|23 Nov 2020|
Schools have been in the spotlight throughout the Covid-19 crisis and it has been a challenging time for those in education. On the 20th March, schools across the country closed, and only vulnerable children and the children of Key Workers were able to attend school physically.
Here at the Royal Alexandra and Albert we rose to the challenge.
Our teachers have been exceptional during this time, particularly during the first lockdown, as they juggled looking after pupils here at the school whilst providing remote learning for all other pupils who remained at home. Many teachers kept in touch with pupils, making wellbeing calls, and providing academic support via email and virtual meeting software. A programme of curriculum classes and co-curricular activities was on offer to the children who were on-site throughout the lockdown period, and this was adapted for our pupils accessing home learning.
For the first time, the School offered Weekly Boarding as an option, to support parents who worked on the front-line of the NHS or in care homes. This was created to help parents who needed the support of a boarding education during the week for their child due to their jobs.
Headmaster, Mark Dixon, said at the time, “This School has a reputation for being a caring, supportive community where pupils flourish. We wanted to make boarding places more accessible to the people who have been caring for others throughout the pandemic, and who are likely to be doing so for many more months, if not years. By offering Weekly Boarding for only £1,200/month we hope to bring boarding to within the reach of the people who need it most at this difficult time.”
We remained open during the Easter holidays and during summer half term, providing care and continuity of education when it was most needed. During term, pupils followed the curriculum, but it was during the holidays that Gatton Park came into its own. As a community, we are lucky to live and work in such a green environment and have extensive grounds that enabled the School to put together fantastic activities for pupils.
Within weeks, teachers put together a full holiday camp programme: the ballroom became a luxury cinema room, the engine pond became a boating lake, and the grounds were the children's back garden. There was lots of exercise with daily walks meeting swans, fish, frogs and deer. Pupils started with a Joe Wicks workout and finished with a fun dance.
The East holiday camp, Easter Extra, was themed around Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland. One of the highlights was Alice in Gattonland – a tough mudder course through the lakes and around the park, which finished with a waterslide starting at the parterre and going down Gatton Killer. But all tastes were catered for, with pompom animals, gardening, tea parties, robotics, an Easter egg hunt and so much more.
The fun was repeated in the May half term break. The Serpentine Woods were turned into our very own Forest School. There is now a fully set up outside classroom, reading rooms, bug hotels, a fairy garden, and labyrinth.
Lockdown was a difficult time for all, but with our beautiful grounds, positivity, and our dedicated staff, pupils were provided with a great environment to learn and enjoy time together safely.