look forward to meeting new children and parents this year. Good luck to all for the academic year!

Dear Parents,

We are pleased to inform you that we have established the way in which we will facilitate learning and development for Foundation children during the school closure. We will provide you or the adult taking care of your child with a wide variety of activities that aim to meet each of the seven areas of learning and development outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). You will be sent a recommended daily routine to follow as well as a Google Drive link to a file containing weekly activities for your child.

Keeping in line with the EYFS framework we wish to ensure your children continue to play and promote choice around their learning. Within Google Drive you will find many activities, some of which may require some preparation from you. We encourage you to look through the activities with your child and plan which your child will complete each day. We recommend that a minimum of three Phonics, Literacy and Mathematics activities are completed each week as well as choosing a balanced variety of activities from the other Areas of Learning.

Children who are Thai first language speakers will receive daily Thai activities added to Google Drive. These are included within the daily schedule.

In order for us to continue to document your child’s development, we would like it if you would support your child in keeping a daily diary of the home learning activities they have completed or activities they have participated in with your family. This can include drawings, copies of artwork and photos. Please encourage children to write a few words, for those that cannot, please write down what they say. If children wish to mark make and tell you what it says, please transcribe it.

Whilst we know this will not be possible for all households, if you can, please email the Homeroom teacher any photographic evidence you take throughout the week each Friday. This will help us to make assessments as well as plan activities in the coming weeks. Once the school reopens, please bring in the learning journal with you so we can update your child’s development tracker. It is not essential to do this but is encouraged if possible.

We are aiming to provide a full educational service to you, but do understand that facilitating this learning will not be possible for all families. Please continue to promote play and independence at home during this time. We hope that you will find this method of learning beneficial for your children and we look forward to seeing them again in the near future.

The Foundation Team is available during normal school hours to be contacted with any questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you need to by email.

I would like to thank you all for your continued support.

Here is What You Need to Know About Home Learning in Primary
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Sam Khan

Head of Foundation and Primary
[email protected]

I was born and grew up in London, England. If any of you are familiar with the sport of Rugby Union, I grew up very close to Twickenham Stadium! I graduated in History from the University of Teeside in 1992, and in 1999 completed my P.G.C.E. and have now been an educationalist for over 17 years. As well as my teaching experience, I have a total of 12 years of experience as a curriculum manager and school leader, having served as an Assistant Head, a Deputy Head and Head Teacher. In my most recent role, in the Middle East , I worked as a School Improvement Consultant. I am a passionate believer in the transformational nature of education and learning. I believe that children learn best when they enjoy their learning and feel secure when facing tasks that are stimulating and challenging. Pupils should feel valued in the classroom and feel confident that enthusiasm and good learning will be met with recognition and praise from the teacher and peers. As a school leader I am committed to the challenge of motivating the whole school community to help every individual pupil realise his or her talents, whilst at the same time ensuring that our pupils are empowered with the essential skills to be able to make a positive contribution in an increasingly globalised world of rapid change and innovation. I believe that schools where success is celebrated, and challenges faced head on in a professional culture of support, trust and honesty are schools that ensure the best possible outcomes for all its students. As a school leader I am committed to creating an empowering and enabling school culture with a powerful ethos of positivity and hard work.

Warm greetings from myself, and the HeadStart Foundation, and Primary Teaching Team.

I hope you are all well, and adjusting to the necessary changes we have all had to make due to the Covid-19 outbreak. I know I speak for all of my staff when I say that we all would rather have our HeadStart pupils in school; happy and learning together. However, despite the challenges of teaching children who are not in school, I am positive that we can continue to connect with our HeadStart pupils and engage and educate them while they remain away from school.

The Foundation Team has today been working on devising ‘on-line’ classrooms where parents will find a wide range of activities for pupils to enjoy at home and outdoors. These activities, will where possible, mirror the activities our Foundation children would be enjoying in school. The activities have been devised to promote the development of the seven ‘Areas of Learning’ as outlined in the Early Years and Foundation Stage Framework. Ms. Hannah Brown, Deputy Head of Foundation, will be sending details of the Foundation on-line provision to our Foundation parents in a separate email.

In Primary, we shall be using the ‘Google Classroom’ platform to create a ‘virtual school’ and to connect with our pupils and ensure that they continue to learn while away from the HeadStart campus.

What is ‘Google Classroom’?

Google Classroom is a web-based service, developed by Google for schools. Many of our Secondary school teachers and pupils already have experience of using this platform. It is a new experience for us many of us in Primary! Google Classroom enables teachers to deliver teaching input to pupils through video and real time chat, while at the same time providing a number of different tools such as Google Forms, Google Docs and Google Slides for pupils to be able to carry out tasks and activities which when completed can be shared back with the class teacher for feedback. Google Classroom gives us the tools with which to create a ’virtual school’.

