Live science experiments, a series of debates on Odysseus, online chess tournaments … school may be closed but the learning continues at King Edward’s Witley, thanks to the distance-learning programme - #KESW@Home - launched ahead of the Easter break.
Rather than rely solely on fixed project work, the School is using Zoom to deliver a combination of recorded and live lessons. This enables pupils to meet teachers and peers face-to-face, interact as a class or collaborate with their peers in small work groups, ask questions, share documents, watch live demonstrations, participate in house assemblies and even hold School assemblies.
With pupil and staff welfare in mind, the School has taken the decision to reduce the amount of daily screen time, choosing to encourage independent learning. Just as during a normal school day, pupils have a range of ways of contacting their Housemaster/ Housemistress and teachers, via daily roll-calls, individual tutorial sessions, drop-ins and clinics. In their Houses, pupils even have virtual ‘cheese toastie’ nights replacing temporarily the much-loved post-homework snack time at 8.30pm on Wednesdays.
Every pupil at the School has access to a laptop and following a trial of this new way of learning, both teachers and pupils have applied their creative powers to capitalise on the breadth and diversity of learning opportunities.
In addition to reshaping classroom learning, King Edward’s has also adapted its co-curricular programme to accommodate the requirements for distance-learning. The Music Department’s virtual world of music encompasses the delivery of individual music lessons, small ensembles and rehearsals for Chapel Choir and Orchestra. Budding composers have access to a range of music technology software, bands are still rocking and there is even a KESW@HomeTogether music extravaganza scheduled.
Pupils with a leaning towards arts and crafts are also well catered for with photography and textiles projects, origami and drawing tutorials and imaginative, cross-curricular art sessions. For those destined to tread the boards the Drama Department is running monologue training (ideal for audition preparations and LAMDA practice) while the Theatre Makers Club is providing pupils with a chance to collaborate with others to create remotely an original theatrical performance. Additional activities such as Bake-Off, Book Club, Forest School, Investing Club, First Aid and even online chess are also available. The Physical Education department is keeping everyone on their toes with a huge variety of online activities including hotly-contested keepie-uppie sessions, yoga, indoor mountaineering, Pilates, running club and other fitness routines.
For those pupils who would have been embarking on their GCSE exams, the School has developed a bespoke ‘Skills for Sixth Form’ programme, offering bridging courses to A-level and IB students, a research project, guidance and information on accessing the world of work - including dress codes, CV development, applications for internships or work experience and interview techniques. The Upper Sixth will follow a Skills for Future Success course to help them prepare for the worlds of work and university when they leave King Edward’s. The course comprises academic, careers and life-skills guidance, and even incorporates advice on budgeting, conflict-resolution, cooking and household maintenance!
Commenting on this virtual School, Joanna Wright, Head of King Edward’s Witley said, “We are delighted with the response to our distance-learning timetable and so impressed with the maturity and level of responsibility demonstrated by our pupils who have accepted - and indeed embraced - this new way of learning. During these challenging times, we envisage that our children will benefit from working more independently, via a variety of teaching methods. We have invested a lot of time in developing an educational programme that ensures pupils spend less time in front of a screen and more time developing their skills and knowledge, introducing on-demand lessons with tasks to be completed and uploaded. Social interaction is key right now, so it is wonderful to see our pupils taking advantage of the opportunity to interact with their peers and teachers. The School may be closed but it is very much business as usual when it comes to learning!”