As I remote work at the desk I have upstairs at home, I have a good view of Lympstone Church and the pavement and road between our house and the church. I see quite a number of St Peter’s families partaking of their daily exercise and, through my inbox, I see glimpses of the work and activities of pupils of our families who live further afield.

My adult child, Nathan, is also at home continuing with his first year of university online and my youngest, Owen, has had his A-levels cancelled. I am continually thankful that, for the most part, they do not need any input from me during the working day and our biggest stress, as my partner delivers Exeter University lectures online and takes part in Zoom meetings at the same time as Nathan receives lectures online from Sussex University, is whether there will be enough bandwidth for us all. My abiding thought through all of this is how would I have coped with working full-time from home with two primary school-aged boys (who would have needed much parental input to engage in online learning) and how would I ever have exercised them enough with Sunday morning rugby training, Friday night cricket and swimming lessons all off the agenda? Persuading my sons to do their homework is a skill I have still not mastered, let alone getting them to log in for 08:30 each weekday morning.

I am frankly in awe of our St Peter’s families who are managing to achieve anything at all whilst in lockdown. I think it cannot be reiterated enough that, at this time, you must do what works for you and your family. Everyone’s situation is different. As a school, we provide as many thought-provoking lessons and activities as we can remotely but this is done in the knowledge that not all children will be able to fully engage in everything being offered. Please do not give yourselves or your children a hard time for not completing everything that is set.

We can’t all be experts at everything. I used to dread certain homework tasks, especially the ones that seemed to need parents to be creative and help their child construct something. I am sure other families relished these projects, as much as I had sleepless nights over them. It has taken me many years to gain perspective on this. I was very anxious about my children’s education and whether they were falling behind academically. And my children much preferred playing with their friends, sport and watching TV to intellectual pursuits. However, what I have learned is that, despite missing many targets their teachers would have liked them to hit along the way, my children did become engaged when they got to study the subjects of their choice.

I love that the ethos at St Peter’s is about celebrating all of our pupils’ achievements. As we say on our website of the St Peter’s School Baccalaureate®️: “We wanted a formula which would reflect and reward our youngsters’ efforts both inside and beyond the classroom. We wanted to encourage both pupils and staff to more effectively use their initiative, independence and creativity, and to think outside of the normal academic boxes.” This is why your children are all coping admirably with this bizarre situation we now find ourselves in. The way parents, pupils and staff have adapted to online learning has astonished me and is a tremendous credit to you all. Let us celebrate whatever our pupils manage to achieve whilst they are in lockdown and I do hope families can enjoy the additional time they have to spend with their children. Finally, I wish to say a huge thank you to all the key workers in the St Peter’s community and their children for whom this must be so challenging.

Rachel Elliott

Director of Admissions & Marketing

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