By Guest Blogger, education journalist Emma Lee-Potter
The past year has been exceptionally tough for schools, with cancelled exams, remote learning and children and teenagers unable to see their friends for months on end.
But Talbot Heath has risen to the challenge, delivering a superb education to the school’s 600 pupils and, as one parent put it, “keeping spirits high”.
Outstanding remote learning and pastoral support
During subsequent lockdowns teachers have delivered all lessons, tutor times and assemblies remotely – following the usual school timetable and keeping pupils in their daily routines every step of the way. The senior school mainly uses Zoom and Google Classroom while junior school girls also access their online learning via Seesaw. They submit photographs or videos of their work, then teachers mark it with Apple Pencils and give written and voice feedback.
Creative, engaging remote lesson for Year Two.
“Every girl has an iPad, which means that it’s been business as usual for the vast majority of our pupils and staff,” says one teacher. “Pupils receive a mix of face-to-face lessons and remote learning resources, which are personalised for them and their individual requirements. It has been wonderful to see the mix of traditional teaching and ground-breaking technology enabling students to continue to receive the first-class education Talbot Heath is known for.”
When the school switched to remote teaching head Angharad Holloway led three online assemblies a week, featuring everything from karaoke hymns and Teachers Got Talent shows to fun photos and musical compilations by pupils. Described as “remote assemblies like no other”, they proved such a hit that parents, grandparents and alumnae often tuned in too.
This remote assembly featured a live Zoom to Rwanda!
Parents’ evenings took place via Zoom and teachers were happy to arrange Zoom meetings with parents when required. One parent, a surgeon, attended his daughters’ parents’ evening during a break between operations and said he’d never have got there if it hadn’t been online.
To top it all, the staff and sixth formers went the extra mile to run an impressive range of extracurricular online clubs during the school day. Activities included creative writing, choirs, knitting, yoga and mindfulness, ballet, debating and critical thinking.
Safety and peace of mind on campus
Talbot Heath has introduced strict measures to keep everyone safe when the school reopens. With a 25-acre site in a quiet, leafy suburb, woodland to play in and a superb new STEAM Hub, complete with a 600-seat auditorium, art studios and design workshops, there’s lots of space for everyone to spread out. Junior girls have their own Forest School and lessons are held outside in the fresh air whenever possible.
Every year group keeps to its own separate bubble, with room usage and timetables adjusted to avoid contact. Girls follow a one-way system round the school and have split lunches and break times. “It’s very effective,” said a member of staff.
The school has put a stringent and thorough cleaning regime in place and also has a full-time nursing team, a trained Covid testing team and testing stations. All the staff are tested weekly and there are strict rules on reporting Covid contact and isolating. If individual pupils or staff need to self-isolate they immediately switch to remote education, enabling the rest of the class to carry on without interruption. “Our infrastructure is sound,” says the school.
Not surprisingly, Talbot Heath has been inundated with messages from appreciative parents about the way the school has supported pupils during the pandemic. “It’s strange that although we are all further apart there is an even greater sense of community,” said one, while another declared, “Amazing work, Talbot Heath. Take a bow for being brilliant.”
More independent testimonials and our Good School Guide reviews can be found here