The Trinity Term: a unique opportunity
30th April 2020
The current lockdown has provided Wychwood with a unique opportunity not only to educate the girls, but to get them thinking about the people they are and want to be. As we consider the world in which they currently live, new projects have been developed and lessons and pastoral care have gone online until we can all be together again.
As the days get longer and the weather warmer we have started the Trinity term. Ordinarily, senior girls would be preparing to sit their public A Level or GCSE exams and the juniors would be preparing for internal school exams to assess progress to date. Nets for cricket and tennis would be appearing. Plans would be being drawn up for the cross curricular project and the Wychwood Sixth Taster Day. Girls would be heading off to exciting destinations such as Legoland, Thorpe Park and the National Museum of Computing.
However this is no normal term. We are going through a period of history that will be remembered and talked about for years to come. We want the girls at Wychwood to recall this time in their school lives with happiness and positivity.
The girls may be at home but that has not stopped us from providing a unique and special educational experience in the same way that we do when girls are in school. Teachers are learning too as lessons have gone online and teaching methods expanded to include shared screens, recorded lessons, voice overs and chat room discussion through programs such as Teams, Zoom and Class notebooks.
The girls in Remove to Lower Transits (Years 7-9) are starting the term undertaking a research methods course looking at their family name. They will then spend the weeks up until half term producing a digital covid19 newspaper, following their normal timetable providing subject specific covid19 related activities and research.
We are focusing on covid19 as, although potentially frightening, it is the first world-scale life event that they have experienced. There are so many rumours and we feel strongly that knowledge is power and brings understanding. One of the most important life skills is to be able to sift through the plethora of information available and to exercise one’s judgment in order to look for the truth. The truth may be alarming but it is less likely to be as scary as some of the ‘news’ put out on some media platforms with the express purpose of frightening people: the ability to recognise that is an essential one. The truth allows people to work out a way forward and to come to terms with the situation that they are experiencing.
Our aim is to deliver a valuable skills-based curriculum on a monthly basis where the girls work firstly, independently, then collaboratively, following their normal weekly timetable. Then they will produce an outcome in the form of a newspaper that they can take real pride in publishing. The skills required of a journalist, a publisher and an editor include being thorough and paying attention to detail, the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure, excellent written and verbal communication skills, persistence and determination, the ability to present well, to work well with others, to self-motivate and to be flexible.
These are essential skills for success in many other careers as well and so, if we succeed in inculcating some of these into the girls this term, it will be time well spent.
The girls in the Upper Transits and Study I (Years 10 and 12) will continue to have their timetabled GCSE and A Level lessons taught online with one to one support available through their subject teachers as normal. We too have gone online both with lessons and with marking and feedback and so far the girls are outstripping previous years with the speed at which they are working. These girls will not be examined this term but we will be testing their understanding of the first year of their examination courses at the beginning of the September term as they will need practice in revision and absorbing the material.
Shell and Study II (Years 11 and 13) have a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and are taking part in our Wychwood Renaissance Woman Development Project. In some ways this is an unparalleled opportunity that no other year group has ever had – we have three months to do something really exciting and new and to prepare girls for A Levels or University in a better manner than we have ever had the time to do before. Our aim is to develop the renaissance young woman in each girl. At A Level and beyond students need to be self-motivated and self-disciplined: they need to get on with their work while making decisions about how they spend the rest of their time. We have provided girls with details of MOOCs related to each subject, and girls can undertake as many of them as they wish. We are also offering girls in Shell the opportunity of doing a Higher Project Qualification.
We feel it is important that girls have the experience of preparing for an examination, submitting work to be marked and then receiving an externally validated result before A Levels. The HPQ will supply that experience.
Another element of the project is a range of developmental and cultural opportunities that members of the Wychwood Community wished they had been exposed to before they were 18. Staff, governors, parents, Old Girls and our VIPs have all contributed. Girls have been asked to research and experience books, art, music, science, literature, dance, theatre and other installations online until we are all allowed to move about freely again. We hope that this will lead to extension work which we are defining as the development of an entirely new skill or knowledge area, whether intellectual, practical or personal. Under extension, where this period of time is a true gift that no other generation of young people has ever had, girls have been asked to use this time to do something they have never been able to do before; be it learning to paint, researching a non-curriculum topic such as the Greek myths or 3D printing; learning to programme or to dance or getting really fit. Girls have been encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and develop a completely new skill or knowledge area.
All girls will be cared for pastorally with a Monday morning assembly, delivered remotely by Mrs Johnson, form time as usual, PHSE lessons and otherwise, daily contact with their progress tutor.
The pastoral programme of Thought for the Week relating to the Habits of Mind is also delivered remotely each week. This term it has been extended to include activities and extension beyond the usual form time allocated to it. This is to encourage possible weekend activities between the girls, their siblings and parents, allowing a positive processing of the situation in their own particular domestic setting, through shared reflections and creative tasks.
Senior girls will be looking at university preparation in all kinds of areas from time, work and money management. SEND pupils are being supported by individual 1:1 sessions. Key members of staff, sometimes on a daily basis, offer regular guidance and discussion using Teams, email and differentiated work. EAL lessons continue following the girls’ individual timetables.
We understand this is not a normal way of working or living but we are taking advantage of the opportunities that it offers whilst maintaining the support, ethos and rigour that will allow all of us, but especially the girls, to return to a way of working they are used to, whenever that may be, with new skills, new appreciations and definitely a new experience of what it means to undertake education in the Trinity term 2020.