NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities

NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
Leigh Academies Trust

Summer 2020 | Issue 18

Lockdown Special
Showcasing how Leigh Academies Trust
has continued to shape lives and support
communities throughout Covid-19.

                                           Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
A message from
                        the Chief Executive
It has been quite a remarkable year: one we shall never forget. This newsletter
contains an article from every one of our academies showcasing how they have
battled bravely during the last few crisis months, emerging never diminished
and with heads held high. Their valiant efforts have been nothing short of
inspiring. We hope you enjoy reading the stories in this newsletter, the likes
of which I doubt we will see again. And as the academic year draws to a close
in LAT we end with two very significant pieces of news to bring to you all.

                                                                                    The second significant piece of news
                                                                                    is a decision taken by the last Trust
                        The first is the retirement of Bob Findlay as Trust
                                                                                    Board to be chaired by Bob in July.
                        Chair, a post he has held ever since the Trust got          Directors agreed to purchase nearly
                        underway in 2008. Bob has worked tirelessly as              7,000 Chromebooks to distribute to
                        Chair and given extremely generously of his time.           year 7-11 pupils across LAT. This will
                        He will be well-known to many of you as he was              significantly enhance the Trust’s digital
                        always keen to visit academies to meet with staff           one-to-one device strategy following
                        and pupils. His dedication to our mission, vision and       the lessons of Covid-19. We have all
                        values is beyond question. We thank him for his very        made considerable progress in the
                        considerable contribution and wish him and his              use of new technology during the
                        family the very best for the future.                        pandemic because we have had to.
Bob Findlay
                                                                                    But virus or no virus, we must now
                        At their July board meeting, Directors elected              capitalise on the significant gains
                                                                                    we have made so that the legacy
                        Frank Green as the new Trust Chair. This follows
                                                                                    of Covid-19 in LAT is not one solely
                        very careful succession planning at board level
                                                                                    about school closure and learning
                        over a number of years. Frank will also be very well-
                                                                                    loss, but about massively enhanced
                        known to many of you. He has held the position of
                                                                                    access to technology for children of
                        LAT Vice-Chair in recent years, chaired the Trust’s
                                                                                    all backgrounds because it cannot
                        Standards Committee and been the main board link
                                                                                    be right that children’s education is
                        to its South-East London academies. Before all of           hindered by a lack of access to basic
                        that, he was the first CEO of the Trust having created      modern equipment.
                        it himself in 2008 and holding the post until late-
Frank Green             2013 when he became Schools’ Commissioner for
Trust Chairman                                                                      This is a true zeitgeist moment for the
                        England. We very much look forward to working with          Trust. The pandemic has prompted us
                        Frank as the new Chair, a position which takes effect       to take a bold step forward which will
                        immediately.                                                strengthen and enhance the education
                                                                                    of our young people. At the same
                        At the same time, Theresa Davies has been elected           time, the Trust has already purchased
                        the new LAT Vice-Chair. Theresa is currently Chair          over 400 Chromebook devices that
                        of Milestone, the Resources Committee and Audit             have arrived in our primary academies
                        Committee. She also takes a lead for the Board on           targeted at year 6 pupils. All of these
                        its academies in North-West Kent as well as being           new devices will not replace other
                        a governor on the Maidstone Primary Academies               teaching methods entirely, but will
                        Board. Theresa has a very deep knowledge of the             enable all of us to become better
                        Trust and is dedicated to the success of its staff and      resourced and more efficient in how
                        pupils. She is an excellent new appointment to this         we deliver the curriculum. They will
                        role and the first woman to hold this post. She and         accelerate our recovery from Covid-19
Theresa Davies          Frank promise to be a very strong team to help              and insulate us substantially against
Vice Chairman           oversee LAT’s continued development as one of the           the impact on learning from a second
                        largest and most successful MATs in the UK.                 wave outbreak.

                                                                                    Continued on next page...

NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities

                                                                  2 | A message from the Chief Executive
                                                                  4 | Latest Senior Appointments
                                                                  5 | Cherry Orchard Primary Academy
                                                                  6 | Dartford Primary Academy
                                                                  7 | Hartley Primary Academy
                                                                  8 | Horsmonden Primary Academy
                                                                  9 | Paddock Wood Primary Academy
                                                                 10 | Langley Park Primary Academy
                                                                 11 | Oaks Primary Academy
All leaders are now finalising the enhanced Chromebook
strategy for launch in September. Purchasing the devices         12 | Molehill Primary Academy
is the easy part in many ways, it’s how we use them that         13 | Tree Tops Primary Academy
will have the greatest impact for our children.
                                                                 13 | Eastcote Primary Academy
To end, let me convey once again my heartfelt thanks to          14 | High Halstow Primary Academy
the whole of the LAT community for your response to
                                                                 14 | The Hundred of Hoo Primary Academy
Covid-19. We can go into the summer holidays knowing
that we have done our utmost and could have done                 14 | Stoke and Allhallows Primary Academies
very little more to support each other through the crisis
                                                                 15 | The Hundred of Hoo Nursery
of 2020. We look forward to all of our pupils returning
to school in September and it promises to be another             16 | Milestone Academy
busy year ahead. Some of our colleagues will be hosting          17 | The Leigh UTC
pupils at summer schools throughout July and August to
help them to catch up with lost learning. I am seriously         17 | Wilmington Academy
grateful to them for their additional efforts. Whatever your     18 | The Leigh Academy
situation, please make sure you have some good rest over
the holiday period and see you all in September.                 19 | Longfield Academy
                                                                 20 | Mascalls Academy
With my very good wishes,
                                                                 21 | Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy
                                                                 22 | Leigh Academy Blackheath
                                                                 23 | The Halley Academy
                                                                 24 | Strood Academy
Simon Beamish
Chief Executive                                                  25 | The Hundred of Hoo Academy
                                                                 25 | Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School
                                                                 26 | New Schools
                                                                 27 | LAT myON Digital Library
                                                                 27 | Vision 2025

                                                         Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities                    3
NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
Latest Senior Appointments

It is always one of my great pleasures to see talented colleagues promoted
through the ranks to senior positions within the Trust. It is encouraging
also to see how we have attracted fresh talent to join us from elsewhere,
offering new ideas and approaches.

Please find below all of those appointed to tier 1 and 2 leadership
positions since the last Trust newsletter. Many congratulations to all of
them. A number of colleagues have also gained promotion to Assistant
Principal positions this year. I look forward to watching their careers
develop as they too continue to rise through the LAT ranks.

