Posted: 15th April 2020

Next week Leweston pupils will ‘return’ to start the Summer Term but teaching, learning and pastoral care will be a little different. The Senior School Head, Mr Paget Tomlinson, writes:

Leweston has a long tradition of excellent teaching and learning and as we approach this new term we do so very much with this in mind and a determination to provide our outstanding educational offer online. As I said in my assembly on Monday 6th April, this is a unique period in the history of education. If we are to really think seriously about the nature of teaching it has not changed a huge amount since the days when Socrates would stand on the steps of the school of Athens and debate with Thrasymachus over the nature of justice. The essential element of teaching, the exchange of ideas and the guidance given by someone who has knowledge of the facts, but also the method to arrive at an interpretation and understanding, is timeless. In this new paradigm where the lesson is virtual we still have to account for the need for the skilled practitioner to set the problem out, provide some of the information necessary and then guide the discussion with a methodology. This type of interaction is key to being able to correct and support the learner. However, it equally remains the case that a good education requires the learner to be independent, confident enough to challenge existing authorities and seek out new ways of solving old problems. Our online learning model will reflect both these elements. A degree of interaction that is appropriate to the lesson and that much needed independence to actually learn and not just repeat.

Our new provision at Leweston Online Learning will give unprecedented support to children and parents, both at home and overseas, in the coming weeks. We have discussed with others schools and with educational bodies the best approach. To that end, therefore, we have chosen the Microsoft Office package that the pupils are most familiar with to deliver a mixture of real-time guidance, teacher support and the ability to come offline and work independently. Learning will take place within the timetable that will allow for some downtime from screen usage and for the examination year groups a package of Extended Project Qualification (Year 11) and pre A-Level/Pre-university reading and seminars. We will also be encouraging the examination years in the use of MOOCs (online free courses) which foster independence and interest in a huge variety of subjects.

Unparalleled pastoral care is a hallmark of Leweston and the team will be in regular contact with the pupils and this will include assemblies, tutor meetings and, where appropriate, one to one interaction. For those with individual needs, there will be a daily online drop-in session for students who normally receive support for their learning. They will be offered help with organising and managing their workload as well as specific help for reading and writing tasks, as necessary.

We will also be reflective in our practice and listen to staff, pupils and parents in order to continue to develop the offer and maximise the functionality of the technology available. All of this will be accessed through our online landing page on our website and we will include ‘how to?’ guides and our online learning policy.

I am confident that despite the unusual nature of the time we find ourselves living in, we will be able to deliver that same Leweston that we all value so much.

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