From the Master
It has been a few days since my last letter, and I thought it high time you were given a few more updates on the situation facing the school during the closure period.
Based on the current situation, we now anticipate the reopening of the school not earlier than 2nd March, although of course this is still subject to change as we follow government guidance. As a result, I wanted to highlight the on-going importance of our online learning for all pupils in the school.
I have been really heartened by the feedback I have had from parents, staff and pupils about the impact of our online learning. Given the suddenness of the school closure programme, it has been a testament to the skill and dedication of the teaching staff that so many excellent lessons have been taught over the past few days. For many colleagues, this was a first attempt at teaching substantial groups of pupils via a computer link, and the learning curve as you might expect, has been very steep. Parents and pupils have helped the process by offering ideas and advice on how to develop the variety of lesson and activity, and they too have played a key role in making the learning online so effective. In combination, the Wellington community has proved a formidable force in establishing such a solid e-learning programme in just a few days.
It is perhaps an obvious thing to say, but children of different ages need a variety of teaching to help them to get the most out of their learning. It is not the same technical requirement for, say, a child in Year 1 as we would have for those in Year 13, although of course the thing that must not be compromised is the quality of the work. I have heard lots of stories of pupils working together through Microsoft Teams and other platforms, as well as working with online programmes such as IXL and Accelerated Reader to help continue their learning journey. My own advice is that children should be encouraged to read widely, or be read to, at all age groups. The development of fluency in English, the broadening of a specialist vocabulary and the acquisition of knowledge can all be done through the apparently simple task of reading a book. Their teachers can help advise on suitable resources for their reading, so please do contact the heads of school to access support.
eLearning at home
I am also pleased to note that our activity programme providers are equally anxious to reach out and help pupils at this unfamiliar time. Details of how to access the ASA and Academy programme online have been sent out to parents in a separate letter, so I would encourage all families to look into these ways to enrich the learning going on in homes across the world.
From the Director of Educational Technology
We take Educational Technology very seriously at Wellington College International Tianjin, because we believe in empowering our teachers and pupils with the best technologies of the 21st Century, which is also one of the main reasons why we have qualified to become the first international Microsoft Showcase School in China.
One of the positive effects of our dedicated approach to EdTech is that the training sessions we have delivered to all our staff and many pupils over the previous 14 months have enormously facilitated the eLearning that is taking place during what is a difficult time for everyone in China. We have live video Microsoft Teams meetings between teachers and pupils, some of whom are at the other ends of the globe, happening at the times when they would normally be in their classrooms. For those pupils unable to attend live, we have recordings of these meetings on Microsoft Stream for viewing at a later time. Our teachers are able to share feedback and educational resources in realtime through Teams and OneNote Class Notebook, and even take control of the pupils’ screens when they are in need of immediate assistance with a practical task.
Specifically for this situation, we have lowered the age of pupils using Microsoft Teams down to Year 1 – even our 5 years olds are successfully accessing our eLearning platform with the help of their caring parents. These platforms will soon be available all the way to children in pre-Nursery.
We are hoping that the health situation in China will improve very quickly and that our teachers and pupils will meet in their classrooms soon. In the meantime, we are ready for effective eLearning!
Finally, we will look to relaunch the Week Ahead from Friday 21st February, to help keep parents informed of the progress in preparing the school for a safe reopening, as well as continue to provide details of the learning resources available to our community.