Following the formal closure of schools in the UK in March, Strathallan staff worked hard over the Easter break to reimagine teaching and learning and overcome the challenges presented by delivering education remotely to pupils in different time zones around the world. The resulting programme has proved a success for pupils from the youngest year groups to the school leavers in Upper Sixth. By the end of the Summer Term, Strath Worldwide will have delivered 7000 live lessons, plus weekly one-to-one tutor consultations, sports activities and training sessions, music lessons, ensemble rehearsals, social activities and House challenges.
Headmaster Mark Lauder has applauded staff for their versatility and ability to deliver Strathallan’s world-class education in new and diverse ways:
“The recent imperative to deliver online learning for all pupils, whether they are based overseas or not, acted as a catalyst to expand our capacity to deliver our pupils an outstanding education wherever they are in the world. By reimagining what a school can do both in the physical setting as well as the virtual one, and the blended learning this will bring in future, we can continue to reap the benefits to our pupils for years to come.”
From the outset, Strathallan set out to deliver a programme that replicates the Strath experience as closely as possible. This has meant a commitment to delivering live lessons and maintaining high staff to pupil ratios throughout. The timetable was rewritten and the working day and week reconfigured from eight 40-minute lessons and a six-day week to six 50-minute lessons (with ten minute breaks between) over a five-day week. Yet the reduction in lesson hours has actually equated to more and better-utilised teaching time as the online format has allowed for more focused lessons.
With attendance at lessons between 95 and 100% (the shortfall being accounted for by music lessons and other external tuition and programmes), academic performance has been maintained and in many cases improved for some pupils. The school’s Academic Scholarship programme continues to run, as are the established extension activities designed to promote learning beyond the curriculum.
This has been an exciting time to exploit new technology and discover new tools that are having a transformational effect on learning. On the other hand, keeping our communication methods consistent and ensuring all pupils can access teaching resources as simply as possible is an important balance. Teaching is primarily delivered on Teams and associated Microsoft apps, as well as Firefly, with the recent introduction of Zoom webinars for sport sessions, social gatherings and parent meetings.
These latter have proved hugely popular, and Strathallan has seen its best attendance at Parents Evenings hosted online compared with on-campus event, with both local families and in particular those overseas appreciating the facility to meet with teachers remotely. The same has been seen for music concerts hosted on Zoom, which have now become available for families to enjoy wherever they are in the world.
Health & Wellbeing
Pupil health and wellbeing has been a central concern in the design of Strath Worldwide, and the programme this term has been designed to prioritise wellbeing over exam results during what is a difficult time for everyone. With the cancellation of internal exams alleviating pressure in the classroom, the Pastoral team has been focused on supporting pupils and their families around the world through the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to online learning.
There has also been special care taken to ensure that the amount of screen time is appropriate for pupils at different levels, and teaching staff have responded to feedback about screen hours and prep time with some truly innovative ideas for off-screen activities and learning experiences.
What Parents Say
“It has gone exceptionally well! We are very pleased to see that Strathallan has been very proactive in getting online learning available for their students.”
“I think the provision that Strath has provided is phenomenal, especially given the short time there was to prepare for it. I think the ability to put most areas of the curriculum online, chapel, assemblies, house meetings etc has provided the continuity and the connection that the children need in these exceptional circumstances.”
“Absolutely first class”
“Having two other children in State education the provision of education by Strath is outstanding. Daily access to teachers is so important and makes a huge difference to the quality of learning.”
“Exceptional achievement in a short time frame which has enabled the effective continuation of learning and connection of staff and pupils. Everything is there and available online to review and reference. Staff have been communicative . It is an excellent virtual experience. Additionally the weekly assemblies and the Reverend's Sermons are most welcome, informative and bring a sense of togetherness. You should collectively be very proud of your swift and effective approach in keeping the school running. We will all learn so much from this situation in how to approach and develop the way we communicate and learn. Thank you!”
“We are very grateful for this. With ‘E’ being an international student, it could have been a very isolating time for her. But the effort that has gone into keeping communication, connections, school and house spirit going has been monumental and as a result ‘E’, while missing her friends a great deal, feels as connected to Strath as ever.”
What Pupils Say
“I feel like [Strath Worldwide] is better due to the constant communication with teachers and staff”
“It’s the exact same as sitting in a classroom!”
“I much prefer this way of learning (fewer periods in a day, longer periods, much shorter days etc...)”
“My experience has been productive after the first week. I find it easier to work and concentrate in a more comfortable environment, and in comfortable clothes!”
“It’s nice to see so much effort being put in to still carry on my education, even in this tough time.”