We wish all of these colleagues well as they take up new positions in
                                                                                                           Lorna Rimmer
                                                                                                           Stoke and Allhallows
                                                                                                           Primary Academies

                    Guerin-Hassett                              Alex Millward                              Brendon Dutton

                    Secondary Principal                         Principal Designate                        Vice Principal
                    The Hundred of                              Leigh Academy                              Hartley Primary
                    Hoo Academy                                 Rainham                                    Academy

                    Steven Flower
                                                                Jo Brooks                                  Numera Anwar
                    Head of College
                    The Hundred of                              Head of College                            Head of College
                    Hoo Academy                                 Mascalls Academy                           Strood Academy

                                                                                      Lacey Austin
                    Hannah Sharma
                                                                                      Director of Improvement
                    Deputy Principal                                                  Science
                    The Halley Academy                                                (Joins us from Hadlow Rural Community
                    (Joins us from Trinity Academy, Brixton)                          School, Kent)

                                                                                      Samantha Simmonds
                    David Kelly
                                                                                      Director of Improvement
                    Director of Improvement                                           Key Stage 2
                    Science                                                           (Joins us from Hoo St Werburgh Primary,
                    (Joins us from Westlands School, Kent)                            Medway)

NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
Cherry Orchard
Primary Academy
It is a sad fact that, during these difficult times, Cherry     street dancing sessions for all the bubbles.
Orchard Primary Academy has been unable to celebrate its        The virtual sports day on Thursday 25th June was a scorcher
usual social and physical events, such as ‘golden afternoon’    but the heat did not deter our mini-athletes from Nursery,
activities hosted by teaching and support staff, sports         Reception and year 1 from throwing themselves into the
day, clubs and workshops. Undaunted and in true Cherry          activities with great enthusiasm. The day started with
Orchard style, staff were determined to create virtual events   motivational video clips from each of the House Captains
for those learning at home as well as physical events for       of Ebbsfleet, Stratford, Ashford and St. Pancras, followed
those learning in school, so that the children didn’t miss      by a demonstration of the events by a couple of COPA’s
out. Children have a choice of a dozen activities for golden    dedicated support staff to allow children learning at home
afternoon on the last Thursday of every term, from solving      to take part. Activities were chosen carefully so that those
the mystery of ‘Who Stole the Chocolate Cake?’ to step-by-      learning at home and at school could compete on an equal
step instructions on how to make waffles and pancakes.          basis. Races included frying-pan sock-ps, a pillowcase jump
                                                                race, an egg and spoon race and a multi-skills course and,
                                                                as school-based teaching staff entered the scores live on
                                                                Tapestry and Google Classroom, competitors taking part
                                                                in their gardens, parks and other outdoor areas, were able
                                                                to enter their own scores and upload a video clip at the
                                                                same time.

                                                                Overall winners in each of the four disciplines for each year
        Who Stole the                  How to make
                                                                group were awarded medals, both physically and virtually,
        Chocolate Cake?                waffles & pancakes
                                                                and a great day was had by staff and pupils alike!

PE lead Mr Barnard, who returned to school with EYFS
and year 1 students, has continued to teach PE on the
playground as well as posting activities on Google
Classroom for those learning at home, while dance teacher
Sofia rocks the playground every Friday afternoon with

                                                                                                  Nursery taking part in
                                                                                                  Virtual Sports Day

                                                                                                        Cherry Orchard
                                                                                                        Virtual Sports Day

                                                        Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities                                 5
NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
Dartford Primary Academy
   Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

   While the world kept its distance, at Dartford Primary Academy they
   pulled together more strongly and more determined than ever. With
   hours to spare, the staff moved an entire way of learning onto Class Dojo
   and WOW - what a great job they did. Never before have they had such
   parental engagement and support. Never before have they captured
   the imaginations of the children with reading of new books and creative
   tasks. Never before have they faced such adversity and risen proudly in a
   stronger, better place to support the local community.

   The motto at Dartford Primary Academy is ‘Determined, Persistent,
   Achievers’ who are learning to change the world. This has never been
   more evident than during lockdown. Staff have put their learning into
   action and children have been very busy indeed.

                                                                               Staff have provided opportunities
                                                                               for the older children to take part in
                                                                               university-style lectures with huge
                                                                               success using Google Classroom
The year 2 children have been learning                                         and live video-feeds, all proving that
about the Great Fire of London and                                             adversity makes us stronger.
the impact it had on how we build our
homes, and some beautiful houses                                               Staff have danced to Justin Timberlake,
were made from recyclable items                                                found the way to Amarillo with Peter
around children’s homes.                                                       Kay and made collages to send out to
                                                                               our community, ensuring that every
The sports event has coincided                                                 child continues to feel a part of it.
with National Sports Week. Despite                                             A great deal of fun was had by all.
scorching temperatures, the children
had great fun, participating from home                                         Principal Miss Roberts remarked that
and competing on behalf of their                                               she could not be prouder to lead such
class teams.                                                                   a great body of adults and children,
                                                                               who have proved that nothing
The children have also been                                                    can faze those at Dartford Primary
continuing with their learning in year                                         Academy. They are the creators of
1, focussing on bugs, bees and plants,                                         their own success, stronger and more
creating their own flowers and naming                                          determined than ever to use their
their parts.                                                                   learning to change the world.

NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
Hartley Primary Academy

Hartley Primary Academy’s vision is to create ‘Happy
Positive Achievers’, something that staff have remained
committed to during the entire lockdown period. It has
been their aim throughout to ensure that the children were
safe and well, and that staff were not only taking care of the
children’s education but also being mindful of their well-
being. Staff rose to the challenge and very quickly learnt
how to use Google Classroom to provide home learning
for children in years 1 to 6, and Tapestry for the nursery and
year R. Activities ranged across all areas of the curriculum
and included those designed to support children’s physical
and mental health. Staff read stories and posted videos of        The staff have been remarkable in their dedication and
these for the children to watch. Who knew we would all end        resilience at a time when many of them are feeling nervous
up with YouTube channels because of Covid-19?!                    about being back in school. However, HPA’s vision is always
                                                                  at the forefront of their minds so they are determined to
                                                                  help everyone be ‘Happy Positive Achievers’, despite the
                                                                  difficult circumstances. Mindfulness, well-being, outdoor
                                                                  activities and communication are key focus areas, as staff
                                                                  believe it is essential to support children as they reintegrate
                                                                  into the world of school and to enable them to rebuild their
                                                                  relationships and refocus on what school is all about.
                Hartley Staff Read Aloud

Relax Kids has been used to support children suffering from
anxiety and numerous calls have been made to check on
them. If a child seemed to be struggling at any point the
staff were there to offer support, providing advice, work
packs, SEN resources and sometimes just an ear to listen.
The staff sent a message to the children to raise their spirits
and teachers of some year groups even received similar
messages back!

