THE START OF ‘BACK TO SCHOOL’
The school is now partially open to a limited number of Year 10 and 12 Pupils. Our Key worker provision continues as normal. Read more here….
The single question that has been at the forefront of all teacher, parent and pupil minds since the start of lockdown has been ‘When can I get back to school’. Finally, we have the start of some answers. The Government has asked us to look at providing some opportunities for students in Years 10 and 12 to have some face to face time with their teachers, beginning on June 15th. Since March, all 10 and 12 students at West Bridgford have been following almost their normal timetable and interacting every day with their teachers within the Virtual Classroom. We feel this has worked very well, and we are grateful for all the positive feedback from students and parents which has confirmed this. I feel that we can be proud of the provision the school and its staff has provided during this time, and the way its pupils have engaged with the live, virtual lessons.
However, this easing of the school closure now gives us an opportunity to enhance this outstanding provision and fill in some gaps.
YEAR 10 AND 12 - CARRYING ON WITH VIRTUAL SCHOOL … IN SCHOOL.
We know that some students – for a variety of reasons – have struggled to cope in the circumstances. Pastoral staff have been in regular phone contact with a number of young people, but coming in to school could make a huge difference to them. We will contact these families directly. These students will be based in computer rooms and still be working on their virtual lessons as before, but with teachers and pastoral staff available to have some catch-up sessions in person.
As well as contacting the students we have already identified, all students in years 10 and 12 have a chance to let us know if they would be interested in coming in to school for some days to carry out their Virtual Classroom work in school. The size of the response will define how this works out. We’re interested to see what the students want – it may be that a change of scenery and the (strictly) controlled chance to see some of their peers is what they need.
DRIVEN BY NEED – PRACTICAL WORKSHOP SESSIONS
We also know that there are some aspects of some subjects that don’t work very well over the internet, so we will also be inviting small groups in over the remaining weeks of the term for practical workshops in subjects such as Art, Music, Technology etc. This will be by personal invite emails. This will be for both Year 10 and Year 12 groups. When students are in school for these sessions they will miss out on their virtual lessons and have to catch-up later.
Teachers and students are ready for the chance to properly assess the work they have done so far this year, as part of the normal process towards examinations next summer. Our Brightspace system allows us to set up “proper” assessments (yes, no working together or “cheating”!) and we are currently engaged on setting these up. However, the opportunity is there for some groups to come in towards the end of term for a more traditional exam if we feel it would better. Staff will ensure that pupils will have plenty of advance notice what these assessments will focus on.
WORKING WITHIN THE GUIDELINES
The Government guidelines on reopening are very stringent. You may be interested in hearing just a few of them. The 2 metre Social Distancing rule is still in place and you can see the impact this has on a standard 30 seat IT classroom in the picture, taking the capacity down to less than 10 pupils in a 31 computer room. A rule is in place that a maximum of 25% of each year group is allowed in school at any time, thus on the days when groups are in completing practical NEA work, such as in Art or Music, we will have to reduce the numbers in the Computer Rooms. We are not allowed to run morning and afternoon rotas, as ‘deep-cleaning’ has to take place in every room, after every session. Thus much as we look forward to opening more extensively, our plans have to fit within some hugely restrictive guidelines, to ensure everybody’s safety.
WHY NOT PLAN FOR EVERYBODY TO BE IN AT SOME POINT IN JUNE/JULY?
Some parents and students might wonder why we are approaching this differently to many other schools, who are inviting groups in, in strict rotation for days of teaching. What is important is what works best for The West Bridgford School and its pupils. We are tremendously lucky to have gone ‘all in’ on a very high quality online platform several years ago, meaning we have been able to provide a full taught curriculum, in normal teaching groups for our Year 10 and 12 pupils. The restrictions on student numbers mean that we would have to suspend our existing virtual teaching timetable for June and July, in order to provide 1 day per week of face-to-face teaching per pupil in a very limited range of subjects. Students would go from 5 days of live-online teaching per week to 1 day of face-to-face teaching with a teacher who may not even be their class teacher. This point of principle, should we prioritise our successful online provision, at the expense of limited face-to-face time, was the thing we agonised over the most in our decision making, but feel that educationally it is the best route for our pupils, for this term.
YEAR 7, 8 AND 9
We have now had several weeks of ‘KS3 Virtual Curriculum v2.0’ with additional live sessions. Staff are reporting the excitement is still there during the sessions with pupil’s eager to engage with school. One of my sincerest hopes that our younger pupils will be able to return in September, as we want them to not just be able to be in their lessons, but see their friends and classmates, chat on the way to school and back, play sports, volunteer for exciting developments we have planned in Music and Drama, the list is endless.
We have been over-whelmed with the response from our Year 11 pupils, and the Virtual Classroom Transition sessions that are now live. I have reports of sessions being 100% full PLUS another 10% as pupils drop in to take the lesson, even if they haven’t chosen it at A Level ‘because it sounded interesting’. Kudos. Mr Bowie will launch his sessions next week on making the most effective jump from Year 11 to Year 12.
So – the next phase in our very strange Spring and Summer is about to begin. The gardens are looking resplendent and I am looking forward to increasing our numbers in school, beyond our keyworker children. I’m in most days now, as are my leadership team, and the most repeated phrase is ‘I can’t wait till the kids are back in’. We really mean that, and look forward to welcoming all 1600+ pupils back as the situation allows.
Of course we are also trying to plan for September and who knows what that will look like!