Distance Learning is incredibly challenging for all school stakeholders! At Repton International School, pupils showed adaptability, resilience and great work ethic so that their learning was not impacted when lessons happened over the internet instead of face-to-face. Communicating online is more difficult than in person, yet pupils here at Repton engaged in debates and presentations virtually. My highlight of the year was IBDP pupils presenting elite Theory of Knowledge topics to a panel of teachers and peers and defending their ideas in a Zoom debate that gave rise to high level questions beyond the initial topic plan. Often teachers started with one question, prompting participation from other pupils, triggering discussions on into subsequent lessons.
The tyranny of the small screen means that traditional teaching is not possible. Teachers trialed a huge range of new technologies to enthuse and engage pupils, and made sure pupils performed at the highest level. Platforms such as languagenut, quizlet, blooket and kahoot were used across numerous subjects. Enhanced skills in both technology and communication have been vital on both sides of the teacher-pupil partnership: eg using Padlet to work on the same project, a whole class contributing simultaneously to one document. In languages, pupils were guided through virtual textbooks and completed listening activities remotely: some even thought the peace and quiet away from noisy learning classrooms made it easier to make progress sometimes!
Attendance was over 95% in SS (similar in JS) and more than 90% of work set was submitted solidly, extraordinary figures our local and international benchmarking confirms puts us far above other schools - in fact these are figures that would be very sound in an in-person context! Pupils jumped from one online lesson to the next immediately; they had to make sure the work was completed and submitted without teachers proximally present and reminding them - a real development of self-tasking and self-responsibility. File management replaced bag packing but is the same skill. Distance Learning has been a great opportunity to coach our pupils’ self-management.
Inevitably, as everywhere globally, too much of the day is spent sitting. Despite this challenge, PE motivated children to take part in fun, active fitness sessions online. And challenges were set: some eager individuals recorded more than 20,000 steps daily, during an MCO - that’s a lot of laps of the living room! I joked with one boy that he had put his FitBit on the dog to cheat; he showed me on camera the sedentary animal on the sofa and said “The dog moves a lot less than me, Mr Arnaud! And he doesn’t even have classes to slow him down!”
Despite multiple challenges, we are incredibly proud of the fact that our pupils continued their learning journey doggedly (forgive the pun), enthusiastically, insightfully, and with great humour. Our great IGCSE results were no surprise to me given the superb quality of our pupils’ involvement in our great Distance Learning programme!
Arnaud Germain, Pastoral Coordinator
Repton International School