At the start of February it will be one year since we started discussing the possible implications of Covid-19 on the day-to-day running of the school. It was a weekly agenda item on our senior leadership team meetings and although we began to implement more rigorous regimes of hand washing and temperature checking, we had no idea of the huge impact the pandemic would have on the school and more importantly the people in it.
We started using Microsoft Teams during the first national lockdown in the spring and summer of 2020 and it quickly became integrated into many aspects of school life. It is a safe and easy to navigate platform which allows teachers, parents and boys to connect visually as well as facilitating quick and easy sharing, completing and uploading of work to be marked, without the need to print lots of paper. We continued to use it once we all returned to school in September: to set homework, hold parents’ evenings, for school assemblies to enable bubbles of pupils to join together regularly and to teach boys who were self-isolating at home. So while we were sad not to return to school after Christmas at least we were able to move smoothly into our remote learning mode.
This term we are offering boys a revised but busy timetable of daily live lessons, including specialist lessons for boys in Years 4 to 6 with their teachers. All boys are also having weekly PE and music live online lessons. They have adequate breaks from their screens and there is time within the timetable for them to complete their homework as I firmly believe time after school should be focused on reading, playing and relaxing.
The well-being of our boys is extremely important to us and every day they all have face to face contact online with their class teacher. In both lockdowns we encouraged the boys to take part in our Magnificent Mallians challenges. These were open ended tasks designed so the boys could problem solve, think creatively and demonstrate their prowess in art, design, music and sport.
We still aren’t sure when we will all return to school again, let alone resume the things we took for granted in the past, including residential trips and welcoming parents to concerts and plays. While nothing can replace the experience of life in school I do believe that the pandemic has made us embrace new ways of doing things that will have a positive impact on how we approach some things differently in the future.
David Price, Headmaster, The Mall School