Short Term Absence Unrelated to Covid-19

If a child is unwell and unable to attend school it is unlikely they are in a position to work independently at home. In these cases of short term absence our approach will remain as it always has been. We will await a child’s return where we will then direct them to any work missed and support them with catch-up. This will avoid a potential issue of children deciding they can ‘work from home’ when they choose to. All children should continue to attend school whenever possible as this is the best place for them to be supported with their learning.

COVID-19 Contingency Principles

There are a number of scenarios that will require the school to provide some form of remote learning to our children.

These include but may not be limited to:

Scenario A – individual children needing to isolate due to a positive Covid-19 test or an instruction to remain home through the test and trace programme

Scenario B – a bubble (class) needing to remain home due to a local increase in cases or instruction from PHE (Public Health England)

Scenario C – a national or local lockdown in which only identified groups will remain in school

In these scenarios, Gastrells is committed to an approach that will continue to provide high quality teaching and learning to all children so that the breadth and depth of their curriculum is impacted as little as possible by any period of home learning and that they remain supported by specialist teachers to ensure they are able to make progress whilst away from school. The approach will also set realistic expectations of staff workload and the staffing context of our school and as such will need to be flexible dependent on specific context but the overarching approach is set out below.

Central to our approach to any of the above scenarios will be the use of online learning platforms.

Scenario A – individual children needing to isolate due to a positive Covid-19 test or an instruction to remain home through the test and trace programme

When the school is notified of a positive test outcome or a need for a child to remain home, children will be instructed to use the appropriate online platform where teachers will upload work in line with the content being covered in class. This will be communicated at the time of contact. Should parents have an issue with access to a device they will be asked to communicate this with us and we will endeavour to provide a device for them to use. It is recognised that children may not be able to do exactly what their peers are doing in school but the work set will ensure that key knowledge and skills are not missed and that they are able to re-join the learning without feeling they have slipped behind when they return to school.

Teachers will not be available for immediate support or feedback (they will be delivering lessons). You may email teachers should they struggle with any of the work set and the teacher will aim to provide a response within 48 hours.

Scenario B – full closure to one or more year groups

In the event of one or more year groups needing to stay home, the school will provide children with a timetable of lessons which they will need to access. Wherever possible, this timetable will mirror that of their normal school day.

Scenario C – full closure due to national lockdown (open only to key workers and vulnerable pupils)

The school will provide all children with a timetable of lessons which they will need to access. Wherever possible, this timetable will mirror that of their normal school day.

CEOP Education Resources – 4th activity pack

The ThinkUKnow team at CEOP have released their 4th activity packs for children and young people. These are short activities, approx. 15 minutes each:

4-5 year olds – click HERE
5-7 year olds – click HERE
8-10 year olds – click HERE
11-13 year olds – click HERE
14+ – click HERE

Online Safety Update – 6th May 2020

Fake News 

There’s no doubt the amount of fake news has risen massively over the last few weeks, particularly regarding Covid-19. Some of this is down to terrible journalistic reporting (headline attention grabbing) but if there is one thing that is true about online, the more extreme the more it is shared, usually through fear or outrage by well-meaning people (think Blue Whale and Momo).

It’s important that children, young people and adults know how to think critically about what they are seeing, so the basics would be things such as:

  • Is the source credible?
  • Has anybody else reported?
  • Is any research cited and linked?
  • Does it make clear opinion or fact?

But it isn’t always easy to determine fact from assumption, opinion and plain mistruths, so it’s important to know where to look if you’re unsure. I have linked 3 websites below which dispel many of the common myths and lies. You could use a topical example from one of these sites and ask the children to determine whether something is fake or not, and how they came to this conclusion. 

That’s Nonsense (my favourite) – click HERE
Hoax-Slayer – click HERE
Snopes – click HERE

Following on from the above, there’s a great article on ThatsNonsense detailing how 3 people had their Facebook accounts compromised. All three are good, common examples of how easy it is to trick people. Click HERE to see the article.

Digital footprint for young people

Knowing about our digital footprint (what is online about us) is vitally important. Many people don’t realise what or how much they share. For young people in particular there are many reasons why understanding their digital footprint is even more important, such as employability, identity theft, and the obvious safeguarding concerns. A good way to approach this subject with older children is to begin by showing them how easy it is to find information, and a great way to understand this is to understand how a search engine works. I’ve put a link below to a YouTube video created by Google.

Personally I prefer the older one, that’s the one I use now and again when I’m invited into schools to start off a particular talk. Essentially the video talks about ‘indexing’, that’s Google’s way of saying they collect everything they know about us that has been publicly shared. That information is collected, indexed, and available for anyone that wants to search for it, even if the information is deleted at a later date.

Get your children to search their own information. This includes any social media usernames they have or gamer tags they use. How do the results portray them? For example, if they were an employer and were looking at that person, would they employ that person? If you were an insurance company, would you insure that person?

For the 2019 video click HERE
For the older video (my preference) click HERE

Videos for 6-9 year olds from Childnet

Childnet have started to release some videos specifically for children aged 6-9. They are short, 15 minute activities based on the ‘SMART’ rules. The first two have been released with the rest to follow soon. 