The children have been real troopers during this time,
working hard on their online learning activities and
sharing their work with their teachers, as well as sharing
all the other fun things they have been doing at home.
The academy is very grateful to its amazing parents who
have supported their children and stepped into the role
of teacher at very short notice. We know it has been really
hard for many but the HPA community has pulled together,
like never before, during these unprecedented times.
After several weeks of being based at Milestone, running
a hub for key-worker children, staff were delighted to return
to Hartley for the start of Term 6. While very appreciative
of the support they received at Milestone, there is no place
like home!

On the 2nd June staff welcomed back several nursery, year
R, 1 and 6 children and it has truly been a pleasure to see
their smiling faces walking through the gate each morning.
An added bonus came when they found they were able to
invite back the year 5 children one day per week.

                                                          Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities                                   7
NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
Primary Academy
One of the many wonderful things            meaningful, fun learning activities        Meanwhile, the year 6 team are
about working at Horsmonden, aside          for the children. Some examples are        determined to give the children
from its delightful children, is how        shown below:                               an excellent send-off that includes
amazingly positive and committed the                                                   a socially-distanced sports day,
staff are. They all genuinely care about                                               transition activities and an ‘I’m a
the children of Horsmonden and strive                                                  Celebrity’- themed leavers’ film,
to do their very best for them. This has                                               including bush tucker trials! It’s
been evident on many occasions over                                                    amazing what you can conjure
the last few months.                                                                   up with a bit of creativity and
At a time when the country was
in crisis and schools were closed,
Horsmonden staff put their own
anxieties aside to continue providing
the best education they could for            EYFS experimenting with bubbles
the children of Horsmonden. With             on a windy day
very little notice, teachers joined
Google Classroom bootcamps to get
up to speed, ready to roll out Google
Classroom to the children. The result is
that all children have access to quality
online learning to complete at home.
Here is some feedback from two of
our parents:                                                                           Here’s what one of our parents had
                                                                                       to say following our safe return:

  “Leo is very happy to have his                                                      “Just a quick note to say thank
    favourite teacher setting work. We                                                   you for getting the school back
    have found the work fun and the                                                      up and running again – Oscar &
    format you set is straightforward                                                    Matilda are so happy to not only
    to follow. This makes life easier for    Year 1 artwork inspired by the              see their friends again and but also
    working parents!”                        work of Andy Goldsworthy                    (surprisingly!) to get back to some
                                                                                         more structured learning – they
  “May I take the opportunity to                                                        came home so excited these last
    thank you and congratulate you on                                                    few days it was great to see them
    running the Google Classroom so                                                      enthused again. I’m sure it’s been
    well. You are setting out work so it                                                 a really stressful time over the last
    is easy to know what work is due on                                                  few months so thank you to you
    what day and it’s easy to download                                                   and your team for bringing some
    and access.”                                                                         normality back at last! Well done to
                                                                                         all of you!!”
                                             Year 5 children investigating
Staff knew that parents and children         how rich with wildlife our school         When so much negativity
were missing school and needed               environment is                            surrounded schools’ reopening
cheering up in some way - cue the                                                      and the associated safety issues,
Spice Girls with ‘Stop Coronavirus’! The                                               the staff at Horsmonden showed
video was well received by the whole                                                   resilience and positivity whilst
school community and everyone felt                                                     retaining their sense of fun. All
great knowing they could help lift                                                     are determined that Covid-19 will
spirits at such a worrying time.                                                       not get in the way of providing
                                                                                       children with challenging, fun and
The way children and staff have                                                        engaging learning activities.
returned to school is also an example
of their commitment, again putting           Key worker children using maths
their own anxieties aside for the            skills to create a life sized snakes
good of the children. Staff remain           and ladders game
positive and upbeat while planning

NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
Paddock Wood
Primary Academy
Paddock Wood Primary Academy stayed open for the
children of key workers and other families every day
through lockdown, holidays and bank holidays, and even
Easter weekend. Every single colleague who could - 54 in
all - volunteered to support this effort, and each invested        Paddock Wood Primary
their habitual vibrancy and positivity into everything they        Academy in numbers:
did, both in school and online.

                                                                    54      Staff volunteers
                                                                            Consecutive days’ teaching
                                                                            (from 23 March)
                                                                    326     Pupils attending (on 2 July)

                                                                    30      Learning pods
                                                                            Daily online learning
                                                                            Parents agreed online learning
                                                                            was good+
                                                                            Key-worker families
                                                                    5       New families since March

Together, staff embraced three principles, right from
the start:
›› That everyone must be safe;
›› That academy must continue to be warm, engaging
   and exciting; and
›› That teachers should teach to the best of their ability
   so that students can learn effectively.

The academy is making the most of smaller-group learning
- including outdoor learning about fire, building model
rafts, pond-dipping for leeches and skaters, and enjoying
(very) high-energy non-contact sport.
In pods, staff and children have been immersing themselves “[Parents] … are very grateful to the teachers
in major world events, current affairs and interpreting major for how responsive and supportive they have
world artists.                                                been throughout all this right from the outset,
                                                              going way above and beyond all the time, with
The school community, like communities worldwide, has
                                                              care and compassion.”
suffered illness and tragic loss and their thoughts and very
best wishes are with friends who have been affected. In this - P
                                                                addock Wood Primary Academy parent and
context, there is a sense of immense pride and humility at     NHS key worker
the regenerated sense of unity enveloping the academy
across Paddock Wood and beyond.
Every week, the academy opens its doors wider and
parents trust it to be true to its principles. Its teachers have
witnessed some phenomenal learning, both at home and
in school, and it’s fair to say that staff are learning more
about the strong, resilient and determined character of the
children now than ever before.

                                                             Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities            9
NEWS Leigh Academies Trust - Lockdown Special Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities
Langley Park
Primary Academy
Over the course of the year, Langley Park Primary Academy has been focusing on
developing opportunities for children to develop all the Learner Profile attributes
in meaningful and authentic ways; with the advent of Covid-19 this was no
different. Although being a ‘communicator’ is but one of the ten important
attributes, it was imperative that, during a time where both verbal and
non-verbal forms of communication were paramount, students and staff
continued to develop these skills.

