Berkhamsted Group | 23.03.2020

Displays of togetherness and versatility aplenty in a historic first digital day of Berkhamsted School

Displays of togetherness and versatility aplenty in a historic first digital day of Berkhamsted School

When the school values were established in 2016 by staff, students and stakeholders, who would have thought that we could have been faced with a challenge such as the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

“Aim high with integrity, Be adventurous and Serve others” could not be a more appropriate reflection of the way the school community has rallied together in the days before the school sites closed their doors under the direction of the Government.

Historic coincidence

During the reign of King Henry VIII, a Royal Charter was granted for the creation of Berkhamsted School. It was exactly 476 years ago today when John Incent, The Dean of St Paul’s, officially opened the first school building, now known as Old Hall. Today (Monday 23 March 2020) we operated a full school day entirely as a digital school. The progress would be unimaginable to our first pupils, but our ethos and sense of community remains much the same.

Togetherness whilst learning remotely

On the first day of the school sites closure, it’s apparent that the combined efforts of parents, pupils and staff have made the continuation of learning possible for all ages.

In the words of our Patron Her Majesty The Queen, taken from her latest message, we shall “work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.”

Our school Chaplain Jane Markby and Assistant Chaplain Olivia Davies addressed the Senior School via a video for the first time. Their engaging chapel service contained thoughtful messages for all to reflect upon during this uncertain time.

Community support

The chaplaincy team also informed us that their emergency appeal to support DENS foodbank on the last day of school resulted in a collection of over 200kg of tinned and dried goods to help those most in need during this crisis. A thank you to all for helping others in our wider community by participating in this collection.

Excellent technology and versatile users

Berkhamsted’s roll out of Microsoft Surface Digital Devices to teaching staff and Senior School pupils saw everyone embrace new technology in the classrooms using new techniques and ways to engage with teachers and classmates. The events of the last few weeks has meant the realisation that learning as we knew it was going to change. Staff have embraced this and developed a way in which the devices and the use of Microsoft Teams could move Berkhamsted to a ‘Digital School’.

Today, the vision of this transition to home schooling was tested. Our families have committed to helping the Berkhamsted Schools Group to make this work and whilst it was never expected to be 100% flawless, the undertaking of working in this way along with the gratitude and positivity amongst our community has been over whelming.

“Seamless transition”

One parent said “A seamless transition to an unprecedented situation. Hats off to all staff for their hard work, regular communications and advanced planning – it has really paid off, thank you.”

Another posted “I have been so impressed with the online learning this morning. My Year 7 son has totally been engaged. As someone said previously it is good for the boys to have some normality in an uncertain situation. Thank you Berkhamsted and all the staff”

Music, Drama, Food technology and all subjects

A typical workspace of a Berkhamsted teacher. No matter the subject, staff are finding an effective  way to deliver it.

Jamie Hornshaw, Headteacher of Berkhamsted Prep said “It’s been fascinating being able to watch through the window of every one of our 18 classrooms in Year 3-6 from the comfort of my home working space. The children and staff are all logged in to Microsoft Teams and following their timetables as closely as possible. A Year 4 class has just been sent outside to complete a daily physical challenge to break up their morning, whilst music, drama, food technology and other subjects are carrying on across the school. Staff are mixing their approaches up with recorded lesson introductions and ‘live’ streams; the children are interacting through class chats and appear very excited and upbeat about their new school way or working. I even posted my weekly assembly video to each class, wishing a happy birthday to children this week.”

Our parent partnership has been amazing, and we look forward to continuing our development and learning through to the end of term. Thank you to all who have made this happen. #TeamBerko

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