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14 Feb 2020

Message from Belinda Greer

Dear Parent

Being entrusted with your child’s education is a responsibility that everyone at ESF takes seriously, and I can assure you that there is nothing more important to us than your child’s learning.

It truly has been testing times here in Hong Kong. We have come to the end of the second week of in-school class suspension and now face a further two weeks extension to March 16.

I fully appreciate the concern and anxiety, not to mention deep frustration that this will cause.

I wanted to write to you, firstly to acknowledge the great effort being made to ensure continuity and progression in your child’s learning, despite the challenging circumstances, and to thank you all for your kind support.

These are difficult times, but they are made all the more easy by knowing that we have parents as supportive as you to call on.

The principals and senior leaders, like me, are really proud of our staff for the way in which they have met the challenge of implementing home learning head on and have continued to deliver quality learning for their students.

We are also incredibly proud of your children for the way in which they have quickly adapted to these new circumstances. This would not have been possible without your support and the remarkable way that you too have adapted your day-to-day lives to support your children as they continue their learning at home.

As you know, when this current period of learning online at home began, we made three promises to you in regards to how we were going to deliver learning for your children:

  • That we will provide structure to students’ days – following their existing timetable wherever it is appropriate to do so.
  • That we will provide each student with an appropriate amount of work – including new materials so that each student could still progress in their learning.
  • That we would ensure that there was regular contact between each student and their teacher – beyond the sending of emails.

We are giving structure to our students. Our secondary schools are following existing timetables and our primary schools have used their normal daily routines to form the basis of an adapted timetable that supports their students’ learning. Kindergartens are also working to deliver a structured set of activities to all of their children.

We are delivering new learning to all of our students and we are constantly reviewing what we are doing to ensure its effectiveness. Where families have shared concern about workloads, we have taken steps to fix that.

We are ensuring that a huge amount of contact is taking place between students and their teachers. In secondary, teachers are using technology to be live in most lessons. In primary, we have a regular cycle of check-in meetings happening each day and our kindergartens are also making sure that face-to-face contact is maintained – while also providing amazing video content for even the youngest children.

As I said to you last week, there will be challenges along the way, but I have to tell you that I am absolutely confident that even in these trying times, we are doing everything possible to ensure that your child’s learning continues to thrive.

We are now spending our time refining the systems and technology that we have in place, so that we can continue to improve what we do. We are putting plans in place for those students who have upcoming deadlines for submitting coursework and are working towards external exams.

Everyone at ESF recognises the importance of your child’s education.

Below you will find answers to some of the questions that we have been asked most often by parents over the past few days. I hope that you find them helpful. As ever, if you have any other questions, please do speak to your school. They want nothing more than to help you.

I want to close by thanking you, once again, for your ongoing support and give you my personal assurance that everyone will continue to work tirelessly to ensure learning continues for your child.

 

Belinda Greer
Chief Executive Officer
English Schools Foundation

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Will my child be marked absent if they are not in Hong Kong?
    The most important thing is that your child is engaged in their learning. Our teachers are making work available for all of their students and this should be accessible no matter where they are in the world.
  2. Our teachers are working to Hong Kong time. This means that they are online, giving support and guidance – and delivering lessons – during the normal school hours.
  3. What matters to us is that your child is connecting with their teacher, completing their work and getting feedback. That is what constitutes learning at ESF. If your school is satisfied that you are achieving this – even if it is happening from outside Hong Kong, then they will be considered present at school.
  4. Will you be cancelling the Easter Holiday?
    No, we are not cancelling the Easter holiday. Classes are suspended but students and teachers are still working.
  5. Many of you will have already made plans to travel.
  6. We are working with secondary principals to explore the possibility of running additional, optional classes for some students during the Easter break and at weekends. These would be offered on a voluntary basis and would not be official school days when it comes to marking attendance. Schools will be finalising these plans and will communicate with you about them.
  7. What about extending the current School Year?
    Again, there are no plans to do this. Our focus at present is on continuing to do what we are doing right now – and that is delivering continuity and progression in students’ learning. We know that a large majority of our staff – and our families – leave on holiday at the end of the school year, so it simply wouldn’t be logistically possible to do this.
  8. Will there still be CPD days?
    We need to maximise the remaining time available in this current academic year to students being in school. Schools are rethinking the plan for CPD.
  9. What about the Hong Kong Government’s Student Grant Scheme?
    We have been assured that this scheme is still operating and that no one will miss out as a result of this current period.
    You will be aware that we recently announced that we were extending the deadline for submission of the signed forms to schools until March 6. In light of this latest extension of in-school class suspension, the deadline for submitting forms is now March 20.
  10. Will you be offering a refund or a discount on school fees?
    While classes may have been suspended, learning has not stopped. Our schools are still open in the sense that teachers are still teaching and learners are still learning.

We appreciate that the current situation might be causing families financial difficulties. If that is the case, please contact your school. There are relief measures available to parents – and we will try and work with you in order to be flexible around areas such as payment plans.