                                                                                         A poem written by a student at
                                                                                         Langley Park Primary Academy.

                                                                                         The Storm
                                                                                          By Isla

                                                                                          The storm is a snarling wolf
                                                                                          Angry and ambitious
                                                                                          It runs dangerously through the
                                                                                          Like a sly silver rocket
                                                                                          The air whimpers with the sound
From the very start of lockdown,           Children have also taken opportunities         of its footsteps
Langley Park Primary Academy               to develop their communication skills          It runs through trees and slashes
communicated with members of the           outside school through letter-writing,         tiles of houses with its powerful
local community by creating a ten-         videos explaining their learning,              claws
foot rainbow banner that showed the        reading a favourite chapter of a book
                                                                                          With its slobbering mouth it
school was ‘Still Shaping Lives’, and by   and sharing new learning with their
                                                                                          crushes cars
painting rainbows on all of the            friends and family.
school windows.                                                                           Its dark beady eyes stare until
                                           Staff have been role models in terms of        people escape
With the implementation of home-           the variety of forms of communication          Running, growling and
learning via Google Classroom, staff       they have used and shared with                 destructive
were able to encourage children            children. The message, ‘we’re all in this      Quick, wild and destructive
to share their ideas in a range of         together’, was disseminated by staff
different forms, including handwritten,    singing and dancing and by posting
photographed, typed and video.             artwork and photographs on the
Children uploaded their own work for       ‘lockdown gallery’. All are impatient to
teachers’ feedback and were actively       build on their use of digital technology
encouraged to express their views          and demonstrate more of the Learner
on other children’s work, thinking         Profile attributes as the academy
carefully about how their feedback         moves into next year.
should be phrased and how the
recipient might react.

The academy also helped children
develop new communication skills
through Makaton. The weekly
newsletter provides links to ‘Signs of
the Week’ and some classes learned
how to sign a song of their choice,
which was then shared on the school’s
Instagram account.

Oaks Primary Academy
In and out of this together

Oaks Primary Academy likes to approach most things in a ‘business as usual’
manner. While the pandemic forced a rethink, staff and pupils rose to the
challenge with great panache.

Community is at the heart of everything that happens at Oaks Primary Academy
and this has never been more true than during the pandemic. From what one
parent termed the ‘seamless’ transition from in-school to home learning in
March, to the ongoing provision for children of key workers, and right up to now
following the return of children in the Nursery, Reception and years 1, 5 and 6,
staff, pupils and their families have demonstrated their ability to find ways to
work and be together, even when apart.

There are many anecdotes and examples that illustrate the fantastic adaptability
and determination of the school community during this time, but arguably the
best story of all is what has emerged from all this hard work: the resilience of the
pupils. There is no better testament to the efforts of staff to sustain the academic,
social, personal and emotional growth of pupils than the positive attributes the
children have developed and demonstrated during this time.

When asked to reflect on their experience of home learning and the return to
school, here is what some of Oaks’ year 6 pupils had to say:

                                                                                        Whilst online learning has been a
    “Being back at school has helped me a lot. It has mainly helped me boost my        new and exciting learning curve for
      self confidence since I now get to see other people and I get to express my       the academy, celebrations have also
      feelings to them. Coming back to school has been very fun. We get to talk to      become an important part of the
      each other or speak online to each other using Google Meets with the other        well-being and morale boosting of
      pod. We conference online with the pupils that are still learning at home         all stakeholders. These started with
      too. Many people have helped me.”                                                 a 40th birthday celebration video and
                                                                                        have gone on to include a Victory
    “Online learning has helped me with my computer skills and kept me on my           in Europe (VE) Day video which was
      toes ready to be asked any questions. Now that I have returned to school, I       shared with the wider community, a
      am occupied all day long and my confidence has risen in many subjects but         goodwill message flag flown from St
      my maths in particular is off the chart. The best thing about online learning     Martin’s Church, a ‘stay safe and well’
      was that independence was key and this has helped me grow substantially.          video for pupils and, most excitingly,
      However, being back at school is great and has also helped me a lot,              a video from the pupils to the teachers
      especially with being a communicator.”                                            to prove that they were ‘staying safe
                                                                                        and well’.
    “Since returning to school, in a short amount of days there have been new
      bonds between our little groups and friendships that have grown that              Out of adversity have come unity,
      would have never emerged if lockdown had not happened. Playtime                   collaboration and great respect
      definitely has changed but we have been inventing new games to make               amongst the Oaks Primary Academy
      sure that we stay safe but still get enjoyment out of play and the whole          community, who have endured this
      school day. School has helped me a lot during this time. It has helped me         experience together and will come out
      to be more creative and get used to the new rules. The Coronavirus was            of it wiser, stronger and prepared for
      very hard on the world and lockdown was very new to everyone, but online          whatever the future may hold.
      school kept me occupied and now, since returning, it feels reassuring to
      have a routine again.”

                                                            Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities                               11
Molehill Primary Academy
Keep smiling through, just like we always do …

                                                                                   – and all while providing the best
                                                                                   educational and well-being support
                                                                                   possible for pupils and families.
                                                                                   Determined to clear a path through
                                                                                   the crisis, Molehill staff have willingly
                                                                                   volunteered to work in the key-worker
                                                                                   hub or have helped to send parcels
                                                                                   full of treats to local NHS staff for their
                                                                                   staffrooms. They have also ensured
                                                                                   that opportunities for learning
                                                                                   are available daily on the website
                                                                                   and Google Classroom, including
                                                                                   dedicated art and PE classrooms; and
                                                                                   to support pupils who do not have
                                                                                   access to digital learning, staff have
                                                                                   worked tirelessly to provide home
                                                                                   learning packs for parents to collect.
                                                                                   So where did they find time to make
The unspoken agreement between           a socially-distanced chat was always      amusing, uplifting videos to send to
the amazing team at Molehill Primary     available. By the time the pupils left    the Molehill community?
Academy has been to tackle the           the school building on Friday 20th
Covid-19 crisis with a smile on their    March 2020, with their home learning      The Molehill team spirit and boundless
faces. The Covid story at MPA began      packs under their arms and smiles on      positivity was in full force on 1st June
a few weeks before lockdown had          their faces, they were as well-equipped   as the whole staff returned to the
become the buzzword, when everyone       as they could be for the ‘new normal’     school building, still smiling, ready to
was still hoping that school closures    that lay ahead.                           welcome the first ‘pods’ of children
would not happen. During this time                                                 back to school. There could be no
of extreme anxiety, the fears of         Through the weeks that have followed,     greater reward than the smiles of
pupils and parents were consistently     the smiles have remained on the           our pupils as they walked through
responded to smilingly and calmly.       faces of Molehill staff as they have      the school gates towards a team of
Among a range of exciting learning       worked harder than ever to care for       staff ready and willing to meet the
opportunities during World Book Day,     the vulnerable members of their           next set of challenges that the ‘new
Sport Relief and Science Week, the       own families, home-school their own       normal’ had in store. What a privilege
well-being of pupils was sustained by    children and grandchildren, support       to be part of a team of such dedicated
answering their questions through age    key workers and live with ever-           professionals through these very
appropriate story books and children’s   increasing personal worries about the     uncertain times!
news programmes, while for parents       pandemic happening around them

