A week after Glenalmond started delivering lessons via the internet, the switch to online learning is delivering a range of unexpected benefits.
Staff, pupils and parents at Glenalmond College have risen to the challenge of online learning and are finding the temporary move away from classroom-based lessons is inspiring innovation and insight which could generate long term benefits.
Dr Michael Alderson, Head of Glenalmond College, said staff and pupils at the school, which has around 360 pupils aged 12 to 18, have been very encouraged by their experiences during the first week of remote learning.
“Having adopted the G Suite for Education platform a few years ago, the pupils and staff were essentially already well prepared. Nevertheless, the teachers and support staff put in a huge amount of work during the Easter holidays to ensure a smooth transition from classroom to virtual learning spaces, and the results of their hard work are now shining through.
“With support from pupils and their families, we were able to stress-test the systems we had put in place in advance to ensure everything was up and running for the start of term last week.”
Dr Alderson said pupils have taken to the new approach to teaching exceptionally well and parents are taking a particularly keen interest in the lessons and giving staff very positive feedback.
“As the head, you have the privilege of being able to observe lots of different lessons, and it is impressive to see how easily pupils and the teachers have adapted to all lessons being taught online.”
Subjects such as Art and PE, he said, which might from the outside look particularly challenging to teach remotely, are taking full advantage of the opportunity to experiment with innovative methods to deliver content and to explore how pupils can learn in very different but exciting circumstances.
“Another strength which is shining through is the way former pupils and the wider Glenalmond community are rallying to offer their ideas and support and this is also creating a great sense of unity.
“Clearly, these are challenging times and we are very keen to welcome our pupils back to school but the experience of moving to online learning has generated a wave of support between teachers, pupils and parents, of a scale which could not have been imagined.
“We are putting a particular emphasis on maintaining social contact between pupils and staff to help counter any sense of isolation. It’s particularly pleasing to see how much current, former, and future pupils - not to mention parents - are engaging with online activities to keep everyone motivated and make sure they feel part of the school community. It is distance teaching but very much Glenalmond at home.
Glenalmond has also been supporting former pupils who are working in frontline medical, and other roles, and producing face shield PPE in its school Design and Technology workshop.