In the Lower School, the response to our online learning programme has been overwhelmingly positive. From the outset, it was extremely important to us that we found a way to engage children in their remote learning, maintaining high expectations of the work they should be producing and adopting a creative approach to the curriculum. By breaking our day down into face-to-face ‘live’ teaching, pastoral ‘drop-ins’, asynchronous learning tasks and interactive practical sessions, Lower School children have continued to enjoy the wide range of learning, both academic and social and emotional, that they would have at school. Providing as much ‘live’ teaching as possible has been invaluable. Not only has it maintained some degree of continuity from school learning for the children and their teachers, but it has also shouldered much of the burden for multi-tasking parents, often working from home or dealing with a number of children within the home environment.
It was of key importance to us that Lower School children were still able to feel as though they were going to school, being part of their class and still being part of the school community, albeit in a different way to normal. By using both Microsoft Teams and Seesaw, we were able to ensure that the children could have interactive and engaging face to face and differentiated lessons, whilst also enjoying a really engaging, cross-curricular fun wider curriculum offer. We structured the day with live English and Maths in the morning, whilst the children are at their freshest, with asynchronous Humanities, Science, RS and other subjects in the afternoon. With live Music, Drama, Games, Art and DT bookending the day – there is, as in school, something for everyone to look forward to.
This is a very unusual, indeed an unprecedented, time. We do not know yet how it may impact the children in our care, both academically and emotionally. What we do know, however, is that it is vital the children continue to feel valued and their efforts recognised, that when they return to school in the future, this time has been a positive interlude. Our pastoral drop-in sessions have been invaluable, offering individuals, pairs or small groups of children the chance to talk with their teacher about any matters of concern or interest, academic or pastoral. Our separate boy group meet-ups and girl group meet-ups have been equally useful and much appreciated, and our celebration of children’s birthdays has been a lovely and much-welcomed touch. We have also used this chance to discover and celebrate the wonderful contributions that so many children have made to the wider community, such as children baking for the NHS and Shelter and running 5km for Run for Heroes.
Being away from school, learning and interacting remotely, can never replace the myriad of benefits to being physically present in school. But with that option currently removed from us, it has been immensely satisfying for those of us in the teaching profession to channel our creativity and to put in place a meaningful, memorable and much-appreciated alternative for our children.
Head of Lower School