Summer term is underway and while that would usually mean the sound of cheers in outdoor sports on sunlit fields, or pupils enjoying the simple pleasure of eating lunch under a blue sky, Summer term 2020 is like nothing anyone has ever experienced, with a national lockdown still in place and remote learning continuing on from the end of Spring term.
In preparation for the improved remote learning programme, changes and adaptions continue in order to optimise the children’s learning outside of a school environment which has thus far been based on parent, student and teacher feedback from the end of the Spring term, as well as guidance from the most recent educational research and the sharing of good practice from schools and colleagues in the UK and overseas.
Headmaster Andrew Gordon-Brown stated: “Our challenge has been to craft a programme that is a balanced and sustainable model that will provide our students with the pace and challenge to continue to make progress, the opportunity to explore new and exciting ways of learning, and crucially strike a balance between time spent ‘live learning’ on screen, and working independently to master knowledge, understanding and skills. We do not pretend that our programme is the finished product, it will evolve over time. We will continue to seek feedback from students and parents and make adaptations as we proceed.”
The use of all of the school’s online digital resources has been expanded in response to the pandemic crisis with online lessons being conducted using a range of software, including Everest, Microsoft Teams, Moodle, Kerboodle, MyMaths, Everlearner, ClickView and more. Work is being set on the school portal, Everest, which enables staff to access set lists, set work and take registers remotely, as well as awarding commendations and warnings. Pupils and parents at the Senior School, and parents at the Prep School, can access the set work. Work may then be completed offline or online using a range of resources.
In the newest remote learning structure, year groups will follow different styles appropriate for their key stage.
The 1st – 3rd Years (Years 7-9) will see a move to independent learning projects in each subject to encourage delving deeper into topics, to develop independent learning skills, and take learning away from the screen.
Meanwhile, the 4th Year (Year 10) and Lower Sixth will aim to bring a balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning and will continue with their full GCSE or A Level timetable. The remote learning model is supported by leading pedagogical thinkers such as Doug Lemov, author of ‘Teach Like a Champion’ who recently insisted that ‘good distance learning requires a combination of synchronous and asynchronous teaching’.
For the 5th Years (Year 11) and Upper Sixth students whose exams were affected this summer, the School are preparing them for their transition to A Levels or university life.
Throughout the duration of remote learning, the wellbeing of pupils, students and parents will continue to be a priority with the school counsellor and school chaplain both available to contact on email or phone.
Emma Ellison, Head of Pastoral, explained further: “This will be a tricky time for our whole community, but I know our pupils are resourceful, kind and caring. They will come up with positive ways to support each other over this difficult time. We are a close community and every tutor and Head of Year will want to continue to look after the children in their care, even if they are not in school. In addition, The Rev is supporting the whole community through his regular services which are broadcast to the community.”
Carrying out the school’s usual variety of co-curricular activities is another hurdle to jump, but there have been some ways of bringing these into the home as Maria Taylor, Head of Cookery, described: “We have been preparing recipe videos with printed instructions for what will be this term’s online cookery club. We have also been posting on social media a regular ‘Feel Good Food’ series of videos, recipes and shopping lists for all to create at home, which have included family suppers, kids cookery activities as well as bakes which can be made and delivered to neighbours in isolation.”
The school continues to engage parents through all social media channels with frequent updates on remote learning, examples of work produced by pupils from home, chapel services, Headmaster vlogs, and additionally, has set up a dedicated area on the website to support the whole of the school community throughout these challenging times.