22nd April 2021
Our Lady & St Joseph Primary
Executive Head Teacher:
Gerida Montague MA School Senior Lead: Eleanor Prince
A letter to parents from the
I am sure I speak for everyone when I say what a relief it is to have our children back at school.
I wanted to write to all of our families to give a brief outline of the work we have been undertaking alongside Mrs Montague and
her team in order to secure a safe, strong and bright future for all of our children. At the beginning of January, I was meeting Mrs Montague on a daily basis as we struggled to keep track of
Government policy on the reopening of schools. In the end, we decided for ourselves that the sensible course was to keep our children, their families and our staff safe by not opening on the
first day of term. We were vindicated the very next day when the government decided the safe course for the country was for all schools to close again.
I know from the messages of support you sent the school at the time that you agreed with our safety first approach, but I have no
doubt that the following two months were extremely difficult for you all. We are hearing a lot nationally about the effect of the pandemic on children’s education; I don’t for a moment belittle
the likely damage to their social and emotional well-being and the wear and tear on families. However, I believe any negative educational impact has been minimised by the rapid steps taken by our
school team to instigate ‘livestream zoom teaching’. It has been part of our role as Governors to track the remote learning offer on offer for our children. Our children have received a full
curriculum via livestream teaching over this lockdown period and it is heartening to know that both our key worker and vulnerable children in school have been learning alongside their peers at
home. There has been a real equality of access for all of our children. Governors have dip-sampled lessons and the teachers and support staff have worked tirelessly and have been superbly
supported and led by a dedicated senior team who have made certain that no child is overlooked.
In fact the work of the school has continued pretty much as usual. Your Governing Body has continued to monitor the performance of
the school virtually, which is why I can say with confidence that standards and outcomes for our children have remained the focus throughout. We have recently had a Local Authority inspection
visit that has agreed with that assessment.
An important source of information for us were the reports we got from our parent governors who described:
• the lengths to which the school went to ensure all children had access to
IT devices, loaning out laptops as necessary.
• how foundation subjects and the full wider curriculum were taught each
week, including music, history, geography art, PE and PSHE.
• key worker/vulnerable children joining in the Zoom classroom, therefore
receiving the same teaching as their peers.
• supporting teaching materials available on the Partnership Learning
• ‘break out’ rooms enabling small group teaching/extra support
• teaching assistants completing weekly calls to children to listen to them
• teacher’s seeking direct feedback from the children on how they were
finding the live teaching sessions, and the children also able to feed back to school leaders via a virtual school council meeting
Other governors have ‘dropped in’ virtually on Partnership book sampling sessions specific to a particular year and curriculum
area. One such session involved teachers from all 5 schools discussing and moderating standards of Year 3 writing. Pupils’ writing skills and the teaching strategies employed were being analysed in
detail to help progress and share good practice. It was clear from this meeting that the children are encouraged to take an active part in assessing and planning their own
At all our governing body meetings we receive reports from Mrs Montague about safeguarding and we discuss the school’s finances
each term. We delegate certain governors to check the veracity of the reports we receive. One governor does regular checks of the child protection files and has virtual meetings with the
senior safeguarding lead teacher. Another governor has meetings with the finance team, checks the accounts and discusses any changes to the budget. We have all been involved in checking
the health and safety arrangements and going through the school’s risk assessment each time the school has reopened.
We have also heard directly from children who have made presentations to our Governing Body meetings. Children have talked
about their ‘writing journey’, giving us examples of their work and explaining clearly how it has improved over time. I have been tremendously impressed by the children’s awareness of their own
learning. These are skills that will be so useful for them in the future. We have also had an amazing presentation from the children about their bid to become a ‘School of
Sanctuary’. Their spiritual and moral development has not been ignored and governors have been involved in the school’s Monday Liturgy.
It has not been the year we would have wanted for our school but parents, staff, school leaders and governors have pulled together
to minimise the impact on our children. I believe that we can all be proud of what we have achieved despite the pandemic.
Being a governor is a privilege that is always interesting and rewarding. We currently have a vacancy for a parent
governor. If you think you might be interested in this role please get in touch to discuss it further. I am always pleased to talk directly to parents.
Dominic Boddington MBE
Chair of Governors