Tree Tops Primary Academy
Strengthening Community Values and Ties

                                                                 Throughout the pandemic, we have faced challenges across
                                                                 the entire educational system. Both children and staff have
                                                                 been desperate to get back to normal ways of working and
                                                                 have used their time productively, taking on challenges
                                                                 of their own. Children have been working on their
                                                                 home learning as well as their life skills: everything from
                                                                 gardening to cooking, enhanced by the life-skills curriculum
                                                                 that we sent home to parents needing support to educate
                                                                 their children in novel ways. Staff have engaged in online
                                                                 CPD, developing their teaching skills and other interests
                                                                 to enhance their well-being and teaching practice, and have
                                                                 passed on their learning to other members of staff. As year
                                                                 R, 1 and 6 returned to school initially, everyone was anxious
                                                                 and uncertain of the future. But staff and pupils alike have
                                                                 done themselves proud, providing high-quality learning
                                                                 for returning students who have shown themselves to
                                                                 be caring, respectful and determined to catch up on
                                                                 missed work.

                                                                 The staff at Tree Tops Primary Academy have worked
                                                                 tirelessly to create safe, secure pods in the school to reduce
                                                                 anxiety among students and staff. Well-being has been a
                                                                 priority as it is our responsibility to create a safe atmosphere
                                                                 for everybody, including the local community who have
                                                                 been so supportive in these trying times. Our community
                                                                 ties have strengthened as a result and will continue
                                                                 to do so.

                                                                 Although the children have returned tired and out of
                                                                 practice, their determination to continue progressing in
                                                                 all areas of the curriculum despite the pressures remains
                                                                 undimmed. Meanwhile, the stalwart Tree Tops team
Eastcote Primary Academy                                         has shone through the crisis with its can-do spirit and
                                                                 determination and both students and staff deserve praise
Lockdown!                                                        and thanks for making the return to school such a success.

After closure back in March, Eastcote’s staff, parents and
pupils had to download, learn, and engage with online
learning overnight. Thanks to Miss Jones and Miss Smith,
staff and children were well supported in their journey to
become online learners. Using the Showbie app, Eastcote
staff were able to stay in contact with all children at home,
sending children voice notes and providing daily feedback
on their learning.

But their support extended way beyond this. They delivered
everything from Chromebooks to seeds to colouring sheets
to felt-tip pens to children’s homes. Teachers called children
weekly and provided printed packs of learning to individual
children who were finding online learning difficult.
The team were exemplary in the care, dedication and
professionalism they have shown over the past months.            Reception, year 1 and year 6 children and those of critical
                                                                 workers. It was their plan from day one to maximise the
Reopening!                                                       number of children returning to school and, as a team,
                                                                 they were determined to make the experience as positive,
At the outset, Eastcote was extremely keen to open its           relaxed and enjoyable as possible, playing music every
doors to as many children as possible. All teachers and TAs      morning as the children come into school and even, one
returned to work and worked extremely hard within an             Monday, providing a rendition of the YMCA, costumes
extremely tight timeframe to open the academy to Nursery,        and all!

                                                          Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities                                   13
High Halstow 					 Stoke and Allhallows
Primary Academy    Primary Academies
The staff team at High Halstow has always been                   How we have survived!!
phenomenal and the challenges faced before and during
the Covid-19 pandemic have truly demonstrated this. Staff        We thought about what we wanted to say about how it has
have been available for families to provide education and        been at Stoke and Allhallows during the pandemic and one
care in ways that they haven’t before, making daily phone        of the key things to us is to keep smiling - I hope this poem/
calls to parents and pupils, answering parent emails,            song makes you smile!
hand-delivering work packs, providing child care in the          (To be sung to the tune of I will survive! (loosely))
High Halstow and Allhallows hub and teaching online,
to name just a few examples.                                     At first we were afraid, we were petrified
                                                                 Kept thinking how could we be 2 metres not side by side
A real strength of the use of Google Classroom has been the
quality of outcomes produced by pupils. The knowledge            We must get rid of all the toys
pupils have gained of different artists and the quality of the   And stay in bubbles too
art outcomes has been outstanding across the academy.            What was it going to be like ? Will we all get through?
The High Halstow Art Gallery now displays this amazing           Then the kids were back
work as a memory of the positives generated in 2020.
                                                                 From their lockdown time
                                                                 They walked smiling through the gate
                                                                 Telling parents they will be fine
                                                                 They sanitised as they came in and to their parents
                                                                 waved goodbye
                                                                 They couldn’t hug or touch but they knew the reason why
                                                                 In their bubble they saw their friends and had lots of
                                                                 outside play
                                                                 We need to keep our distance, lets keep this virus at bay
                                                                 Lets wash our hands again and sing that birthday song
                                                                 This may not seem quite right but it certainly isn’t wrong
                                                                 So we survived
                                                                 We didn’t need to stress
                                                                 We kept calm and worked it through
                                                                 And of course we risk assessed
The Hundred of Hoo			                                            Stoke and Allhallows will carry on
Primary Academy
“The best version of me is the best learner
 I can be.“

This statement epitomises the very heart and soul of The
Hundred of Hoo Academy Primary, which always strives
to be ‘the best version of itself’. This year has been no
exception. That best version may be different for each
of us but, when we reflect on that statement, we know
what it means for us individually. One thing, however,
is certain: as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown and
partial school closures, staff and students have found
a new dimension of the best version of ourselves.

The transition to a ‘new normal’ has been seamless
at every phase of the roadmap to recovery due to the
strength of community that permeates the academy.
A community is at its strongest when it works together
and this has been epitomised at The Hundred of Hoo.
Continued on next page...

