Pocklington School

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Emily Frankish

Cath Sweeting at Pocklington Prep School talks about how Prep School pupils and teachers have adapted to a new way of teaching during lockdown.

A school project on Goodnight Mr Tom

We ventured into this new way of learning as a school community with a measure of uncertainty, not knowing how long we would be away or how we would all adapt. We did, however, immediately recognise the opportunities that this way of working could offer and we sought, from the outset, to embed independence and creativity into everything we provided for our pupils.

We needed even our youngest pupils to embrace the technology to be able to access the learning and we were amazed by the speed at which the children got to grips with accessing and uploading work, responding to verbal and digital feedback and taking part in live lessons.

The realisation that pupils could easily manipulate the technology in place allowed us to push the expectations in terms of what they could achieve, for themselves, during this phase of home learning. We began to adapt our planned activities and include more open-ended tasks designed to teach the pupils just as much about our Pocklington Values as about the curricular content they were studying.

The outcome of this approach has been incredible; we have received such an array of work – from an authentic-looking, life-sized sloth enclosure using one pupil’s existing climbing frame, to wonderful story written by another pupil about a naturalist befriending an aggressive crocodile deep in the rainforest. No two pupils have approached their work in the same way. No two pieces of work are the same.

A lego viking ship

Framed by a weekly learning overview which details live and recorded lessons, pupils can ‘map out’ their study time over the course of the week with an emphasis on individual preference and freedom. Some pupils choose to spread their learning over the course of the day, whilst others start early and aim to finish by the afternoon.

The weekly structure takes into account the age and stage of a pupil so it is very typical to find a small group of pupils taking part in a ‘pop up’ guided maths session to better understand a new concept, in addition to their whole-class live lessons.

Likewise, our learning support provision continues with a full programme of targeted support with fun weekly themes such as ‘Wear a Funny Hat Week’.

Harnessing global events has also been a crucial feature of our provision and pupils have felt a strong sense of purpose when completing tasks throughout the term. We came together, virtually, to remember VE Day, with many pupils sharing experiences of their own family members and older people in their community producing superb written accounts. More recent Black Lives Matter events have provided a timely reminder for the need to focus on anti-racism and equality. We continue to plan in opportunities for pupils to ask questions, discuss their thoughts and conduct their own research at an age appropriate level. Parents have fully supported our work in this area: "This is, in our opinion, absolutely the most important thing we should all be teaching our children now, and I’m reassured that as a school you’re showing leadership in this area."

Indeed, all children are offered challenges and extension tasks to develop their own ideas and knowledge and to pursue a topic in a way that interests them. Pupils have reupholstered furniture, written ‘I have a dream..’ speeches, filmed their own diary entries in full costume, created Minecraft worlds, built miniature houses, planted seeds and harvested vegetables…The list goes on!

We continue to be flexible in our approach, responding to the needs of pupils which we have found have changed over time. Pupils miss the social interaction and the collaborative way of working that comes naturally in school. As the school continues to open back up to more pupils, we realise how much we have missed the sound of their happy voices around the site.

Girl with magic potion

Parental support has been crucial throughout and the task of supporting their children at home is certainly no mean feat. We continue to be amazed at the way they are juggling their own busy lives and guiding their children through their learning. We retain the close connections between home and school through regular phone calls with parents who value the time to discuss their child and share important information.

Indeed, feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive:

We are very impressed with the school and the provisions for home learning. We have friends with children at lots of other schools and Pocklington definitely seems like one of the best home learning offerings that we have come across.’

I just wanted to say Thank you for making this half term’s remote learning a success for us. I'm really proud of our daughter and how well she has been working. We have got into a routine and the weeks tend to run smoothly. I have been impressed with the way things have worked for our daughter and can see how much work must have gone into organising it all.

Thank you for setting very inspiring task, our son thoroughly enjoyed this as did I.
As a result, we have finally got him engaged in bedtime reading. What a fabulous recommendation!

Thank you to all the pupils and parents for sending a wonderful array of photos documenting this home learning phase – please keep them coming in! You can see a full gallery of our lockdown learning on Flickr here.

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