Principal’s Letter 27th March 2020

Principal’s Letter 27th March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers,

Firstly, I hope that you are all well and managing to take good care of yourselves and your loved ones during this incredibly challenging time.  I also wanted to say that we really appreciate your continued patience, understanding and support as we navigate our way through this very uncertain and unsettling period.

Once we have had the chance to reflect on our first week operating as a ‘virtual school’, I will write to you again with some specific thoughts and advice as to how the students should structure their days and approach their studies at home.  In this letter, I wanted to focus on everyone’s safety and wellbeing, which is, of course, always our paramount concern.

Safeguarding yourselves

Please keep up to date with the latest Government advice. This can be found:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Presently, the advice states to stay at home and:

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons, or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Student support

Should you, or your son/daughter need to speak to one of our our Family Liaison Officers, they can be contacted on the following email addresses:

College Name of FLO Email address
Discovery Mrs Spackman

Miss Faulkner

Mrs Taberer

m.spackman@homewood.kent.sch.uk

s.faulkner@homewood.kent.sch.uk

s.taberer@homewood.kent.sch.uk

World Mrs Price a.price@homewood.kent.sch.uk
Enterprise Mrs Brown w.brown@homewood.kent.sch.uk
Arts Mrs Crawford sa.crawford@homewood.kent.sch.uk
i-college Mrs Ross-Smith j.ross-smith@homewood.kent.sch.uk
Sixth Form Mrs Hussey c.hussey@homewood.kent.sch.uk

Online safety

As you are aware, the vast majority of the work which we are setting our students is through the Google Classroom. As this will increase their screen time, it is more important than ever to ensure that your children are keeping themselves safe online.  Below are some useful tips that might be of use:

  1. Use the opportunity to chat with your children

Now is a good time to chat with your child about how they are using online technology.  Ask them what they are doing online and discuss some ‘ground rules’, such as how much time they spend online doing different things and what games and apps are appropriate to use.

  1. Explore ‘Thinkuknow’ resources together

‘Thinkuknow’ is the online safety education programme from the National Crime Agency.  Every fortnight they release a new set of simple online safety home activities to share with children and young people between the ages of 3 and 16.  Use these to help you maintain a positive, supportive conversation about online safety in your home.

  1. Remind children to report anything worrying, and make sure they know how to do so

It is  important that children and young people always know where to go if they come across something that worries them or makes them feel uncomfortable online.  This is especially important during this time as trusted sources of support such as teachers and support staff may not be as available.  Children may not also have as many opportunities to confidently talk to their friends, who we know are often their first point of contact when they are worried.

To help, you could:

  • Encourage them to speak to you or another adult if they have any worries or concerns
  • Contact the Family Liaison Officer from your child’s college for advice and support
  • Remind them that they can always call Childline if they have any concerns – whether it is something that has happened online, stress about being stuck at home, arguments with siblings, or anxiety about the Coronavirus
  • Make sure they know that either you or they can contact the Child Exploitation Online Protection Agency (CEOP) if they are worried about sexual abuse online.  Young people can also report to CEOP if they are worried about a friend

Our advice would be that the best thing that parents/carers can do is to make sure that their children would feel they could talk to them if they were ever worried – make sure they know that you would never blame them for anything that might happen online.

  1. Set up or review your parental controls

Setting parental controls can be a quick and effective tool to help protect your children online, and they should be installed on all devices that children use.

The following document is a useful tool that I would encourage you to read through with your children:

https://www.ps-connect.cloud/schoolemails/158504753054750981306192/OnlineSafetyTheGoldenRulespdf.pdf

FSM scams

On another note, please be aware that there are a number of safeguarding scams circulating online presently.  One of the most prolific one states:

As schools will be closing, if you are entitled to Free School Meals, please send your bank details and we will  make sure that you are supported. 

This is a scam email, and so we would urge that you do not respond and delete it immediately.  This is also a good opportunity to remind everyone never to share your details online unless you are completely confident that your information is secure.

I hope that you will find the information in this letter helpful and reassuring.  As mentioned before, we cannot afford to overlook our young people’s wellbeing and positive mental health, and we will therefore continue to do all we can to support them over the coming weeks.

Finally, we must all remember that the community of Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre is about so much more than just occupying the buildings on the site.  We have an identity and bond which extends far beyond the bricks and mortar.  We must remember that there will come a time when we are able to regroup, rebuild and welcome our fantastic students back to their school.  In the meantime, please ensure to contact us if you need any support.  We will endeavour to do the best we can to help every member of our Homewood community.

Take good care and keep safe.

Yours sincerely,

J K Single

Principal