I hope you are all keeping safe and well.
This week saw the wider opening of school to Year 10. It was so lovely to see the students again after such a long time. They were also keen to discuss their learning and goals for the future.
The school environment has been significantly adjusted to make sure we apply all the Covid 19 guidance and each Year 10 form group has been invited in for a Face to Face Session with teachers each day. This is a massive step for us at school. It has given us the opportunity to experience social distancing with the children but on a very small scale. As you can imagine the logistics for social distancing in schools is not easy with narrow corridors and implementing 2 metre spacing in classes etc. and we have introduced bubbles for Year 10 and the Key Worker students to ensure the risk of transmitting the virus to others is reduced.
This week also the guidance has changed again to 1 metre social distancing. This really doesn’t have an impact on the difficulties we face in school unfortunately. Yesterday the Government implied there will be no social distancing requirement in schools from September. I am not overly confident in this latest statement and we will follow guidance and advice.
We still have a major challenge providing any food provision for 740 students at break and lunchtime let alone ensuring students’ social distance on entry to school, break, lunchtime and lesson changeovers.
With this in mind the Government has implied they think all schools will be back in September in large bubbles and possibly blended learning, meaning students are partially in school working and working at home. All teaching organisations have tried to explain that this is a significant challenge for Secondary Schools as the students are taught in different classes in Ks3 and even more at Ks4. This means the bubble principles are impossible to apply at this stage.
We also have the Scientist making predictions of regional spikes and outbreaks in the autumn term too just to complicate things further. Navigating all this turmoil and uncertainty is a great challenge. All throughout this Pandemic we have tried our hardest to continue to provide the best possible learning experience for the young people.
So this is what we do know. Firstly, the students that have fully engaged in the online learning with Google Classroom have made good progress and we have been so impressed by the quality of work produced evidence of knowledge acquisition. We have had some students that have not had access to IT so we have distributed all our laptops that we had in school to enable students to engage online.
Attendance to Coaching online has been variable some students have not attended but many have. We feel the coaching is essential in supporting the students to get the most out of the Google Classroom. Please can you ask your child if they are attending coaching and encourage them to do so.
We have also been very impressed with the Google Classroom, it has enabled us to give very individual feedback and marking to students and in turn more importantly students have given more feedback to teachers than ever before about what they understand or don’t understand on the tasks set therefore misconceptions can be addressed swiftly. We have also seen a great deal of Live Lessons over this term with classes and video lessons. Again these are very personalised and the students are responding well to these. We will continue to develop these over the coming weeks.
So what will September look like at Shevington High School ?
This is a very difficult one to answer as a great deal can change over the summer break in regards to the virus and Government expectations.
What we do know is that we will be delivering our lessons via Google Classroom in autumn term to support the possibility of blended learning. This will mean that students that may not be in school due to social distancing restrictions will be doing the same work as students that are in school. We also want to keep the Google Classroom because of all the really positive things we have seen with the students regarding clarity of tasks and rubrics for assessment and feedback.
In school currently all Keyworkers children and Year 10 students on Face to Face sessions are all working on computers and laptops. This is again a strategy to reduce the spread of the virus. Working on paper and in books using pens and pencils has big issues. Collecting and distributing books at starts and ends of lessons could aid virus transmission.
This brings me on to my final point as we move into what the press is calling the new normal. I believe we need to be proactive and try our best to ensure that the students are not disadvantaged in the future with gaps in learning due to school closure but in fact we respond and take what we have learnt over the last 12 weeks and redesign our approach to learning.
For the last 3 Years we have been developing student agency and students have been encouraged to take ownership of their learning. We have seen that the students have done this during the school closure and have been amazing. What we are considering as a result of the quality of work that students have been producing via google classroom is that we are going to look at using devices in school. Like all things we are looking at a variety of options. One is Bring Your Own device to school to work from in lessons or the other option is leasing a Google Chromebook. I would really love to know your views on this proposed strategy.
As you know we work closely with Kunskapsskolan Schools in Sweden and they have delivered learning through laptops and devices for a number of years. Therefore, during the lockdown and school closure period they have not lost any learning as the student’s experience was normal routine. I would love to be able to say that here.
We will be sending out further guidance regarding devices soon.
When we had our final assemblies I said to students it was key to remember our Shevington way “Life is what you make it” we are so proud of the way our Shevington students have taken this mantra and worked so hard over the last few months.
Thank you for all the support at this time and stay safe.
Mr Grant – Headteacher