Remote learning second time around - Hurstpierpoint College

Remote learning second time around

During the first half of the Lent term, Hurst teaching staff have successfully navigated pupils through the second period of remote learning.

There was a seamless transition this time around as a result of the digital revolution which took place at the College last year to facilitate the first period of online learning. Our teachers were not only familiar with their new Surface Pro laptops, but had also amassed a wealth of experience, knowledge and ideas.

An IT survey amongst pupils at the start of term identified those who needed help with minor problems, such as wi-fi, webcams and printing. The results also highlighted the teaching techniques which the pupils thought worked best. Their feedback was invaluable in pointing out some of the best ways to add variety, make full use of the technology, and increase interaction.

The new MS Teams feature of breakout rooms was a particularly popular addition, as it allowed pupils to collaborate in small groups during lessons and enabled them to feel that they were connecting with one another rather than being isolated at home.

Further adjustments to the structure of the week were made to improve the experience for pupils. For example, games time was brought forward to allow pupils to exercise outside whilst it was still light – and the full range of co-curricular offerings continued apace, just as it had done last summer.

A major challenge has been how to maintain the sense of community which makes Hurst such a special place to study and work. Housemasters/mistresses, ably supported by their tutor teams, have worked hard to strike the balance between regular one-on-one pastoral support for those who need it, and other activities for those who want to feel the human connections that are such an important part of Hurst life.

A huge range of activities have taken place so far this term to support the pupils during remote learning – and other activities to engage the wider community. The Chaplaincy sent spiritual care packages to pupils in each section of the school to serve as a reminder that although they are physically separated, the sense of community remains. Our amazing team of minibus drivers delivered home learning work books to pupils which were produced to help with screen breaks. Children of key workers have also been kept busy on site in year group bubbles, with lessons and activities taking place around the campus.

There have been house quiz nights, Master Chef competitions and scavenger hunts. The very popular cooking skills masterclasses for the Upper Sixth returned with Mr Manly’s Chocolate Brownies and Mr Mott’s Meatballs. Our younger pupils produced some brilliant entries in a competition to celebrate National Draw a Dinosaur Day.

The Sports Department has once again created some excellent community events, including Around the World in 80 Days with the target of 65,600 km to be completed by pupils, parents and staff either running, cycling, walking, rowing or swimming. A Virtual Park Run took place as 149 participants helped to rack up the kilometres, and members of the staff Cycling Club also helped out with the kilometre count. A series of live chat sessions with sports personalities have proved popular, as have the return of the live HIIT sessions delivered by our Strength and Conditioning team.

February is LGBTQ+ History Month and our Diversity and Inclusion Group have already arranged a number of whole school MS Teams Tutorial Talks. Up to 500 pupils, parents and staff tuned in to hear guest speakers talk about their experiences and viewpoints. The group also arranged a school-wide video made by a range of staff and students responding to what ‘pride’ means to them.

The College is well placed to continue to deliver a full programme of academic lessons and co-curricular activities online from next week until pupils are able to return to the campus.