At the onset of lockdown, the academy was thrust into the
realms of online, remote learning. The new world of Google
Classroom soon became a staple in the educational diet
of learners and it became apparent that the academy’s
well-established Learner Profile attributes were going to
be an invaluable asset in its learning toolkit. The Hundred
of Hoo community did not disappoint.

The dedication and commitment of pupils has been
both admirable and inspirational. They wholeheartedly
embraced their new way of learning and revelled in
producing imaginative outcomes to demonstrate their
understanding. From Google Slides to videos, it has been
magnificent to see the children thrive in what were very
challenging circumstances. This didn’t stop with simply
handing in work: there were so many examples of pupils
commenting on and engaging with each other’s work
on the Google Classroom stream. These valuable skills
will continue to be developed.

When the doors were opened more widely, firstly to EYFS
and year 1 and then to year 4, the children served the new
rules and expectations brilliantly from the first moment and
should be very proud of themselves. They consciously kept
a good distance from each other and needed only a few
reminders through the day, washing their hands thoroughly
and following instructions impeccably - all this while
continuing to be engaged, conscientious learners. The
academy’s resilient, principled and mature children never
                                                               brought, they did not waver from the core business of
fail to impress.
                                                               providing guidance, support and exceptional learning
                                                               opportunities for students and their families in myriad ways
Those that continued to work diligently at home engaged
                                                               and the team have gone above and beyond to ensure that
with live Google Meets with their peers and even tuned
                                                               the community has been well supported. The increasing
in to our story-time sessions with their friends who were
                                                               numbers of children feeling confident enough to return
learning in school. Virtual Clubs provided a forum for the
                                                               to school is testament to this and demonstrates the trust
academy’s wonderful pupils to express themselves beyond
                                                               that local families have in the dedication of the team.
their remote learning. From performing arts clubs to our
Little Cooks Lockdown Kitchen, the range of engagement
                                                               And finally…
and willingness to maintain the community spirit has been
second to none.
                                                               “Sometimes we are tested, not to show our
All of this would not have been possible without the            weaknesses, but to discover our strengths”.
tenacity, resilience and commitment of all the staff. While
also buffeted by the trials and challenges that Covid-19       Our community, yet again, has shown how strong it truly is.

The Hundred of Hoo Nursery
The staff and children of the nursery returned on Monday       Staff and students have been spending the majority of their
1st June with great enthusiasm, a positive attitude to         time in the outside areas, with the youngest children taking
learning and enjoyment at being back in the setting with       their naps al fresco. Transitional meetings with schools for
their much-missed friends. Children have settled well and      preschool children have been going well and staff have
are enjoying the new normal that staff have created for        engaged with all of the follow-on schools for these children.
them to learn and explore. Currently, about one-third of the
cohort has returned, but this increases weekly by one or       The nursery remains full of children’s chatter and laughter,
two children.                                                  just as it was before anyone had ever heard of Covid-19.

                                                         Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities                               15
Milestone Academy

Milestone’s approach of ‘’learning          protect people and buildings from
and adapting for Milestone pupils’          the awful virus, Mr Norris and the
learning’’ for the benefit of families,     site team made further changes
pupils and staff has underpinned            both inside and outside the large
some frantic activity at the New Ash        site. As they settled into these new
Green main site since 18th March,           arrangements, they learned from
when the Secretary of State said:           the DfE of a phased approach for
                                            SEN settings in which more students
“After schools shut their gates on         could return in Term 6. A parental
  Friday afternoon, they will remain        survey showed that over 110 pupils
  closed until further notice. This will    wanted to return, so staff adapted
  be for all children except those of key   the building yet again and, on 5th
  workers and children who are              June, established two additional
  most vulnerable’’.                        groups who attended the academy
                                            in alternate weeks, alongside the
Having suddenly learnt that day that        children of key workers. Each class
the educational world was about to          forms its own ‘bubble’, led by the
be transformed, the team rapidly            same staff each day. A break-out
set about adapting its workforce.           classroom is available for each
A large group of staff volunteered          bubble and packed lunches are
to provide a more relaxed form of           taken in the room each day.
provision for pupils of key workers
and a group of accompanying pupils.         Staff who cannot be present on
The Principal made the decision to          site continue to provide learning
close all satellites and focus staff        opportunities for pupils via
resources and medical support on            technology and other media. The
the main site. Another group who,           Principal was already proud of the
for various good reasons, could             ability of his teaching and support
not attend the main site set about          staff to learn and adapt to support
supporting pupils and families via          his pupils’ learning before the advent
technological media and, in some            of Covid-19, an ability highlighted
cases, paper-based work folders.            throughout the pandemic, and he
Some three weeks later, Milestone           is indebted to his colleagues for
was transformed into a LAT hub              their efforts during this time. He also
school, providing a very warm               thanks parents and families, who
welcome to nearby Hartley Primary           have been most understanding and
Academy. It was a pleasure to have          appreciative of the efforts made.
the Principal, Miss Galinis, and her        As ever, and with the invaluable
staff and pupils at Milestone, as well      support of LAT, the academy
as to host Mrs Goosani, the Primary         will continue to learn and adapt
Executive Principal, during this time.      Milestone Academy for its pupils‘
                                            learning throughout the current
Hartley returned to their own site          term and beyond.
at the start of Term 6. With numbers
doubling after the Easter break and
more information about how to

                                            Here are some pupils from Group B of the extended pupil group that has been
                                            attending Milestone Academy since 15th June. This learning group or ‘bubble’, led
                                            by Sam Marlow, has enjoyed a wide range of daily activities, including designing
                                            and making Father’s Day cards and planting beans in line with the science
                                            curriculum. Staff and children are looking forward to seeing the ‘fruits’ of their
                                            labours later in Term 6!

The Leigh UTC
Science Lessons from South Africa

                                                                                      difficult concepts in a visual way, they
                                                                                      can more easily associate what they see
                                                                                      (the practical aspect) with the theory
                                                                                      (theoretical knowledge).”

