Late in Term 1, 2020, COVID-19 forced the cessation of student and staff attendance at school for a then unknown period of time. Accordingly, with very vigorous and splendid work by a number of key staff, St Andrew’s Cathedral School rolled out remote learning. This required training of staff and students in order for them to learn how best to utilise the systems.
During the ensuing weeks of remote learning, the school absorbed many lessons. Firstly, highly dedicated staff went above and beyond to make this mode of learning as effective as it could be. In most cases, remote teaching virtually doubled the workload of teaching staff. This was due, in part, to the inability to deal with all students as a classroom group. Rather, a great deal of individual conferencing with students and parents was required. Further, the preparation to deliver lessons through digital technology was extremely demanding and time consuming for staff.
Remote learning included not just the academic curriculum, but pastoral contacts and, as far as the school could develop creative solutions, co-curricular and sporting activities.
Secondly, St Andrew’s Cathedral School had reinforced to them the diligence and commitment of most students and of the wonderful partnership with parents, who actively supervised students’ learning remotely at home.
Thirdly, the school was reassured that its IT systems were sufficiently robust to cope with so many students and teachers online simultaneously.
Fourthly, it was powerfully confirmed that we are indeed social beings. God made us for community. We need one another and being locked away in physical isolation is no way to live. When students physically returned to school, many were heard to speak two utterances they never thought would pass from their mouths: “I missed school”, “I missed my teachers”. The staff certainly missed them!
Fifthly, we now know that it is not essential for everyone to be on-site all the time in order for learning to occur. While it is not reasonable to expect staff to simultaneously teach on site in the classroom and in remote mode, we are now more fully aware that online learning has powerful potential within regular schooling. We have also had confirmed that the professionalism of our staff is so strong that flexibility in their attendance and delivery of work are viable and consistent with the learning needs of students.
Sixthly, we have somewhat accidently stumbled upon some possible improvements. One example is remote parent/teacher evenings, conducted at a mutually convenient time for parents and staff, from the comfort of their own home. With an eye to the future, we are keen to examine what other changes may apply. Seventh, we have learned the value of social distancing and enhanced hygiene regimes in avoiding not just COVID-19, but other infections such as colds and flus. It is clear that COVID-19 has changed the world of education. The full implications are still being played out.
Located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, St Andrew’s Cathedral School is an innovative, co-educational day school, providing students from […]