A student-centric response to Covid-19

Posted: 30th March 2021

A leading response that puts pupils first

Westbourne has prioritised the safety and wellbeing of all students since the UK first went into lockdown, whilst also continuing to provide an unrivalled educational experience.

We were delighted to safely welcome Reception, Year 1 and 2 back to the classroom in February, and all remaining pupils in March. Our Prep school students enjoyed an extended Spring term in order to give them an extra week to settle back into the classroom and re-establish social bonds, and our nursery remained open throughout lockdown.

We have ensured the highest levels of pupil safety at all times so that students feel supported, protected, and able to continue unhindered in their studies.

Ensuring student wellbeing

We take the happiness and wellbeing of our students very seriously, and the small size of our school community means that everyone cares for and looks out for each other. The school has rigorous mental health and student wellbeing mechanisms in place to ensure that all of our students, particularly our Boarders and international students who are away from home, feel supported.

During lockdown, our pupils adapted to new ways of learning and interacting with incredible resilience and enthusiasm, and the entire Westbourne community has come back to school stronger and more united.

Watch our students, from Prep to IB, talking about their return to school.







Our student-centric initiatives

Westbourne successfully implemented a number of initiatives as part of our pandemic response in order to support all students both academically and personally at the highest level, including:

1. The launch of Westbourne Online

We appointed a Director of Online Education in November 2019, meaning that Westbourne was in a unique position to move quickly and seamlessly to a full online offering from the first day of the national lockdown.

With older students (Year 3 to Year 13) provided with personalised support via Google Classroom and younger children (Nursery to Year 2) through SeeSaw, we were able to provide intensive online learning for all ages, including classroom teaching, group learning sessions, and wellbeing sessions (including outdoor sport, wellness and creative activities) throughout lockdown.

In 2020, we integrated Century Tech as part of Westbourne Online. Century is a groundbreaking online learning platform, backed by AI and the latest thinking in neuroscience and learning science, which generates tailored mini-lessons to improve students’ understanding of topics taught in class.

Century offers students limitless opportunities to extend their learning in English, Maths and the Sciences, all with full teacher support. Westbourne is one of the first schools in South Wales to use AI-assisted learning.
“When we found out we were going to be working from home the teachers got us all on Google Classroom and they each gave us a taster of the work we would be doing going forward. It was very, very easy actually to adjust! We got just as much work done as we usually would in our normal lessons.”
Covid-19 coronavirus response leading independent school Wales

George, Year 6

2. Unparalleled pastoral support

Westbourne initiated regular contact between teachers and students throughout lockdown to offer guidance and support to all students, both academic and personal.

Students have reported how much they enjoyed the online learning experience as a result of still feeling closely connected to the school and their teachers. This support also extended to parents and guardians, with the same level of open door access available via online parents evenings and 1-2-1 Zoom catch up sessions.

3. Continuity of care for our Boarders

Westbourne’s unique guardianship arrangement ensured the continuity of care within the boarding house, or existing host families, throughout the initial stages of the pandemic. Students remained amongst friends, with parents safe in the knowledge that the boarding school remained fully open and staffed.

Facilities remained open throughout lockdown for those students who were not able to get flights home due to the pandemic – a testament to the school’s nurturing character and the closeness of the Westbourne school community. This was a source of great comfort to those students who were worried about where they would live or who they would turn to for emotional support during a highly sensitive, worrying time when many of them were also preparing for exams.

“As a boarder, I was initially concerned about how boarding was going to function under this difficult time and especially during lockdown. However, I was quickly comforted by the boarding house’s welcoming and supportive atmosphere and was pleased to realise that our boarding parent’s (Ms Janette’s) friendly and caring approach remained even during these tough times.”
IB Boarding School

Matous (right), an IB1 Boarder

4. Personalised catch-up programmes

Westbourne offers personalised learning programmes for every student, which we are using to support new and existing students as they return to the physical classroom. We are not aware of any other schools offering this level of personalised learning support locally.

Designed on a bespoke basis in conjunction with the student and their parent/guardian, these programmes exemplify WB’s commitment to the importance of small classes, individualised learning and one-to-one attention from staff.

The programmes aim to identify the skills students have gained in lockdown, including any gaps in their knowledge, and set out measures to support, accelerate and build on this learning back at school. They enable the student to catch-up and ultimately thrive back at school again.

“I would praise the engagement of the teachers and the overall attitude. Also, the fact that children produce a lot of research-based work. I see a big difference in the way children are motivated. The teachers are very motivated so this is impacting their students a lot and I’m very happy with that.”
Westbourne School pupils

Renata, parent

5. Accelerated learning

Westbourne is a strong advocate of “accelerated learning” once back in the classroom – this entails using the new skills and innovative teaching methods gained during lockdown and applying them to the physical classroom setting, so enhancing classroom learning with new technologies, teaching and assessment methods.

By combining the very best of online study with face-to-face teaching, children can be more confident, independent learners with a range of new skills to help them succeed now and in the future.

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