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School update 1st May

1st May 2020


Dear parents/carers

School Update

As we enter the 7th week of school closure, I hope you and your family are keeping well, keeping busy and keeping to the government’s advice of Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives. As the Prime Minister announced yesterday, we have passed the peak of this infection and can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Although there is no expectation that the government are going to totally relax the lockdown when they review the situation next Thursday, a plan for how we can begin to get back to some form or normality, while still working hard to prevent a second peak, will be announced.

I hope within this announcement there will be some idea as to how pupils could return to school. The education secretary this week indicated that there could be some kind of ‘phased return’ and that schools will be given enough notice about how this will happen. This could indicate that pupils will not be back imminently, but a plan for getting some pupils back before the summer will be proposed, with schools given some time to prepare for this so that our pupils and our staff are safe.

These steps, coupled with the increase in testing for essential workers, people who have to travel to work and over 65s, will support pupils coming into school as it will allow any risk of the virus spreading in a community to be identified and addressed.


Home Learning

After speaking to teachers in school, I am pleased with the take up of learning activities from our pupils. Although there are a variety of tasks within classes, I do feel that over the period of school closure, the provision from teachers has developed and changed according to the age and stage of the children. It is important to highlight that these activities are not designed to put any extra pressure on parents or pupils. At the moment, keeping children safe and comfortable at home is what matters here. The activities are to be used to support learning, provide tasks if needed and to keep up to date with basics. Any Showbie or Zoom activity is always trumped with regular and consistent reading at home which is something that we would encourage all children to maintain.

Did You Know?

International research is indicating that children watching TV with subtitles on can boost their reading attainment. Subtitles should not just be used for the hard of hearing but can significantly help younger children to develop a stronger link between spoken language and written language.



Due to the fact that school only had two days notice about school closure, some classes had to be set up with generic passwords – pupil1 or brainpop1. At the moment some class teachers are contacting pupils about new individual passwords so that pupils can ensure that none else can get into their account.

Programs such as Education city and Tackling tables do have individual passwords. Passwords in other programs, such as Brainpop, can be reset in the settings section. We would advise all pupils to change their passwords to ensure that no one can get into their account.

Click on the link below for a range of activities on internet safety.






The government have announced major changes to the testing system for coronavirus. From now on the following groups are eligible for a test:

  • an essential workerwith coronavirus symptoms
  • aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms
  • someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can apply if they live with an essential worker, a person aged 65 or over, or someone who travels to work.

You can also apply for a test if you have a clinical referral from NHS 111 online.

The test can be completed at home or at a drive-through testing site. The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. The test is an ‘antigen test’. It tests if you currently have coronavirus. The test to tell if you’ve ever had coronavirus (‘antibody test’) is not available yet.

Gov.uk recommend that you need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms. It’s best to apply for the test in the first 3 days as it may take 1 or 2 days to arrange.

If you are in one of the categories above and are symptomatic, you can apply for a test via the following website:



Free School Meals Vouchers

Until school returns, we will continue to issue the Free School Meal Vouchers from Edenred. Up until today’s date – 1st May, parents should have received 4 vouchers of £15 per eligible pupil. Every Monday, there will be a new voucher sent out and this will continue until school returns.

When talking to parents who have not received vouchers, on most occasions the voucher code has been sent, but the email has gone into the junk mail, or even into the ‘other’ mailbox. On the vast majority of occasions, the voucher can be found and redeemed following the usual processes.

We recommend that on Mondays, parents monitor their inbox carefully and look out for the email from noreply@edenred. This will allow them to deal with the voucher straight away, rather than being inundated with other emails which will make finding the voucher more difficult.

From this point on, McColl’s have registered with the scheme and vouchers and now be selected and used there. Further to this, Edenred have announced that they are extending the expiry dates of the vouchers to 4 months after receipt.

If parents have any problems with the voucher, please contact the school on the office@newmarske.rac.sch.uk email address.

