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Weekly Welfare - 12.02.21

Welcome to your weekly welfare email. This is an email that I will be sending to all GPUTC students, parents and staff every Friday whilst students are learning at home. Each email will include a selection of positive news stories, mental and physical wellbeing tips, links to interesting resources for parents and students and links to support services. I hope this is helpful to our community in these challenging times.  

As the half term draws to a close, we should all take a moment to reflect on how we’re doing and celebrate the small wins. It is natural to set goals for yourself, to compare yourself to others in a similar stage of life to you and at the moment, our students might be comparing themselves to older siblings or friends and the progress they had made at their age. This is tempting, but not very helpful. The challenges and pressures of preparing for external exams are made worse by the unknowns of the current pandemic. I’m sure most of our students have had some niggling doubts over the last few weeks. Here are some answers to hopefully reassure students and parents that things will get better: 

What will my exams/ assessments look like? We don’t know all of the details yet, but we will do soon. Although students have missed a round of mock exams, we will make sure students have an opportunity to sit further mocks. Talk to your teachers about what those papers might look like. It is important that you keep trying – there is a lot of time between now and when you will be awarded your grades. We will be gathering evidence over the next few months to build a portfolio of evidence for you. We have a really hard-working team of teachers who all want our students to be awarded the grades they deserve. We will do our very best to support students through this process.  

I feel behind: how can I catch up? Lots of people feel behind where they expected to be at this point in their educational journey. If you are a Year 13 or 11 student, focus on completing coursework assignments and anything else which is being assessed. Remember, you will not be assessed on topics you haven’t studied so you are not as far behind as you might think.  

Also, consider what your plans are for next year and create a plan to keep your knowledge current on the topics you are carrying forward. If you are in Year 12, 10 or 9 just jump in where you are – keep on top of the work that is set on each day and ask your teachers to help you prioritise any deadlines you’ve missed. Remember, we will be gathering evidence over the next few months to build a portfolio of evidence for you but your teachers will support you this. 

I missed so much: what’s the point of even trying? Every year a small number of students feel this way. However, it's important to remember that there is still time to make a difference to your grades this year. If your head is in this very negative state, where you feel overwhelmed by how much you need to do, it can be really hard to see where to start or why you should even bother. Start by writing down your dream destination for the next phase of your education or training (Which university would you love to attend? Which A levels have you got your heart set on?). Focusing on the goal can help you find a path towards it and give you the motivation to get moving. 

Then, write down any deadlines you know, and any pieces of work you know you need to finish. If you don’t know, email your teachers to find out – they won’t tell you off (actually they will be pleased to see that you are trying). Ask an adult at home, or any member of the GPUTC staff team, to help you get organised and prioritise these tasks. Understand that completing even one of these tasks is good progress; a step towards your goal. Chunk down your tasks into manageable (and therefore achievable) steps so you can keep racking up small wins.  

Our welfare and pastoral teams continue to work hard to support students whilst they are learning at home. If you need to be in contact, your first port of call is your child’s mentor. You can also contact safeguarding@gputc.com for urgent matters.   

 

Positive news story: This week, the rediscovery of an ancient artifact; evidence that humans have always designed and engineered the world around them: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/10/conch-shell-in-french-museum-found-to-be-17000-year-old-wind-instrument?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other    

 

Helpful resource for parents:  

For those parents struggling to understand the teenage brain, this guide might help: https://www.justonenorfolk.nhs.uk/childhood-development-additional-needs/supporting-development/teenage-brain. (Please don’t use the contact numbers for support services listed here, as they not in our local area – see lower down this email for details of our local support services). 

Many families have seen a change in circumstances in the last year. If your family income has been reduced recently, I would encourage you to check whether your child qualifies for Free School Meals. The criteria can be found here: https://fis.peterborough.gov.uk/kb5/peterborough/directory/service.page?id=HDtwUlc8p5A. To apply, email bursary@gputc.com and we will process your application as quickly as we can. If you need urgent help to access a Food Bank, please let us know via the same email address.   

Families can also receive support from the community hubs set up by our local councils: 

 

Helpful resource for students:  

STEM Podcasts and more! Covering aspects of science, history, literature with elements of comedy, The Cosmic Shambles Network is a collections of videos, podcasts, live shows and blogs. Here are a couple of suggested starting points. 

The Science of Frothing Milk: https://cosmicshambles.com/video/docs/milk-frothing 

Science Shambles (weekly video podcast featuring Show and Tell and This Week in Science History) https://cosmicshambles.com/scienceshambles/jan-31 This episode touches on the history of computing, electronics, and why some snow is better for snowman building than other types!  

 

Message from Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Local Authorities: 2020 was a difficult year for us all, but even more so for the children and young people who go in to 2021 without a stable home and loving family. This New Year we are looking for people who are determined, energetic and caring, to become foster carers. 

Fostering with Cambridgeshire County or Peterborough City Councils means you are fostering with a local authority that truly cares about you and the children in our care. We offer comprehensive training courses both before and during your fostering adventure with us. We also allocate a social worker who will support you and we also provide a 24/7 helpline so you will never feel alone! 

Remember if you are a Cambridgeshire County Council or Peterborough City Council employee and undergoing an assessment as a foster carer for either council, (with agreement from your line manager), you are entitled to additional annual leave of up to 5 days to attend training courses. 

So, whether you are single, married, retired, working or a full-time parent to a birth child YOU CAN FOSTER! Make this a happier New Year for our children and young people. To find out more, call 0800 052 0078, text FOSTERING to 60777, email fostering@cambridgeshire.gov.uk or visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/fostering

 

Links to support services:  

Working online:  

We are all spending more time online at the moment, so it’s really important that we understand how to keep ourselves and others safe online. The following organisations have loads of information about how to do that:  

For students: Thinkuknow   

For parents: Internet matters  

For staff and parents: London Grid for Learning  

  

Mental health support:  

For students: Young Minds Crisis Messenger - If you are a young person experiencing a mental health crisis you can text YM to 85258 for free 24/7 support  

For parents: Parents Helpline - If you are a parent who needs advice about your child’s mental health you can contact the Parents Helpline directly on 0808 802 5544 between 9:30am-4pm  

For staff: If you are a member of staff or parent who works in a school, college or university, you can call the Education Support Partnership for free support on 08000 562 561.  

If you need assistant to contact other support services, please email safeguarding@gputc.com and we will be in contact.   

I hope everyone has a lovely, restful weekend. I’ll be back next week with more positive stories and resources. If you have anything that you think other students, parents or colleagues would find useful please email me the details (l.donaldson@gputc.com).  

Kind regards,  

Lynne Donaldson  
Director of Support