A Summer Term Like No Other
April 28 2020
It is unknown when we will resume ‘as normal’. In an interview with Channel 4, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, responded to the question of whether it is possible that schools could go back before the summer holidays by saying: “I couldn’t say for certain but I don’t want children to be outside of school for a day longer than is necessary so there may be points in between where you have classes split into two.”
This is just one of the potential ‘creative’ measures being considered in order to re-open schools, and implementation consultations continue. Following the government guidelines, the School is delivering its final term curriculum to pupils remotely, as families turn living areas into learning spaces.
It has been both sobering and enlightening to shift teachers regular human contact with a class of pupils to one of physical distance. A pupil email address @edinburghsteinerschool.org.uk has been created for all pupils to access their school work on Gsuite, with parents of children in Class 5 and below using this on their child’s behalf; teachers have worked tirelessly throughout the Easter holidays to deliver lessons virtually in ways that continue to instil a love and curiosity for learning; and with the start of school term on Wednesday 21st April, many classes are coming together, virtually, for the morning verse, lessons, and one-to-one tuition.
Upper School will be a mixture of Main Lesson topics and project based research and discovery. By and large, Lower School Main Lessons will follow the curriculum. The main reduction is in Classes 1-5, where it is felt it was too complex to deliver language lessons. Lessons will include written assignments, activity instructions, and pre-recorded or live audio or video elements. In general, Class Teachers and Guardians will be on hand for regular communication. Kindergarten Coordinator Susie Musgrove is the contact person for the Early Years.
GSuite is providing our ‘canopy’ during this challenging time with the aim of maintaining the sense of togetherness, community and connection. It is being used to provide Weekly Overviews and Daily Lesson Plans.
The trustees are charting a way forward for the school through the challenge that the current situation presents, implementing measures that strive to both support our parents and teachers, and sustain the School into the future. 41 staff have been furloughed, with their salaries topped up to 100%, so they do not suffer any financial detriment. The savings made through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (which pays 80% of furloughed employees’ salaries) will go entirely towards helping parents through a Hardship Fund and universal reductions in fees of up to 30%, as far as the School finances allow.
Learning lessons from fellow Waldorf School in China
In Steiner education, we are lucky to have the benefit and wisdom from our colleagues across the world. Edinburgh Steiner School is part of a global network of over 1,200 Steiner Waldorf schools. The education movement is rapidly growing in China. In 2004, the first Waldorf school and Kindergarten were founded in Chengdu. Today, more than 300 initiatives are practising Waldorf early childhood education, and there are more than 50 practicing Waldorf grade schools.
Working together: schools in China begin to reopen this week. Reports from Chinese Steiner Schools have been valuable in helping us to consider their experience when developing our own new paths for learning. This insight was enriched further by direct conversations between Edinburgh Steiner School and Nanshan Waldorf School in Beijing. Both Class 11’s have also now met online, and have now embarked on an international coming together of pupils worldwide.
The School’s unique Open Tours provide an excellent opportunity to observe the children learning, sense the atmosphere and ask more detailed questions about the curriculum and how we teach. Sadly, during the Covid-19 pandemic our School is open to children of key workers only. In the meantime, we are still receiving, processing and accepting applications for our newly registered Playgroup for children aged 2 and over, our three Kindergartens for children of mixed ages (3.5 – 6.5 years old), and our School (for pupils aged 6 – 18), with a capacity of up to 360 pupils.
A personal introduction: In addition to the Prospectus, we have put together bespoke information packs for prospective families that will hopefully provide the answers to most initial curiosities. In these very strange times we find ourselves in, we are also offering parents the opportunity to speak directly with their child’s prospective Class Teacher, who stays with the Class until the Upper School. This informal virtual meeting can give parents and the child the opportunity to ask any questions that are specific to the prospective class – pupil numbers, curriculum content, how new pupils come into a close-knit group, as well as any queries that are unique to thier situation. If desired, we are also inviting prospective classmates to join the end of this meeting so as to give a pupil’s perspective too.
To request a meeting, please email or Admissions Coordinator, Jenny Innes (working remotely) on: email@example.com