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23rd March 2021

Distance Learning: Version 2:0!

Faced with yet another lockdown, Oakham rose to the changing landscape (again) not just to deliver the same excellent provision offered back in 2020 but to further develop and hone our Distance Learning.

“With the second lockdown we needed to provide rhythm and reassurance again, but also a sense of progression and change,” says Henry Price, Headmaster. “I hope that, like everyone, we managed not just to keep calm and carry on, but also to adapt our provision so that we all kept learning and stayed connected.”

There were three major differences to the Distance Learning provision this Spring Term:

·         the introduction of timetabled ‘Sport and Wellbeing Sessions’ where pupils were encouraged to focus on their health and wellbeing.  This structured course saw pupils join small groups with a dedicated member of staff providing motivational support and guidance to develop healthy habits during lockdown. The course covered everything from physical exercise to a variety of recreation and relaxation activities, along with advice on healthy snacking, hydration and sleep.

·         new optional ‘supportive study sessions’ to provide pupils with one-to-one catch-ups with their teachers for support or further academic stretch. Impressively, this meant that there were times where pupils could book in sessions with a specialist in each of their subjects (13 in the Lower School, 21 in the Middle School and 27 in the Upper School) every week.

·         the reintroduction of Oakham’s activities sessions where pupils could choose from over 150 activities that were all offered remotely – including some Saturday sessions to help fill pupils’ weekends during lockdown. These ranged from fun activities to encourage pupils away from their screens (such as craft, chess and kitchen Chemistry), to useful skills (including coding and touch-typing).  Pupils were also able to take part in some desk-based activities for DofE and CCF, so they could fast-track to the practical aspects on their return to School. 

Alongside these developments and improvements, there were also many familiar aspects to Oakham’s Distance Learning programme 2:0.  The central tenet of our approach remained the same; that academic success is built on strong pastoral foundations.  House meetings continued every day, along with multiple strands of personal and tutor group interactions each week.  Every pupil was able to maintain a network of positive, caring interactions with peers and staff to support them through this second lockdown.  Community connections continued too, with Chapel and assemblies all still online. The incredibly popular ‘thought for the day’ series has grown to become a much-loved part of the patina of the School day; with short sermons of positivity, along with thought-provoking ideas providing a wonderful lift every morning, from a variety of teachers and staff.

The Distance Learning timetable again provided shorter lessons and longer breaks, along with a careful balance between interactive classes and time for self-learning and reflection. This Spring Term, however, the School took even more care to ensure that there was an equilibrium between screen time and non-screen learning in lessons.

Yet again, the day’s structure also recognised our international students’ needs, many of whom needed to access the School day from a time different zone. All of the lessons were and continue to be recorded and available at any time for all pupils to access at their convenience. Exciting new initiatives including Literary Lockdown also came to being.

“From the array of positive feedback that we have received about our Distance Learning provision, I am proud that everyone connected with Oakham has risen again to the challenge of lockdown. I thank the pupils, parents and staff for all that they have contributed and look forward to us gradually returning to more stable times ahead.” concludes Henry Price.

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