After a determined focus on building resilience during lockdown, the parents of Duke of Kent School have been full of praise for the School’s innovative, supportive and exciting strategies that were used to provide outstanding online learning and support during and after lockdown. This enabled pupils to stay on track during their period of Remote Learning and then bounce back into School ready to face the challenges that lay ahead.
With deeply rooted core values of kindness, effort, respect, responsibility and honesty, pupils at the School foster a real sense of self-worth, make positive connections with their peers, look to help others and garner a true sense of belonging and purpose within the community.
An online parent survey revealed immense satisfaction with, not only the cutting-edge online provision, but also the imaginative ways in which the School kept pupils engaged, focused and positive. The survey suggested that the outstanding live teaching (via Google Classroom) daily support from Form Teachers and a range of ‘Growth Mindset’ assemblies, not only ensured that pupils were progressing with their education and staying positive, it also offered a lifeline for parents too.
The School teaches all pupils the importance of the ability to bounce back from the stresses that life throws at them. The focus is more about learning to thrive with stress, rather than trying to avoid it. By developing positive relationships with teachers, parents and peers, pupils at the School learn to feel healthier, happier and more confident in facing up to challenges. A consistent focus on self-awareness and self-care has helped pupils gain a clear perception of their own personal strengths, weaknesses, emotions and motivations. Interconnection with others and a strong sense of community embeds resilience in the children, who find purpose in being part of something greater than themselves.
An innovative approach to Remote Learning meant that the zest, engagement and enthusiasm of pupils were maintained. A wide range of interactive activities, House events, the use of break out rooms, virtual form time for interaction with peers and a variety of entertaining social media competitions. Particular highlights were the ‘must watch’ Harry Potter film project (with pupils and staff recreating famous scenes from the movie), interactive DT, guess the teacher, PE challenges with Mr Herbert (the School’s very own Joe Wicks!) and a live streaming of the Year 11 production, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. The ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in Performing Arts was just the icing on the cake this term.
Pupil wellbeing was also at the heart of this highly nurturing School’s online provision. Flexibility built into the timetable allowed pupils time away from screens, be it going for a walk after lunch, kicking a football in the garden or using Strava to create ‘GPS Art’ as part of one of the PE challenges. In addition, a weekly Chance2Chat initiative with the School’s Wellbeing Coordinator has offered support and guidance if required. Pupils have learnt how to be mindful by observing their thoughts and feelings, without judging them as good or bad.
Many pupils have used the recent restrictions as an opportunity for self-discovery. Many have found that they have grown in some respect as a result of the recent struggles. After returning to School some pupils have reported better relationships and a greater sense of strength, even while feeling vulnerable. This experience has increased their sense of self-worth and heightened their appreciation for all of life’s experiences.
As the summer flowers begin to bloom it is clear that pupils at Duke of Kent School have been able to develop strong roots and are now ready to blossom as the warmth returns and they engage once again in the normal rhythms of school life.
Article by Alex Seeley, Director of Teaching and Learning at Duke of Kent School