Friday 20th March saw schools across the UK close their doors to all but key workers in the Government response to managing the Corona Virus outbreak.
As a close community of day and boarding pupils, Westbourne remains open, including throughout the holiday period to support pupils of those parents now providing vital healthcare and support services to our country at this time.
Whilst many in our boarding community have been able to safely return home, we continue to support our ‘family’ that remain, Miss Janette, our Boarding Parent has been working tirelessly to ensure that not only do the students have every opportunity to remain active academically, but importantly their physical and mental health and welfare is at the very forefront.
Case studies on Boarding Life are to follow, although we’re assured they have all become rather dab hands at cooking! Importantly, we have had no cases of CV-19 amongst the students or staff.
An online concept has been in development for some time at Westbourne, with a Director of Online Education already in post, the timing, whilst perhaps a little more accelerated than we might have foreseen for launch, has however enabled our entire staffing team to switch from the physical to the virtual learning environment almost seemlessly.
Students have a clearly planned daily timetable, with standards of dress and conduct inplace, the school day is delivered using a range of excellent tools, including SeeSaw for our youngest pupils, Google Classroom for those in Year 3 and above and widespread use of Zoom ensures the extremely important daily contact. In a time of crisis we believe support and communication is key to our students sense of belonging to the wider school community. It may take the form of online language support in the older classes, or 4pm whole class story time for those in their first Prep years, although not in a classroom, no student is studying alone.
Our clear aim is to offer, best in class, individualised academic education regardless of location.
The lack of routine and inability to move freely is challenging for us all. With our pupil wellbeing and academic development at the front of mind, we have taken the decision to reduce the length of the Easter break by four days, bringing students back ‘to school’ from Tuesday 14th April.
The extended four days will offer a gradual reintroduction to the timetable, providing a valuable opportunity for pupils to begin the work for next term much earlier and further increases the support, communication and engagement on offer from our teachers. Offering families the opportunity to revert back to the normality of academic structure as soon as possible.
On-line teaching is something new to the pupils of Westbourne, we applaud their interaction and engagement, and equally the magnificent support from their families.
We have no doubt this will both continue and blossom next term.
Principal’s Response: March 2020 UK School Closures
As I am sure you are all aware, the UK Government has announced that schools in the UK will close by the end of the day on Friday 20th March 2020. We have been expecting an outcome of this type; and we will now put in place our contingency plan to fully support our pupils remotely, both academically and pastorally. The following steps will now be actioned:
• The Boarding House remains open indefinitely for all our boarders, supporting both students and their families throughout this difficult time.
• Recognising the number of key workers we have within our parent body, Westbourne Nursery, Prep, Senior and Sixth Form will continue to provide provision for the children of all designated key workers. Key workers requiring continuity of education during this time are asked to email me directly by 12 noon Friday 20th March.
• From Monday we will put in place our remote learning plan, you will be contacted by your child’s form tutor with further details.
• If we are unable to reopen as planned on Monday 20th April, you will receive a structured educational and wellbeing plan for your child which includes the necessary online resources. Teachers will remain available throughout the school day by email to support learning and answer enquiries. • The government and examination bodies have confirmed that some external tests (GCSEs) have been cancelled, but, so far, not those of the IB; however, until further details are forthcoming from the exam boards on the awarding of grades, all GCSE and IB students must remain studying to avoid potential penalty. We know that “predicted grades” may be utilised to award certificates later this summer; but under what criteria we do not currently know – consequently, we will ensure that you are updated as quickly and as detailed as possible. The examinations may be re-instated at a later date.
Our aim is to provide as much support as possible during these challenging times and importantly continuity of education and routine for your children.
Dr Gerard Griffiths, Principal, Westbourne School
Covid 19 Responses: Further Reading