Brabyns Preparatory School Brabyns Preparatory School

Brabyns Preparatory School
The Virtual Schooling Challenge

The March lockdown last year was in many ways a novelty, often referred to as ‘unprecedented.’ As well as being something we hoped/thought would never happen again. This time around, we are all fully aware that it is trickier still for everyone involved, and it certainly is not anyone’s choice. That said, I am so proud of how the staff have managed to adapt so quickly and lead the children (and parents) successfully in their online learning.

Brabyns is a place where children grow and develop alongside friends under the guidance of trained professionals. Whilst this rings true for life at school, we have not tried the impossible task of identically replicating things, such as the same timetables, during our time in virtual school. We are thankful for the great feedback from children and parents alike that the balance we have found meets the children’s needs.

Screen time is something we are all very conscious of; my mum used the phrase ‘you’ll get square eyes’ when I was younger and first played on my Atari ST (Which actually, I spent longer waiting for the tape to load than I did play it!). Now ‘square eyes’ never materialised, however like my parents, we have been very mindful about the screen time the children are having. We have worked to ensure we keep a balance of activities. That said our use of technology, e.g. the break-out rooms, has been fabulous, and the staff have taken to it with a sense of determination and (needed) resilience. One of the hardest parts of virtual schooling is ensuring lessons do not become simply a task to complete to get through the day. I’m proud of how our staff have been creative to keep as much as possible, the vibrant and inspiring nature of a normal classroom online without the children getting ‘zoom fatigue’ (something that is recognised in the workplace and certainly bad for anyone’s mental health).

We've also set the children up to work in an appropriate space, to succeed each day and avoid backaches, etc. from sitting in an uncomfortable position, as well as numerous, really important, physical exercises for them to do (Have you seen the ‘Masked Exerciser' ?). I always mention on my school tours that I believe the children walking around school and being able to talk to each other is one of the many great ’soft’ parts of Brabyns life that is so important to a child’s development. This time allows the children to relax and socialise as well as reflect on their learning and be excited about what they are going to do next. I adore the sound out of my window or door as children excitedly walk to a PE, Art or Science lesson. So the big reminder here is to ensure children do get these moves throughout the virtual school days. A walk around the garden, a race up the stairs, a mini dance in the kitchen has all become an essential part of virtual schooling. The snow was certainly a welcome break from the ‘norm’ and it was great to see the children enjoying it (as well as us being able to set up things like our snow art and snowball crossbar challenge).

We all know this isn’t the way we’d like children to be educated and I welcome the day when children are back at Brabyns with their eyes lighting up alongside us as part of their day-to-day learning journey and are enjoying the delights of a break time game of hide and seek in the BFG.

The fact our children refrain from complaining is a true characteristic of a ‘Brabyns child.’ They have met the virtual schooling challenge head-on, and this is testimony to them and parents and staff alike. The virtual schooling, we are providing is incredibly well balanced and thought out to cater for all our children and their families needs and we will carry on doing so. When we are allowed children back in school, and as I am sure you know, we’ll do everything to make it that extra bit special.

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