Message from Mrs Armstrong 19/04/2020

Well, today is the last day of the “Easter holiday” but in 35 years of teaching, I’ve never experienced anything like it!
Newsham has stayed open for a small number of key worker children throughout the Easter break and myself and the staff who have been on the rota, have been proud to play our small part in keeping the country running and protecting the NHS.
I’m not going to pretend that I think schools are the safest places to be at the moment.  Key workers who have had to bring their children have had to read, agree and sign the paperwork we’ve prepared, which tries to cover all eventualities. We’ve worked really hard as a staff to put strict hygiene measures in place but social distancing of two metres between all adults and children has been incredibly difficult to achieve.  Our youngest children (3 to 5 year olds) find it a tricky thing to understand and remember so it’s been an enormous challenge, even with very small numbers of children in school.
Throughout the Easter holiday, we’ve continued to phone as many families each day as possible. We’ve also been out in the community visiting families and we’ve used both methods to reach out to as many people as we can.  We’ve tried to make sure nobody feels isolated or cut off from our school community and we’ve loved chatting to parents and carers each day.
As Headteacher, I have to be honest and say that this situation is difficult.  It doesn’t feel right for our school to be separated in this way and it’s hard for me to lead and be there for everyone in the way that has always been incredibly important to me.  That said, this situation is difficult for each and every one of us in different ways. Being apart from loved ones is dreadful but like me, some people with internet access may, for the first time, be trying out online communication through Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp or Zoom!  Who knew it was all out there waiting to be discovered!
Each Thursday afternoon, I’ve been taking part in a video conference with Northumberland’s Director of Education and approximately 15 other headteacher colleagues from all over Northumberland.  I’ve made sure I’ve flown the flag for Blyth and made everyone understand some of the specific challenges we’re facing in the town.  These include the problems that the national free school meal vouchers have caused for some of our families.
All in all, it’s been an incredibly busy time and tomorrow the “summer term” begins. Parents and carers can get ready for more exciting ideas starting to come through online that will support with learning at home.
Staff who haven’t been on the Easter holiday rota are “back to work” and I want to give support staff and teachers who have been in school during this time, a chance to recharge their batteries next week and connect with their own families.
I know there’s lots more to tell you but either I or other senior leaders will be reaching out to you through these posts over the coming days and weeks.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m missing us all being together but for now, I’m sending lots of love to the children and hope you all stay well and safe.
Take care
Mrs Armstrong  ️