15 June 2020

Stoke Damerel Community College has been ahead of the curve when it comes to our learning provision for Year 10 and 12 students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While most secondary schools around the country started to provide some face-to-face teaching hours from 15 June, our College introduced additional ‘live’ lessons for our Year 10 and 12 students a week early on 8 June.

And, because of the methods we are using, we are providing 15 hours of face-to-face lessons a week - three times more than the Government’s guidelines. The lessons are going down so well with students that additional A-Level hours have been added for some classes - after students asked for it.

Since lockdown began, our 1,350 students have been receiving daily online learning and additional pastoral support, including a phone call from their tutor every week.  College Vice Principal, Mr Follett, said: “Up until 8 June, students were working through Google Classroom independently, with teachers supporting them.

“For Year 10 and Year 12 students, since 8 June, we have stepped that up, so they now have face-to-face lessons via Video Conferencing and Google Meet. These lessons are led by the teachers and are just like the classes the students would usually have. 

“If we had brought the lessons into school, we would only have been able to accommodate 25% of Year 10 students on site at any one point. That would mean they were only coming in for 5 hours a week, which is the requirement in the Government guidelines. Through ‘live’ online lessons, we are giving students 15 hours a week, minimum. And we are still able to accommodate those students who benefit most from coming into school for physical face-to-face tuition.”

Mr Follett added: “We were in a fortunate position at the College because we have been using Google apps for many years. It is an effective way of working that we have embedded at the school, so when lockdown happened, it was a case of just extending it further. For some students, without devices at home, we have provided them with Chromebooks so they can access the sessions.”

Teachers have been sharing weekly ‘best practice training’ on the most effective ways of teaching using Video Conferencing. Mr Follett said: “With this direct face-to-face tuition in the live lessons, our teachers are better able to check students’ understanding. They can assess the progress students are making and respond to those who might need further support to keep up with their studies. The live lessons have also allowed us to teach new materials.

“The students are really enjoying lessons with their teachers - our Year 12s have even requested more, so we have added extra science lessons for them. The teachers are enjoying it, too. Having that direct teaching and contact makes a huge difference.”

College Principal, Miss Frier, added: “We have been very careful to maintain good habits, so students get up for their 9am start and they have their routine, which is very important.  And they are loving it. Attendance is just under 90% and the students’ engagement has been beyond expectations. One of the fears was that students might be distracted, but that has not been the case at all. The online behaviour and attitude to learning has been superb. They are asking questions, answering questions, and the children that are usually quiet are coming out of their shells - it has been lovely to see.”

And Miss Frier added: “Through the methods we have used, we have mitigated the disadvantages caused by these extraordinary circumstances as much as we can and are giving our students every opportunity possible to progress with their studies. The way they have responded has been a credit - we are extremely proud of them.”