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Staff and Students Rise to the Return of Remote Learning

The remote Lent Term is now well underway with staff and parents commending the resilience and motivation demonstrated by students who are adapting and taking greater responsibility for their own learning.

Deputy Head, Matt Buckland said “It has been relatively easy to slip back into virtual schooling as everyone is now familiar with the software and routine from the first lockdown. I’m immensely proud of the adaptability of our students and staff. Both have gone out of their way to buy into the process and make it a success through the range of opportunities offered.”

Although it has been easier to get virtual schooling off the ground again, Mr Buckland reports that “In many ways this lockdown is harder because of the time of year and we have learnt that there are greater pastoral needs. In response to this we have given greater flexibility in the timetable to allow students to get outside during daylight hours, reduced lesson durations to allow for screen breaks and for students to stretch and move about.” In response to parent communications during the last lockdown, lunch has been extended to ensure enough time for student to clear away after their meal! We have also reduced prep to reduce overall screen time and workload.

Communication between parents and tutors continue to support the learning and well-being of Bloxham students. Mr Buckland says “Lockdowns have reminded us just how important the role of the tutor is in the pastoral support we are offering. We have given more unstructured communication time within tutor periods so students can see each other face-to-face, allowing them to continue communicating with peers.”

Mr Buckland not only brings his perspective as Deputy Head and a geography teacher, but as the father of two children at Bloxham, both who have responded to the experience differently: “My experiences identify the importance of treating each student as an individual as we all have different Covid stories and experiences. That is why the role of the tutor is really critical, so we can adapt and so we can listen.”

The teaching staff have been working hard to develop innovative methods of delivering lessons which still provide the students with hands on experiences and limit direct screen time with a variety of activities. One example of an ‘outside the box’ lesson is a biology lesson where Miss Lafford will be directing students on how to dissect a chicken wing at home.

Head of Chemistry, Simon Floate, has explained how his department have redeveloped schemes of work for each year group which can be worked through remotely, aiming for 4 or 5 different activities each lesson which develop different skills. “Students are completing shorter discrete tasks which are varied from writing to maths, reading comprehension, note taking, wordsearch, website research and informational videos. The combination of on and off-screen activities helps to keep the students engaged with each lesson.

As an example, Dr Floate’s Second Form students have been looking at chemical reactions and in last week’s lesson they were exploring matter and how it cannot be created or destroyed. They did this by creating Lego models from building blocks, weighing them, dismantling them and weighing them again.

We are also looking forward to some kitchen chemistry in other year groups so that students can experience chemical reactions safely in their own homes, whilst giving them practical subject experience.” For the more complex chemical reactions, Dr Floate has been able to use a visualiser in his lab to demonstrate to his Sixth Form students.

The Broader Curriculum is also being delivered virtually with a wide range of activities and clubs on offer, for example there are two art competitions currently available to students and Mr Harvey’s Family Feed once again has proven popular.

Mr Buckland has commented on and thanked parents for the brilliant support received during this time. One parent expressed their gratitude via email saying, “I just wanted to say many thanks to all of you for providing our children with a wonderful education, whether it be at school or at home. Both my children have reported of interaction with other classmates online which has pleased them enormously!”. Another remarked, “You and your team are doing an amazing job where the goal posts are moving daily. You have my utmost admiration.”

We love to hear good news stories from the remote Bloxham community. If you are a parent or student and would like to report on an interesting or inspiring remote lesson or activity, then please get in touch ([email protected]).