This week’s message (Friday 18 March 2022)

Friday 18 March 2022

Almost exactly two years ago, schools were closing for the start of the first lockdown. Numbers of Covid-positive cases are rising again, and we’re really noticing that in our Sphere Federation schools – we’ve had close to ten staff members absent each day this week.

On a much more positive note, with daffodils springing up and the weather looking brighter, it’s really starting to feel like Spring.

This week, amongst the various messages, we’ve one related to Covid. We’ll start with an important one about reading…

The benefits of reading at home

A recent news article caught our eye. The article talks about a research study about trips to museums and art articles, which suggests that such activities don’t improve exam results. (The article also points out other research indicates cultural trips like these have lots of other benefits, even that they ‘could actually lead to a longer life’.)

What we thought was more significant was the findings about reading – findings that come as no surprise:

…researchers did find that reading activities by both parents and their children played a role in exam grades. They measured activities such as reading for pleasure, visiting a library and discussing books at home. Such activities boosted GCSE scores by a significant amount.

Parents often ask how they can support their child more. Our advice would always be to make sure your child’s reading and talking about what they’re reading.

Brighten someone’s day

The theme of this year’s Comic Relief fundraiser is ‘You’ – inspiring people to do something, however modest, to brighten someone’s day. A lot of those uplifting actions, we’d venture, can easily be accomplished online. Check out this poster highlighting ways that we can all spread some much-needed happiness through the digital world. What about each person in your household agreeing to do one thing each week?

Dealing with worrying content online

In contrast, this poster addresses the timely and delicate issue of speaking with children about worrying content they’ve seen online. Your child, by now, could well be very aware of the situation in Ukraine, even if they’re not quite old enough to comprehend it fully. Many will have watched or read potentially upsetting news items online covering the invasion – and, in all likelihood, will need extra reassurance from trusted adults during these unsettling days. Check out the practical advice on raising the subject with young ones, allowing them to express their concerns, and helping them to avoid feeling overwhelmed by their fears.

Covid vaccination for at-risk 5 to 11 year olds

The Department for Education has asked us to share the following information with parents and carers of at-risk 5 to 11 year olds…

Children aged 5 to 11 years who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed can get the COVID-19 vaccine, in line with advice set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Eligible children include those with diabetes, immunosuppression, learning disabilities, and other conditions as outlined by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in the Green Book.

Vaccinations help to increase protection against COVID-19, which is particularly important for those with underlying health conditions.

Further information is available in the guide for parents of children aged 5 to 11 years published by UKHSA. We have published some frequently asked questions on the vaccination programme including information on eligibility, accessibility and advice for parents of children at high risk from COVID-19. Following advice from the JCVI, healthy 5 to 11 year old children will also be offered two 10 microgram doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The NHS will prepare to extend this non-urgent offer to all children during April.

As we said at the start of the message, it’s really starting to feel like Spring’s in the air. Enjoy that feeling this weekend!