Lomond prepares “digital school” in preparation for Coronavirus shut down | Lomond School

Lomond prepares “digital school” in preparation for Coronavirus shut down

As teachers, pupils and parents around the country are concerned about the effect that coronavirus may have for the education of young people, Lomond School is planning to ensure that teaching can continue ahead of the busiest exam period of the school year.

Principal Johanna Urquhart comments on how the school community is preparing as it becomes increasingly more likely that schools will be told to close in the coming weeks.

“I am extremely grateful to the international schools who have shared their experiences and advice of working remotely – this has helped enormously to inform our plans. This is an unprecedented time and whilst we have many plans and contingencies in place, we will continue to adjust and amend as we see the situation evolve.

“Our number one priority is the health and well-being of our pupils alongside their continued education in this crucial time just before their SQA examinations. We have been preparing for the eventuality that schools may need to close for several weeks now and have a whole school strategy in place to ensure that pupils from nursery to senior school have the ability to continue learning at home.

 “We are also aware that there may be more pupils than usual unable to sit exams if they go ahead as planned, which may lead to having to submit evidence for pupils with exceptional circumstances. We are ensuring there is robust evidence and collating this now in case teachers are also unwell over the exam diet.”

Within the senior school, examination coursework is being prioritised with teachers giving up their weekends and evenings to support pupils and ensure that work is completed and ready for SQA uplift well before the scheduled deadlines.

A meeting was held for all pupils scheduled to take exams to inform them of the steps taken to ensure continuity of teaching as they prepare for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams which are set to take place from 27 April until 4 June.

For non-exam classes, there will be a balance of off-line and on-line digital programmes that are self-driven and don’t require parental support, allowing parents to be able to work from home efficiently, with a focus on maths and language for the youngest pupils.

Junior school staff have been preparing packs for pupils to take home and will be utilising some of the many digital based learning apps that the children are already familiar with such as Readtheory and Mathletics.  

All staff are in the process of receiving advanced digital training as well as trialling conference call lessons, while the school is also preparing safeguarding guidance and remote-learning protocols to be distributed to parents, pupils and teachers.

An online platform called Take Your Marks has also been introduced to help motivate pupils studying at home, with tutorials available to maintain good health and wellbeing. In addition, the PE department have filmed a series of daily exercise challenges to set for children if the school is closed.

Lomond’s boarding house provides a home away from home for young people from across the world. With a number of international pupils unable to return home to their families over the Easter break, the boarding house has also taken measures to ensure the safety of its pupils and will stay open over the Easter break, with contingency plans in place should pupils need to be quarantined.

More than 20 teachers at the school have volunteered to assist in the boarding house over the holiday period and are planning activities for overseas pupils who would otherwise have flown home to be with family and friends. Extra support has also been put in place for those concerned about family members in seriously affected countries.

Johanna Urquhart, Principal at Lomond School, said: “Like all schools, we’re doing everything we can to minimise any negative impact from Coronavirus.

“As a digitally-enabled school, we’re well placed to efficiently prepare our staff and pupils to work remotely. As we get closer to the exam period, we’re working to put ourselves in the best place possible to complete course work, prepare for digital revision and have support in place for pupils to access everything they need to continue studies.

“For our international pupils, this is clearly a difficult time to be away from loved ones, so we’re putting every measure possible in place to provide the best care and support.

“We are very much a family school and despite the very uncertain and difficult times that we find ourselves in it has been incredible to see our entire community come together to support each other and our young people.” 

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