Woodhall Primary - Journeying through the Pandemic
Case Study by Matthew Fuller, Headteacher at Woodhall Primary
The challenges faced by schools during national lockdowns and partial school closures have been well documented. Less well documented is how schools organised their learning to meet the needs of their children. Here we find out how one of our flagship schools, Woodhall Primary School, navigated the pandemic storm.
School Name: Woodhall Primary
Local Authority: Sudbury, Suffolk
Ofsted Rating: Good
Pupils on roll: 416
Age Group: 3-11
Pupil Premium: 34.05%
Caught off guard - Lockdown #1
It is fair to say, the first lockdown caught us by surprise. The hours leading up to 3.15pm on Friday 20th March, following the Prime Minister’s announcement the previous day, were a frenetic rush to pull together ‘learning packs’ for all our 400+ children, that would help keep them going for a few weeks, while infection rates settled down! The fact that one of our photocopiers gave up the ghost towards the end of the day, goes to show just how much pressure we were placing upon them! In hindsight, what these packs actually ‘taught’ the children is, if we’re honest, questionable. What they taught us however, was that if there were to be a ‘next time’, we absolutely had to be better prepared.
SfA Programme adaptations
With the onset of Covid safe practices like ‘bubbles’, staggered drop-off/ pick-up times, our normal ‘stage not age’ provision had to be pared back, although we were keen to avoid a return to general mixed ability classes. In order to operate SfA with as much fidelity as possible, we decided to operate in bubbles comprising two year groups. As a two-form entry school, this allowed us more flexibility with groupings. Some may question the safety implications with increased numbers of children mixing, however, we saw it as an effective compromise between meeting the needs of our children and keeping us all safe.
Remote Learning - 2021
Come January 2021 and another lockdown, having assessed the children before the Christmas break, we decided to stick with the newly devised groupings and that our SfA teachers would teach their ‘stage’ classes. They did this by recording lessons and then posting them on a secure YouTube page. This enabled our children to access lessons at a time that was convenient to them and their families – the nature of our community means many of our families only have a single device. Some adaptations were required, for example, Wings scoring matrices had to be pre-made, while in Roots video input was short and sharp to maintain engagement. To keep lessons to a manageable length, for remote learning, we also split some Wings lessons over two days.
Communication between children and teachers was mainly via Class Dojo, a virtual educational platform which enabled children to ask their teachers questions, post work and importantly, for teachers to provide feedback in a timely fashion. Parents were also able to communicate with teachers, so they could also support their children more effectively.
Now we have returned, our approach means we feel confident about the journey ahead, and enabling our children to continue to make progress and enjoy success.