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Nothing remotely remote at SHS!

Andrew Richardson, headmaster at Sheringham High School, keeps us up to date with what’s happening at the school in his regular column

Everything about the covid crisis has been about distance. We must be physically apart; we might find ourselves emotionally apart; and we have been compelled to be educationally apart.

Recent press headlines and discussions have focused on the difficulties of engaging students without in-person contact. Some press reports have used statistics gathered in dubious ways to talk about the percentages of students who are actually working remotely. Indeed, a recent study by UCL has suggested that 20pc of students have done “little or no schoolwork” since lockdown.

Whatever the alleged national picture of student engagement in distanced learning, the crucial question that has emerged is: how do we engage learners when we are not together physically? It’s a complicated question and, as with most issues, there isn’t one solution, one style, or one computer program for increasing learner engagement and motivation.

But the answer, as with many things educational, seems to be what many of us call common sense!

Research seems to say that online teachers need to combine multiple strategies to reach learners and, unsurprisingly, they must be behavioural, cognitive and emotional. In short, teachers must set a variety of work. They must reply and feedback early and often, building relationships. There must be regular, simple parental feedback so that the carer knows what work is actually being submitted. There must be a caring ear and a personal call for students and parents.

Here, at Sheringham High and Sixth, we set work which can be done independently and in REAL households with all their individual restrictions such as connectivity issues and multiple use computers. We mark and feed back quickly. We track students fortnightly. Student managers and tutors ring home personally.

So, let me share our actual statistics since the closure on March 23 at Sheringham High, given that 20pc of students nationally seem not to have been engaged by their staff. On average, each of our students has completed 73pc of the work set on time. Only 0.4pc of students have completed no work since lockdown. More than one third of all our Year 7,8,9 and 10 students have submitted over 90pc of their work on time. A quarter have done ALL work set! Since March 23, our students have watched 7,033 podcasts on our GCSE Pod portal with usage doubling since last year.

Between March and June, 3,079 individual pieces of work have been set by our staff for Years 7-10 and 435 for Year 12. Over half of our sixth form students have completed 100pc of the work set.

If we believe what we are told about national statistics and the etymology of the word “remote” (to push away), what we have at Sheringham High and Sixth is an engaged, embraced learning community which is working well and bucking the national trend. Well done to students, parents, carers and staff.

Stay safe.

Visiting hours are eased

From today, visiting arrangements will be easing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, with one named family member or carer being able to visit once a day for an hour, with three possible time slots: morning, afternoon or evening.

An appointment must be made with the ward team 24 hours in advance of the visit to avoid overcrowding on the wards and limit the number of people on the ward bays to maintain social distancing requirements. Ideally the same person should visit each day to reduce the risk of spreading covid-19, which remains in the local population.

Nancy Fontaine, chief nurse and director of infection prevention and control, said: “We want to deliver the very best care to our patients and we are delighted to welcome families and carers back to the hospital to support patients during their recovery.

“We are asking visitors to wash their hands on arrival and before leaving the ward, to use the hand sanitiser and to wear a face covering, or mask provided by the ward, to help us avoid the potential spread of covid-19.

“We must remain vigilant. Whilst local infections are low, every precaution must be taken to protect our patients and prevent the spread of covid-19. Maintaining high standards of environmental cleanliness and scrupulous hand washing are paramount in preventing the spread of this potentially deadly virus.”

Visiting is still strictly limited for patients who are unwell with covid-19 and those patients having planned surgery where they have self- isolated for 14 days in order to avoid the virus before their treatment starts.

Visiting was suspended during the pandemic with a few exceptions for children and patients reaching the end of life, those with dementia, learning disabilities or other mental health conditions. A birthing partner is also allowed to attend with pregnant patients. These exceptions still apply and should be discussed with the clinical team.

To make an appointment, call the ward directly from the list of telephone numbers on the hospital website – www.nnuh.nhs.uk – or through the switchboard on 01603 286286.

Visitors are being asked to go directly to the ward on arrival, report to the ward reception and be prepared to remove coats, wear a face mask and wash/sanitise their hands.

Prof Fontaine added: “We are asking the public to please support us in phasing the visiting at hospital. There are still many other ways to for people to stay in touch with patients without physically visiting the building, such as the virtual visiting service, or patients can use their own phones and iPads, plus the Messages for Loved Ones service at the hospital. Our newly established relatives liaison team is also keeping families and carers up-to-date with news and progress reports.”