ClicK HERE to view the videos.

How to NOT go to School

This is a lovely, free book written by Mr. Forde, a Y3/4  teacher, to help children come to terms with school shutdown. “Parsley Mimblewood is a home-schooled kid who sees herself as something of an expert on “How to NOT go to School”. The story follows her daily whimsical adventures along with her 11 animals and 7 imaginary friends. Each chapter explores an issue that might be weighing on children’s minds at the moment such as missing friends, dealing with emotions and feeling cooped up”.

Download the book HERE

Our top tips for learning at home:

  1. Organize a space – make sure that children have a space to work.
  2. Keep personal hygiene and routine
  3. Make sure the children get dressed daily!
  4. Try to limit the ‘tech time’ and offer alternatives.
  5. Try to go outside and get some fresh air and exercise.
  6. Get the children involved as much as possible with household tasks and make them fun!
  7. Make a timetable to provide structure.

An example timetable: (Please feel free to make up your own!)

Home School Timetable

Before 9amWake up, make the bed, get dressed – Breakfast and brush teeth
9.00 am – 9.30 amCheck for the day’s activities. Speaking and listening activity task (if possible whilst taking a walk around the block / getting fresh air)
9.30 am – 10.30 am
Complete maths activity
10.00 amReading
11amWash hands! Snack time and ‘electronic-free’ free choice (puzzles, art, construction etc.)
11.15 amGrammar/ phonics Writing
12.30 pmWash hands! Lunch time and free choice
1.30 – 3.15 pmOther set tasks which may include: Topic work, Gardening, Cooking, Art, Construction or Crafts (sewing, DT etc.)Music, educational online game

Try and get some fresh air everyday too if you can.

Communicate with your class teacher – they will be working too!

Teacher emails:

Please feel free to contact myself or the office


Each teacher will be setting work and linking resources however some excellent links for home learning also include:

Stroud District School GAMESHome Education Activity PACK

Physical education and activity is at the forefront of my work and attitude towards life, creating positive outcomes for every child, with this in mind I hope we can continue to create these approaches with the schools in a closure period.

James Jeffery – Stroud District School Games Organiser


•Create an enjoyable atmosphere for physical activity

•Emphasise the positive outcomes

•Challenge yourself and children to keep improving and competing with themselves

•Link to other subjects to create cross curricular activities

•Try to active for 30-60mins a day

•Where possible record your activity–smart phone health apps, strava, simple timing how long you walked for and how many paces taken, this can be used for other subjects

Start the day the active way

•Between the children getting ready and starting studies think:

-what’s our route to school normally–do we walk/scoot/ride/ drive

-can you create a 15 minute activity to replicate your approach to school

-walk to a shop, complete a circuit of an area to finish at home, explore a different area you wouldn’t experience on your routine school commute

-Treat this as though you’re going to school, wrap up if cold/wet, similar duration and distance or more if required

Your school day

•Create a timetable–factor in breaks and lunchtime active times–speak to your children about their usual play time routines and attempt to replicate intensity

•15 Mins morning break and 30 min break lunchtime

-Morning break–15 mins

-walk/jog/ride/scoot a different circuit to the pre-lesson session

-make use of green areas/parks/ playgrounds for climbing, ball games–can you link to an lesson post break–rather than 15 mins break and return home, can you remain outside for studying of:

Geography–physical elements of your environment–water sources, hills, plants, trees

Art–draw, photograph, press, stencil

Forest School–den making, environment creation, tool making

History–can you map an journey through historical elements of your community

•30 minute lunch break

-Think increased activity and intensity

-usual playground games of tag are of high intensity–this intensity needs to be replicated where possible

-utilise nearby green areas but with activities–trees, playgrounds, woodland, skate parks, tow paths, bike tracks (review Gov guidelines as to accessible areas and adjust appropriately)

-timed circuits–can you hide items for children to find and time them when they’re finding them

Can you make landmarks in an area and encourage them to reach all landmarks as quick as possible

Utilise equipment–balls, kites, scooters, bikes, hoops

PE Lessons

•Think easily achievable

•Athletics–walk, jog, run, throw, jump

-can you make personal challenges to revisit weekly, Monday–athletics, keep the distances and times, these can be used for targets weekly and used for other subjects such as maths etc

•Ball games–whether with a sibling/parent you can–bounce single or both hands, throw and catch, movement with ball, ball to target, little 1 v 1’s, can you create personal challenges, how many bounces before you lose control, how many catches before dropping, how many passes, how many goals, hoops shot

•Gymnastics/movement–youtube is a great resource for yoga and gym movements, these will keep your child strong and promote functional growth

•Fundamental skills–check attached activities, these can be completed in the house with house hold items, socks, balls, recycling

,•Debating–not active but can you set a question to debate–what is the best sport and why, who is the best athlete and why, cover specific sports, best role models,

