It was truly excellent to see our students back at school on Monday (even from behind masks and observing social distancing). We are hoping that the days of home learning are behind us and that we can see out the rest of the school year with everyone in the classrooms (in France we believe that touching a sailor’s red pompon brings a boatload of good luck, given the current situation, I will strike that one from my list of superstitions.) We were looking forward to reconnecting with our students and it seems like the students were themselves happy to be back at school – some of them had felt like it was never going to be possible!
All the same, this first week wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. Just as classes were about to start on Monday, we had a burst water pipe to deal with at EPC. The maintenance team leapt into action to get water back to the primary campus as quickly as they could. Then there were the new school lunches to get our heads around. We have had quite a lot of feedback from families about the quality and appropriateness of the lunches on offer, and there will be more variety available from next week. Nonetheless, I have decided to relax the canteen rules for infant students, who are not usually allowed to bring home lunches: they may now do so, please notify Alice at the Canteen Services department if you would like to opt for homes lunches. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire infant team for the time and energy they dedicated this week to making the new lunch system work as effectively as possible – the working conditions are not ideal and we hope they will not continue for too much longer.
From a pedagogical perspective, we are reviewing the impact learning from home has had on our students. The first thing we have noticed is that the students who were in a position to work regularly continued to make consistent progress. Of course, not every child was able to work regularly and as a result, a number of students do have a certain amount of catching up to do. Let me reassure families that the teaching teams have identified the students that now require additional support and we are working to ensure their needs are met. The advantage of the French cycle system is that students have three years to reach all of the learning objectives required of them, so the pressure to catch up is not intense. Differentiation will be a key word in the classroom over the coming weeks as teachers adapt materials to cater for students who have studied the curriculum content during the different phases of learning from home and for those who have not. Obviously, the teachers will not be re-teaching topics and themes that were already covered online to the entire class, just to the groups of students who need to review.
In order to optimise face-to-face time between teachers and students this term, the decision has been made for the 1st of May to be a regular school day at TES. On behalf of the FS team, I would like to share two messages: firstly, they would have accepted to work the extra day if they had been asked rather than told they were volunteering. Secondly, out of respect for them and for the work they do, we are asking families to please think of the 1st of May as a school day like any other. Please do not consider it an optional day; the teachers will be teaching and the children will be learning in keeping with the curriculum for their respective classes. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our staff for coming in for an additional day’s work. The gesture should by no means give the impression that the weeks of learning from home were a holiday for the teachers – it was quite the opposite! They have all of my support and admiration. I am certain I can say the same for FS families too.
Finally, I know that several parents are wondering about travel restrictions for the coming weeks and months, in particular for the summer holidays. TES continues to be in close contact with the Taiwanese authorities and we should soon be able to give you some guidelines that will help you to make plans.