Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the phrase ‘guided home learning’ has become part of our everyday vocabulary.
Following a GDST specific approach to school life during this unique time, we are committed to ensure we remain a community, built on strong relationships between staff, pupils and parents. None of us had any idea how this would work out, but here at Nottingham Girls’ High School we are thrilled with its success.
Progressive, creative, different
We have always been proud of the fact that we are a progressive, forward thinking school at the forefront of 21st century technology. Our classrooms have interactive whiteboards where Google Classroom and other technologies are always in use. The girls already have their own iPads and are totally familiar with, and comfortable in, the digital world. So once Google Classroom was up and running, there was no stopping our progress. Aided by the dedication and hard work of our staff in putting together a flexible timetable and lesson plans for this new way of teaching and learning, we continued our mission of providing the best possible education for our girls, as we have always done. This was made even easier by the girls’ enthusiasm and willingness to embrace their new home classrooms. We sought feedback from parents and girls throughout the period, and have made changes along the way, taking their suggestions on board. Increasing videos and live lessons for our younger girls for example. And our parent community could not be happier with how things have been going, as you can see from just a few of the very many positive comments we have received:
Lessons to be learnt
And so lessons began and the work came flooding in, and we could not be more impressed with the high standard of what the girls have been producing and their level of engagement. From amazing artwork to inventive science experiments, from creative Geography projects to exhausting fitness routines, our girls have been and still are, on it! Even our enrichment clubs continue to run online with girls getting together for such fun things as Pet Club and Movie Club.
We are of course, acutely aware of the needs of our Year 11 girls particularly at this time, with such disruption to the exam season. Their futures should not have to suffer because of current circumstances. Between our expert teaching and learning staff and with the help of the GDST, we have a programme in place which will help the girls move forward and bridge this gap. You can read the Building Bridges blog at this link.
Two of the biggest success stories to come out of guided home learning during the lockdown period have to be the epic music collaborations which you can read about here, and the remarkable Summer Exhibition to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Girls from Nursery through to Year 8 were tasked with producing creative work in over 20 categories including baking and cake decorating, stop motion animation, painting and drawing, and even dressing up. Research has shown us that girls learn best when they can engage in a subject deeply, so themed project work is ideal. The girls loved it and grab opportunities with both hands, immersing themselves totally in the required tasks. The results speak for themselves as you can see in the Summer Exhibition gallery. The judges, made up of an inspirational group of alumnae, governors and GDST colleagues had their work cut out in choosing winners, but we know that ALL of the participants are winners here.
Face to face
Of course we are aware that there is nothing quite like being in the classroom, being face to face with friends and teachers, enjoying the fun and camaraderie that is an essential part of successful school life. Again, current technology has made this possible in a safe and responsible way. Girls across all year groups have been meeting up with staff, with friends and with each other via Zoom, Facetime, Google Meets or any other such social media platforms. The joy on their faces is palpable. The essential relationships between girls and staff must have no barriers, especially during these challenging times. Providing feedback, support, praise and encouragement as well as fun and laughter ensures that our girls still feel very much part of the NGHS family, the school community. And indeed the same must be said for the staff too. Virtual staff room meetings and gatherings have become a way of life in this strange new world.
So for the time being we must all make the best of these unusual circumstances. Our hearts go out to the girls for whom this year should have been their last in school, whose exams have been jeopardised but whose futures are not. We believe that guided home learning at NGHS has delivered the very best education we can possibly provide under the circumstances. And as things slowly start to change and the school comes to life again, we will proudly reflect on how well we as a whole, as the NGHS community of girls, staff and parents have notched up another success story.