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16 June 2020

Head's Message 15 June 2020

Heads Message 15 June 2020

As we embark on our return to onsite learning, what lessons have we learned from virtual learning?

As parents and educators, we all want the very best for our children and, in partnership with parents we collectively encourage all the children to fulfil their aims both academically and personally. Of equal importance is preparation for the ever changing world we live in; a world of innovation, opportunity and increasing challenge as evidenced by the current impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on society.

When I started teaching maths, I would occasionally use a video clip in lessons; this was the cutting edge of online learning in the 1980s! The momentum of technological advancement, rooted in the laudable aim to allow all children to benefit from the liberating power of education, has enabled access to instant facts, explanations, endless practice, guidance and support in developing key skills for success for those in possession of an internet connection. International families in different time zones can link into our virtual school programme and submit assignments to their teachers through Google Classrooms from the remotest parts of the world. This ability to provide a virtual education through fully integrated technology is reshaping our perception of what education can look like.

The initial weeks of our virtual learning environment initiated further development of the school in numerous ways. Our priority was to ensure continued education and pastoral support for all pupils and through the success of the provision we have offered, we have seen the children develop their character, grit and resilience alongside the development of their knowledge, competence and breadth of skills.

The most important premise was to try and ensure continuity of care. Getting the balance between screen time and other remote activities was carefully considered in light of pupils’ wellbeing. The opportunity for the children to check in with their Form Tutor in the morning and at the end of the day, the introduction of a common lunch hour, based on the recommendation of parents, and refinement of the schedules reduced some computer screen  time and, in some contexts, allowed for family meal time.

It has been a pleasure to host the daily virtual year group meetings with parents and to respond to questions; we have adapted and had to rethink the provision in light of some of the feedback. It was therefore encouraging to note that 92% of parents confirmed that they are happy with the remote provision. Yet, even though only 3%, representing one child, indicated that a child was not coping emotionally with the current situation and online learning, we are sensitive to the fact that it is one child too many. It is therefore timely, for some children to return to school and for us to provide off-site and on-site options for families.

It will come as no surprise to parents that knowing the children well is key to outstanding educational provision whether it is on-site or remote. High quality feedback to pupils for individual progress, oral or written, remains important as a means for developing learning and can only be individual and effective if set in the context of a successful teacher-pupil relationship. Those relationships have been nurtured during the period of virtual learning through our consistent references to the school’s Core Values, learning materials that inspire curiosity and the opportunity to listen to the oral contributions, ideas and knowledge of others. None-the-less, facilities for practical work in science, art and technology lessons, as well as opportunities for team sport, music ensembles and drama productions, are essential ingredients of an outstanding education, and although not impossible to provide in a virtual environment, are more difficult to achieve remotely.

It was evident this week when we welcomed back many of Pre-Nursery, Nursery, Reception and Year 6 pupils that nothing can replace actually being at school in its physical sense. It has never been more evident that capable teachers who focus on the pedagogical skills of planning and delivering of lessons that take real account of their pupils’ strengths and weaknesses, tailoring activities to their needs as individuals and in groups, and with due attention to their care, that the subtlety of provision that can be provided on site, with a physical presence, defines what is truly an excellent education, which is regrettably, likely to elude any online provision.

We cannot predict the future, and we hope that the global route to recovery socially, medically and economically continues. The coming weeks will continue to remain a challenge, but we are sure that, by working together with the school community, that the children will benefit and enjoy the myriad learning experiences, punctuated by opportunities to recharge and pursue more open-ended activities, whether on-site or virtually, as we look towards the completion of this academic year.

Dr Edmonds


Head's Message

Head's Message

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The Hampshire School Chelsea

15 Manresa Road, Chelsea
London, SW3 6NB

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