The pandemic has changed teaching and learning for good at one school in Suffolk, which will become fully ‘hybrid’ for teachers, students and parents.
The Royal Hospital School (RHS), situated on the Suffolk coast near Ipswich, will develop a new model that utilises online and classroom-based delivery. The school made the decision following “surprising” feedback from staff, students and parents nearly a year since the UK entered lockdown.
The independent co-educational boarding and day school serves around 700 11-18-year olds.
The school’s headmaster, Simon Lockyer, accepts he has “additional resources” at his fingertips than many other school leaders and credits his incredible team – but said RHS wants to “share what we have learned with the wider academic community to enable a more accessible learning model for the future”.
The school launched online teaching within 48 hours of lockdown on 23 March 2020. Since then, RHS estimates to have delivered over 30,000 online lessons – and says its community has benefited from some aspects of the new approach. The new ‘hybrid’ learning model will encapsulate the best aspects of this – including easier parent-teacher communication, ‘streamable’ lessons and pastoral support.
The school has launched online fitness challenges, 76 after-school clubs, mentoring and peer support sessions, parents’ evenings, alongside a full curriculum. It hopes to now cherry-pick those aspects that would work outside of lockdown.
Young people also tell us that having the option to take part in a live lesson then have the ability to watch again if they need to helps in supporting their learning – Simon Lockyer, Royal Hospital School
“There have been some surprises,” said Lockyer. “Every parent knows how frustrating parents’ evenings can be, trying to book time with multiple teachers around work and family commitments and queuing for your slot.
“By making the whole process virtual, parents can guarantee a convenient and completely private consultation with the teacher of their choice without having to leave home. It is just one example of how forced change can give us new and better ways to do things.
“Young people also tell us that having the option to take part in a live lesson then have the ability to watch again if they need to helps in supporting their learning. By having the ability to reach our pupils in their own space, we can support them pastorally as well as academically.
“We are aware that as an independent school we and our pupils have additional resources, but the RHS learning model is down to the passion and commitment of our incredible team. However challenging, this pandemic is an opportunity for us to change and evolve to meet the needs and expectations of the next generation of learners.”