Oakham’s innovative approach to remote education continued right up to the end of the School year as pupils in Form 5, whose GCSE examinations have been disrupted due to Coronavirus, were able to continue their journey with a new ‘Bridging Course’.
“With GCSE examinations not taking place, we’ve been able to develop our curriculum and timetable in a really exciting way,” says Dr Leo Dudin, Deputy Head (Academic). “All of our pupils who are moving into our Upper School in September have been able to benefit; both those who are currently at Oakham and those who are joining us for their Sixth Form studies from other schools.”
Pupils’ distance learning journey began with a consolidation course, where they have been able to finish their studies in each of their subjects. This has built their confidence by embedding their learning and core knowledge. Next, pupils were challenged with a unique Academic Cornerstone Course. This included six strands each designed to develop and embed key academic skills, life skills, and employability skills – including Numeracy, Literacy, Communication, Critical thinking and analysis, Creativity, and Leadership in a changing world.
The final stage of this journey, the Bridging Course, gave pupils the opportunity to get into the mindset to be able to start their Upper School courses successfully in September. “We didn’t want to ‘jump the gun’ and start our A-level, IB Diploma and BTEC courses early,” says Dr Dudin. “Instead we seized this unique opportunity to encourage pupils to really explore their new subjects, to give them greater confidence that they are studying the right choices. Vitally, our Bridging Course has enabled them to transition to learning at a more sophisticated level, with increased rigour and depth; to grow in academic maturity.”
The Bridging Course encouraged pupils to look back over their past three years at school, to reflect on how they have personally developed and to consider how they need to prepare further for academic success in the Upper School. “Pupils don’t normally have the luxury of this time to reflect and to prepare, to get into the right mindset for new more challenging courses,” says Head of Upper School, Simone Lorenz-Weir. “The Upper School is such an exciting time because pupils have made positive choices on what they want to study. The Bridging Course encouraged them to consider why they have chosen these subjects, to ‘dip their feet into them’ in lessons, and to find their inner drive and determination, via self-managed learning, to do some extra reading and thinking.”
This entire transitional process, caused by Coronavirus disruptions, has been likened by Dr Dudin to equipping pupils for a journey. “Whilst they may have begun by walking alone in the dark across the countryside, Oakham School has made the journey safer and quicker by equipping them with a car (the consolidation course), then providing six different headlights to help illuminate the road ahead (the Academic Cornerstone Course), and with the Bridging Course, pupils have been given a map to help them to navigate the studies they will begin in September. I’m confident that this profound learning journey experience will help our pupils to thrive both through their sixth form studies and into their future.”