Welcome

Welcome to my Principal blog.

This blog is designed to provide the latest in news and updates on the happenings at Peak School along with information on a number of topics related to education.

Enjoy!

Bill Garnett

EXTENDING THE SCHOOL DAY – UPDATE

It is not the news we wanted but unfortunately the EDB have made it clear to all the ESF Primary Schools that extending the school day is currently not an option.

Like you, we are fully aware that some International Schools have been granted permission to open for the full day for certain year groups and we are following up on this with EDB.  I have also met with my ESF cluster link trying to establish what options we have.

The key point here is that it is not an option for us to have all the children in all day, until the EDB change their position.

We continue to work on different plans in the hope that EDB will allow us to make changes to the length of the day but any plans that we come up with will also have to align with the other ESF Primary Schools.  We are currently modelling some different approaches to maximise/enhance face to face time at school for our children but these will be subject to both ESF and then EDB approval.

We are also fully aware that we have the threat of a 4th wave, and at all times our number 1 priority has been the safety of our school community members.   Any model we may be able to introduce in the coming weeks will be dictated by ensuring our children, staff and parents are kept safe.

With cases now being reported in schools across HK and more and more experts predicting a fourth wave, the reality is that we may end up having to revert back to Distance Learning before we even get a chance to extend the school day.  At the moment we are working on both possibilities, as a school, owing to the unpredictable nature of Covid 19.

 

EDB GRANT – UPDATE

You will have received a message from the school yesterday providing an update regarding the EDB grant.  Our initial plan was to put the envelopes into the school bags but ESF have since asked us to post the forms to you.  As you can appreciate this is time consuming task as we have to address each envelope and ensure the correct form has been placed inside.

New families to Peak School have to download their own form as per the instructions previously shared but existing parents will receive their form in the mail.

For existing parents – please make sure the address we have for you on Gateway is correct.  We are using the Gateway database to send out the forms so if the address is not up to date, you will not receive the form.

The deadline to have all the forms returned to Peak School is October 29 so we still have plenty of time fortunately.

ASSESSMENT UPDATE

This month we normally do the ISA assessments for our Year 4, 5 and 6 children but owing to Covid, these have been pushed into Term 2.  The assessments are a standardised assessment that focuses on the areas of reading, writing and Maths.

We are busy assessing the children in all areas of the curriculum and at the moment all the teachers are either completing or have completed 1:1 reading assessments with all their children to establish their reading level, their reading habits and their focus areas for future development.  We would normally have already done this but we were unable to complete these during distance learning.

Children are also competing pre and post assessments in specific areas of the curriculum so that we know where the children are at, the areas to develop and in regards to the post assessments we are able to determine how far they have travelled.

We are also continually assessing the children as we go (formative assessments).

These assessments combined will help frame discussions at the upcoming 3 Way Conferences which will be held in late November.

CAMP UPDATE

Normally, we have our Year 4, 5 and 6 camps in late October or early November.  Owing to Covid, these camps will not be going ahead this term.  We are not allowed to have any camps this term as well as school events such as sports day etc.

The good news is that we have been able to secure dates in Term 2 for the Year 5 and 6 camps.  We are in negotiations with the Year 4 camp provider in the hope we can secure dates in Term 2 also.  Of course, the situation in Term 2 might mean we are still unable to attend camps but it is good to know we do have back up dates in case we are able to proceed, even if it is just for day trips only.

We will provide an update at the beginning of Term 2, or earlier if we are able, regarding the camps and other sporting events.

EDB GRANT – 2020-2021

We are hearing reports, via the media, that the EDB are going to offer another round of grants this academic year.  We understand it to be the same as last year – $2500 per child attending school.  Children attending ESF Schools qualify for the grant so we will ensure that you have access the the form as soon as possible.

The deadline is November 6.  If the process is the same as last year, you will be required to download the EDB form, once supplied to us by the EDB, via Gateway.  You then need to print off the form and fill it in.

PLEASE NOTE – some families had their initial application refused last year as they provided the details of a joint bank account and not a sole bank account as per the requirement.  The confusing thing was that some families, that provided a joint bank account, actually got the grant whilst some did not.  The other key point to make is that you have to put down the bank code.  They did not accept applications that did not have the bank code for HSBC (004).  Please read the form carefully and closely to ensure you are filling it in correctly.  The EDB are very particular around what they accept.

We will provide more information as soon as we have it.

This is what we know based on the media:

Student Grant for 2020/21 school year accepting applications (CN: Sing Tao Daily)

  • Starting from the 2020/21 school year, EDB is regularising the one-off student grant of HK$2,500 provided last year for each secondary day-school, primary school and kindergarten student
  • Schools are to obtain application forms from their respective Regional Education Offices starting from today. The deadline for returning the applications is 6 November 2020
  • The student grant will be non-means-tested. Eligible students for the grant include: all students studying in secondary day-schools, primary schools and special schools (including public sector schools, Direct Subsidy Scheme schools, English Schools Foundation schools, private schools) as well as kindergartens (regardless of whether joining the kindergarten education scheme) offering local or non-local curriculum in Hong Kong
  • Students of evening schools and private studies, holders of student visa for entry into Hong Kong for studies and holders of Form of Recognizance issued by the Immigration Department are not within the scope of subsidy
  • For details, visit EDB’s website (bilingual)

PLEASE do not print off any forms from the EDB website until we fully understand whether they will accept this or require the ESF pre stamped one similar to what we did last year (downloaded from Gateway).

