Deputy Headmaster and Head of Preparatory School

Mr Jeff Symms

Interesting Times

We are certainly living in interesting times at the moment with the situation around COVID-19 changing daily.  However, at this stage and following the official advice, TSS remains open and it is business as usual with some modifications around activities which involve large groups of children.  For this reason, assemblies and Chapel services won’t be conducted until further notice and quite a few other events have been postponed until later in the year.  This largely refers to a range of incursions and excursions that the teachers had planned to undertake between now and the end of the term.  GPS and junior sports have been cancelled or significantly modified.   Music ensemble practices have been cancelled.

Apart from that, life around the school is very much ‘as normal’.  The boys may be washing their hands more frequently (which is a good thing in general), but otherwise classes are continuing and the boys are buzzing around the school with their usual spirited approach to life.  Teachers are fully prepared for a time when the school may decide to move to an online delivery of lessons, but are keen to maintain their face to face connections with the boys and keep their programs operational.

Some families have elected to keep their son at home during this last week or so.  That is, of course, up to the individual family to decide, but at the moment it is not possible for the teachers to provide ongoing school work for each boy.  The school remains completely functional and the teachers duty and focus is on the preparation and implementation of each lesson throughout the day.  There are many ways though for parents to engage their son in academic leaning while he is away.  All boys can keep up to date with homework by accessing this through Prepbook.  Often the teacher has made links to Mathletics or Literacy Planet, two online learning environments and even without a specific link or lesson being assigned, boys can log 0n and select activities from their grade level.  There are many free online educational websites and of course boys could commence a daily journal to record their thoughts, world events, diary of their daily activities or any other topic.   There are also many practical activities that boys can assist with around the home that can have an academic element to them.  Helping prepare meals involves a lot of measuring and counting for example.

And remember, if a boy is staying at home, maintaining some form of physical activity each day is important.  Sitting at home in front of a computer screen, tv or even a book needs to be supplemented with some form of exercise.  Playing with the dog outside, time on the trampoline, swimming pool or a cycle ride can all help.  And they are good for mental health also.

But at the end of the day, for the moment, unless there is an underlying and pre-existing medical condition for your son, or for a close member of the family, he should be at school.

Leading the way for children curing the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the newsletter a few weeks ago I wrote about helping children navigate the current situation and how not to add to their stress levels.  We worry about how our children are displaying increasing levels of depression, and then we don’t do enough to shield them from those things that might give them added burdens.

This week I came across a great article by our parenting expert, Michael Grose who says:-

If you’re like me, the news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has your head spinning and your heart pumping. That’s only natural as life as we know has taken a seismic shift in recent days. International travel bans, cancellation of sporting and cultural events, shopping frenzies and talk of school closures continue to dominate the airwaves. Terms such as social distancing, self-isolation and social lockdowns have entered our vocabularies and may soon become part of our daily lives.

Coronavirus is having an unprecedented impact on our daily lives, and will probably do so for some time. While keeping ourselves and children healthy and safe is our main concern, it’s also essential to address the anxieties of children and young people during these changing times. Here are some ideas to help inform, reassure and keep children and young people safe.

He provides some great advice under the following headings:-

  1. Build on what your children know
  2. Check your own thoughts and feelings
  3. Stay informed
  4. Answer questions truthfully
  5. Initiate positive action
  6. Find refuge in rituals
  7. Look outwards

I have included his full article with this newsletter and I encourage you all to read it.  Essentially he is telling us that all adults have a responsibility to help children stay positive and optimistic during difficult times and there are some simple steps we can take to help with this.

You can access the full article by clicking here.

Honours Class Information Evening

This will be held tonight at 5.30pm in the Stevenson Curriculum Centre (building behind the hall).  Parents will  have the opportunity to hear more about the program and ask questions, the answers to which may help them decide if their son is a good candidate for the class.

Parent Teacher Interviews – Cancelled

At this stage Parent Teacher Interviews scheduled for next week Tuesday and Wednesday will not proceed as planned.  Information about how we will conduct these will be forthcoming in the next few days.  This is as a result of the guidelines on how many people constitute a ‘indoors gathering’.  Interviews are likely to be conducted by phone, but the details will be supplied as soon as logistics are finalised.  I appreciate your understanding of the current circumstances.


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