Distance Learning at Bancroft’s
During this period of distance learning, imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we are trying to ensure that as many elements of life at Bancroft's remain as constant as possible for our pupils. The school is much more than the physical buildings and our strength as a community has really come into its own through this strange time.
Mr Dickinson, Head of our Junior Section (years 7 and 8), swapped his suit for something a little more practical and headed out to his local woods to deliver a virtual assembly which tutors were asked to play during their tutor periods.
Our duty house for the week is sending us daily thoughts on their chosen theme. North House had “adaptation” as their theme and their daily message included footage showing how the natural world adapts. East House has chosen “adversity” and we have been inspired by the words of St Francis of Assisi and Booker T Washington (American educator, author and political advisor). West keptus mentally alert by setting us puzzles every day while School asked us to film challenges, such as perform a card trick. The latter wrote, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” Weekly house assemblies continue on a Friday morning, when our house staff look forward to “seeing” the members of their houses.
At the Senior School, pupils are expected to log into Microsoft teams for form time with their tutors every morning. These sessions mirror form time at school and also give an opportunity for pupils to socialise and continue to take part in both house activities and also those of the wider school community. These sessions include assemblies, discussions and shared activities and provide a continuation of the pastoral elements that are vital for pupil development and well being.
During the school day, pupils check in to on-line lessons delivered by their regular teachers through Microsoft Teams for their distance learning. About half of all lessons take place live and other work tasks are being set on our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Subject teachers will notify pupils in advance of any lessons that they are expected to attend and pupils adhere to the regular timetables. Inevitably pupils may not always be able to attend “live”, so all lessons taught this way are being recorded. We believe that, ultimately, pupils will gain in some ways from this period: independent learning skills should accelerate and pupils’ ability to manage their time and workloads should improve.
I can assure you that with what we have designed for next term, you will make sufficient progress and learn effectivelySimon Marshall, Head, communication with pupils
The focus of distance learning will differ for some year groups. The Fifth Form (Year 11) will have the fantastic opportunity to start their A Level courses just before half term: a very exciting opportunity, indeed. Our higher education and careers preparation remain largely the same for Lower Sixth (Year 12) with comprehensive training in various areas of the UCAS process. Michelle Dean, Head of Careers and Entrepreneurship, will continue with our careers programme throughout the term. All pupils will receive an online interview where they will be reflecting on both their academic and extracurricular achievements throughout the year. Additionally, Ms Dean will also be delivering some specific careers training on areas such as interview technique, preparing a CV and job applications. Our fortnightly lecture programme for L6th pupils continues, albeit remotely. One of the first sessions will be an interactive, live session with ItHappens Education. We will be exploring some of the issues and challenges of the current lockdown and also how to stay safe when all the restrictions have been lifted with the inevitable socialising, parties and holidays on the horizon.
When the A Level courses come to an end in mid-May, we will be running a pre-university course for all Upper Sixth (Year 13) pupils which will have two strands. The first of these will be delivered by departments with pupils arranged into groups relating to their chosen degree. Pupils will receive reading and information which may well appear as part of the first year of their course. They will be encouraged to think and discuss higher-end material as an excellent preparation for the beginning of their studies next year. The second strand will focusses on life skills as a way of preparing pupils for independent life post Bancroft’s. Various topics will be covered, from student and personal finance to health and nutrition, all delivered remotely with a mix of live presentations, interactive content and pre-recorded instructional videos. There will also be an opportunity to develop their culinary skills.
Well being is even more important than ever during this period of distance learning We continue to offer a great deal of support from teachers, tutors, school counsellors and Housemasters. Tutors continue to oversee pupils’ academic progress and provide pastoral support. They will also be keeping in regular contact with pupils about whom there are serious pastoral concerns via telephone. Although it is no longer possible for pupils to just pop in and see their Housemaster/Mistress as they might usually do, they can email them and then they can either have a dialogue via email or can arrange to have a Teams call. Senior and Junior Housestaff have arranged dedicated periods each week when they will be available on Teams to talk to members of their House . Our school counsellors are running on-line sessions. In addition to morning registration, tutor groups meet during their Learning for Life lessons. Our Learning for Life content has been adjusted to better support all pupils at this time. The topics being discussed this term are:
- Balance in our daily life
Additionally, Mrs Channer, Deputy Head Pastoral, has publicised events, in association with the Family Wellness Practice, offering emotional support and a forum in which to discuss and explore concerns
Physical activity is crucial to well being and pupils will continue to receive skills-based PE lessons. The Sports Department is offering two forms of exercise at 4pm each day,. There is a virtual gym session daily with Arram, out Strength and Conditioning Coach, or training sessions for tennis, cricket and athletics.
Mrs Burnside, Director of Activities, has created a page on the VLE which contains a vast amount of activities, competitions and articles which offer pupils the opportunity to investigate the wider world virtually or find a new passion away from their academic subjects. We are even using Teams to run some co-curricular activities: the EqualiTea Society plans to hold a weekly debate/discussion via Teams with their first session discussing ethnicity and Covid-19 deaths. Mr Kelsall is currently in touch with our musicians as he is putting together a virtual orchestra. Although this year’s Wimbledon has been cancelled, Miss Wainwright, Head of Tennis, has put together a “Grand Slam Skills Tennis Challenge” in which the whole family can take part, regardless of tennis playing ability or experience. We are currently looking forward to a Musical Theatre Showcase on Friday evening organised by Ms Middleton and featuring some of our talented performers from Year 10 to Year 13. Our Sea Scout meetings are carrying on each Thursday night at the normal time but obviously as virtual meetings. The Scouts have been completing many activities during lockdown. They have also produced a behind the scenes video of how to run a virtual meeting when one of your leaders has WiFi but can’t enter the house of leader with good WiFi because they are a high risk household.
Obviously, we all miss being part of a physical community and look forward to our staff and pupils being reunited. In the meantime, we are confident that our provisions for distance learning are solid and that our pupils are being offered the best possible way of continuing with their Bancroft’s education under these challenging circumstances. We also applaud the resilience pupils and staff alike have shown getting to grips with new ways of teaching and learning in a relatively short period of time.
We are beyond impressed with how the school is handling the current situation. The teachers in both the Senior School and Prep alike have clearly worked tirelessly over the Easter break and are so well organised. The odd glitch here and there is to be expected but I have to say it’s running really smoothly so far. The children enjoyed their lessons today which were clearly explained and interesting. They also really enjoyed communicating with their teachers and friends in this new way. So it’s a really big well done and thank you from us!Parent of Senior and Prep School pupils