How do I access my child’s Google Classroom?

You will have been which will have login details to an email address set up for your child. In order to access your Primary child’s Google Classroom, you will need to follow links that have been sent to your child’s HeadStart email address. We have temporarily enabled your child’s email account as this is required for you to be able to access your child’s Google Classroom.

The process of activating your child’s HeadStart email account will require that you change the default password. Once you have done this you will be able to access your child’s Google Classroom, and access on-line lessons. We have enabled your child’s HeadStart email account for the duration of our ‘virtual school’. Once our pupils can return back to school we will disable these email accounts for our Primary pupils. Please do not be worried; full details on how to access your child’s Google Classroom will be provided in the email that you receive tomorrow.

What lessons will my child be able to access through the Google Classroom platform?

The weekly timetable below indicates the lessons and timings that will be available through Google Classroom. The timetable is the same for each year group unless indicated. We have deliberately designed this timetable so that it provides all our HeadStart families with a daily routine. We know that this will lead to settled and focused pupils, and will also enable parents to plan their days, and minimise domestic disruptions to households. The schedule will be reviewed next week and further lessons and activities may be added.

Here is what You need to know about Home Learning in Secondary
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Richard Lukats

Head of Secondary
[email protected]

Mr Richard Lukats is the Athletics Director at Headstart International School. Richard has over twenty years’ experience of working in schools both internationally and in the United Kingdom. He has been a senior school administrator (Athletics Director, Principal/Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher/Principal and Assistant Headteacher) for the past 18 years internationally and in the UK. He is a UK qualified teacher (Post Graduate of Education, PGCE) and holds the UK qualification to be a Headteacher (National Professional Qualification for Headship, NPQH). At Headstart International School, Richard is responsible for leading the overall strategic direction, operational effectiveness and administration of the school’s sports and activities programme, alongside managing the PE Department. He is passionate, about the role sport and physical activity plays in the development of young people and he is looking to further developing the already excellent programme that is on offer at Headstart. He is always looking at ways of working with all members of the Headstart Community to further enhance the opportunities for participation in physical activities for everyone.

I would like to share with you how we will approach Online Home Learning in Secondary School starting from Friday 20th March. We will review the programme within the first six days of operation and communicate any changes we may make to parents and students on Friday 27th March 2020.

Whilst delivering learning ‘Online’ can never be as good as face to face teaching in a physical school/class setting, the Online Learning programme we will be running will give students an opportunity to continue their learning journey and reach their academic goals. Our fantastic team of dedicated teachers will be utilising teaching and learning strategies that will engage, motivate and challenge students which will be delivered through the use of Google Meet and Google Classroom applications (these have already been set up for every class a student has and have already been accessed at school). However the learning will only be effective if students treat the Online Learning with the same respect and diligence they would apply to a normal school day - they must attend and be ‘present’ (focused and engaged) for all their lessons - and parents you have a part to play in ensuring they login on time and actively take part in the lessons.

So what will the students be doing?

Every day students will need to login to their Homeroom Google Classroom at 8.00am. The teacher will take a register and check in with students and share any updates from the school. One of the biggest takeaways from schools already doing online learning is that staff and students meeting ‘face to face’ online at the start of the day is of huge benefit.

From 8.10am students will then follow the timetable (see below) for their year group, while students in Year 12 &13 will follow their existing individual schedule.

All lessons will have resources provided (online) that will set out the learning objectives for the lesson and will include tasks/assignments for students to complete, accompanied with teacher feedback during the scheduled lesson. Teachers will use Google Meet and Google Classroom to communicate with students live throughout the lesson, either by video links, audio feed or via chat. Students are expected to complete and submit all tasks and assignments on time. This includes ongoing assessments such as previously assigned work.

Year 11, 12 & 13 Parents and students, please note that we are expecting to still be able to run all of the Cambridge International Examinations planned for this April, May and June. Therefore we must all keep focused on our preparations for these exams. Teachers will continue to provide lessons that will provide the skills and content to ensure students achieve their full potential in the exams.

Online learning isn’t easy, and it’s success very much depends on the whole community supporting our students to engage with their learning while also remaining balanced with time spent away from their devices. Below is a guide for what students and parents should and can do to make Online Learning as successful and enjoyable as possible.

