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FEATURE: VIEW FROM THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM


View from the virtual classroom


encouraged to discover their talents in a caring environment that fosters a genuine enthusiasm for learning in an evolving world filled with complex challenges and exciting new possibilities


How has the school continued to provide stability for families and how have teachers coped with the changes? As the country moved into lockdown, we were keen to encourage routine and structure to our days from the outset and this has really helped our pupils to focus on their learning. As a family that means getting up for breakfast together, taking a daily walk and feeling connected – family time is super important for productive learning. Providing stability and familiarity has been a


T


his month, in our final look at remote learning in the UK’s classrooms, we speak


to Lara Pechard, Headteacher at St Margaret’s School in Bushey, who shares her insight into how the school is benefiting from remote learning in the classroom.


Tell us about your school St Margaret’s School is an independent day and boarding school for pupils aged 3 to 18 years. Based in Bushey, Hertfordshire, the school is steeped in history and is among one of the oldest in the UK dating back to 1749. Offering a range of flexible boarding options for both UK and international pupils from the age of 11 years, the school is set over 60 acres of beautiful grounds and places its renowned pastoral care and proven track record of academic success at the heart of its culture and ethos. With a rich programme of extra-curricular activities, its pupils are


lifesaver for parents too, especially as our lessons have been delivered virtually through Google meet. This has been a learning curve for every school but teachers have risen to the challenge and there is a lot of great stuff happening every day regardless of the fact that we are physically separated. For some of our staff it has given them a renaissance and there are features of our provision, including extra enhancements in the co-curricular and pastoral support that will continue long after Covid-19. Proving that lessons are also being learned for the better. The key aim has been to provide the same


sense of routine and structure as we would in a normal school week. Assemblies have continued, many are presented live and others recorded and sent out.


What has inspired a spirit of learning and togetherness? Story time has continued in the Junior School albeit virtually, the school teddy bear has been replaced by the pupils’ own teddy bears, which


16 www.education-today.co.uk


has given them a sense of comfort and belonging. This is very important for younger children who will need constant support and reassurance. Keeping active has also helped our younger learners in combining exercise with play. The Sports department has also posted daily exercise videos for older pupils to follow in their gardens. Remote learning has also given us the


opportunity to encourage our pupils to be creative and to try and consider starting something new. There has been such a range of activities to try and setting up a new ‘Head’s Award’ to celebrate and recognise these has also helped to motivate pupils. Pupils have shared everything from photography collections, music compositions, and documentary films to creative writing reflecting their feelings about the current crisis. We have also encouraged culinary efforts with online video recipes and lessons.


How have remote music lessons helped generate a sense of togetherness? The music department has been asking children to join in a ‘virtual choir’ and one class is singing a different song together every day. There is an online music festival made up of pupils' individual performances and compositions, and ensemble performances from Reception through to Sixth Form. For any ensemble performances, pupils record themselves at home and then audio is mixed to create the whole ensemble performance. So far, we have had Reception - Year 2 songs, Year 3 - 6 songs, and Senior School Choir and Orchestra pieces. Staff have also been keen to participate in these ensemble performances. Shared widely within our community, these songs have created a sense of togetherness otherwise lost during lockdown and


July/August 2020


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