                                                                                      “One of the aspects I specifically focussed
                                                                                      on when deciding what experiments
                                                                                      to conduct and how to do this was the
                                                                                      availability of resources. Coming from
                                                                                      a developing country like South Africa,
                                                                                      resources for science experiments are
                                                                                      often scarce, especially for students
                                                                                      from more challenging economic
                                                                                      backgrounds. Teachers in South Africa
                                                                                      are therefore taught to be creative with
Over the course of lockdown many           “My main aim was to engage with all        regard to developing experiments,
teachers have been getting used            of my students on a more practical level   using easily obtainable resources
to new ways of working, but one in         instead of overwhelming them with too      that are available to each student to
particular at the UTC has had to take      much theoretical knowledge. I know         ensure that no student is excluded
that to the extreme. Ludwig de la Bat      most of my students are very practical     from a learning opportunity. I tried to
has had to conduct all his distance        and love to build or create things, so I   incorporate this aspect of teaching into
teaching whilst in lockdown in South       tried to use this aspect to my advantage   my experiments by using resources that
Africa with his family!                    and break down the more difficult topics   are easily available to everyone. All of
                                           into smaller chunks that are easier to     the resources I used in my experiments
Despite the challenges, he never           process. When it came to processing new    were either common household items,
stopped trying to deliver the best         knowledge, I also took into account that   or cheap to buy at a supermarket.”
possible lessons for his students back     most of my students are visual learners
here in Dartford, even filming science     and thus, by demonstrating                 “Lastly, I wanted to bring some fun and
practicals at home 			                                                                excitement to all my students at home.
and sharing them                                                                      Being locked down can be extremely
with his KS3 pupils!                                                                  daunting for everyone, especially
When asked, Ludwig                                                                    children. By giving them a fun activity to
described what had                                                                    do at home (and learning in the process),
got him thinking                                                                      I aimed to relieve them from the stress
about doing this 		                                                                   and uncertainty that all of us are facing
in the first place:                                                                   around the world during these
                                                                                      uncertain times.”

Wilmington Academy
The Wilmington community has responded magnificently            communication materials. This home-learning provision
to these unprecedented times. In true International             has continued to evolve throughout lockdown. The Trust’s
Baccalaureate style, students and staff have displayed          most recent parental survey, released on 1st May, showed
all the features of the IB learner profile as risk-takers,      that 85% of parents found the site easy to access, 80%
communicators, and caring, open-minded individuals              confirmed it to be of a good standard and 75% said it was
throughout the global-pandemic. Two particular areas            well organised. Since then, leaders have developed the site
demonstrate the community’s resolve to meet 		                  in response to student, parent and staff feedback, to ensure
current challenges.                                             that the online experience is as effective and efficient
                                                                as possible. In addition, through careful and extensive
Distance Learning                                               monitoring of student participation, it has become
                                                                apparent that some students have no access to the internet
The Wilmington Academy distance-learning portal has             or devices at home, so the SENCo provided bespoke printed
been built in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to              resource packs to 105 students every two weeks via Mr Farr.
provide families with easy access to a range of resources,
including links to educational, well-being, literacy and        Continued on next page...

                                                         Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities                                    17
Students have received regular feedback from teachers on          The planning and preparations have required our staff to
completing their work, while teachers have sent reminders         quickly adapt to new ways of working whilst maintaining
to students and their parents when work is overdue.               the high quality delivery of the IBMYP.
Pastoral teams have kept in regular contact with vulnerable
students, both by email and telephone, and the SEN team           At the time of writing, the verification team has met all
have provided regular support to students, especially those       IBMYP staff as well as parents, governors, support staff and
with EHCPs. With regular follow-up and monitoring, 84%            students. Initial feedback from the verification team has
of students have engaged with home-learning provision.            been overwhelmingly positive. They have particularly noted
                                                                  the passion of staff in delivering the IBMYP and instilling the
Middle Years Programme Virtual Verification Visit                 learner profile in students. The lead verifier commented that
                                                                  he was inspired by the development of our students and
Despite myriad obstacles and challenges, the Wilmington           the learning that is taking place. The verification team has
Academy team made the bold decision to continue with its          been extremely supportive throughout the entire process
original date for MYP verification, which took place virtually    and their expert knowledge and feedback will help us
on 25th and 26th June. With most staff working from home,         develop even further. While we await feedback at our exit
the distance-learning platform has been put to use to             meeting, the journey for all involved has been a long but
sustain the positive momentum by embedding the IBMYP              exciting one, with a final verification decision due shortly
and the IB learner profile that underpins it.                     from the IB.

Wilmington Academy is one of the first schools in the
                                                                                            © International Baccalaureate
world to undergo virtual verification, as well as the first                                            Organisation 2018
LAT academy to pursue final verification of the IBMYP.

The Leigh Academy
                                                                                        The Leigh Academy was then
                                                                                        contacted by the agent of David
                                                                                        Walliams, who had been shown
                                                                                        the video and wanted to talk with
                                                                                        the students via a Zoom video call.
                                                                                        Students and staff were thrilled to
                                                                                        talk to him about everything, from his
                                                                                        own time at school, to his inspiration
                                                                                        as an author and his experiences
                                                                                        during lockdown. David described the
                                                                                        experiences that had inspired some
                                                                                        of the characters in his ‘world’s worst
                                                                                        teachers’ book and offered insights
                                                                                        into his latest book on the ‘world’s
                                                                                        worst parents’, spending over half
                                                                                        an hour with the students and giving
                                                                                        each of them an opportunity to speak
                                                                                        with him directly. This was a fantastic
                                                                                        experience for all involved.
Since the start of the pandemic, The         This spread the message that, despite
Leigh Academy has kept its doors             news reports, schools were not closed      Throughout the period of lockdown,
open to children of key workers based        and provision for key workers was an       The Leigh Academy has operated
across all schools in the Dartford           essential part of keeping society going.   as the Dartford secondary hub,
hub to ensure that their parents can         This interview was broadcast on 1st        welcoming colleagues and students
continue to fight Covid-19 on the            April on BBC Southeast Today.              from The Leigh UTC, Wilmington
frontline. A video of interviews with                                                   Academy and Longfield Academy.
students about their parents’ jobs                                                      The site and administrative teams,
was published and the important                                                         as well as an army of volunteers,
message to ‘stay home and save lives’                                                   were instrumental in ensuring that
was reinforced. This video attracted                                                    this process was well organised and
over 10,000 views across various                                                        that each area was safe for staff and
social media platforms and we were                                                      students. Subsequently, the academy
soon contacted by BBC Newsroom                                                          has opened its doors to students in
Southeast, who requested an interview                                                   years 10 and 12 students, with year 7
with the students themselves.                                                           to follow.

Longfield Academy

In true Longfield spirit, staff, students and their families
have risen to the challenge of ever-changing expectations,
and a great many members of our community have found
new opportunities to help others and develop themselves

During the lockdown period, we have, as a community,
been forced to accept and deal with extraordinarily
difficult circumstances. Through all of this, we have united
to support those in need of our time and extra effort,
strengthening our character.

