COVID-19 and WA Online - Guidance for Parents and Carers
As directed by the Government, our physical school building is currently closed. Students are learning remotely in our virtual and collaborative learning environment - WA Online. Our staff teams are also available remotely to provide guidance and support to our existing and prospective parents.
Contacting Westminster Academy during the building closure
We encourage existing and prospective parents and carers, as well as students, to continue to contact us as normal via the regular channels of communication. Phone lines and email accounts are operating as normal. If you do not know who you need to contact, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free School Meals
The government has now launched a programme to enable families to access their free school meals entitlement via vouchers. Your e-code has been sent to you by email. Please see here for more details. Please contact the Academy if you have problems in activating your vouchers.
WA Online has been extremely successful thanks to the support of parents and carers and the hard work of students. Every Westminster Academy student has a Chromebook and access to a wealth of online resources. Staff are experienced in using online platforms to deliver outstanding teaching and learning. Students are following their normal timetable from 8.40am, engaging with teaching and learning, homework and CAS activities. Guidance for access and use of WA Online can be found on Firefly here. The timetable of the school day can be found here and our tips for parents and carers to support students, and specifically students with special educational needs and vulnerabilities, can be found below.
Top tips for parents to support your child during WA Online
WA Online has enabled our school community to remain together and to keep learning in innovative and creative ways at this difficult time. Here are some top tips of how you can support your child at home during WA Online:
- Use reflections to ‘bookend’ the day: At the start and end of each day of WA Online, ask your child about how their learning has gone, and offer opportunities for them to reflect on their learning with you. This helps with a process called metacognition which enables children to grow as good independent learners.
- Keeping routines and structure: We are following the normal timetable for each student during WA Online. This is important for children’s wellbeing as it maintains structure, balance and routine. To support with this, aim to maintain a routine for your child with waking up and going to bed at normal schoolday times, and check to see that your child is registering for their lessons on time.
- Separate learning from free time: Try to keep learning spaces and times separate and distinct from free spaces and time at home. This again helps to maintain structure and routine.
- Maintain wellbeing: As this is potentially a difficult time, looking for ways to support your child’s wellbeing is really important. One helpful way you can do this is using the ‘5 Ways of Wellbeing’ which was created by the New Economics Foundation. The idea is that if you do one of each of the five ways (Active, Connect, Give, Notice and Learn) everyday, your wellbeing and mood improves. You can use these as a checklist with your child, and try to challenge them to make sure they have done the 5 ways everyday.
- Chunking up bigger tasks: Sometimes students can find longer, extended tasks or assignments overwhelming. You can support your child by helping them divide bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. You can use a timer on your phone or in your kitchen to time each chunk too, which helps motivate children and keep up a strong pace of learning. For example, you could give 5 minutes to write the first paragraph or introduction to an essay.
- Helping your child with their work: If your child gets stuck, and you are not sure how to help them, there are lots of resources online that can help with understanding key ideas and concepts. For example, Hegarty Maths videos, Khan Academy videos, or BBC Bitesize.
Finally and importantly, please don’t hesitate to contact WA tutors and teachers - our staff at WA are very happy to help with anything that you might need at this time and please do contact your child’s tutor or teachers if you need any support or have any questions.
Supporting students with SEND and vulnerabilities
We appreciate the demand put on you as parents/carers to support your child/children with their learning and general wellbeing at home. Please see our recommended links to aid you and your families during these difficult times:
- Place2Be shares ways to support children who may be especially vulnerable during times of uncertainty
- Easy read information on Covid-19 - Mencap: Mencap have produced an easy read guide to coronavirus which is accessible for people with a learning disability to understand and read.
- Makaton: Information about the coronavirus translated into Makaton symbols.
- COVIBOOK - Mindheart: This illustrated story and workbook is available in 25 different languages and can be printed out for children to draw on. The story anticipates the emotional world of children as they experience coronavirus. It has been created for children age 2-7 but would be appropriate for children with SEND.
- Coronavirus social story - Carol Gray: This ‘social story’ has been written to help communicate coronavirus to autistic children, presenting the information in a literal way.
- Tips for coping - OCD Action: OCD Action has put together some helpful tips for those struggling during this particularly challenging time.
- Cornoavirus: A Book for Children: This illustrated book explains the implications of coronavirus. It has been created for primary school aged children but may be appropriate for students with SEND.
- UNICEF has put together a set of general ideas and tips for parenting during the coronavirus outbreak.
Resources for adult and children mental health and wellbeing:
- Coping with an eating disorder during coronavirus - YoungMinds: An author and mental health campaigner shares advice on how to deal with coronavirus, which may pose unique challenges for people with eating disorders.
- Resources for anxiety, stress and Covid-19 - Safe Hands Thinking Minds: Some resources to support children and adults around anxiety, worry, stress, and fears; including those specific to Covid-19
- Protecting your mental health - Carers UK: These tips are designed to help both carers and those they care for to look after themselves and protect mental wellbeing.
- How to keep mentally healthy during uncertain times - Action for Happiness: These ideas and examples can help you find ways to look after your wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Five tips for staying mentally well: A video by Dr Pooky Knightsmith in which she discusses the various ways you can look after your mental health at this time.
Once again, please do also access the support of Westminster Academy staff if you have any questions or concerns.
Should you require external support and guidance for your family at this time, please visit our COVID-19 - Local Authority Guidance for Parents and Carers page.