At the start of lockdown we were confident that we could deliver an excellent Learning from Home (LfH) programme, but we didn’t know how we were going to be able to replicate the sense of community that we are lucky enough to feel every day in the Prep School.
For some of our pupils, accessing LfH has been an adventure in itself. They are currently learning from locations as diverse as America, Australia (Kangaroo Island), China, Cyprus, Russia and a small village in Cornwall, to name but a few.
A handful of our pupils took time getting home and completing their journey in stages meant that they had to adapt to LfH in a variety of settings. Despite the challenges of moving between different time zones, accessing technology and coping with distance from their friends, the pupils’ response has been inspiring.
Our staff, too, are scattered around, but it is Mrs Brathwaite who has gone the furthest; adding an international dimension to our virtual staff meetings, she recently flew back to Barbados to join family in preparation for her maternity leave. Her schoolwork has continued thanks to the help of the Fettes Community and her family and friends. Whilst the setting may be idyllic, this now means that the day begins at 3:30 am to check emails, followed by a four o’clock welcome to her SB tutees!
One of the ways we have tried to keep our community together has been to use the foundation of the pastoral care system, our tutors, to bridge the gap between school and home and Tutor Time has become the highlight of the day for many. At the start of each day the pupils talk to their tutors and each other about how they are feeling, how work is going, celebrate successes, find solutions to problems and come up with ideas to make everyone smile, including team games and cook-a-longs; who knew that making breakfast together would be so much fun! Although tutors are the first port of call if pupils have any worries or concerns, these can also be shared with our Pastoral Care, Support for Learning and PSHE teams.
We’ve held assembly three times a week, and have challenged our pupils to learn to juggle, make a meal, iron a shirt, invent a new popcorn flavour, grow sunflowers, learn a poem, dress in red, keep trying and most importantly, be kind and help others.
Fettesfit, a half hour daily workout, has kept our energy levels high and united us in the effort to keep up with Mr Mill and Mrs Fletcher- always a challenge! Our weekly Chapel service is still led by Dr Clark and available for families to watch together every Saturday.
Our PSHE topics have got everyone thinking about the importance of community whether that is at home, within our school or out the wider world. We have drawn rainbows and joined in with online initiatives such as playing music and clapping for carers to show our appreciation of the magnificent NHS. We have talked about the Black Lives Matter campaign and the LGBTQIA+ Community, looking at Pride Month. We’ve learnt more about staying safe online and the growth mindset, celebrating our acquisition of new skills during this time.
Our pupils have been working together on Teams and OneNote where they have contributed to collaboration spaces, recommending books, films and even adding photos of their pets; 1P all now expect Maxime’s cat, Lichi, to join their morning meetings!
We have been particularly impressed with the pupils’ communication skills, from the youngest to the oldest. Not only have they happily chatted about their day and readily asked for help, they have also been extremely supportive of each other.
So, as we head towards the end of term, we can see that we needn’t have worried, the Fettes Prep community spirit has continued to shine brightly for which we must thank our impressive pupils, our patient parents and our wonderful team of staff.