Welwyn head reflects on 18 months under Covid

Stanborough School headteacher Merry John with pupils.

Stanborough School headteacher Merry John with pupils. - Credit: Kevin Lines Photography

"It has certainly been a challenging year for all schools in many respects, but I am proud of how the school community has faced up to the challenges it has faced. But whilst many students have thrived with the independence that lockdowns gave them, others have found it a more difficult experience."

Merry John, headteacher at Stanborough School in Welwyn Garden City, has echoed the sentiments and experiences of many of her peers since the onset of the Covid pandemic.

She told the WHT: "We have been providing online lessons since May 2020 and through the loaning of over 100 laptops we have ensured that all students have had full access to the curriculum throughout the entire pandemic period.

"Staff and students have both had to learn very quickly how to both teach and learn using Microsoft Teams. Schemes of work have been adapted accordingly by staff and the students have been fantastic in relation to their attendance and attitude to online lessons."

She said the school is looking forward to the return of some areas of the curriculum that have been somewhat curtailed this year, including regular science experiments, singing and off-site visits for students.

"These all form an enjoyable and invaluable part of the student experience at Stanborough. The school still managed to do online versions of its House Music and House Drama events during the pandemic which the students watched remotely but they are all looking forward to returning to a live audience when this is allowed."

There have been some positives from the experience however, such as the utilisation by staff of more digital and online resources to help student learning.

"As a result, we are implementing a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy which will enable all students to have online access in all their lessons. Students have also enjoyed having their own dedicated space for each year group at lunchtime, this is also something we shall be keeping post-pandemic.

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"We were also fortunate to have a new teaching block and a new music and drama block open at the school over this period. This has allowed us to ensure the safety of our staff and students by spacing them out over a larger area in new state of the art classrooms. 

The pandemic has also created a closer community spirit in the school and with its local community. During the first lockdown, design and technology teacher Mark Beevor designed and manufactured hundreds of face visors for several local organisations.

"The school donated hundreds of safety goggles from the science department and students in Year 7 designed and sent ‘Thank you’ cards to Captain Tom following his incredible achievements. We would like to maintain and develop these relationships into the future."