Thornton College take on virtual learning with enthusiasm

Posted on 30th Apr 2020 in School News, Online learning

Thornton College has continued to provide all lessons, assemblies and extra-curricular clubs 'virtually' to all of its students during the coronavirus lock-down.

Thornton College has remained physically open to key workers’ children and a number of teaching and support staff continue to work in the school. However, the majority of teaching staff are working remotely from their homes and going online to teach their lessons, interact with, and support their students. Girls in the prep school have attended virtual assembly in the chapel, senior girls from all over the world have been using the Zoom platform to attend lessons and many have interacted with their friends socially. Importantly, pastoral and safeguarding work has continued as girls wake up and are ready at their computers for morning registration with their form teachers before classes begin at 9:00 am.

Thornton College is Milton Keynes' only international boarding school with students attending from all over the world. During this time of virtual learning students near and far, from Buckinghamshire to China, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Iran and Spain have been checking in for registration and lessons every day. Thornton has also put additional resources together to support students settling into a different working environment, with the Sixth Form team and students sharing videos of their home study spaces. Students are continuing to make progress with their plans beyond the Sixth Form, having Careers appointments with Jo Scott, Thornton’s Careers and Enterprise Leader, as well as attending virtual university fairs and making progress with their personal statements. The Sixth Form team has also been checking in with some of the school's former Sixth Form students, including those isolating at universities in Europe and the USA.

Suzanne Kurze-Kinton, Head of Business and Economics at Thornton College, commented, "Teaching the Sixth Form students remotely has been a joy; the girls have joined lessons with enthusiasm and embraced the opportunity to use additional technology. They have been creative using chat and photos to research and present back to each other. My highlight was teaching lessons to girls in the UK, Spain and China simultaneously; it was wonderful to see the girls working together as normal despite the physical distance.

"In form time the students have responded well to contact via video; we've joined in prayer, quizzes and pastoral activities as normal. We have also taken the opportunity to see things that are not ordinarily possible, such as meeting each other’s' pets! I will treasure the moment we sang Happy Birthday to a student quarantined in her home country; she could not see her family or friends physically but we were able to sing and see her beautiful cake!"

Though there are obvious frustrations for students when working away from the familiar surroundings and daily structure of school, girls have maintained their positive outlook, enthusiasm and resilience. Even the youngest children are able to sign on to Zoom for their remote learning lessons and teachers are greeted each day with cheerful smiles from girls who are happy to see their friends and who are embracing the opportunities to use technology in innovative ways.

Teachers have been incredibly creative in the ways they are delivering their lessons; from story dramatisations and ballet for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) children, coding, singing and scavenger hunts in Key Stage 1 through to debates, PE, investigations and RE performances in Key Stage 2. Indeed, the full timetable has been delivered with such little disruption that some girls have even commented that it is just like being at school, but better.