Rupert House School is delighted to announce it has been shortlisted by the Independent Schools of the Year Awards in the category of Outstanding Response to Covid-19.
Head of Rupert House School, Nick Armitage, comments: “Established to highlight the excellence of the student experience in independent schools, the Outstanding Response to Covid-19 category recognises those Independent Schools who surpassed themselves to deliver a first-class educational experience to their pupils despite having to live with ever-changing levels of restrictions.
“Being shortlisted for this award is testament to the speed with which Rupert House responded to the impact of the Covid Pandemic which was as quick as the impact of the pandemic itself.
“We were early adopters of a one-way system throughout our school site; we set up different entry points and staggered entry and exit times to accommodate different bubbles; we instigated temperature checks of pupils and staff; and set up hand sanitiser stations across the school. Parents and teachers wore masks and we integrated NHS track and trace into our e-reception system.
“It quickly became apparent an alternative means of educational provision was going to be essential for the Summer term of 2020. Our staff worked throughout the holidays, undertaking training and uploading provision on Firefly, our on-line learning platform of choice. Through Firefly, teachers could create and disseminate learning materials and resources to students in a user-friendly manner online; set tasks and homework; effectively communicate with parents; and allow parents to observe and monitor children’s progress. Daily live lessons throughout all year groups were delivered on Zoom including a continued sports and outdoor education provision to
encourage children to exercise outside in the fresh air and take a break from screens.
“In short, pupils had as close to an in-classroom experience as was possible and, when further lockdowns were imposed, we were able to switch our on-site provision to a virtual one. During periods of self-isolation, children were still able to receive a full education. In-line with other schools, we provided on-site provision for children of critical workers and vulnerable children who were allocated toys for playtime and personal headsets, with equipment thoroughly cleaned between sessions.
“Recognising the impact to the pupils’ and staff mental health, our pastoral care team was restructured and Mental Health First Aiders were introduced to assist those suffering from anxiety, and a number of initiatives adopted. For pupils, we introduced a nature photography competition to encourage daily exercise and focus on their surroundings, and ‘Talk Time’ for children to discuss any problems in a safe environment (either in person or virtually). When we physically returned to school, we organised dedicated days full of fun, team-building activities to re-acclimatise to school life. For parents, we hosted specialist talks to provide insight, guidance and tools on how to manage home learning, anxieties and other challenges. For staff, we arranged a number of wellbeing initiatives.
“Finally, after lockdown 1, when Year 6 and Nursery children returned to school full-time, our staff went above and beyond so we were able to bring all year groups back on a full-time basis – the only school in our area to do so. We consider this to be quite a feat, given the logistics which had to be implemented in order to ensure a safe return for all.
“This parent testimony speaks for itself: “Being able to adjust the syllabus and teaching on a day’s notice to online learning is an enormous credit to you. At Rupert House you manage to pull together online learning with style and creativity, and a superb curriculum. It’s a remarkable achievement.”