Housebuilder supports walkathon

Award-winning housebuilder Hopkins Homes is the headline sponsor of the inaugural Holt walkathon, which aims to get people active, unite the community and help good causes.

The Hopkins Homes Holt Walk is open to walkers of all abilities and will take place in the town on Sunday, September 27.

Walkers can choose from four routes of either 4,000; 7,500; 12,000; or 20,000 steps. The route reflects the trend for those who like to think about distance in terms of the steps and measured using a wearable device or smartphone app. The 4,000-step route is most accessible for wheelchair users.

Lee Barnard, managing director for Hopkins Homes, said: “We have a great affinity with Holt and currently have two exceptional developments in the town – The Birches and King’s Meadow.

“As a company, we are proud of our strong track record of supporting local communities and charities and we are delighted to be the headline sponsor of the Hopkins Homes Holt Walk.

“We have been impressed by the vision of the event’s organisers to celebrate inclusivity and diversity so that the walkathon is suitable for people of all ages and abilities. In what has been a year like no other, we hope this event can bring everyone together at the end of summer.”

The organisers are a collective of three local charities – The Friends of Kelling Hospital, Holt Rotary Club and Holt Community Centre.

Nigel Hadlow, event organiser, said: “Funds raised by the walkathon will support the work of these three volunteer-based organisations whose usual fundraising activities have been curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are extremely grateful to Hopkins Homes for being our headline sponsor and thank all our other event supporters too. We anticipate this to be the largest single day fundraising event in Holt and it is open to all – from those wanting to simply enjoy a great walk, to people in recovery who are setting themselves a personal challenge or perhaps others who are taking part in memory of a loved one.”

The event also has a team challenge and is a great way for businesses, schools, non-profit organisations, associations and sports clubs to get involved.

For every 20 registrations, one tree will be planted in the area to help offset the carbon produced by the event – including walkers’ travel to and from the start area.

The Hopkins Homes Holt Walk will follow all government mandated policy regarding covid-19 on public gatherings and social distancing, with a contingency plan for it to become a virtual event if needs be

For further information on the Hopkins Homes Holt Walk, and how to register, visit www.holtwalkathon.org

Rainbows Zoom through lockdown

The 1st Cromer Rainbow unit has embraced the coronavirus lockdown and the girls have earned 142 badges during the first 12 weeks of being at home.

The Rainbows have been working even harder than normal on their new programme badges and working towards their bronze, silver and gold awards.  Whilst guiding face to face meetings have been suspended, the unit has been getting together through online Zoom meetings on a weekly basis.

The girls have participated in a number of activities at home including making recycled plant pots to grow sunflowers, drawing pictures for residents at a care home, taking part in scavenger hunts, learning first aid and about RNLI beach and sea safety, learning to ride bikes, playing traditional fairground games in their gardens with their families and helping with home recycling.

Some of the badges earned by the girls during lockdown.

They also found out more about road safety, enjoyed a virtual camping weekend and built robots and musical instruments, to name but a few. 

Guiding is always looking for new girls to join their units, if your daughter or someone you know might be interested in joining, visit www.girlguiding.org.uk/information-for-parents/register-your-daughter/

Jail for man who spat at police officer

A man has been jailed for six months after he assaulted two police officers in Sheringham.

;Dean Cope, aged 31, of Knights Green, Sheringham, appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on July 10, where he pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker.

It relates to an incident in Knights Green on July 9, when Cope assaulted one officer, causing a minor injury, and deliberately spat in the face of another.

Cope was sentenced to a total of six months in prison.

Sgt Toby Gosden said: “Assaulting emergency service workers in their duty is unacceptable at any time but clearly the public health crisis we currently find ourselves in makes it all the more abhorrent and unacceptable.

“I hope this sentence is a warning that incidents such as these against emergency workers will not be tolerated and we will take action where necessary.”

Run with Pride

Like many other athletic events this year, the Norwich Pride 5K race will be a little different.

Because of restrictions on mass events, the popular race – organised by EPIC – will be rebranded as #RunWithPride event, with all profits being granted to LGBT+ charities across the UK.

Anyone wanting to take part can complete the course at any time during July – as teams or as individuals – and choose from 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, or 100k challenges.

