07 May 2020

St George's during COVID-19 and lockdown

Alex HemsSince lockdown began St George’s staff and students have adapted to a new way of working, demonstrating remarkable resilience and versatility.

From the start it was important to us that we maintain a high quality of teaching and learning across the school. Teachers are, by their nature, creative and resourceful people, and are used to finding their way around problems all the time. Through our supported home learning programme, which we are delivering through Teams and Microsoft Office, we have continued to run a full school timetable, which has helped our students to have a familiar structure in their days. Conscious of the importance of having time away from the screen, we have built in some additional breaks which the girls have appreciated. Our teachers are delivering lessons through a combination of live teaching, pre-recorded video sessions, assignments that can be set through Teams, whole class meetings and small group work. We continue to learn and respond to feedback every day and I have found the willingness of our teachers to re-learn their craft for the virtual classroom deeply inspiring. We know, however, that at the heart of any great school are positive relationships and genuine care for students as individuals; this is why a very important part of what we have been doing from the start is regular, personal contact with individual students through phone and video calls to find out how they are coping with this new and very unsettling experience.

A rich co-curricular programme is an integral part of life at St George’s, and I am really proud that this is something that we have been able to sustain under lockdown, albeit through remote access. Our staff are continuing to offer clubs and activities such as Combined Cadet Force, Games Club, Script Writing, Mindfulness (for girls and parents), Athletics, Music Performance, Outdoor Learning, Quiz Club, Young Engineers and ‘And Now in Other News – a consciously feelgood look at news beyond the pandemic.

While of course much has changed, much has also remained the same, and our students in S1 and S2 have risen to the challenge of taking their exams at home, and I am sure that the S3s will follow suit just as calmly and sensibly. Public examinations at GCSE, Higher and Advanced Higher cannot go ahead, but the teaching staff are working hard to collate and sift evidence in support of our estimated grades for all those girls. Reporting and Parent/Teacher interviews will take place as scheduled, albeit in different formats, and key transition events for girls across the school will also run in an on-line forum. Very soon we will be starting to teach the new courses at Higher and Advanced Higher, to ensure that continuity of education is not compromised, and we will be introducing our S5 students (Lower 6) to UCAS and supporting them, as usual, in starting to prepare for all the decisions that their final year at school will bring.

If you would like to find out more about what we are doing at St George’s, please do contact us to arrange a conversation with me or one of my senior colleagues; we would be happy to talk to you.

Mrs Alex Hems MA Oxon
Head, St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh

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