Due to the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in, the need for a robust remote learning provision is more critical than ever. In the summer, the entire country was plunged into lockdown requiring the need for all pupils across the country to be educated from home, and this is a situation that we may well find ourselves in again.
Thankfully, Derby Grammar was well prepared, as we were able to switch to a completely remote schooling system, ensuring that we did not rely on parents to teach. This system is still in place, and able to be switched back to if another lockdown does take place.
With our remote learning, we aim to emulate as much of school as possible, to try and reduce disruption for our pupils. We are able to provide strong academic structure, pastoral care, and co curricular enrichment. As well as host whole school and house assemblies, and house competitions. Those who need them are provided with Chromebooks in order to access the remote working. We also provide technical support to parents and pupils as needed.
We ensured that the requirement on parents was as minimal as possible, using real-time teaching without relying on print outs, with specific subject teachers rather than week long projects to try and encapsulate numerous subjects. The individual subject lessons were able to be imaginative by using everyday objects you’d find around the home, in lessons such as maths and science. Pupils were also able to engage with sports lessons as part of their curriculum as normal, and were encouraged to pursue outdoor learning.
Within the Primary School it was important to try and keep as much consistency in the daily routine of our Primary pupils as possible. Daily contact with pupils was held on Google Classroom, having daily registration in the morning, and then ongoing communication throughout the day to maintain progress checking and support. Weekly tutor group meetings were held on a Monday morning, using Teams. This meant that pupils had the opportunity to informally interact with teachers, as well as socially interact with other pupils.
We provided live Teams lessons, which meant that pupils were able to interact with staff in real-time. This was supported by work provided on Google Drive. Pupils had an electronic exercise book where they were able to type up their work. This was marked daily and children were given immediate feedback. Activities were made as practical as possible so that children had a mixture of digital and physical learning. This included learning new skills such as weighing and measuring in maths.
Regular virtual workshops were set up for children who needed additional support and pupils were usually able to access these on a one to one basis.
We kept in regular communication with parents, and were contactable throughout the school day.
The academic provision for pupils at Derby Grammar was of key importance, so work was provided each day, released at 9am, to follow their usual timetable.
The backbone of this was Microsoft Teams meetings, where work was provided in documents that were able to be accessed and assessed by staff in real time, allowing for real time feedback.
Multiple discussion groups for feedback were held. These took place pupil to teacher, but also pupil to pupil, as it was important to not lose the ability to interact with other pupils when creating work.
To continue consistency, pupils had their marked work back within 5 working days in order to help sustain as many in school routines as possible.
Alongside academia, enrichment opportunities and activities were also provided.
When we headed into lockdown we quickly established ways we would support the emotional wellbeing of our pupils.
One of our strengths as a school is our sense of community, often likened to that of a family, and we realised the need to replicate the pastoral support we offer on a daily basis in a virtual manner. Via Google Classroom we set up virtual tutor groups which allowed the Form Tutor to have daily contact with their tutees. Pupils were expected to register each morning by 9am. If they didn’t, a follow up call home was made to ensure the pupil was well and didn’t have any barriers to learning.
At least once a week tutors held a live registration session with their tutees. A weekly pastoral letter and quiz was emailed to parents on a Friday to keep the sense of community going.
During lockdown the School continued to offer Co-Curricular opportunities to pupils. The annual House Competition was completed with two new virtual events.
The House Photograph Competition produced some tremendously artistic entries from pupils throughout the School and the House Comedy Competition saw pupils submitting imaginative entries, including sketches which pupils filmed and uploaded. Peripatetic instrumental lessons were delivered remotely throughout the summer and pupils continued to work towards achieving their Duke of Edinburgh Awards achieving success at Bronze, Silver and Gold level.
As part of the lockdown activities, DGS Creative joined together for a unique project. Pupils were asked to make an instrument utilising their DT skills, as well as their problem solving and initiative in order to find materials around the home. Next, they were asked to decorate their instrument in a certain art style, again using implements in the home. Finally, they were able to rehearse and eventually record their instrument.
This project was born from our Heads of Department in DT, Art, and Music, in order to ensure these subjects were still accessible whilst in lockdown.
The final product was then collated by our Head of Music, Mr Coley, who has created a masterpiece.