Message from Jonathan Morris, CEO Sussex Learning Trust
20 April 2020
Dear Parents, Carers & Friends of Sussex Learning Trust
As these challenging times develop I thought I would write and assure you that we continue to do our very best for the children and families who attend our academies. Our Headteachers and their teams have been absolutely determined to keep open for key worker families or vulnerable children, even if on a few occasions, that has been for just one child. Although we stressed to our staff they should try and take a break over Easter, I know many hours of planning has gone into preparing virtual lessons and learning activities for this new Summer Term.
I know that many families are struggling on a number of levels at this time. Many parents have lost their jobs or their small businesses are in perilous danger. Many have be furloughed and some employers have not been able, or willing. to top up the 20% left unfunded by the Government. We have been providing the free-school meal vouchers from the very outset of the lock-down but we know that this is just the tip of the ice-berg in terms of family economics. We do have links with local food-banks so, please, let us know if you are experiencing difficulties getting access to sufficient supplies and we will take up your case. Our own staff are predominantly funded through the Government but where their posts are not, our Trustees are determined these colleagues will not suffer any more than we all are and are topping up salaries to 100%.
It is important that, where possible, we look for small positives in such a crisis. Our children are seeing at first-hand what it means to pull-together. To recognise who does the 'most important' jobs in society and maybe, just maybe, we will come out of this with a slightly kinder and more considerate society? Actually, I think it's incumbent on us adults to make sure this is the case. The tragedy of so many lives lost and affected must 'count' for something.
For our children I am particularly minded, at this time, for our year 6, 10 and 11 pupils and students. Year 6, have they 'left' Primary school? I hope not. Year 10, what will study and examinations 'look-like' for them in the next 18 months? Year 11, will start their higher education having not studied for 7 months! The transition is always stretching and this is set to be even more so. I think what is important for these children and young people to hear from you, their parents, is that the schools and Colleges know how difficult things have been for them. I expect, and know, that everything that can be done will be so to ease the stresses that COVID-19 has placed on them. Teachers are well represented to politicians by the Education Associations and we will always be on the side of the learner demanding decisions are made in their best interests rather than the economy. In short, it will all be fine!
So, please continue to stay in touch with your academy. Too much work, too little work? Let us know and we will try and adapt. It's a tricky thing to get right! I would also encourage that we all find new things to do or learn. I am teaching myself simple web page construction, for example. If we can all come out of this being able to demonstrate a new skill or knowledge base, i.e. a basic grasp of a foreign language, technical football skills, times tables, becoming a better reader, knowing the countries of the world, understanding and applying practical steps to reduce our carbon footprint, developing an appreciation of performing art by 'going to' the West End theatre via You Tube, or whatever. Do something that really interests you. Call it your 'passion project?'
I hope you have seen our latest newsletter to remind us of all the great things that happen as a matter of course during 'normal' times in our academies. Most importantly, stay safe and look for the positives wherever you can.
Mr Jonathan Morris