New lessons in learning as schools teach pupils in class and at home

Wrapped up warmly against the cold, children at Tilstock Church of England Primary School played tennis in the playground while others enjoyed exploring their forest school. Inside others were working on experiments.

Mrs Hilditch helps young Thea Healey and Noah Edwards, both aged four, with their hands-on learning during a lesson at Tilstock Primary School in Whitchurch
Mrs Hilditch helps young Thea Healey and Noah Edwards, both aged four, with their hands-on learning during a lesson at Tilstock Primary School in Whitchurch

It could have been any normal school day, except for every one pupil in school, two - or almost two - were at home doing their learning remotely.

Tilstock currently has 38 per cent of students in school.

Tilstock Primary School in Whitchurch - Isaac Barrett, 4, and James Pitt, 4

At nearby Sir John Talbot secondary school, just 5.4 per cent of students are in school with the vast majority at home.

Both are part of the Marches Academy Trust which has nine schools all based in Shropshire.

The schools within the trust are all open to those children classed as vulnerable and those children whose parents or carers are critical workers.

At Tilstock, pupils are getting involved with a scheme called Poetry by Heart and the school’s spelling bee competition, which have both proved very popular within the community.

Those in schools still take part in PE and those at home are encouraged to get involved in planned live PE lessons.

Year 7 pupils enjoy playing badminton in a PE lesson at Sir John Talbot’s School

Mrs Rowena Kaminski, head of school at Tilstock Primary, said: “We are here to support parents and carers with whatever they need from teaching and learning to help with wellbeing.

“Every student will receive at least one phone or video call per week from their class teacher which is so important.

“And every week each class teacher will host story time online which helps maintain a connection with our community.”

A pupil gets to grips with an IT lesson at Sir John Talbot’s School in Whitchurch

From today every lesson at Sir John Talbot’s School will be a live lesson to ensure those students at home and in school access the same teaching and learning, balanced with the contact with their class teacher.

Head of school at Sir John Talbot, Mr Tim Stonall, said all students were taking part in PE once per week.

“The PE team is putting together activities to engage students in live lessons with additional PE tasks that students can take part in when not in school.

Ariana Smith teaches tennis to Benji Sambrook, aged 9, and Ellie Neves-Hill, 10, at Tilstock Primary School in Whitchurch

“Staff will be conducting a weekly year group assembly on Teams to ensure the students remain informed on activities and feel some connection with their peers.

“And students will receive contact from their tutor via Teams or a phone call.

“We are working hard to ensure our students continue their studies and we have transitioned smoothly to live, remote, online learning.

Year 7 pupils enjoy playing badminton in a PE lesson at Sir John Talbot’s School

“The staff are doing a tremendous job in maintaining contact with our families and moving their planned work to a format they can deliver online.

“The support from our community has been incredible.

“I thank our staff and families for managing the changes professionally, with the students at the centre of every decision we make.”

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