Trinity Term 2020
Letter from the Headmistress
Fees, Salaries and a Balance to be Found, Pembroke House, a Trust, Nerves, Scanner App, Online Learning, Options, Recording, Respect, Safeguarding, Common Entrance Dates, Targets, Assembly… please do get in touch!
As you know we are all now contemplating the term ahead. Teachers are working hard and worrying about how best to engage and work with their classes and parents are thinking through how to plan for their children’s learning and how to structure their days. I imagine our children are quite excited at the thought of seeing their friends and trying out something different. For us all, teachers and parents alike, we have a financial plan for the weeks ahead - albeit somewhat tough, but fortunately we all understand that this situation is a global phenomena and all companies, institutions and families are very much in the same boat.
You, our parents have been wonderful at getting in touch and making a plan to pay either for the term ahead or monthly. Families with extra difficulties have been in touch and we have tried our best to support everyone in some way. Pembroke House is very much a community and we know how difficult it is for so many of our parents. However, we do need to look after our staff at school and of course try and safeguard Pembroke House so it is in a position to open when the Kenyan Government gives us the go ahead.
As a school we have endeavoured to cut as many costs as possible and to extend loan repayments, overdraft facilities and such like, to ease our financial situation. However, the school still has certain fixed costs which must be paid. Pembroke House is different to many schools in that it also covers the rent for staff. Either teachers and staff live on site or there is an allowance paid. Council and the school management felt it was very important to cover these outgoings for staff and thus the school has committed to covering these costs. The teachers, administrative staff and our auxiliary team will then receive their modest salary for the coming 5 months and in an effort to recognise varying workloads, on top of this, those teachers and staff very involved in teaching and the administration of the school will receive a further allowance.
Thus one way and another Council has tried to make it so that the money in, versus the money out is relatively balanced and matters are as fair as possible. We cannot possibly know what is ahead of us all but as a school we have tried to give value for money and some measure of confidence in the weeks and months ahead to all concerned. Parents wish to receive value for money, teachers wish to receive a living wage and a fair remuneration for their hard work and the school needs to remain sustainable.
Pembroke house - A Trust
As you all know Pembroke House is a trust - The Kenya Educational Trust. Thus there is never a time when funds are being put away for the purpose of profit. When the school is growing and when the classes are full, the school hopes to find itself in a position where capital investment may be considered and exciting plans can be made for the future. However, at a time like this our plans for a STEAM Centre (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics), however humble, must be put on hold and as always Pembroke House will have to find a way and a solution that embraces what we have now and the situation in which we find ourselves. Thus it may well be that we find a way to incorporate all the devices you have no doubt sourced to
sustain and support online learning for the weeks ahead - who can possibly know at the moment.
Please find some comfort in the fact that we are all feeling nervous. Teachers must find a way to engage and support their classes and engender as much enthusiasm and effort for online learning as possible. You as parents are worried about logging on, your internet connection, helping your children fathom what is being asked of them and coping with raised emotions and a not inconsiderable amount of grumpiness which all children dispense in their parents’ direction. Thus, please take heart and approach each day and each challenge one step at a time. There is often a limit to how many times one feels one can ask for help. Once you have exhausted one option do not hesitate to ask me or another member of staff to get involved. It will be like asking someone’s name… after the second attempt and you still cannot understand, one just gives up and hopes for another way of sourcing the information!
We would like to recommend a scanner app that may help us all especially the younger children, families with low internet connection and many others, even our CE candidates. This app - ‘Evernote Scannable’ for iPhone users (looks like a blue butterfly) and ‘Evernote’ for those with an Android device (looks like a green elephant) - allows scans to be taken using your phone. These scans are very clear and can then be sent to the teacher concerned. The work can then be printed by the member of staff, marked and commented on and a scan sent back. The work can be popped in an exercise book or kept on file if necessary by the teacher. This is one way for coping if you are being challenged by Google Classroom.
I wonder if you would mind me reminding you that the target for this period of online teaching is to help the children engage with their teacher in a virtual classroom so that the learning takes place with the teacher present. Our hope is to very much lift the burden of excessive parental support from your shoulders.
We are very aware that each family is going to experience different circumstances and challenges. Thus, teachers are well aware they will need to ‘find a way’ to step in to seek solutions for all their pupils. Please do get involved and help us and ask for help as quickly as possible.
Each lesson will be recorded and posted in the classroom for you or your child to pick up later. Although this means your child will not experience an interactive lesson as such, it does mean your child can see what everyone else has done and then the recording can be watched at a time that suits you.
As a school we are aware that many of you may be seeking extra support for your children. We would like you to know that as long as our teachers are fulfilling their commitments with us as a school they are free to make private arrangements with families to help their children. In a similar way our sports and classroom assistants are available to support you and ease things along. All members of staff will kindly seek permission from the school for the tutoring they have arranged just so that everything is transparent and to avoid any conflict of interest. To abide by the Government's intention to respect social distancing, sessions should not involve more than two children, unless they are part of the family. Should you wish for any extra help please do get in touch with me and we will do our best to put you in touch with the right member of staff.
We have already had some incidences of very poor language amongst pupils in e-mails and on social media. Please could you impress upon your children the need for respect and good manners at all times to both their peers and of course their teachers. Treat others as you would like to be treated is something we must all work hard to instill in our children.
There are a number of issues to be addressed here. We have discussed getting dressed and situating your child and their device in a suitable work space. We have addressed making sure that no photos are taken or independent recordings and that the children concentrate on their lessons and do not chat behind the teachers back - so to speak. We will send out instructions in the next day or so as to how to manage the google search engine in ‘settings’ so that your child may also remain ‘safe’ in that way as well.
With Common Entrance exams in our sights for this term we have tentatively planned that the French Speaking and Mental Maths will take place in the week beginning on 8th June. The written papers in all subjects will then be arranged for the week beginning 22nd June. If we manage to return to school we may well push these exams back just a little but the information in this letter is to inform you that the children will not sit the exams before these dates.
My next target is to plan for my assembly on Monday morning. I hope I will be able to invite all the children and you, their parents/guardians to join my virtual google classroom and I will post the recording there ready for 8.15 am. The thought of trying to manage this ‘live’ just at the moment is too much for me and I may need a number of trial runs to try and get it right and avoid all manner of problems! However, with a fair wind, I hope to be ‘live’ before too long and this will remain a target I promise! I will then put my mind to 5M English….
The Assembly Google Classroom
This is ready for Monday morning and I believe all the children have been invited thanks to Dot and Andrew. We have also invited all the teachers. However, I wonder if I could ask you to help your child to log in to their school email account and accept the invitation. This also applies to all the children in the junior school who will need extra help to manage this since it will be their first time logging in to their email accounts.
Getting In Touch
Please do get back to me, Chantal our Bursar, your child’s tutor or form taker, Ali Omell our Director of Studies or any other member of staff, with anything we can help with. No issue is too small and please do remember we are all learning here. You may well have a point or an idea that would add to the bigger picture and be of much benefit to us all.
With very best wishes along with much fortitude, patience and luck for the days ahead!
Mrs Deborah Boyd Moss MA (Cantab) PGCE
+ 254 (0) 720 602 483