Schools turn to innovative ways to teach in first week of closures

Mel Fearns, headteacher at St George's Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Mel Fearns, headteacher at St George's Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

With small numbers of children in the classroom and most forced to learn at home, schools across Norfolk have turned to innovative ways to support pupils in the first week of coronavirus closures.

Watching a virtual assembly from St Edmunds School in Kings Lynn. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Watching a virtual assembly from St Edmunds School in Kings Lynn. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Headteachers, principals and teachers have been making the most of digital technology and looking for creative ways to keep youngsters learning, with only a handful of children now physically attending school.

Social media, online classrooms and door-step deliveries have been just some of the tactics schools have used to stay in touch with their communities.

MORE: School teacher hails ‘amazing’ pupils and parents over new remote learningAt St Edmund’s Academy, in King’s Lynn, headteacher Jill Graver has been posting online assemblies and reading to her class online.

Jill Graver, headteacher of St Edmunds School in King’s Lynn, and English lead teacher Adam Stanton.

Jill Graver, headteacher of St Edmunds School in King’s Lynn, and English lead teacher Adam Stanton. Pictures: St Edmunds School - Credit: St Edmunds School

She believes the closure of the school has helped to boost parents’ engagement in their children’s learning.

She said: “We are only a few days in and the most inspiring part for me so far is the way the parents are engaging with this, their comments and gratitude on our Facebook page have genuinely brought a lump to my throat.


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“I think this is more than teaching children, we have been teaching adults too. I know at least two parents who now ‘get fractions’.”

A spelling lesson with English lead teacher Adam Stanton of St Edmunds School in Kings Lynn. Picture

A spelling lesson with English lead teacher Adam Stanton of St Edmunds School in Kings Lynn. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

English lead, Adam Stanton, has also posted a bedtime story on YouTube to get children engaged in home reading.

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Ms Graver said: “More than half of our families have English as an additional language and often communication can be an issue. I think by us adding teaching online, our families are able to use translate buttons which means they can engage too.

“Despite all the stress of this week, I believe we have truly taken a giant leap forward in community engagement.”

Schools have also been decorating their gates with rainbows including Norwich Primary Academy. Pictu

Schools have also been decorating their gates with rainbows including Norwich Primary Academy. Pictures: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

MORE: The Norfolk school with 15 pupils - and almost as many staffAt St George’s Primary School in Great Yarmouth, an army of staff volunteers have offered to make phone calls to older people and those who are isolated.

The school also provided meal vouchers to 127 of its children who are eligible for free school meals, with staff then parcelling them up with learning packs, pencils and books and delivering them door to door.

Headteacher Mel Fearns said: “School staff are now on the frontline with the NHS providing a daily face-to-face service looking after the vulnerable and the critical workers children.

Pupils with rainbow design artwork at Sprowston Infant School. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Pupils with rainbow design artwork at Sprowston Infant School. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

“The staff have huge anxiety and fear – however every member of staff has bravely stepped up and are doing their bit and even staff who are living closely with vulnerable adults themselves are still coming to work.

“I am so proud of the teachers and school staff putting themselves on the line as well as trying to keep supporting the education at the children at home – I just hope our society values their efforts as well.”

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “We know that schools and academies are real community hubs and it is tremendous to see the efforts they are making to lift spirits and keep learning going.

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Coun

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

“Many are also delivering meals to their children and carrying out home visits. Their role is invaluable at this difficult time.”

WHAT OTHER SCHOOLS ARE DOING

Sprowston Infants – Children made a superhero video to celebrate all of their key worker parents.

Carbrooke Primary – The headteacher and parents had a virtual floss dancing contest. The school has also set up a dedicated Facebook page so that parents can provide support for one another.

Long Stratton High – Staff have been out on their bikes and in the mini bus delivering meals.

St Williams Primary, Norwich – Staff have been using Facebook to celebrate children’s birthdays, as they can’t mark them in school.

Stalham Infant and Stalham Academy – Children have been writing to their local residential homes and sending daffodil pictures to doctors’ surgeries and staff posted a Where’s Wally challenge on social media, with staff hidden in the picture.

Diss Primary Academy - Has provided laptops to pupils, to help with online learning at home.

Cambian Group – who support children with specialist needs, have been making up and delivering food parcels.

Schools across the county have also been decorating their gates with rainbows, a symbol of hope that is being used across the country.

• A list of useful educational resources for learning at home can be found at Norfolk County Council• For updates on how coronavirus is affecting Norfolk, please visit our Facebook page here

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