What we did:
Knowing how positively our young people respond to the predictability of familiar structure and routine, we felt priorities should focus on continuity of provision and opportunity for constructive engagement.
We endeavoured to ensure continuity through equitable distribution of physical resources such as sports equipment, musical instruments and bicycles as well as providing learning materials covering literacy, numeracy and a weekly focussed project aimed at improving the physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing of pupils.
Our learning activities were designed with the four contexts in mind with the aim of addressing each context in some capacity each week. Levels of engagement varied across the residential services, however each service was able to celebrate success as they excelled in a particular area.
Teaching staff were able to review the planned learning experiences in response to the changing needs of pupils. Learning resources and lessons were designed to be relevant to topical issues and current affairs. Success was celebrated weekly amongst education and care staff, with some pupils joining a Zoom call to share a PowerPoint which collated evidence from each service.
Who we involved:
Teaching, social care staff and young people. Homemakers assisted in facilitating some of the learning activities as well as challenges set by the health and wellbeing coordinator and music tutor.
The difference it made:
The experience of the pandemic allowed us to gain insight in to how resilient our pupils are. We initially expected our pupils to struggle with the uncertainty of the global situation coupled with a change in learning environment, however incidences of challenging behaviour were far less prevalent than anticipated.
Through participation in sports challenges and health and wellbeing activities, our pupils developed a greater appreciation of the outdoors and were inspired to grow their own areas of personal interest which then allowed teachers to tailor activities to improve participation.
What we will do differently in the future:
Weekly evaluations and feedback compelled us to review our wider curriculum and tailor our offering to appeal to a broader spectrum of interests. This has included introducing Bicycle Maintenance through the BGE phase and into the Senior Phase as an SQA accredited qualification. This has taken the form of a social enterprise project refurbishing previously loved bikes and distributing them to local community groups and organisations. In addition to this project, the school’s allotment and a local equestrian centre are contributing to the variety of learning experiences across the four contexts.
Through self-evaluation and as part of ongoing school improvement, we have revised our approach to planning to take account of the refreshed narrative and the significance of learning across the four contexts. This should ensure that future learning experiences are designed to encompass the totality of the curriculum.
Teachers were able to recognise that providing online remote learning opportunities would require them to improve their skills and knowledge in relation to digital technologies and approaches. As a result, we have revisited the national strategy “Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of digital technology” and are currently exploring effective methods to facilitate these improvements.