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May 19, 2021
Pupils using Chrome Books to support learning in school

This week, we approach the one year anniversary of the Corona virus lockdown. People will naturally reflect on events and how their lives have been affected. Organisations will do the same. At King’s Leadership Academy Hawthornes, like every school across the country, we have been confronted with the challenge of moving our curriculum on line. Twelve months ago, we had to grapple with the closure of the school. Very few schools had seen this coming! We began to provide our students with written work and distributed this by traditional methods. In March 2020, this seemed the sanest response.

However, it soon became apparent that this was a situation that would require a different way of thinking and a different solution. Working in collaboration with our colleagues across the Great Schools Trust led by King’s Warrington, we embarked on an ambitious programme of training for all staff. Staff rapidly became fluent in the unusual language of Zoom and Google Classroom.

By May, we were ready to launch our online timetable. Staff were ready and the curriculum had been digitalised. However, the issue of device access was rapidly emerging across the country. It was clear that some students were struggling to access a computer to effectively engage with home learning. Our response was to order a Chrome Book for every student and guarantee internet access for all. In May, devices were delivered for every student in Year 10. In August, more devices followed for every student in the school. We embarked on a programme of training for students and advice for parents on the use of the technology.

During the challenges of lockdown and the isolation of class bubbles during the autumn term, no learning has been lost. Teachers have juggled Zoom lessons and in-class provision. Since Christmas, we have delivered a full digital timetable to every student including form time, extra-curricular activities and our enrichment programme. It has been massively appreciated by the whole of our school community with a recent parental survey revealing that over 95% of our parents would recommend our school based on our online provision.

We now enjoy access to the high quality devices in class and our students have universal access to the internet for home study. This digital infrastructure opens up endless opportunities. We are now part of the government’s EdTech Programme helping schools to develop their own online provision. We are also considering how we can use our online infrastructure and connectivity to rethink homework, home study and new forms of revision and out of hours provision.

Exciting online times ahead.