We will have more information next week for you.

RETURN TO SCHOOL UPDATE

The return to school has been very successful in terms of they systems we have in place to ensure everyone remains safe and that the children have had the chance to learn face to face with their teacher and peers.

Some things beyond our control, such as when the buses arrive at school for pick up in the afternoon and the traffic conditions across Hong Kong, have been frustrating but we are confident these will settle down quickly.   The first few days of any year are usually frustrating and not in line with the timings we were told by the bus company.  But it does usually quickly settle down.

The focus for us now is ensuring everyone remains safe and our children make progress with their learning throughout the day.

We are really hoping that we can prove to the EDB that we can manage 2/3 days with all children in and that in the coming weeks we start the planning for full days, should this become an option for us.

Our desire is for full days but the EDB will be watching the situation closely across Hong Kong in terms of Covid cases.  All we can do is to continue to ensure our systems are working and that we demonstrate we have the capacity and planning to run full days should they allow us to do this in the coming weeks.  I am starting to work with ESFC around the planning required to open for the full day should this become an option.

I am still getting questions around why we are finishing at 12.15pm and not 12.30pm or 1.00pm like some of the other schools.  As previously mentioned, this is dictated to us by the bus company (as it is for all schools).  They could not pick up at 12.30 or 1.00pm and initially they told us 12pm was our only option, but they have now realised it has to be 12.15pm.  My understanding is some of the buses we use, have pick ups straight after they have dropped our last child off.  The reason the buses are sometimes late to arrive at school in the afternoon is because they have just finished a drop off for some schools that had to finish earlier than us to accommodate the bus company.

PICK UPS – AFTER SCHOOL

We are moving the pick up time for non bus children to 12.30pm as we simply have too many cars arriving early and they are blocking the buses.

If you are picking up your child/ren via car, please do not arrive before 12.25pm as the amount of parent traffic is actually causing our buses to arrive late.  They literally cannot get up the road to the school because we have school community cars blocking the road.  Children being picked up by car/walkers, will not be sent down to the lower playground until after 12.30pm

Bus children will continue to leave at 12.15pm onwards but we are asking that parents/adults who are picking up their child/ren to arrive for 12.30.  If you arrive any earlier than this you are part of the congestion problem.  Ideally, we are looking for a vast majority of the buses to have left before the cars start to arrive.  This is only achievable if cars arrive after 12.25pm and not before.

NEW FINISH TIME – END OF SCHOOL NOW 12.15pm

School as of Monday 28 September (not 28 October as per my app message) onwards will finish at 12.15pm .

The bus company have been unable to guarantee that all the buses will arrive by 12pm (some have been arriving at 12.15pm).  As a result we have negotiated to have our bus children picked up from 12.15pm meaning we are now in a position to extend our school day by 15 minutes.  The buses have been arriving late pushing back the parent pick up (walkers and cars).

I have approached the EDB and informed them that we intend to extend our school day from 12pm to 12.15pm.  I am confident they will allow us to do this as they will appreciate the bus situation and the fact that the rest of our original plan will remain exactly the same.

End of Day Logistics as of Monday 28 September and beyond…

12.15pm – Bus children are called down from their classes and catch the bus home

12.25pm – Parents who are picking up their children can enter the lower playground

PLEASE NOTE THAT UNLESS YOU HEAR OTHERWISE FROM THE SCHOOL, WE WILL GO AHEAD WITH THE TIMINGS AS ABOVE STARTING MONDAY.

DROP OFF AND PICK UP LOGISTICS

The logistics of drop off and pick up have gone well but thus far we have only had up to 66% of our children in school.  It is important for everyone’s safety that we adhere to the following drop off and pick up times, particularly when we have 100% in:

DROP OFF

8.10am – 8.25am – Bus children are dropped off at school

Please note that sometimes buses run late and as a result we may ask cars not to drop their child/ren off in the turning bay as we know a bus is about to arrive (the driver will be asked to continue up the hill rather than turning in).   Please do not be offended if you are unable to park in the turning bay to drop off your child.

8.25am onwards – Children arriving by car can be dropped off in the turning bay assuming all buses have arrived.  Children who walk to school can also arrive at this time.

PICK UP – PLEASE NOTE NEW TIMES

12.15pm – Buses children will hop on the bus and leave Peak School

12.25pm – Parents who are picking up their children (Car or walkers) can enter the lower playground and pick up their child/ren.  Please note that it will be at least 12.25pm before we are able to have the parents enter the school.

Our thanks to Patrick (PTA Chair) for giving us his time each morning to support the school by ensuring the traffic flows freely in the morning this week.  Thank you Patrick!

45% ESF FEE DISCOUNT

We still have about 30 families that are yet to opt in for the 45% fee discount.

Please check the ESF/PS App and if the 45% Fee Discount Icon is still showing on the app, this means you are yet to opt in or out.  If it is not showing, you have already submitted a response.

The deadline is next Wednesday, 30 September.