The British School Yangon: Don’t count the days, make the days count
BSY “Virtual School Experience” the story so far…
The run up
In February, as our sister schools in Vietnam and China closed their campuses and opened their virtual classrooms, the leadership team at BSY watched closely to see what we might learn, anticipating that we might soon face the same situation here in Yangon. Those initial weeks of reflection and consideration soon changed into a phase of concerted preparation with all our staff, as the reality of school closures spread rapidly around the world.
BSY colleagues drafted online plans, gathered resources and trialled different platforms so that we could be in the best place possible to maintain continuity of learning for all our children. We were supported in this by the growing online library collated by the NAE team, where educators in all our schools around the world shared ideas, planning documents and resources to help us all adapt to a whole new way of learning.
In at the deep end: log on and learn
It is to the immense credit of the BSY teachers that despite 85 % of ex pat staff leaving Yangon to fly across the globe over those first three days of Virtual School, the feedback from parents and students was that week 1 was a resounding success! Yes, there were technical hitches; no, not everyone managed to quite get the knack of hanging out in a hangout, and even now, some of us in SLT still struggle to mute and unmute at the right time … Overall though, the BSY community showed their true team spirit and dedication, pulling together with resilience and good humour.
So, what’s the philosophy behind our VSE?
We believe that a great virtual school should offer a close approximation to “real” school in as many ways as possible. As both an educator and a parent, I am absolutely committed to ensuring that the BSY VSE provides not only a robust academic offer but also the space, time and opportunity for socializing, group work and play / down time; just as one has in a regular school day. It is crucial too that pastoral care remains high on the agenda and that counselling services, check ins with more vulnerable students and general “pulse checks” on everyone’s well being are part of the everyday routine.
In many ways though, a virtual school has to be more and do more than traditional school; there can be no reliance on all the elements one takes for granted; the natural and fluid rhythms, support networks and communications channels that exist when school is open. I have been amazed by the step change and paradigm shift I have seen from our community in their commitment not only to make this work, but rather to make it absolutely first class.
What’s on the horizon?
We understand that the current world situation can take its toll on our emotional and physical well being. So, we want to accentuate the positive this term. We are launching our Virtual ASC programme, [VD1] to an Inter House competition, to encourage all members of our community, mums and dads included, to get involved and have some fun whilst earning points for one of our four Houses. Instrumental music lessons will also restart via google hangouts so our talented musicians can continue to make progress with their teachers whilst still in lockdown at home. Weekly performances in form time and beyond will provide a forum to celebrate and share the creativity of our staff and students [VD2] .
A quality school experience will always combine the old and new: traditional approaches with modern technology, caring teachers with curious students, new ideas with tried, tested and trusted methods. Nowhere has this creative fusion been more evident than in what we have seen blossoming around the world these past months. Now, more than ever, I am in awe of the creativity and kindness, generosity and ingenuity of teachers and school staff. If necessity is the mother of invention, then we truly have witnessed the birth of a very exciting new era in the story of education.
Here are some short videos from our Executive Team, commenting on various elements of our BSY VSE.
A message from Head of EYFS, Mrs Charlotte Thomas
A message from Head of Primary, Mrs Ocallaghan
Blog written by
Tor Del Federico