|Trinity Term 2021
Letter from the Headmistress
The Calendar, The Play, Timetables, School Fees, Year 8s; Common Entrance Camp, Google Classroom, Back to School, Mitigating Risk, Vaccinations, Covid Protocols & Testing, Assembly for Awards, Prizes & Colours, Positive news: The Swimming pool, Chromebooks, The Martlet Award & Outdoor Learning, The Digital Hub, our S T E A M Centre,
Please stay in touch and ask for help.
I am writing with the first letter for our new term which is just around the corner.
The news so far is that we anticipate the Government schools resuming their academic year on 10th May. Therefore, we too are taking this date as the first day of ‘live’ learning and we look forward to welcoming all our children back to Pembroke House on this day.
This means it will be necessary to start the term on 26th April with online learning and I will be in the Assembly Google Classroom at 8.15 am on this Monday for our first ‘online’ live assembly. I am sure memories of Google Classroom remain and we will send out the timetables once more to help you sort things out. We all hope that this ‘online’ learning will be just a brief spell and then we can get back to normal at school. However, we have all come to realise that assumptions must be tempered and confirmation must be sought along the line, for the situation with this pandemic changes from week to week.
The Year 8s
The Government of Kenya recognises that examinable year groups need the support of ‘live’ teaching. Thus we have permission for the Year 8s to join school in preparation for their Common Entrance exams which begin early in May. This means we are inviting our Year 8s to join us at school in person on Monday 26th April with lessons beginning at 10 am, for a two week CE Camp, prior to the rest of the school returning on 10th May.
As this letter is being added to the system ready to go out, there should be an email from Council already in your inbox. This communication recognises that the first two weeks of term will be ‘online’ and therefore your invoice will be adjusted accordingly to reflect a discount. Of course this does not apply to Year 8s who will be in school preparing for their exams.
Last term we did our very best to keep the school community as safe and healthy as possible. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we can constantly learn by being mindful of how matters have played out and the feedback we have received. One of the most important things that helped us was testing those who were not well and then testing the close contacts of anyone who had picked up Covid. Even negative close contacts isolated away from school for 14 days and we feel this was one of the most successful aspects of our protocol.
We remain committed to taking our temperatures daily and twice daily for the children, being outside as much as possible, avoiding large gatherings, strict handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks whenever necessary.
Vaccinations & Testing
With most of our teaching staff now having received their first vaccination (95%) along with the majority of support staff (80%) we feel that this should help to protect them and also reduce the likelihood of the transmission of this illness amongst us. We will of course follow up with the 2nd vaccination when the time comes should they become available. Any member of staff who has not had their first vaccination will be asked to test themselves prior to returning to school.
Now that lateral flow tests are available in this country we have decided it would be sensible to expect that children should return to school with a negative covid test. This may be either the lateral flow test or a PCR test, whichever one suits your circumstances best.
In a similar way to last term, families will be asked to fill in a self declaration form upon arrival at school. This document will request that you kindly inform me as HM if you have been in contact with anyone unwell or known to have Covid. It also asks you to get in touch should you feel unwell in the future or find yourself to have contracted the disease. You were extremely understanding over this request last term and the information you gave us and your trust allowed the school community to react appropriately to keep everyone as informed and as safe as possible.
We understand that we cannot completely control the environment at school. However, we aim to mitigate risk and with your permission and support, we ask you all to continue to help us as we try and find our way through these very difficult times. Last term we carried out a total of 95 tests. We recorded 3 positive cases, the details of which we communicated immediately. We feel that this open communication is one of the most important aspects of dealing with this pandemic and goes some way to ease the anxiety and concern that understandably it generates. As I have said we continue to learn and adapt to this ever changing situation and we sincerely hope we can continue to improve our protocols at school in order to look after us all.
I attach the calendar below...please do click for it to open. These dates remain very similar to that circulated in previous letters. Of course the start date of 26th April is for a return to school for the Year 8s and the start of online learning for the rest of the school.
T H E C A L E N D A R
As you might imagine, staging the senior school play, ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, is an ongoing challenge. The sense of anticipation is enormous and to try to give the necessary time for preparation and rehearsal we have actually left the final performance placed in the calendar on Wednesday 2nd June, just before the start of half term. At present our protocol would dictate that only the school will be able to watch the play. However should matters change we will be in touch to let you know. We appreciate it is not the same but the play will be filmed so everyone can at least watch and enjoy it even if it is all unfortunately somewhat remote.
The first exeat will now apply only to the Year 8s and it is an optional exeat. We feel that the Year 8s may well need a break after what will have been quite an intense start to the term. By this time the Mental Maths and French Listening exams will be under their belts and it will be a good time for a rest. Those Year 8s who might like to stay at school will be most welcome and we will continue as normal.
The other dates in the calendar remain the same with a mini half term and exeat factored in. Activities and events like the Colour Run and the Riding Weekend will need to be confirmed depending on the situation with Covid both at school and in the country as a whole.
