Before I start, I want to acknowledge the obvious … that it is not an ideal situation to be the Head of a school that is currently ‘closed’, or for the team to be providing remote learning and support for our young people, rather than seeing them in real life every day.
School…but at home…?
Since the UK went into lockdown and we had our last day, for the time being, on 20th March 2020, we have had to rethink how we connect with our students and their families while they (and we) are stuck at home.
We made the decision to move to a combination of paper-based and online learning, with daily phone calls and twice weekly video calls to every student, including over the time that would have been the Easter Holidays. Over the last few weeks it has been really interesting to see how the students have taken to this new way of doing ‘school’.
Adam has been making daily phone calls to all of our students … sometimes he speaks to parents because the young person has decided they have something better to do … sometimes it ends up that the student puts the phone in a plant pot and walks away. The rest of the time, he’s chatting away with the young people, finding out how they are getting on with school work and how they create ways to spend their time, or how they are dealing with the emotional ups and downs of the lockdown.
The amount of school work being done has been interesting, with particular students (naming no names) claiming to have done more work at home than they do at school (hmmm … l’ll remember that)! To be fair, I’ve had the pleasure of having a student’s presentation about the therapeutic benefits of working with horses delivered to me via video call, and have done field work surveying lichen on trees with another student taking me around on their phone.
Video calls have been funny, awkward, glitchy, and incredibly enlightening. Nick, Adam, and I, have had virtual tours of students’ homes, met siblings and other family members, and shared video calls with pets.
Gizmo the guinea pig has enjoyed taking part in video calls … I think! Students have played us the music they like, have told us about latest memes … and, yes, we’ve even squeezed in the odd Maths lesson.
Would I have thought it would go as well as it has? No!
Would I want to ‘do school’ this way in the future? Absolutely not!
What this whole experience has taught me is how resilient and adaptable our young people, families, and staff team are … but nothing beats being in the woods!