The whole distance does not have to be run at once – you can split the distance over the month – and participants are being encouraged to share their efforts by using the hashtag #RunWithPride via Strava, Facebook or Instagram.

Some clubs have entered teams of 31, with each member taking responsibility for one day of the month, and others are pooling resources to provide moral support.

Taking part costs £10 per person, plus a booking fee. All entries include a bespoke #RunWithPride race medal.

To enter, visit https://totalracetiming.co.uk/race/212 .

Seal colony needs your help

As the grey seal colony on the east Norfolk coastline keeps on expanding, the Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) have launched an urgent appeal for more volunteers to become seal wardens.

The covid-19 restrictions which caused so many of us a rough time in recent months have no impact on the grey seals’ plans, and a record number are expected to haul out onto Horsey and Winterton Beaches from late October to give birth to their distinctive white furred pups.

One of the seals born last year at the beach. Photo: Glenn Mingham.

People come from all over the world to see this amazing natural spectacle.

Seals are packed in close proximity, and there is the extra drama of 300-kilo bull seals fighting each other for the privilege to mate with the cows. Last year more than 2,000 pups were born.

With well over 100,000 visitors, the wardens play a vital role to protect the seal colony from unnecessary human disturbance.  While most visitors are respectful of the seals’ vulnerability and keep their distance, a number of young seals die each year after people get too close and scare the mother away leaving her pup to die of starvation.

Warden Sophie Dawes, from Bristol, comes to Horsey each year duing her holidays to help protect the seals. This season will be her third.

During the breeding season, between November and January the wardens cordon off the beach at Horsey, not only to protect the seals but also to keep the visitors safe.  They are also on hand to answer any questions about these magnificent wild animals and guide people to the best viewing spots.  

Friends of Horsey Seals is a charity run and staffed entirely by volunteers and is in action all year round.  The organisation’s trained rescue team are on call round the clock to save seals, many of which turn up injured or entangled in plastic rings, ropes or nets. Almost always they are badly weakened and underweight

Despite the start of the pupping season in November being some months away, the opportunity of seeing the seals and their pups this year is likely to attract many thousands of visitors, assuming that government restrictions allow, and the charity says it has a responsibility to prepare and be ready.

Jane Bowden, the FoHS recruitment co-ordinator, said: “It is important to have enough trained seal wardens available to do shifts when required.  The wardens do an incredible job in all weathers and there is a constant turnover, which is why we need to recruit more every year.  It is an opportunity for individuals to make a real difference.”

All FoHS Wardens will receive comprehensive training.  This year there are workshops in mid-September and early October at Somerton, in addition to some practical training on the beach.  They will be conducted in accordance with any government advice on the coronavirus situation at that time.

If anyone is interested in volunteering and becoming a seal warden they can register by sending an email torecruitment@friendsofhorseyseals.co.uk

Clubs merge to build a stronger team

North Walsham Town Football Club and North Walsham Youth Football Club have announced that they will be consolidating all youth, women’s and men’s teams into one organisation.

After much discussion and concerted effort from both clubs, all football within North Walsham will be under one umbrella for the first time in history.

This merger should allow greater security and increased opportunity for football across the community among all age groups and abilities. The club will now host:

A variety of youth age groups (girls and boys)

Mini Kickers

Ladies’ First Team

Men’s First, Reserves and A Team

Men’s Veterans (Over 35s)

Commenting jointly on the merger, outgoing NWYFC Chairman Nick Hindle and current NWTFC Chairman Craig Brown said: “It is fantastic to think that during these very difficult times both parties have been able to come together for the greater good of the community to provide a single organisation focused on an all-inclusive setup to encourage and grow wider football participation.

“This is a very proud moment for all those connected to both clubs as this has not been an overnight process and many obstacles have been overcome.

“The future for football related activity in North Walsham has taken a giant leap forwards and now it is for us to grow.  We will continue to foster our good relations and support from North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk FA.

“It is important to stress that we cannot rest and must continue this momentum with the help of volunteers, parents and schools within and around the town. 

“The club is always looking for more people to help with all aspects – coaching, assisting with refreshments, admin and committee roles.  If you wish to get involved, or are an adult or parent with a child who wants to give football a go, then please get in touch.  If we don’t have a team then come forwards and help us found one.”