Some of the acts of kindness carried out by Longfield
students have been truly heart-warming. Ruby, in year
8, has been working as a community care worker for
Sevenoaks Council, and countless young people have been
volunteering to support the elderly in their local areas.

We are incredibly proud that students who have left us only
recently have been working on the NHS frontline during
this pandemic. The following are but two examples:

                          Patrick left us in 2018 after his
                          A Levels and has one year of his
                          paramedic degree to complete
                          at university while working with
                          the ambulance service during the
                          Covid crisis.

                                                                   We would also like to congratulate the academy’s
                          Tom stepped up as a volunteer            GCSE photography students for their dedication and
                          at Darent Valley Hospital, where         commitment to the subject. They have been working
                          his mum has worked for many              on a selection of projects to improve their photography
                          years, whilst his university             skills, including the Alphabet Challenge. Ms Smith has
                          degree in drama has been                 been hugely impressed by the way in which students
                          suspended.                               have embraced the arts to express their thoughts and
                                                                   understanding while building resilience and confidence.
During this time of upheaval, we have all learned just how         We have included a thought-provoking capture (above)
important routine is. Students have not only missed the            from Lucy in year 9 - what a poignant moment in time!
social element of school each day, but also the academic
stimulation it offers - so much so that students such as Katie     Years 11 and 13 have been particularly impacted by current
in year 7 said:                                                    circumstances, with exams cancelled and school lives
                                                                   ending abruptly. Staff have kept in regular contact with
“I was missing science. This led me into doing some free online   them, preparing year 11 for level 3 study and providing
  university courses. I completed all of the ones I started.”      them with life skills in a Google classroom on adulting that
                                                                   directs them to a range of resources, from videos on how
We have also seen a team of post-16 students, led by               to make pizza dough, to basic money management and free
Poppy, produce a newsletter for their peers. Articles have         short courses. They have also worked with Eton College to
been lively and entertaining - an excellent reflection of the      give students access to their EtonX online classes, including
academy’s responsible, humorous post-16 student body.              one on resilience and another on making an impact.

Lots of students have been busy reading their body weight          As more and more students are welcomed back into the
in literature and Zach and Matthew have become reading             building physically, all are getting to grips with the
millionaires - well done!                                          ‘new normal’.

                                                            Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities                                19
Mascalls Academy
‘The Lockdown Gallery’
                                                                          Aspire Believe Achieve

There is an irony in that – It transpires      The art department, like every
that creativity and imagination don’t          department in Mascalls, has always
do ‘lockdown’. In fact, it is at times like    been proud of its students and their
these when creativity is at its most           achievements – but probably no more
evident due to necessity, the urge to          so than right now. They have amazed
escape and the need for headspace.             everyone. More than that, students
                                               have amazed themselves, having seen
The 20th March felt like a sad day.            what they are truly capable of under
The inevitable “how do we do this?”            their own steam. Indeed, the students
rang in the ears of staff. “The digital        have made the staff’s lockdown and
classroom? How will we cope…how                will be welcomed back warmly.
will they cope?” To their relief as the
days and weeks passed, the response            A big thank you to our young artists,
came. The situation has forced staff           not to mention our supportive
to push their trust in students even           parents, to whom we offer apologies
further. For once, the focus was               for the many ruined carpets and paint-
not that their young artists should            splattered walls!
create masterpieces; instead, very
different assessment criteria had
to be applied. With boundaries lifted,
it was over to them – to give it their
best shot, to express themselves, to
WANT to do it. Instead of rushing to
the next deadline, to ~get on to the
next thing~, students had to use their
creativity and originality as a means
of escape, and to be ‘real’ artists.

            A collection of work produced
                for Fine Art, Graphics and
            Photography from students in
                       years 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Stationers’ Crown Woods
Academy                                                                                                          STATIONERS’
                                                                                                             CROWN WOODS ACADEMY

Schools, by their very nature, are bastions of equality,        Some children - the most disadvantaged - are habitually
striving to close the academic, social and cultural gaps that   excluded from accessing education. For these children,
exist in the everyday lives of children. In the absence of      the inequalities that exist in their day-to-day lives were
formal, face-to-face schooling, inequalities become ever        compounded when schools closed. Families without a
more apparent.                                                  suitable work device or an internet connection are left
                                                                in the dark. Schools are working hard to supply families
The closure of schools on 20th March to combat the spread       with devices and wi-fi connections and, if necessary, hard
of Covid-19 signalled a fundamental change in the way we        copies of paper-based work, but some children are still
educate our young people.                                       not accessing education. Some of the most vulnerable
                                                                require greater levels of support and guidance in order to
Not many families would ever consider home-education;           access the content. Parents, in too many cases, are unable
nevertheless, every family with school-aged children is now     to support learning. These children, more than any, need
embroiled in the challenges of home-schooling. Digital          the contact, the routine and the equality of a school-based
media, on-line resources and ever-more advanced SMART           education.
technology has made remote connection to teaching
resources possible. ‘Google Classroom’ and ‘Google Meet’        The restrictions of lockdown will be lifted gradually and,
have brought the classroom into the living rooms of             hopefully, schools will be fully open to all pupils from
housebound families. Teachers are using this technology         September. The need to re-engage the most disadvantaged
to set work, monitor work and provide feedback. School          and vulnerable children is critical, but in order to re-engage
leaders can track how often children are logging on to          them school leaders will need a clear vision.
access the work and can intervene when children are
disengaged or simply struggling to access the resources.        When schools reopen, the challenge for school leaders will
The digital world has revolutionised the way we connect         be to reflect on the value of digital resources and on-line
with one another and, in a world of isolation, on-line          platforms and to address the inequalities that remain. The
platforms have become the primary method of remaining           digital world will not replace the relationship with or the
connected to work, family and friends.                          expert delivery of a teacher, but it can ensure every child
                                                                has access to the same powerful knowledge.
Unfortunately, not all families are connected in the
same way. Hardware and connectivity is costly and still
inaccessible for too many families.

Some children are thriving where parents are able to adopt
a pragmatic approach to their own work, allowing for a
more hands-on, supportive approach to home-schooling;
some children, left to their own devices, are thriving with
greater freedom and independence; while some are finding
the need to learn proactively too great a challenge. Their
connection and engagement with school has weakened,
but they are still able to access the resources and support,
if required.

                                                          Shaping Lives, Transforming Communities                                  21
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