Schools reopening in 2021
With schools reopening in January 2021 to a national lockdown, our Academic Principal, James Wilding, was asked to comment for the Maidenhead Advertiser.
James Wilding, Academic Principal at Claires Court, said: “We are very mindful and appreciative of the efforts of all education staff and families as we all work together to navigate this current national lockdown.
“The Claires Court experience of running remote lessons and managing academic, pastoral and wellbeing matters has been successful over the last 10 months, and we have every confidence that this next set of lockdown lessons and online schooling will work as well as in the past. However, we are not complacent and will continue to adjust and flex what we do to ensure we meet the interests and needs of all of our students as best we can.
“Our staff are dedicated to providing the very best education, physical and creative activities during these challenging weeks to support our families. We’d been preparing for two weeks for a phased return at secondary level this January, and even on Monday it seemed clear that all of our Junior school and Nursery children would be back full time. Along with all schools, we have had to adapt very quickly to ensure we have in-school provision for our vulnerable and Key Worker children, whilst reactivating remote learning for the remaining 900 children required to study at home.
“We know everyone’s situation may be unique so all families and schools will face their own challenges. Here, as an established Google Workspace school, each pupil has their own Chromebook and is confident using the many integrated online tools safely, so our teachers and pupils are able to fully engage in live online lessons, with breakout areas for small group work. What emerged during previous lockdowns was to ensure sufficient yet balanced on-screen work time, homework and physical and creative activity to stay stimulated and look after wellbeing. Online school work is highly tailored to year groups and age, and we are sympathetic about the volume of work to reduce screen time and to balance all the demands of home, work and school life.
“We keep in touch regularly with families to keep them informed and have parents meetings and online drop ins for informal chats and any questions.
“We’re also very conscious of our older pupils who are in their examination years and may have added anxiety due to the current uncertainty. Our teachers are incredibly supportive, and our curriculum content and timetable, be it in school or online, prepares those children to achieve the very best grades they can to fulfil their potential. Alongside that, our pastoral care and extra curricular courses to prepare young adults for their next step are well regarded - during the first lockdown we continued to engage and motivate our exam students with life skills courses and to achieve their very best.
“And, whilst we can’t have any visitors on site at the moment, we’re running virtual open events this month (January) for anyone considering their school options.”
Mr Wilding added: “Our priority is to keep our pupils and our staff as safe as possible so we follow strict guidelines and safety procedures. With the importance of bringing children back to school for their wellbeing and continuity of education, we would very much like to see staff in education settings considered in a priority group for vaccinations, and along with the rest of the country, we keep spirits high waiting with bated breath for better news and reductions in Covid cases.”