AMONGST the gloom and despair of the last 12 months, there has been an emerging light that has transformed schools and ways of learning forever. It has got schools through the multiple lockdowns and ‘bubble’ closures during the pandemic and has enabled young people to continue to progress and keep in touch with their teachers and classmates.
From a standing start, the Gateway Learning Community has developed a state-of- the-art online offer that has been praised by parents and the government and stands head and shoulders above the provision made by many local schools. One typical comment from a Gateway parent said ‘I would like to say a massive well done to all the staff at Gateway. The learning and support has been amazing under the circumstances and you all have patience of saints in live lessons. I think the Gateway and all staff have worked really hard so a big thank you. When other parents are moaning about their schools I have been able to say can’t fault Gateway for the learning and updates. Keep up the good work and stay safe.’
When the first closure was announced, the 5 schools within the GLC [the Gateway Academy, the Gateway Primary Free School; Herringham; Lansdowne and Tilbury Pioneer primary academies] emptied their schools of laptops and iPads so that all young people and especially those who needed additional IT support could have virtual access to their teachers and could continue to learn.
For up to 4 hours a day students would work on-line in all subjects across the curriculum with new an innovative teaching methods proving to be really popular. Teachers have assessed the ongoing progress of students in maths and English and have announced that those who have attended online lessons every day have, in general, progressed well and will achieve the end of year academic targets that were set before we had heard of Covid-19. This is a triumph for teachers; their students and parents, who have been behind the scenes supporting like never before.
As students return to their classrooms the GLC Board of Directors has agreed that laptops should stay in the homes of young people; that the school-based computers should be replaced; and that every child from Year 3 to Year 7 should be issued with a laptop that they will take to and from school each day in-order that they have best opportunities to continue their 21st century learning, both at home and at school.
The GLC has released significant cash reserves to fund this, with a plan in place to fund a laptop for all GLC young people in the near future. An order for an additional 800 laptops has been placed to add to those already in the community.
Kevin Sadler, the CEO of the group said ‘we planned over the next few years to expand our online offer, but the advent of the pandemic has accelerated this massively. Our teachers and young people have made incredible progress in the last year there is no way we couldn’t possibly take a step back. To think that there has been little detriment to learning over the last year for those young people who attended their live lessons every day opens the door to new and exciting ways to learn.
I am truly grateful to our Directors who have provided the resources to allow this to happen. We are committed to ensuring every young person within our care as the resources needed to support them to reach their full potential.