During the pandemic, it has been a major task for all those involved and working at King’s to keep the quality of teaching provision high and none more so that the teaching staff who are on the ‘front line’ teaching numerous classes of different pupils every day.
We thought it might be of interest to OVs who remember a more traditional style of teaching at King’s School than is happening currently, as necessitated by the restrictions of covid for social distancing, year group ‘bubbles’ and hygiene. We asked Simon Cuthbertson (Hon OV), Head of Geography, to share with us some of his thoughts and reflections on teaching during the pandemic:
“These have certainly been challenging times.
Having spent the summer term teaching classes from the confines of our own homes, it was a great relief to return in September and see pupils in our classrooms again.
Staff have continuously been pushed out of their comfort zone and the learning curve has probably been its steepest since teacher training (quite a few years ago for some!) We have had to plan for the likely, the unlikely; the expected, the unexpected. Staff have learned to master iPads, Firefly, Teams and Sims * whilst simultaneously teaching pupils in their classrooms as well as those at home via video link who are self-isolating. Things became more interesting when some teachers had to self-isolate resulting in their lessons being beamed from their home into their classroom (sometimes with the added interest of staff young children running riot in the background). And then there has been the relentless cleaning routines at the start and end of every lesson…
In many ways it is extraordinary that King’s has remained in full operation since lockdown. Everyone – teaching and non-teaching staff, pupils & parents – has played their part to make this possible. The school site still looks a little unusual with marquees separating each year group bubble, the one-way systems, and everyone wearing face coverings, but the beating heart of the school remains strong. At a time when staff have been forced to distance, when social gatherings have stopped, trips cancelled, and meetings taken place remotely, it would be easy to feel detached. Far from it: there is a sense of resilience, sense of optimism about the future and this shared experience has united the staff body. Have we found it difficult? – yes; are there things that we miss? – of course; will we be stronger once normality returns? – definitely.”
Simon Cuthbertson, Hon OV
* Teams- a Microsoft communication tool (including video) to support students and staff remotely
Firefly- our central online hub for students, staff and parents for work submission, resource sharing
SIMS- our School Information Management System database for timetabling, report writing and registers.
The pupils themselves have also been very appreciative of the continuing teaching, especially for those who have had to self-isolate this term. Two such pupils expressed their appreciation and shared with us, how the change in teaching access meant they weren’t ‘left behind’ when having to isolate at home :
“Having access to all of my lessons online at a time of self-isolation meant that I never missed a word the teacher said. The system the school installed allowed me to see the notes the teachers were making and hear them simultaneously to ensure my education was not diminished which was essential when starting the A Level courses.
The use of Teams granted the teachers access to share their screen with me if a PowerPoint was being displayed and still allowed me to ask questions, to which the teachers could respond to, if I didn’t understand something that was said in class. Being able to engage in lessons and have access to all of the online textbooks prevented me from falling behind in my subjects which was a huge relief as the whole process of self-isolation would have been far more difficult.”
“I hadn’t imagined starting the school year working from home, however, despite having to isolate for the first three weeks of term due to contracting coronavirus, I was still able to keep up with schoolwork thanks to King’s remote learning system. It was such a relief to not fall behind in classes, especially at the start of my A Level courses. Although it took some getting used to, teachers swiftly adapted to all the new technology and were quick to make adjustments, where needed to improve my remote learning experience.
At the end of the first half-term, I was extremely grateful for the remote learning system that King’s has in place. Without it, I would have spent the last few weeks rushing to catch up with work I had missed, and I doubt I would have been as pleased with the grades that I have achieved.”
And finally, we have heard from a number of parents who applauded the adaptability of our wonderful teaching staff in learning and implementing new ways of teaching the pupils in their care:
“I wanted to share my massive appreciation to your team in supporting my child and her peers during these difficult times. The commitment, professionalism, humour, dedication and enthusiasm shown to everyone by your team has been second to none.”
King’s Senior parent, Mrs Killman
“Thank you to all of our daughter’s teachers for the commitment and effort put in during this time….the resources and support shown by yourselves has been excellent!”
King’s Senior Parent, Mr and Mrs Martin
“I applaud the staff for their creativity in adapting so swiftly and I have been so impressed with their patience, enthusiasm, and encouragement to the students.”
King’s Senior Parent, Mrs Pollock
We also want to extend our own huge ‘Thank You’ to the amazing work of our teachers and the support staff here at King’s and we wish them a well-earned break when the Christmas holidays arrive.