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News > Alumni News > Issue 77 of Taking Stock

Issue 77 of Taking Stock

Discover the phrase that has impacted SGS the most in Issue 77 of Taking Stock.
4 Aug 2021
Alumni News

Each new national challenge leaves its imprint upon our language. ‘Social Distancing’ (physical distancing might have been a better term), ‘Test and Trace’ and ‘Furlough’ have all unceremoniously pushed their way into our linguistic consciousness over the last year. The phrase that has had most impact in schools has, of course, been ‘Remote Learning’.

Technology has come to our aid over the last few months with pupils using webcams and a variety of apps and platforms to keep learning from home. The teachers have risen to the challenge splendidly, adapting and innovating to maintain ‘business as usual’ as far as possible. Some of the new innovations will certainly become part of the established teaching and learning repertoire as we return to face-to-face. Soundtrap, for example, provides an excellent way for pupils to compose music and to collaborate and the pandemic seems to have hugely accelerated the development of this type of software. Teaching and learning using a cloud-based app helpfully blurs the line between learning in class and learning at home and allows pupils to learn at their own pace. One positive benefit for most pupils of remote learning has been an increased confidence in learning more independently, a skill that will certainly be useful throughout their lives.

On the other hand, we have all come to see how much we take for granted in normal lessons. The cumbersome necessity to un-mute and then remute, or type in a chat-box, slows the pace of discussion during on-line lessons making it much harder to check pupils’ understanding. In a classroom a quick question and some eye-contact is often enough to know whether the point has been grasped and it is time to move on. Collaboration tools such as Google Jam or Nearpod are useful but can’t quite match the speed and convenience of a simple group discussion.

We have also learned the power and importance of practical activities. Whilst much ingenuity has been expended with home experiments and video demonstrations, the experience of doing something yourself using specialist equipment boosts understanding in a way that is hard to simulate. Some co-curricular activities have no virtual analogue. A rugby or hockey practice, a Big Band rehearsal or a session of Animal Club really do require the physical presence of the participants to achieve much.

Finally, we have understood once again the power and importance of community. Schools are about learning together. This is not just about discussing ideas and applications in lessons but also building friendships through a chat over lunch. Schools are about people and not buildings but we have learned that to be really effective schools need people together in buildings. Dr Paul Owen

Read the Issue 77 of Taking Stock here. 

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