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11th January 2021

Distance Learning returns to Oakham

Although our community may now be apart due to the new lockdown, Oakham School started the term today, Monday 11 January.

“We will continue to adapt to the changing landscape in which we find ourselves,” says Henry Price, Headmaster. “As before, we take our responsibility seriously to provide an excellent Distance Learning programme that delivers rhythm and reassurance to all Oakhamians and their families. Just as in normal times, we want to be a pillar of support and structure to our pupils and parents as they manage their busy lives, as well as promote effective and positive ongoing learning.”

Oakham’s lockdown approach builds on the Distance Learning programme successfully put in place back in April 2020. Without missing a beat, the School rose to the challenge of moving our community over a weekend, from face-to-face teaching to a comprehensive online provision, mastering MS Teams and bringing learning to life in the safety of pupils’ homes through a timetable of engaging and interactive lessons.

“The Distance Learning provision was incredibly well received by pupils and parents last year, particularly given the quick turnaround time required to implement the new approaches required to teach remotely,” says Dr Leo Dudin, Deputy Head Academic. “During the Winter Term, the School has continued to develop and hone its extensive use of MS Teams, and its approaches to successfully teaching remotely. We have ensured that any pupil self-isolating has been fully integrated into the lessons of those children who remain in School. It has been necessary for some areas of school life to continue digitally, due to the need for safe social distancing, such as Chapel and assemblies. Therefore, the technology is no longer just tried and tested at Oakham, it is fully embedded and effective across our community.”

“Academic success is built on strong pastoral foundations,” says Sarah Gomm, Deputy Head Pastoral. “This means that the central tenet of our approach remains the same regardless of whether we are in ‘normal’ times, if we are running a timetable that reflects the need for social distancing, or if we are in a lockdown. Our strong community relationships and support are placed firmly at the centre of our education. The Distance Learning timetable has been structured to include House meetings every day, along with multiple strands of personal and tutor group interactions. We enable each pupil to maintain a network of positive, caring interactions with peers and staff.”

As before, the timetable now provides shorter lessons and longer breaks, with a careful balance between interactive classes and time for self-learning and reflection. We have also taken care to ensure that there is an equilibrium between screen time and non-screen learning. Learning at Oakham has an integrated and vibrant activities programme that includes service, academic extension and the pursuit of hobbies. The new Distance Learning timetable offers pupils a choice to either engage in a range of extra-curricular activities or use the allocated time for academic stretch. The day’s structure also recognises international students’ needs, many of whom may be accessing the school day from a time different zone. All of the lessons are recorded and available at any time for all pupils to access at their convenience.

Headmaster Henry Price concludes, “Oakham’s outstanding education will carry on no matter the circumstances. Despite the physical distances between us, we will continue to provide academic support and stretch, alongside care and an ongoing sense of community.”

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