As summer holidays beckon and teachers log out of their last zoom lessons, Westonbirt Head, Natasha Dangerfield, reflects on how quickly the school, now co-ed, adapted to life online:
I am immensely proud of the consistent online education we provided this term. Embedding a robust digital timetable at Easter, teachers delivered face-to-face lessons throughout lockdown with daily tutor sessions, virtual assemblies and even early morning Breakfast and Politics sessions plus some of our after school clubs, via zoom.
We know that children respond to consistency. In times of uncertainty, teenagers need routine and predictability is a powerful stabiliser. Each student will navigate their educational journey differently; some are highly motivated, others less engaged. Individuality is their rite of passage but, as educators, we have a responsibility to create consistency, because that is the one thing teenagers may struggle to establish for themselves.
At Westonbirt, our size and ethos allows us to work alongside each student, guiding with purpose while empowering them to drive their own route to success. It is this individualised approach and perhaps access to the hidden curriculum which can so easily be lost in an online environment. It is testament to the passion and dedication of our teaching staff and our motivated student body, that this did not happen and so supporting the continued progress that children have the right to make.
In addition to lessons, students were met for online chats with tutors over hot chocolate, GCSE and A level students were reassured with a programme preparing them for the next stage of their education and the whole school came together for celebration notices online at the end of the week.
After a well-deserved break over summer, we are looking forward to welcoming students back through the doors of Westonbirt in September. I hope that there won’t be cause to lockdown again, but if we do, I am confident we have established an online system that delivers not only a great education, but also reinforces that the caring community is at the heart of all we do at Westonbirt.