In 2020, many parents around the world have faced, are facing or will face the question: “What does a school day at home look like?” We will be extending Dean Close into homes all around the world by preparing and delivering lessons from Cheltenham and sending them out to pupils wherever they live. Our aim is to maintain academic momentum by setting a variety of challenging learning tasks, giving feedback and regularly touching base with each and every pupil. We want to make sure that every pupil is visible.

There may be times when an individual member of staff is unable to set and mark work for a period of time due to their own illness, but there will be plenty for everyone to get on with to bridge those gaps.

After more than 20 years of teaching, I have learned a few things about creating an atmosphere for effective studying. I am also surrounded by experts who are both experienced and innovative whose ideas I can pass off as my own.

  1. Rhythm

If we are to maintain momentum through to the end of the academic year, it will be important to follow the natural rhythms of school life. Term time weeks are full and busy. Sundays and holidays are for rest and personal work/revision. This term has been a challenging one for many of our pupils and allowing time for rest from the 28th March to 21st April will be very important.

  1. Routine

Doing all you can to ensure that your children have a quiet place, free of distractions to study each day is going to make a big difference. Getting it organised at the end of the working day could save 20 or 30 minutes of procrastination on the next day.

Whether or not this is a phone free zone will obviously depend on the situation. Some will be using their phones to pick up work or to use as a computer but for others it may be wise to leave them outside the room.

The Monday to Friday week needs to mirror the working day. Getting up, following the routine of the school timetable, having meals/breaks at similar times. It removes some of the decision making and the opportunities for “discussions” at home.

This is the Dean Close timetable that we will be using to set work and during the normal lesson times, teachers will be available to respond quickly to questions and give input.

 

1 8:50am to 9:35am
2 9:40am to 10:25am
3 10:30am to 11:15am
Break 11:15am to 11:40am
4 11:40am to 12:25pm
5 12:30pm to 1:15pm
Lunch 1:15pm to 2:25pm
6 2:25pm to 3:10pm
7 3:15pm to 4:00pm

 

  • We will set work for all core lessons but no work will be set for PSHE, Core PE (Year 10), Study Skills or Workrooms.
  • Next week, lessons will finish after period 4 on Friday, as previously planned.

 

  1. Testing and quizzing and extending further

One of the things that will be missing is the social element of low stakes testing and questioning that comes in a lesson. No matter how effective our video lessons turn out to be, they are likely to be more stilted than a free flowing quick fire discussion that can take place in a classroom. Regular low stakes testing has been proven to be a highly effective way to secure subject knowledge. Discussing subject matter over a meal can help develop understanding of implications and build connections to other subjects.

  1. Time for reading and rest

At Dean Close we deliberately pause at least three times a week to consider life’s bigger questions. You may like to replace this time with a 20 to 30 minutes of “screen free” reading time. The Fourth Form have a reading challenge that might be a great target for them.

  1. Exercise

We set aside a minimum of 3 hours of exercise for all of our pupils, every week. Taking time on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to keep the body ticking over could make a significant difference not only to physical health but also mental health. What this might look like for you will obviously depend on where you live.

  1. Support

If you are finding it difficult, don’t have enough work for your children or have too much work, please get in touch. This is a flow chart of the people you should contact:

My colleagues and I have been very encouraged by the support and kind words that we have received from many parents over the last few days. There is a palpable sense of us working together to navigate our small corner of this most extraordinary of situations. Our thoughts are with you and your families as you deal with family and work situations that, for many, will be very testing. This storm will pass, but in the meantime I hope that Dean Close will be a great support to you and that we can play an active role in the weeks and months to come.

 

If you would like to speak with me at any point over email, telephone or video call, please contact my PA, Jane Bond (jebond@deanclose.org.uk) to arrange a time that is convenient for you.

 

Bradley Salisbury

Headmaster