•Orienteering–can you map out a route through your community, pinpoint certain locations and either using your smart phone/tablet or simply paper and pen record when you arrive at these lo-cations, keep data and compare in the future (is there a pit stop for those well needed snack stops the kids love)

•Coordination–simple throwing and catching indoors and varying items , do you have mini air hock-ey, table football, do your active WII games

•Gardening–Spring is in the air–gardening is great activity without the recognition of exertion

Activities for the home

Tails–opposed ball dribbling (Y Reception to Y6)

•Each child has a ball and a bib as a tail, each pupil puts the bib down the back of their shorts like a tail

•Pupils bounce around the area and aim to take tails at the same time whilst bouncing

•Pupils can go to safe area to tuck tails in

•Player with most tails at the end wins

•No holding onto to tails to stop others taking tails

•Players can take more than one tail at a time

•Key Factors

-keep a straight back

-push the ball into the ground

-Keep your head up (to see fellow players/space to move into)

-Can be played without balls, use any clothing item, can play in the garden

Cone Strike–Static Target Striking (Y Reception to Y6)

•Two teams each positioned opposite each other behind a line of cones with a larger middle area

•Each player has a ball

•Pupils aim to hit the tall cones towards the opposing team’s line

•If cones fall, pupils continue to him them towards the line

•Pupils must stay behind line of cones when shooting, they can enter mid-dle to gather ball and return to shoot

•Team with fewest cones nearest their line at the end of the game wins

•If a team strikes a cones over the opposing team’s line it must stay there

•Progression-Reduce number of cones

•Key Factors-point feet and body towards the target-keep eyes fixed on the target-aim low at the base of the cones

-Can be played with plastic bottle, using rolled up socked to aim at the bottles, can be played inside or in the garden

Stump Game–Static Target Striking (Y Reception to Y6)

•Two teams stand behind a line of flat cones, plastic cricket stumps in the middle of the centre area between both teams

•Each pupil shoots simultaneously to hit the stumps over, stumps must fully topple for game to end, team that lands the defining hit wins

•Pupils can enter middle area to gather ball but must return to their area to throw


-remove a stump-gradually work to one stump remaining

•Key factors

-point feet and body towards the target

-keep eyes fixed on the target

-ensure you are in correct position before throwing/rolling ball

-can be played using socks and a bottle to knock down, inside or outside

Clean your Room–Mixed technique ball distribution (Y Reception to Y6)

•Two teams, area split into two

•Each pupil has a ball

•Pupils have to roll/throw ball across to other team’s room

•When command stop has been made, teams must stop and let the balls roll•Team with the fewest balls at the end of the allotted time wins


-fewer balls available to distribute-limit the technique of pass to a certain technique

•Key factors

-point feet and body towards the target

-keep eyes fixed on the target

-ensure you are in correct position before throwing/rolling ball

-look to pass the ball behind into space

-always watch ball into hands to collect

-keep tracking ball movement/ keep head up

-can be played inside or out–using socks or similar items to put into other area

Pinball–Moving target Striking (Y1/2–Y6)

•Two teams placed behind two lines of cones

•Each pupil has a ball

•Pinball is a different coloured ball in the middle of the area

•Pupils shoot at the pinball with the objective of hitting the ball towards the opposing team’s line

•Game ends with the ball passing completely over opposing team’s line

•Pupils can only use a ball to defend and must release their ball when striking the pinball

•If a pupil defends by using any body part to stop the ball from nearing their line their team loses

•Pupils can enter middle area to gather ball but must return to their side to throw


-making the pinball a smaller ball

•Key factors

-point feet and body towards the target

-keep eyes fixed on the target

-ensure you are in correct position before throwing/rolling ball-look to pass the ball behind into space

-always watch ball into hands to collect

-keep tracking ball movement/ keep head up

-keep feet moving to adjust position

-inside or outside–socks and a rolling target

Cross Curricular Work–What can you link to physical activity to make lessons easier?

Art-create targets for activities shown on the Stroud District School Games Twitter and Instagram accountsTwitter–@SGOstroudInstagram–school_games_stroud

Combine with a walk, take photographs, draw, wax crayon different surfaces

Maths-keep timings, distances, calories burnt and other stats from your physical activities to create an account of your activity, can you make work out of this….division, multiplication, adding, fractions, charts

English-can you write sports related stories, write sporting reports, watch a event from your chosen sport and write a newspaper report

Geography-create a route using map-o-meter website, exercise the route and record the stats, features along the way, physical and nature features

History-Research historic sporting events and describe their effect on the world. Create historical routes in your community and exercise these routes to create an account of the features of your community

Science-what muscles do you use for sports, what are the effects on the body, what dietary features can you involve, what does the environment do to your physical being

Languages-are there sport related topics you can use to entice the learning of languages, can you use foreign athletes to help explore languages and learn the main languages in the world?

PSHE-Physical and mental wellbeing through exercise, confidence, self-esteem

Computing—create spreadsheets and databases for your physical activity records, create posters and scoring charts for your indoor activities, write reports for sports, write stories. Filming your activities and playing back to show techniques, manipulate films and edit photos.