Changing the way we learn. Message from Headteacher Chiquita Henson.
Wednesday 25 March 2020
I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has joined our new online learning community.
On Monday 23 March, the first day of nationwide school closures, despite a few teething issues, 860 pupils and 320 parents logged onto Show My Homework and communications were frequently exchanged between pupils and their teachers about the tasks they have been assigned. This was impressive and we were very pleased that over 800 pupils actively participated in new learning and revision activities on Tuesday 24 March too. This represents a great start!
We were very pleased to see that so many pupils in Year 11 have chosen to continue their learning with us. This continuing commitment to their studies will help ease the transition and bridge the gaps between now and when they begin their new courses. We hope to have more news for them soon.
We did our best to prepare our pupils and their parents in advance for a school closure and we expressed our hopes that pupils would continue with their learning and we have definitely not been disappointed. However, while home learning is currently a novelty, it is very important we continue to work together to establish new routines and maintain the rhythm and momentum of learning into the foreseeable future.
We cherish our pupils’ young minds and we want to ensure they remain curious and develop as active independent learners.
To help our pupils and their parents we have recommended a timetable made up of a minimum of 3 hours a day for pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9, and a minimum of 4 hours a day for pupils in Years 10 and 11 and teachers are using this as a guide and will continue to provide pupils in their classes with fresh activities. These will include new learning which will extend pupils’ knowledge and understanding and revision tasks that will enable them to practise and refine their skills. Teachers will offer both challenge and support. See current timetable (March 2020).
In keeping with our school aims, we want everyone to achieve more than we all first think is possible. We hope they will adopt positive mindsets and exercise the 4Rs that underpin so much of our practice: reflectiveness, resilience, resourcefulness and reciprocity. While the latter may be difficult to achieve in isolation, we are aware pupils are already using the technology to stay connected with each other and I understand there has been lots of purposeful chat! We encourage pupils completing creative projects in subjects like Design and Art to take photographs of their work in progress and when it is finished and email the images to their teachers. We may then be able to create a gallery and share their work.
While we are currently using Show My Homework to help us assign tasks, we are planning to move pupils in Years 9, 10 and 11 to learning remotely in real time after the Easter break, i.e. from Monday 20 April. We are currently training staff and we will be publishing a new timetable for pupils in Term 5. This will include attending scheduled lessons in Microsoft Teams. Mrs Lang, Head of School, explained how we hope this will work when she met with each year group on Friday 20 March.
While we are all trying to adjust to the present situation and for many of us working from home, we hope parents will find these tips helpful. We are keen to provide support and guidance especially regarding how our pupils can stay safe online.
I am very grateful to our teachers for the quality of the work pupils have been set and to parents who have provided us with such positive feedback.
Chiquita Henson, Headteacher
'Never have those 4 Rs seemed more apt! Thank you for keeping our children safe and helping to prep them for the educational challenge of their lives. We hope you get to open your doors again soon.' Parent
'I used the timetable sent out by school to make my own timetable for each day with times and subjects. I’ve also included some breaks. This has really helped me to organise myself and to know what I need to do each day. Accessing the work on SMHW has been really easy and all the instructions and explanations that teachers have given have been really easy to follow. I’ve been able to chat to some of my friends as normal and we have been helping each other. I’ve enjoyed being able to keep busy everyday, otherwise it would get really boring!' Lois (Year 8)
‘I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you all for how you are dealing with such a difficult and unprecedented situation. I have two children, one in Year 7 and the other in Year 11. It’s been an extremely emotional and challenging time for everyone. As a school you have shown support to the Year 11s and continue to do so. My Year 7 has been doing all the work which has been set by her teachers. To think this all just happened a few days ago, it’s amazing that you have got everything up and running already. I just wanted to show our appreciation and say a huge well done to you all.’ Parent
‘All the emails and queries I have received so far have been thoughtfully written by the pupils and have shown that they want to engage with their distance learning. It has been lovely that all pupils who have been in contact this week have asked how I am and also my family. It's shown me how caring our pupils are and how much they value their relationships with their teachers.’ Mrs Stockwell, English Teacher
‘I just wanted to send my sincere thanks for the calm leadership and hard work over this exceptionally tricky time. My child in Year 9 seems to be very motivated to do what she can in her school work and we will support her with this as well as having some nice family time too. I do hope all of the staff stay well and thinking of the key workers at this difficult time.’ Parent
‘Some brilliant effort has been made on the tasks so far. I have also been struck by the number of pupils who have told me to stay safe when sending their work through - we teach lots of very kind and caring pupils.’ Miss Lillington, Assistant Head and Geography Teacher
‘I have had a number of emails from pupils about accessing the work and returning it. They have all been incredibly polite in their emails and grateful for any help. A lot have also asked if I’m ok - which is really kind.’ Mrs Miller, Head of Languages
‘In terms of a positive learning experience, I am receiving lots of baking photos. I've said to children it's really important to keep cooking if they can, for wellbeing and for skills practice.’ Miss Dearing, Design Teacher
'Thank you for the cupcake recipe - they were really quick and easy to make! Here is a picture of the final result!' Sophie (Year 8)