02 Nov 2020

Year 6 pupil James enjoying his lessons during lockdown

Shebbear College in North Devon has announced plans to continue with its highly acclaimed virtual learning provision, alongside lessons taking place as normal on the school site.

The College, which caters for day and boarding pupils aged between 2 and 18, is currently in the process of installing web-cams in each classroom, which will enable the teachers to record their lessons and transmit them live to any pupils who cannot physically be at school.

“We are really looking forward to welcoming all of our pupils back to school in September,” said Caroline Kirby, Head at Shebbear, “but we want to be fully prepared for anything that Covid-19 throws at us in the Autumn Term. Some of our boarding pupils may need to quarantine when they return to the UK, whilst other children may be isolating in their household, not to mention the possibility of a second wave of the virus. Filming the lessons and transmiting them live through our virtual learning platform will mean that all of our pupils will have full access to their timetable and support system remotely and do not need to worry about falling behind.”

Matt Newitt, Deputy Head (Academic) added, “During lockdown, we offered a remote learning platform that was extremely well-received by both parents and pupils alike. Pupils continued to follow their usual timetable, registering with their tutor in the morning and taking part in live lessons with all their subject teachers. Our Wellbeing and Pastoral Care was more important than ever and even our extra-curricular activities programme continued, with students enjoying a huge range of creative and sporting challenges. If we need to move back to remote learning next term, Shebbear will be able to do this seamlessly, just as we did in the summer term.”

Shebbear College received a great deal of praise from parents for its academic and co-curricular provision during lockdown, with its small class sizes and focus on each individual pupil really coming into fruition. Some teachers arranged 1-to-1 lessons or (socially distanced) home visits for any pupils that were struggling, either academically or emotionally, and the school’s parent body certainly appreciated this effort to go ‘above and beyond’.

“Our son’s remote learning provision was a privilege to watch.” said Carol Shephard-Blandy, a Shebbear parent. “We saw and heard him at school – part of his day that, ordinarily, we would not have experienced. Creative, sensitive and always with their usual sense of humour – the Staff found inspiring ways to structure, engage, teach and entertain. Sensitively thought through and wonderfully imaginative, the children worked hard and played hard – business as usual, in unusual times”

Similarly, Bridget Down who has two children at the school, commented “We are so thankful to the staff of Shebbear College, who provided a fully enriched and engagingly academic remote classroom experience which has kept our children mentally and physically healthy. The sounds of Shebbear life have flooded through our house each day as the children settled to their lessons and I love that we have had the privilege of seeing inside the classroom.”

She continued, “The children are encouraged to learn through a host of creative and inspiring activities; equally, there are moments when head down concentration or conversation with a skilled teacher is needed. We hear glimpses of content from the hugely knowledgeable and passionate teaching staff as well as the responses from the children, including the moments of giggles – which warms my heart. These members of staff have gone above and beyond to make the learning experience as deep and engaging as they can.”