Ballard School has been able to provide a high quality online learning provision across the board during the COVID-19 pandemic. Academic, pastoral, SEND, sports and creative provision have received high praise from parents.
“I’m quietly working in my study, but can hear a very happy boy taking part in his lessons. He’s paying attention, participating and doing his work. This is purely down to the attitude of everyone at Ballard which generates an expectation with the children to do their best. That’s a great attitude to have at any time, but particularly now.” (Parent)
All pupils from Year 3 – Year 11 received their full timetable, taught by their teachers, as well as interactive form time and assemblies via Microsoft Teams and the provision of learning resources via their School Portal. Ballard has always invested in technology and a huge array of online educational resources which helped them to implement ballard@home quickly. Ballard teachers have been very creative in their teaching methods, for example, using strawberry laces and biscuits to build electrical circuits and ball-throwing to demonstrate the types of erosion.
“I would like to thank you and your entire team for the School’s approach to continuing learning as seamlessly as possible. We fully appreciate how challenging it is and don’t underestimate the amount of work that goes into all aspects of keeping the School running.” (Parent)
“Thank you so much to you and all of the staff for your hard work and dedication to making the online learning so successful. The boys both had a great week and seem very motivated – thanks to the brilliant teaching and framework for online learning!” (Parent)
Ballard reduced lesson times to ensure that pupils got at least 15 minutes between lessons to get away from their screens, stretch their legs, grab a drink and chat to family or friends. The pastoral element of lockdown has been hugely important. At Ballard, they made sure that pupils had tutor time in the mornings and during the day. They still ran their PSHE lessons, so that children could come together as a year group, share ideas and have contact with members of the pastoral team, as well as their form tutors and friends.
“All credit to the staff at Ballard for keeping the children’s enthusiasm going. As I work full time, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate and value the online lessons for him; not only for his education but also for his well-being, by giving him contact with other people throughout the week. I can’t thank you enough for all of the effort you have all put in.” (Parent)
Ballard maintained their 1:1 SEND provision via Microsoft Teams, so children would have the same level of support at home as they had in School. They used the ‘breakout rooms’ function on Teams to facilitate their teaching assistants’ support in lessons.
“I am hugely proud of our ballard@home provision in lockdown and I believe we’re doing all we can to make sure that our children are not disadvantaged, but I can’t wait for everyone to be back.” Mr Andrew McCleave, Headmaster
There is a clear link between physical health and mental health so regular exercise, preferably outside, is essential. Their PE Department was awarded the Schools’ Virtual Games Award last lockdown, creating several Ballard challenges for everyone to engage in, the same has been true this time around.
The Tokyo Olympics may have been on hold – but the community at Ballard came together to enjoy athletic and sporting endeavours with their own Virtual Olympic Games. From the youngest pupils in Reception, to the teenagers at the top of the School, along with parents and teachers too, the whole Ballard community put their athletic prowess to the test, competing across 12 different ‘games’ including jumping, running and some more unusual ones – ‘how many tea bags can you throw into a mug in a minute?’ or ‘how many T-shirts can you put on in 60 seconds?’ The games were set to test endurance, accuracy, balance, co-ordination and skill, in the home environment with minimal equipment required.
Ballard also brought together pupils, parents, teachers and alumni to raise their voices and lift their spirits as part of a virtual choir. Members of the whole School community were invited to learn one part of Fly to Paradise by Eric Whitacre, choosing from the soprano, alto, tenor or bass parts, then record a video or audio file of themselves performing it. All the recordings were brought together to create one performance piece, conceived and produced in-house by music teachers, Victoria Gray and Barnaby Prangnell, which has now been shared with everyone in the School.
More quotes from our parents:
“Just a quick message to say thank you again for the provision Ballard school has put in place so promptly. It must be so challenging teaching key worker children as well as providing comprehensive online school. It’s already working really well.”
“She couldn’t have been more complimentary about the remote learning she’s had so far and all of the teachers. Amongst many superlatives she used, phenomenal was one!”
“We are completely blown away by your efforts and deeply appreciate your hard work to make this happen. It’s phenomenal the extent you go to make all the children feel included and part of the Ballard family, especially in these challenging times. Thank you.”
“With grateful thanks for all you have done and continue to do at Ballard. You’re doing an amazing job.”