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Crawley’s The Gatwick School celebrates as their online teaching is a huge success



It has only been a week and a half since schools across the country were instructed to close their doors, but in that time one Crawley school has not just coped with online learning, but has excelled.

With an incredible 97% attendance The Gatwick School has found their elearning strategy has not just been a success, it has motivated both students and teachers in ways they never expected.

The online platform from TGS Online

TGS Online was launched with year 10 starting initially. The students do 3 periods a day of their entire GCSE curriculum which has been condensed into less classes. Incredibly the students have been asking for more which the school is now looking at providing.

Now the school has brought year 9 onboard and already the reaction from the students has been a welcome surprise with students ‘enjoying’ and ‘impressed’ with the experience and even reporting their friends from other schools are jealous.

While years 7 and 8 are not yet part of TGS Online as yet, the students are still able to participate in online Spanish and it is hoped to roll out to them soon.

Year 1’s learning online with their teacher.

But the whole elearning is about to take a new leap with year 1’s joining now and starting with Phonics classes. The youngest students found the lessons fun and were excited about being able to join in.

So how is it all working?

Each teacher and subject chooses their own interactive style of working. For example, Art makes use of cameras to showcase work while Maths and Spanish uses a mix of audio and video. English used powerpoints and chat functions to elicit written responses and Science ises flipped learning sessions. It all depends on how the teacher of their particular subject wants to interact with their students.

Whatever the method used, students are able to interact with their tutor by chat, audio and video.

“The reaction has been phenomenal,” said Mr Pickett who has made all of this possible and who mans the online help desk for both the students and teachers.

“99% of staff and all but a single digit of students are very supportive of the platform, and I am actively working on bringing both numbers to 100% by running extra training sessions or helping out during live lessons.”

But it’s not just the students and teachers who are noticing the success, parents have as well with one saying:

“thank you for the tremendous work you have done to get the year 9 students working online.

I have been super impressed with the work you and your colleagues are doing to enable the children to continue their education in these most exceptional times.  We owe you a debt of gratitude. You are all a credit to the Gatwick School, to your profession and to the country.”

Having put in 18 – 20 hours a day for the last 3 weeks to make all this possible, Mr Picketts hard work is really paying dividends to both the students and staff. He said: “My silent hope is that other schools pick up the success of what we are doing and come to us for guidance and help so we can show them how to do it.

Head of School Mark Roessler said:

“Mr Pickett has very quickly and effectively set up online interactive live teaching platform whch has both engaged students and parents in home learning during this difficult time.

“Staff at The Gatwick School have adapted very quickly to this new way of teaching while juggling their own home learning and caring responsibilites. I’m extremely happy with current home learning provision and we will continue to explore possibilities of supporting our children.”


‘Reckless’ National Education Union attacks West Sussex Council over schools reopening



The National Education Union has spoken out saying they have been frustrated by the ‘reckless’ approach they say West Sussex County Council has taken towards the safety of its members on the matter of schools re-opening more widely.

Joint NEU West Sussex Branch Secretary Ann Seuret said:

“It is disappointing that the local authority has referred to a ‘phased re-opening’ because schools have been open throughout the lockdown, where our members have been working on the front line, providing a vital service for vulnerable children and those of key-workers whilst they protect us from this awful disease.”

They say that contrary to the views expressed by some politicians in the county, The National Education Union is consulting on a wider re-opening of schools and is using a detailed checklist endorsed by the other education unions, which follows the structure of the government’s own guidance, to do so. They add that every school needs to consult in good time to fulfil its statutory obligations, and many are only at the beginning of that process.

It has now been confirmed to the NEU that many schools in West Sussex will NOT open more widely on June 1st despite the council claiming that they will. This follows widespread concern from heads in West Sussex wanting reassurances from government.

NEU Regional Officer, James Ellis said:

“The National Education Union wants children to return to school as soon as possible, but only when it is safe. Our five tests set out some reasonable criteria by which to measure this, and they have not been met. We still do not know the rate of infection (the R rate) in the county, or whether or not children are less likely than adults to pass on the infection. Schools are not able to keep children two metres apart, and this is acknowledged in the government guidance. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has concluded that there is no evidence that age affects the likelihood of being infected with Covid19, so we cannot understand why children are not required to social distance. Whilst testing has been increased nationally, our members are not confident that the ability yet exists across West Sussex to isolate cases and successfully contact, track, and trace them. This system just isn’t ready yet, and so we believe West Sussex County Council is acting too hastily. This stands in marked contrast to other councils who are taking a more cautious approach to only open more widely when the scientific data shows it is safe to do so. Despite this recklessness many West Sussex schools are sensibly deciding that 1st June is too soon.”

Primary schools in West Sussex which have already confirmed they will not yet open more widely on June 1st include:

  • all schools run by The University of Brighton Academies Trust: Lindfield, Blackthorns, Holmbush, Pound Hill, Desmond Anderson, and it’s secondary: Burgess Hill Academy
  • all schools run by The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT): Broadfield Primary Academy, Hilltop Primary School, Portfield Primary Academy, Seal Primary Academy, Seymour Primary School, Tangmere Primary Academy, The Bewbush Academy, The Mill Primary Academy, The Oaks Primary School,  and it’s secondaries: Chichester High School,  Thomas Bennett Community College and The Academy, Selsey,
  • Southgate Primary School

In addition, Headteachers at Crawley Secondary Schools: Ifield Community College, Holy Trinity School, St Wilfrid’s, Oriel High School Hazelwick and The Gatwick School
– have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement.

In it they said:

“As a group of secondary Headteachers of the schools in Crawley we have unanimously agreed that no students will be in school (other than those for childcare) any earlier than 15th June… We have come to this position in order to act responsibly for the welfare of the school and local community.”

NEU West Sussex Joint Branch Secretary and Health and Safety Officer, Anne Barker said:

“For the National Education Union it is not about an arbitrary date, but uppermost in our considerations is the safety of our members, the children in their care, and their families. The statutory obligations of employers to meaningfully consult on risk assessments is clear.

This means there has to be enough time to explain the issues to our members, time for them to consider and make informed responses, and time for employers to take into account their response before making a final decision.

We are ready to do that on the basis of our five tests and our checklist, but schools must let go of this arbitrary June 1st date. Mr Ellis added, “If schools do push ahead to open more widely on June 1st we will advise members that we do not believe it is safe for them to attend work and that we are not satisfied that the employer has met their obligations under the Health & Safety at Work Act. Any member subjected to a detriment as a consequence of not attending work will be vigorously defended by our union.”

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