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Keeping you up-to-date and our future plans

Andrew Lancaster
Andrew Lancaster (6 posts) Principal View Profile

I hope that you and your family are safe and well.  We have sent through a number of communications in the last week regarding the cancellation of IB and IGCSE examinations and upcoming further guidance on how grades and certificates will be awarded.

In addition, we have also sent through messages on;

  • Our move to live lessons as part of our Nord Anglia Virtual School Experience (NAVSE);
  • Details from our Heads of Schools to highlight the amazing outcomes that our pupils have achieved through home learning;
  • A message from our CEO to remind us that we are part of a wider family of Nord Anglia schools and the benefits that this brings to our children and staff, even (and perhaps especially) during these challenging and unique times.

To try to keep you as up-to-date as possible on all that is happening and to make you aware of future plans, we feel it will be useful to provide you with some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that you may also be curious about. We’ve listed them below and I hope that they prove useful.

  1. How much communication can I expect from the school?

We will continue to publish our weekly newsletter to parents to update you on the activities of our students, written by different members of staff across different areas of the school.  Additionally, I will send out a message each Tuesday to provide amendments or additions to the FAQs, as I understand that this is important to our families. New FAQs will be based on any general questions that are submitted by parents to the school.  Any individual questions regarding your child are best directed to your child’s class or subject teacher.

  1. When is the school campus going to reopen?

We still do not have a confirmed opening date for the re-opening of the school campus.  However, we are aware that schools are slowly being reopened across China, including in provinces close to Shanghai.  This is a positive sign and we hope that this means we will have positive news in the near future.  

  1. Will the school campus be ready?

Our Facilities Team have been following the guidance provided by the Shanghai Education Commission (SEC) to ensure that we are prepared.  We first met at the end of January and continue to meet regularly to review our plans and ensure that we meet the strict criteria required to open when we are permitted to do so.  To provide you with some context, this means that we have deep-cleaned the school campus, using the correct combination of specified detergents; that we have installed UV lights in classrooms as per the guidance; and that we have the right amount of hand sanitizers in stock for students and staff.  We will also be required to ensure that students and their parents have followed the correct quarantine measures, this is one of the reasons for our frequent surveys as we submit these to the SEC.  Once students return, there will be required measures in place.  These include taking temperatures of students before they board buses, and at regular intervals at school as well as adjusted lunchtimes for pupils to reduce proximities.  Once plans are finalised, we will send these to you in good time before the campus reopens.

  1. Have all of the teachers returned to Shanghai and will they be ready to teach?

We currently have about 65% of our teachers in Shanghai, some are completing their quarantine period, and more have arrived this week. We have been helping those who are still seeking a return to the city to book flights, although this is now halted in the light of the announcement by the government that no foreign nationals may enter China.  All Key Stages in the primary school have the right levels of staffing for different age ranges and in the secondary school experts to cover all subjects are already in Shanghai.  We will keep you updated on the progress of staff returning.

  1. Our children are tired and need a break.  Will there be a holiday?

We are very aware that our students have now completed their seventh week of learning from home.  We’ve resisted taking a holiday until now as many families expressed concerns in previous surveys about the need to ensure that learning is maintained whilst the school campus is closed.  We were also focused on ensuring that our IB and IGCSE students had the right level of support for written examinations between April and June.  These examinations have now been cancelled.  Many parents have also written to me to express that their children are now tired and need a break.  With all of this in mind, we will now have a two day break, on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 April.

  1. In February, the school provided a plan to make up for lost live-learning time. What are the school’s mitigation plans now?

We are currently reviewing the best options as we move forward.  When the original plans were put into place, we did not anticipate the school campus closure being as long as it has been.  Once the date of the school campus reopening is confirmed, we will review our mitigation and make adjustments.  Pupil learning and wellbeing remains our primary concern and will form the focus of our plans. Once we return, our teachers will be able to assess the support that students require to ensure that they make the expected levels of progress in their learning.