Awards and Commendations
As soon as we are all back to school together we will arrange a special assembly to acknowledge all the awards and commendations we listed in the final letter of last term.
I have news of some very important and exciting projects and initiatives to bring to your attention.
The Swimming Pool
Thanks to the Pembroke House Foundation we have our solar heating for the swimming pool back up and running to capacity. This is very exciting and I look forward to seeing how warm we can make the pool. I am always advised that this is the priority that must be addressed if we wish our swimmers to improve their stroke technique and swim more beautifully, effectively and ultimately faster!
Our Chromebooks at school are a much appreciated resource made possible by the Pembroke House Foundation. These devices allow us to give the children the opportunity to use the digital world to support their academic work. The search engines to which they give access allow the children to look up and ‘find out’ and add much interest and a vital individual, personal component to each child’s learning. We are once more very grateful to the PHF for supporting us in this bid to extend this resource. Once the new set of Chromebooks arrive we will then have our ICT room and two sets of Chromebooks as well as one set of Learnpads.
The Martlet Award
As a school we feel that the time is right to bring a new aspect to our curriculum. We have long been known for a love of the outdoors and making the most of Kenya, the very beautiful country in which we live, our natural environment, our grounds and our wonderful climate. Increasingly Year 6 is becoming the year in which our children are assessed for their ‘next’ school. Over the course of their time in the Middle School the children will build a portfolio cataloging their interests, passions and achievements. This will support them when it comes to interview time and filling in the often asked for CVs. To give time to this new initiative we are planning to introduce two lessons into the Middle School curriculum each week (Year 5 and 6) and one into Year 7. One lesson will be centred around outdoor / adventure learning and one lesson will be devoted to
S T E A M. S T E A M is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. Mr Aung and Mr Davidson are our lead teachers in this project, who will kindly introduce this new syllabus. I asked Mr Davidson to write a ‘blurb’ for me to share with you;
“Adventure Learning sessions endeavour to put children at the ‘frontline’ of a learning situation. The program will be centred on the skills a child has assimilated in the classroom, plus a ‘hands on’, ‘mind in gear’ situation. Emphasis will be on experience-based learning through participation and activity. Resources of equipment, artefacts and specimens inspire reactions whereby curiosity, excitement and creativity are stimulated. The program aims to put children in a position where their physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual capacities are engaged spontaneously and the attributes of dignity, duty and constancy, the basis of the Martlet Award and Pembroke Spirit, are developed hand-in-hand.”
The final Martlet Awards will be presented at the end of Year 8 on Speech Day but there will be awards at the end of Year 6 as the children are part way through their curriculum. Of course the trip up Mount Kenya and the much looked forward to camel safari and white water rafting will form part of the syllabus.
To be considering such an initiative, so closely aligned with the Duke of Edinburgh Award seems timely and entirely appropriate. We are very proud of our Kenyan and British heritage and our thoughts will be with the Queen and her family at this very sad and poignant time, as they grieve the passing of Prince Philip. There is much is to be considered, practised and finalised over the course of this term but this programme will start formally ready for the new academic year in September.
The Digital Hub, our S T E A M Centre
We are most fortunate to have been given the funds to build our very own Digital Hub. Despite the many priorities that might take centre stage, our kind and generous sponsor agrees with us that the Digital Hub is exactly what is needed to take Pembroke House on into the years ahead. We are hopeful that this initiative will add a vitality and an extra sparkle to the education which we provide for our Pembrokians. As you will appreciate our digital world is becoming increasingly important encompassing as it does, electronics, robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, Big Data, coding, graphics, photography, film making and so much more. Most importantly at the centre of it all lies problem solving. As our world population increases and our natural environment comes under increasing pressure, problem solving is going to become more and more important. At its heart S T E A M focuses on finding creative and sustainable solutions to solve the dilemmas of our modern world.
We are extremely grateful to our sponsor for such generosity. This initiative will really help our children begin to realise their potential for creativity and innovation. Such an opportunity will also make all the difference to the future of Pembroke House and we hope will have a significant effect on generations of Pembrokians to come. With the funds in hand we are in the process of marking out the footprint of this new hub of learning at school. Hopefully, we will have broken ground by the beginning of this term of ‘live’ learning, 10th May.
For now this brings us to the end of this, the first letter of our Trinity Term 2021. I know everyone at school joins me in thanking you for your resilience and patience as we try to find the way forward. We hope that the months ahead go well and we can all stay as safe and healthy as possible.
Please could I ask you to make the necessary plans and arrangements for the weeks and months ahead. However, as I have said, we have all learnt that during this pandemic, matters do change and please could you hold off making final payments as the days ahead play out and we can relay news from the Government as and when we are informed.
Should you have any queries or concerns or if you would like some reassurance in these challenging times please do get in touch. Nowadays WhatsApp is such an easy way to reach out, or of course do not hesitate to ring or email.
Enjoy the remaining days of the holiday and I will be in touch as and when we receive further news.
With very best wishes,