If circumstances have changed for parents and you now feel that your child/children could be eligible for Free School Meals, please go to the school website and complete the Free School Meal application form. The eligibility criteria for FSMs are:

  • Universal Credit with an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400 (as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)
  • Income Support Jobseekers Allowance (Income Based) Pension Credit (Guaranteed Credit)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related)
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum act 1999 Child Tax Credit with a joint annual gross income of no more than £16,190 (Providing you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit on a regular basis)
  • A ‘Run-On’ of Working Tax Credit (Paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)



The following information is from the Cleveland Local Resilience Forum

Mental health and wellbeing

During these times, young people will be wholly aware of the changes in their daily lives and the impact it is having on them, their families and their routines. Many of these younger people could also experience periods of anxiety, higher levels of stress and be scared of the unknown. It is therefore important to reassure them where possible. The current climate is extremely challenging for all, especially those who may have experienced mental health difficulties previously, so it is important that everybody understands that there are tools, resources and support available.

There are a range of online resources and downloadable apps highlighted below. To help support children and young people who are finding the current times difficult.

  • BIG WHITE WALL: For Stress & Anxiety. Anonymous online community support. Site offers one to one with trained mental health professionals. bigwhitewall.com.
  • CALM HARM: For Emotional Support & Self- Harm Reduction. Tasks to help minimise self-harm and regulate emotions. calmharm.co.uk.
  • CATCH IT APP: Anxiety & Depression. App to help managing negative thoughts and promote positive thought processes.
  • CHILL PANDA APP: Reduce Worries. App to provide information and step by step guides for breathing techniques and exercises to calm the mind.
  • IESO: Online Therapy. Assists with anxiety, stress, low mood and much more. Online counselling iesohealth.com/en-gb
  • MEE TWO: Mental Health Support. Online app to discuss issues affecting the lives of students. Anonymous advice available from experts.
  • YOUNG MINDS: Mental Health Support. Website providing support and online toolkits designed to help improve mental health. Online Blog. youngminds.org.uk/
  • KOOTH: Online Counselling Support. Free online anonymous mental health support. Online crisis support. Articles and community blogs. Online journaling available. www.kooth.com/ CHILDLINE: Online Line Information. Online and telephone counselling and support. Information and advice regarding a large range of topics. Online toolbox providing strategies and assistance. childline.org.uk/
  • MIND: Information and Support for Mental Health Issues. Information, support and advice on all mental health needs. mind.org.uk/information-support/for-children-and-young-people/
  • SAMARITANS: Crisis Support. Telephone, email and in person support. Offers crisis mental help support on a large range of issues. https://www.samaritans.org/


Careless cooking

Careless cooking can be a recipe for disaster warns Cleveland Fire Brigade.  Unattended cooking, too much clutter, alcohol and distractions are top of the list for danger at a time when more people are at home during the current lockdown. Steve Johnson, Area Manager Prevention said: “There are a lot more people indoors at the moment and a lot more potential fire hazards. Most fires start in the kitchen so this is just a timely reminder to take extra care and follow simple safety rules:

  • Stand by your pan – don’t get distracted while cooking
  • Keep it clean – Take advantage of the time at home and ensure your oven and grill are clean, it’s usually the build-up of food deposit and fats that set alight
  • Don’t drink and cook – alcohol and cooking do not mix “

We will also be likely to be using more power than usual in the home so it is important to remember not to overload sockets and to make sure that when devices are charging they are on a hard, flat surfaces with plenty of ventilation and space round them to stop them overheating. If you aren’t using an electrical appliance then switch it off and save energy. “We also advise against the use of candles, and smokers should do so outside and extinguish fully before disposing.” The Brigade has also urged people to use the lockdown to dust and test smoke alarms. Figures show you are four times more likely to die in a fire where there is no working smoke alarm. You should also have an escape plan for the household in the event of a fire. This should include making sure exits are clear and easy access to keys and a mobile phone. For more fire safety information visit www.clevelandfire.gov.uk


If anyone does have any concerns about any issue relating to school, this could relate to home leaning, FSM vouchers, returning to school, mental health resources or assessing support for key workers, someone at school can be contacted on the school number 01642 486392 or via the schollclosure@newmarske.rac.sch.uk email address.

Stay home: Protect the NHS and Save Lives.


Kindest regards


Mr Dooris

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