  1. I read about Nord Anglia’s Virtual School Experience (NAVSE) this week.  How is this benefitting my child?

This week, I sent details about what Nord Anglia’s NAVSE means for your child at our school.  We are part of a family of 66 schools globally and since the COVID19 outbreak have been in regular contact with our central education team in Oxford, our partners at Juilliard and MIT and our colleagues across other schools.  This has enabled us to share expertise about the best learning platforms, to produce bespoke Performing Arts and STEAM challenges for our children, to share a large amount of eLearning resources which our pupils can access and to provide support for our staff on what makes the best VSE.  If you reflect upon the last two months, I am sure that you will have noticed the changes as we have evolved into more interesting video tutorials, meetings between students and staff on Microsoft Teams to focus on both their learning and wellbeing and next week the model of live-learning, which I believe will refresh and reinvigorate our children as they can interact more with their classmates and teachers.  This is something special that we are able to do as a school because of the support and resources that a global organisation like Nord Anglia provides.

  1. Why are live-learning lessons not taking place in the morning in Shanghai?

We are an international school community of students, parents and staff and our families are still spread across the world at the moment.  We’ve moved to a hybrid learning model that involves both live lessons and more “traditional” eLearning.  If we set our lessons for morning time in China, it would mean that pupils and teachers elsewhere would likely be working through the night.  This would be counterproductive to the quality of learning for us all – teachers teaching during the night to our pupils here would not be effective and pupils (and supportive parents) trying to learn during the night hours would find it almost impossible.  For the sake of the wellbeing of all of the community and the effectiveness of learning, our model helps to meet the needs of both of these groups of students.  In Shanghai, the morning routine may still be eLearning tasks for students, followed by live lessons where they can interact with their class teachers.  In Europe, pupils will be able follow live lessons in the morning and then eLearning activities in the afternoon.  We can only manage to do this across a limited number of time zones, so we are aware the times do not suit everybody. In this case we selected the time zones which enabled the largest number of students to interact in the live learning, these were Europe and China. However, lessons on Microsoft Teams are recorded and will be available for students who are further west.

  1. How is the school’s leadership team (SLT) monitoring the quality of learning at the moment?

Our teachers continue to work together, to ensure that we are able to monitor the quality of learning activities and to respond to questions by both students and parents.   Regular SLT meetings take place each week, and in turn they meet ‘virtually’ with colleagues for whom they have responsibility across different phases and subjects across both schools.  These are for both subject teams who focus on curricula and improvements to learning within all subjects and pastoral teams who focus on the wellbeing of our pupils.  Similarly, our year group teams and subject departments have held their usual weekly meetings to ensure that there as much consistency as possible in the NAVSE.  It means sharing great practice and this has helped to evolve the programme over the last two months, as mentioned above.  This has helped us to think strategically about what we are doing.  As well as this, we have completed surveys across both the primary and secondary school.  We’ve also responded to the feedback by putiting into place, for example, opportunities for your child to speak with teachers about their learning and these opportunities increase as we move to our live lessons hybrid model.  We will continue to monitor our provision through our school teams and will ask you to provide your feedback about live lessons after it has been in place for two weeks.  In the meantime, there is always the opportunity to ask your class or subject teacher questions and if you are unsatisfied with the feedback to pass this on to the Heads of Schools, who will look into this for you.

  1. Will my child receive a school report?

There will be no formal Term 2 report for students this year as it is very difficult to provide an accurate picture of effort and attainment during recent months, given the challenges that families have faced.  We are prepared and ready to complete our usual full end-of-year reports for students at the end of this academic year.

  1. Will there be end-of-year examinations?

No.  We feel that this would be unfair on our students and would only add stress to what is already a very challenging time for them.  Our teachers have a rich understanding of the levels at which our pupils are performing, more accurately in some areas from the first term, but also to a certain extent during the current NAVSE period and will have that deeper understanding when we return.  This will support students’ end-of-year reports.  Furthermore, there will be opportunities for assessment periods during the next academic year of 2020-2021, where this is appropriate and most supportive for pupils.  One direct consequence of this is that when the school campus does re-open, we will have more time to focus on new learning with students as they will not be preparing for examinations.

  1. How do I communicate with the school during this time?

If there are general topic questions that are not yet addressed in the questions above, please send these through to me directly.

If you need specific feedback regarding your child’s classwork then please contact the subject teacher directly or if you have further concerns then do contact the Head of Primary or Head of Secondary and they will look into these for you.

 

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