Remote Teaching and Learning
St. Helen's College has remained open throughout all periods of lockdown for the children of critical workers and, more recently, for our Early Years classes too. The Covid pandemic did, however, force teaching and learning entirely online for some pupils.
We were extraordinarily well-equipped to move our educational provision online following the first lockdown announcement in March 2020.
We were already using Google Classroom for Flipped Learning tasks and homework, and most of our children were already familiar with this and other online systems. We quickly extended the use of Google Classroom and Google Meet for all classes from Reception to Year 6, surveyed parents to find out how we could best make online learning work for families, and developed an adapted timetable so that, for example, families with siblings in different year groups could have lunch and physical activity sessions at the same time.
For our Early Years classes (Ducklings and Nursery), we used the St. Helen's College Learning Portal and Tapestry to set activities and work online and we held 'keeping in touch' Google Meets so that the children continued to see their friends and teachers.
We are a very well equipped school and we quickly organised the free loan of school devices for any family whose child(ren) did not have their own device for online learning, for as long as required.
We taught our full curriculum. Although we kept largely to the usual school timetable, time was set aside every day for physical activity.
Our teaching and learning support staff continued to assist in lessons and provided breakout sessions for those who needed additional help.
Throughout each period of lockdown, we monitored pupil engagement very closely and followed up with parents if we felt that a pupil could better engage with their online learning. Our form teachers continued to hold pupil tutorials to monitor pupils' wellbeing and engagement, and our school counsellor remained available for one to one conversations with pupils who needed her. All pupils had opportunities, overseen by their teachers, to interact with their classmates daily. For all assemblies, lessons and Meets, all staff and children had their cameras on so that we could all see each other and interact fully.
We also made plenty of 'keeping in touch' fun videos, including story time and song videos for younger children, to promote wellbeing and our ever strong community spirit.
Our online teaching and learning approach included a combination of:
- Live online lessons with class and specialist teachers.
- Pre-recorded videos, or offline tasks, accompanied by an online optional Meet for children with their teacher if they need further explanation or support.
- Set project work.
- Teachers assessing/marking work and providing constant oral and written feedback to children to recognise effort and achievement and to encourage improvement.
- Regular (at least twice weekly) assemblies to promote school values, mark festivals and national events, celebrate pupil achievements and pupil birthdays and so on.
- Special online events/workshops such as online author visits, charity assemblies or celebrity visits.
- Moving our annual competitions online, including our annual Singing Competition and our annual Speech Competition.
- Setting online challenges for the children, including sport/physical activity challenges, 'Name the Place' challenges and promoting local and national competitions (in which our children are very successful!).
- Monitoring pupil work and pupil progress closely.
We are delighted that our children continued to make excellent progress throughout the periods of lockdown.