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Learning through Lockdowns at KWS
Adaptability is baked into the DNA of Katherine Warington School and we met the challenges of both national lockdowns with resilience and positivity. We are incredibly proud of our remote school provision and how our students, with their customary resilience and fortitude, excelled at learning from home. The strength of our community and our ability to harness technology were key to this success.
Technology, Curriculum & Feedback
All our students have Chromebooks and are digitally literate in the Google education suite; this is a key focus in their first half term in Year 7. They use these on a daily basis in the classroom, which allowed for a seamless transition to accessing remote provision. Dongles were provided to any families with internet access issues.
As well as the Google education suite, both our staff and students were quick to embrace new technologies where we found they could add real value to learning, or in providing feedback, whilst students were at home.
For example, in maths staff used whiteboard.fi for live maths workings. Students could work on differentiated sets of questions whilst our teachers and Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) monitored their work in real time, providing immediate feedback, both verbally and through personal comments, as well as adapting the lessons to ensure all continued to make progress.
Our English staff provided personalised verbal feedback on students’ submitted work using Mote, a google classroom add on.
In Science our teachers used Nearpod to deliver a greater range of engaging activities in their live lessons, from card matches to quizzes and ‘fill in the gaps’ tasks. Nearpod enabled them to live monitor each of the activities to ensure student engagement and provide really valuable assessment for learning.
Our LSAs were able to actively support students in real time, by working with them in google breakout rooms, or joining the live lesson with them and providing direct feedback to them on whiteboard.fi or their ‘in progress’ google assignments. In addition they worked closely with individuals or small groups of vulnerable students in school.
The curriculum followed at home remained largely the same as in school. We were able to increase our delivery of live lessons over time, and appropriately to best suit the curriculum objectives. Students’ achievements at home were considerable; below are some examples of some science (make your own Acid/Alkali detector using red cabbage) and art work produced.
Community, Safeguarding & Wellbeing
What we achieved in our remote provision was only possible due to the unity and strength of our school community. Foremost, our students, who despite the pressures the circumstances put on their shoulders, demonstrated high attendance and fantastic engagement with remote learning. Secondly, thanks must go to the supportive parents/carers behind each of those engaged students, whose encouragement and communication were key in enabling us to deliver tailored provision for all our students. And lastly, but by no means least, our staff, who responded to intense challenges with such constant positivity, energy and care.
Our in-school provision for students of key workers and vulnerable students increased over each of the lockdowns, to ensure we provided the support to those who needed it. Most students in school accessed remote learning in a socially distanced manner from the hall, with additional small group provision as needed.
Daily tracking of those not attending live lessons or submitting tasks set each day meant our pastoral and admin teams could quickly identify any concerns or issues and make proactive contact home, working with families to provide support as needed. This gave us a daily picture from which to work to safeguard the mental health and wellbeing of our students as they worked remotely. It also enabled us to ensure our students were adequately supported to access work, and identify any students who might need a nudge to continue to achieve to their full potential.
In February 2021 we had a wellbeing focus week where our normal timetable was changed to allow every afternoon to be devoted to a different student wellbeing activity – these ranged from going for a walk and other mindful tasks to taking action to care for others in the local community. Staff and students in school created a rainbow of rocks, 405 in total, each carrying the name of our students and members of staff. With rainbows very much the symbol of hope in lockdown, we wanted to create something to represent our whole school community and its strength, even when we were not all together.
Despite the lockdown, the final half term of summer 2020 was a busy one for KWS, as we moved into our new school building and ran an exemplary online transition day. Preparation for the online day included access to online platforms being diligent checked the day before the event, and our vulnerable and/or disadvantaged students being invited in. The day itself was an exciting variety of activities, all conducted online. They ranged from the Head’s welcome, to engaging subject taster lessons, fun form activities and more independent reflective tasks. Each student also got to meet three other members of their new form for a ‘snack and chat google meet’ facilitated by a member of staff.
Inspiring Super Curriculum
Whilst lockdown was tough, with juggles of work and family life hard for so many, we were keen to adapt our super curriculum offer so that it continued to shine through and inspire our students and the wider community.
Students had the opportunity to participate in a number of national competitions from home including the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge in June 2020, the Oxford Computing Challenge in February 2021 and the Poetry by Heart competition in March 2021. They were encouraged to access a range of available National Theatre productions online and one of our PE teachers became our very own Joe Wicks, running twice weekly fitness sessions online for both students and parents/carers. In addition, and just for parents/carers, we began online Mandarin classes to support parents/carers to both understand what their children are learning in the subject, and to master the basics of conversational