Junior King’s Online Education: a balancing act
With our world thrown off-kilter by the pandemic, we have aimed to provide a sense of stability for our community through our virtual provision and set our sights on delivering the best possible remote education through our Junior King’s Online Education programme.
Much of our approach boils down to a balancing act. We are proud to deliver our virtual lessons live in the Prep School, with teachers on hand throughout to provide support and feedback; however, care is also taken to ensure that there are tasks that go beyond the keyboard and the timetable has been built around breaks to give structure and provide pockets of time for relaxation and socialising. This sense of structure is aided by our provision of the usual balance of academic and creative subjects, which allows pupils to continue to benefit from Art, DT, Drama, Music and PE and the different ways these subjects work brain and body. Maintaining the routine of a full daily timetable provides stability and continuity, minimising disruption to education, with an understanding that flexibility will always be required to fit individual needs.
Balance also involves sensitivity to the learning needs of different age groups. While the Prep School embraces a full programme of online lessons, this teaching method is not suitable to the needs of our Pre-Prep pupils. Instead, members of Reception and Years 1 and 2 access resources and work set for them online to do during their day. The focus is on literacy, numeracy, phonics, some topic work and a sense of fun, with teachers meeting with their classes via Microsoft Teams every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to catch up and socialise.
A big dose of social contact is key to our pastoral care and wellbeing support at this time and we have tried to harness the technology we have available to create a sense of togetherness and social participation. It is essential our pupils feel that they can discuss things that are important to them with staff and with each other, and for this to be facilitated in the course of the school day. Form tutors in the Prep School check in with pupils on a daily basis, offering opportunities to talk about things that are relevant to them, and there are weekly PSHE sessions built into the timetable that focus primarily on mental health and wellbeing. As well as providing their usual care for pupils, staff are also available for parents with questions or in need of support and our school counsellor remains on hand to provide counselling support to anyone requiring an ear: pupil or parent.
Members of Year 6 were asked recently about their online learning experiences, with one pupil responding: ‘Online school is hard, but fun. There’s more freedom for classes and I can still contact my friends’. Balance is a delicate thing, but we hope we have succeeded in providing a stable base for our pupils at this time as we continue to deliver the essence of the Junior King’s experience: challenge, fun, variety and community.