Students

  • Identify a comfortable, quiet space so you can work effectively and successfully with an appropriate background. Dress appropriately and remain engaged in lessons without any distractions. Turn off notifications and close any applications or tabs which are not needed to support learning.
  • Check Engage/Timetable for every lesson you should be attending that day, and check your emails at least daily throughout the school week.
  • Login to the Homeroom Google Classroom at 8:00am each day and attend scheduled Online lessons.
  • Follow your regular schedule and join any scheduled classes where your teacher is using Google Meet.
  • Complete and submit all tasks and assignments on time. This includes ongoing assessments.
  • Join lessons 5 minutes early to troubleshoot any technical issues such as audio or video. Use headphones and a microphone and be sure to keep your microphone muted unless you are asked to talk.
  • Respect online communication norms such as being on time for lessons, staying focused on the lesson without getting distracted, using Chat or comment features.
  • Behave online as you would face-to-face - being inclusive, kind and caring. Students are expected to follow the schools existing behaviour policy.
  • Participate in online learning activities with your peers as directed.
  • Ask questions and seek clarifications from your teachers and classmates as needed - either through Google Classroom, email, Google Chat or Hangouts Meet.
  • Continue to be physically active daily and take regular breaks from screen time. Be mindful of your workload and wellbeing.
  • Keep your laptop with you when traveling and keep it charged, if you can get internet the learning can continue wherever you are.

Parents

  • Choose a learning location that is suitable to be seen by peers and teachers if students are using video tools. Choose a space that is not private in the home. Your child should be dressed appropriately when using video tools.
  • Consider dedicating one room in the home to learn during ‘class time’. If there are siblings simultaneously online, choose locations that do not cause noise interference when recording learning or video conferencing.
  • Support your child to create and follow a learning schedule at home. Check Engage and their Google Classrooms to see your child’s daily schedule and assignments.
  • Support your child to login on time for their lessons.
  • Support your child not to be distracted from their learning by having other devices with them e.g. having multiple unnecessary applications/browser tabs open on their devices, turning off unnecessary notifications etc..
  • Ask questions, talk about learning, upcoming deadlines, and workload. Support your child to contact the subject teacher or homeroom teacher if they are unclear about anything.
  • Communicate any concerns to your child’s teacher via email.
  • Support your child to approach their online learning with the same level of effort and application that they would if they were at school and to avoid any distractions which can impede with their learning.
  • Encourage your child to take study breaks and regular breaks from screen-time and encourage your child to balance their screen time with offline activities.
  • Be mindful of your child’s wellbeing; speak to them regularly about concerns or challenges.

If as a learning community we keep focused on the daily routines of following a schedule and working hard, we will collectively get through this challenging time and support each other to further develop as learners and mindful people.

Will Cambridge International exams go ahead following the UK government announcement about school exams in England? (NEW - Updated 18 March)

Yes. Cambridge International exams – including Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O Level, Cambridge International AS & A Level, Cambridge AICE Diploma – are separate from the exams mentioned by the UK government today. Cambridge International exams will go ahead outside the UK in countries where schools are open or exams can be held safely.

The only impediment to us running the exams at the moment is if we are not allowed to do so by the Thailand Ministry of Education. The MOE has given us permission to run public exams during the present enforced school closure. Hopefully, by the time the holidays are over if not before, the school will be running a normal schedule and all students will be able to attend HeadStart.

Therefore, HeadStart Students, you must not get sidetracked from your academic goals or allow yourself to be influenced by negative thoughts. Be positive, apply yourself to your studies and prove to yourself and others how resilient and capable you are as a learner. Remember the Online Home Learning has now started so login to your Homeroom Google Classroom and commit like never before to your studies and your peers - we will get through this together!

Below is some specific information for different year groups;

Year 9 - Your Checkpoint Exams will begin on Tuesday 21st April and we will hopefully all be back in school in time for you to sit them. If we cannot take them on the 21st of April, we will rearrange them for when we can.

Year 11 - Some of you have already completed course work for your IGCSEs and will be coming into school in the next couple of weeks to take speaking tests. All IGCSE written exams will go ahead as scheduled. If there are any changes to the schedule or we are not allowed to run exams we will inform you as soon as we can.

Year 12 - Some of you will be taking practical exams over the next two weeks and all AS written exams will go ahead as scheduled. If there are changes to the schedule or we are not allowed to run exams we will inform you as soon as we can.

Year 13 - Your A Level exams will go ahead as scheduled. If there are changes to the schedule or we are not allowed to run exams we will inform you as soon as we can. It is important to note that all Universities around the world are fully aware of the situation in regards to students taking or not taking exams and will have contingencies in place to award places. The two things you must do is focus on your studies/exams and be in constant communication with Ms Caines. Any communication you get from Universities, you have applied to, must be forwarded to Ms Caines who will advise you on the right course of action to take.

I hope the above information goes some way to reassuring you and that any anxiety or concerns you might have about what will happen, has been alleviated.

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