Deputy head: School's teachers have gone 'above and beyond' during Covid pandemic
- Credit: Redden Court School
"The past year has been a steep learning curve for most teachers that nobody could have been fully prepared for."
The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on everyone's lives and, for Redden Court School and deputy headteacher Scott Carrington, it is no different.
The secondary school, in Cotswold Road, Harold Wood, has delivered more than 1,500 live online lessons since the beginning of January.
Staff have pre-recorded hours of video content and come up with interactive lessons such as creating maps in geography and carrying out live experiments in science.
Scott said: "Our teachers have been amazing, going above and beyond to embrace online lessons to ensure that our students get the best possible learning experience.
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"They have adapted lessons, plans and resources to teach in a completely different way out of their comfort zone.
"Many teachers have surprised themselves with how much they have enjoyed live lessons and they are exploring new tools and methods each day to maximise the learning experience of our students.
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"There are also some students who have found new ways to express themselves in live lessons that they have not been able to do in class."
The school has been affected by Covid-19 infections among its staff, with Scott experiencing a positive Covid case in his household during the pandemic and having to endure periods of self-isolation.
"It has been tough at times and we are still learning to adapt each day," he admitted.
"With three daughters of primary school age, my wife and I are both balancing our jobs with home schooling and the other pressures that everyone is facing."
Redden Court's work saw it selected by the government in September as one of around 45 schools and colleges across the country to be an Edtech demonstrator.
These are establishments that have used technology effectively and were chosen to help other schools with this work during the pandemic.
Scott said: "At Redden Court, we have always believed that our job is to prepare students for their future endeavours and technology will continue to play a huge role in their careers and personal life.
"It is vital that students are given opportunities to use emerging technologies safely and effectively."
It has been holding online meetings with other schools to share resources and advice on using technology, which Scott admitted can be "very daunting", as well as training opportunities for staff.
"We are there to answer any questions and what the schools value the most is speaking to someone who has already been through many of the challenges they are facing."
Redden Court also has a wellbeing programme in place, which sees staff make regular calls with families and carry out home visits in some cases.
Mentors support 'high need' students with virtual meetings, counselling and the offer of on-site provision while all students can access an online wellbeing hub.
Scott said: "Through regular surveys sent to our parents, carers and students, we are able to monitor their wellbeing and put appropriate measures in place to try and improve their mental health.
"When students are struggling with their learning in lockdown, they are able to communicate with their teachers online and speak with our pastoral teams so that we can offer solutions to support them."
Schools have had to close, except for children of key workers or those that are vulnerable, since the latest national lockdown began earlier this month.
This has seen many parents have to contend with home schooling and Scott said the school's advice is to have realistic expectations.
"It can be overwhelming for everyone in the family so just do the best that you can do.
"You are not expected to know the answers but, by showing an interest in your child’s work and providing a supportive and positive learning environment, you are helping your child."
Despite the pandemic's challenges, Scott said the school has been "overwhelmed" with the level of support from parents.
"I think we all appreciate the positive impact that schools have on children more than ever before and we look forward to them being back soon to socialise and learn important life skills and knowledge.
"Redden Court is a special place. We will continue to work together to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students and families."