During the course of the pandemic, we have constantly evolved our approach to remote teaching and learning as both the circumstances on the ground and the needs of our pupils have changed.
In the first lockdown we learned that there is a balance to be struck between set work for pupils to engage with independently and live lessons that seek to replicate at least some of the classroom experience. This hybrid model came into its own during the challenging period earlier this academic year when we had to manage delivering teaching to pupils who were learning both on site and at home, simultaneously.
Lent Term in numbers
Currently, every senior pupil has a dedicated MS Teams classroom for every subject and we continue to deliver both independent work and live lessons for children ‘attending school’ at home. We make full use of best-in-class platforms to deliver the best learning experience for our pupils.
Pupils are receiving live lessons via Teams delivered by their subject teachers and homework is set online via Teams assignments. During meetings, Teachers are using all the tools we have now become so familiar with like Polls, Raise Hands, Thumbs up; all quick ways to check understanding and engagement. We have also welcomed the introduction of Breakout rooms in Teams making it easier for pupils to work in smaller groups.
Many teachers are also using additional technology platforms that integrate with Teams such as PearDeck, Flipgrid, Microsoft Forms, Quizlet and Kahoot . In addition, our EPQ and HPQ teachers are utilising our integration with Turnitin to give students a pre-university experience using plagiarism checking software.
These resources are supplemented by teacher-created videos which are shared via our Video and Photo platform, Planet eStream. We also have a large range of subscriptions on offer to supplement learning for pupils. For example: Maths and Science teachers are using Century Tech which uses AI and Neuroscience to help pupils identify areas for improvement. A new subscription for us this year, is Exam.net which allows teachers to deliver online tests in a semi-secure environment.
Deputy Head Academic
Our approach to using technology at Forest has always been a pro-active one. We introduced Teams to our staff in September 2018 and pupils in September 2019. When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, we were therefore already in a position to move our teaching fully online.
We have since quickly adapted to developments to the technology we use as they have been introduced, providing online support for Forest staff to continue to deliver outstanding teaching and learning to our pupils whilst they are working remotely.
eLearning is about using the right tool for the job and remote teaching has accelerated innovation in everything we do. We have been sharing best practice and adopting in-built tools as they have become available, expanding the technical skills of our staff via a programme of online webinars, all delivered in-house.
Head of eLearning
“I do want to respond to the Lent message to thank you and the school for working so hard with our children at this current time. I remain extremely impressed with the high quality of the teaching and other activities laid on – of course we all speak to colleagues and friends about their home-schooling experience, and Forest is well ahead of others I hear of. I am constantly having to deal with staff of my own business whose working day has been stymied by their children’s school’s lack of preparation, communication or foresight.”
Our goal is always to offer outstanding pastoral care to all our pupils, but this year much of that care has been delivered remotely.
This provision has taken the form of live Tutor time for all pupils, remote assemblies and House meetings every Friday, online chapel and no less than six Pupil Wellbeing surveys.
The Pupil Wellbeing surveys were always intended to be about impact, interventions and listening to pupil voice and being able to respond to their thoughts and concerns. The invaluable data these surveys have provided have enabled us to target regular check-ins and, where necessary, early safeguarding interventions. Also, as a Place2Be school, our pupils also have access to KOOTH the leading online provider of counselling. Please click here to learn more about Express yourself week which took place at the beginning of February.
Deputy Head Pastoral, Head of Pupil Welfare
Throughout the different stages of lockdown, we have experienced since the start of the pandemic, the co-curricular department here at Forest has worked hard to ensure that there is a breadth and depth of activities and projects to engage and inspire all our pupils.
We have moved into Lent term with the enthusiasm and, within the timetabled day, Activities and Games give pupils the opportunity to enrich their curriculum-based learning; from making alfajores in “Latin American Street Food” or taking some time away from the screen in “Run Club”.
Beyond the timetable, a broad range of clubs and societies with 36 sessions running weekly including a growing number of pupil-led clubs giving pupils the opportunity to practice their leadership and organisational skills, while fostering friendships between pupils across the years.
These clubs and societies are offered alongside after school co-curricular work, replacing traditional subject homework for pupils in Years 7-9 and giving pupils in all years an opportunity to develop their creativity, comprehension, thus supporting their wellbeing. This complements the Remote Co-Curricular site, where pupils can access a curated collection of regularly updated resources.
In addition, we are always looking to launch new competitions which include partnering with other schools and encompass sport, art, photography drama and dance.
Gemma van Praagh
Deputy Head Co-Curricular
“I loved the amazing music, especially the string section. It was so amazing to see so many people playing at the same time. [I disliked] Nothing really !! It was brilliant”