‘Learning to adapt’.
Our response to the Covid-19 Pandemic
Can do attitude
As we entered the first Lockdown in March 2020 none of us would have imagined just how teaching and learning would have to adapt. We had a ‘can do’ attitude from the start and for the first week before the Easter break, we opted to use our usual Virtual Learning Environment to supply our pupils with work. Over the Easter holiday period we quickly realised that the Lockdown was going to be a part of our daily lives for some time, so we made the decision to change to Microsoft Teams for pupils in Year 3 and above, with SeeSaw used for our younger pupils in EYFS to Year 2. Fortunately, we had the infrastructure already set up for MS Teams and this meant the switch was very easy for the pupils and the staff quickly got to grips with the system too.
Our older pupils followed their usual timetables as much as possible, with live lessons provided. Our younger pupils also received live lessons with their teachers, but we ensured they had plenty of time away from the screens too. We provided enrichment ideas from cookery competitions to a talent show and photography competitions. We also asked pupils and staff to take part in a motivational song and video, which was fun to do and well received by all, adding to the community spirit at a very difficult time for us all. Our Nursery Provision was not forgotten, and our Nursery Manager set up a members group on social media to allow parents and nursery staff to share ideas on how to occupy our youngest children. It was a source of contact and community during a difficult period. Online assemblies featured guest speakers and parents also embraced the online meetings we provided for question and answer sessions regarding Covid-19 matters and school life. Our parental consultation evenings were carried out online. As a small school, we had the flexibility to adapt to teaching and learning remotely very easily. We were very keen to maintain an excellent level of support to our pupils with specific learning needs and find ways to promote wellbeing, for example through online mindfulness sessions. All the pupils in both Junior and Senior Schools submitted their work via Teams and received appropriate feedback from their teachers either during their live lesson time or via a message on Teams.
We were very keen to make sure our pupils in Year 11 and Year 13 were not worried about their public examinations. Not only did teachers speak with pupils during live lessons online, they also contacted pupils individually to discuss any concerns. During the second Lockdown, we set out a timetable that included online mock examinations invigilated online by the Senior Leadership Team. Progress was closely monitored to ensure that our Teacher Assessed Grades have been conducted professionally and are a true reflection of ability levels.
Impact of Covid-19 on School life
Our first concern was for the safety and wellbeing of all our pupils and staff. Our next concern was to ensure that our pupils’ learning continued seamlessly. We believe it did and the results of our Parental Survey were overwhelmingly positive.
We fully supported pupils with an extremely positive approach, giving them the guidance to move forward with confidence; we felt this was our most important job given the negative news reports . Our older pupils understand that grades awarded were a true reflection of their ability levels and this allowed them to have confidence to apply for university placements and select their sixth form choices.
In terms of our usual school processes, assessment exams still took place, school reports were still issued and parents’ consultations still took place via video-link .
Communication is important, so for the return to school, we issued a seven-page document with details of exactly what would happen and we then hosted a question and answer session on Microsoft Teams for the parents to ask any questions.
The experience of a Pandemic caused worry, but we maintained a very positive attitude as a school community. Our main concern is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our pupils and to allow them to enjoy their learning experiences whether that has to be remotely or in the traditional way on the school site.