Letter from the Headmaster regarding Remote Learning

Dear Parents,

Firstly may I thank the many of you who have been in touch by email with your kind words of support and understanding at this unprecedented time, which none of us could have foreseen at the beginning of term.

All of our lives have been changed beyond recognition in the last few days and it will inevitably be destabilising and unsettling for adults and children alike. We all hope that life will return to normal as soon as possible but we must be realistic and accept that this will not be for some time to come. It is not worth speculating how long this will be as nobody knows but we hope we will not lose the whole of the Summer Quarter.

Where does all of this leave Hill House and how we go about educating your children as best we can in these challenging times? As I wrote in my newsletter last Friday all our Tutors have been truly wonderful in their efforts to embrace a completely different method of teaching in a veryshort space of time. This final week of term has given us the opportunity to test various systems to see what works well for us and what does not. We have found that things that work well for one year group are less successful in others. The way in which a four or five year old is taught is radically different to that of a thirteen year old. Rather than making a knee-jerk reaction and heading off down a false path we are able to take the best from other schools’ approaches and mould them to our own unique ways. Systems and platforms that performed very well under ‘normal’ conditions have been found wanting. Even the most technologically advanced secondary schools have encountered problems.

As an initial measure we have been using Edmodo. This platform has been used by the pupils in the final three or four years of the school for sometime now to great effect. It made sense for this to be rolled out over the whole school as it could be deployed quickly and most importantly it is a safe forum for your children to use when interacting with their teachers and each other. This has worked very well for some but it is fair to say not for others. 

Today there have been meetings between all of the Senior Tutors to discover what has worked well and what needs to be improved, modified or changed. 

After the Easter holiday we will be moving to Google Classroom which will make use of the full Google Education Suite. This will be more interactive and crucially it is intended that everyday each class will come together with their Senior Tutor or Form Tutor for a group video call. These will be at set times each day to help create a sense of structure. In addition to these daily pastoral sessions there will be interactive academic class video tutorials throughout the week. We have many siblings in the school and so we will work hard to ensure that there are as few clashes as possible, however, some will be inevitable. All video tutorials will be recorded so that they can be accessed at another time. We must remember that families are working from home as well and it will not always be possible for every member of the family to be online at the same time.

The safeguarding issues surrounding remote and online learning are vitally important for everybody. Information on what will be expected from pupils and tutors will be sent with the details of the updated service.

Of course there is no substitute for the real world of the classroom with pupils and tutors reacting to each others enthusiasms and excitement but we will try to get as close to it as we can. 

Thank you for you patience and understanding while we all adapt to these extraordinary circumstances. We may well make mistakes as we venture forward into this new way of teaching but we will endeavour to adjust and correct as quickly as possible. 

Best wishes to all your family and I pray you will keep safe and healthy.

Richard Townend

Please click on this link to download a letter from Richard Townend regarding Remote Learning.