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Ard-e Education Revisited

By Peter Banks

After an amazing final term in school in 2020, we finished the year on a high, we waved goodbye to the pupils, the staff celebrated another successful term and we all went on our way to enjoy some much needed downtime over the Christmas Holidays. It wasn’t long before the news came out that we would be returning to our Ard-e Education… 

Friends and fellow teachers continue to ask us, what makes Ardvreck School so successful at online education? On paper, we shouldn’t be leading the way. We are a school that loves the outdoors; we avoid using technology – or rather technology is only used where it needs to be. Despite this, Ardvreck children and teachers were utterly outstanding in lockdown for the entire summer term last year. It all comes down to an absolutely amazing group of teachers, pupils and parents. We are so lucky to have all three!

The process of getting everyone set up is unique to Ardvreck. Every child, every family and every staff member is always treated as an individual and we ensure that they are set up and ready to ‘attend’ face-to-face lessons with teachers for 100% of their lessons. Everyone receives as many support sessions and trial runs as they need – we stay on the line until everyone is ready and feels confident. Our team has resolved internet bandwidth issues, software problems and continues to provide free loans of our school’s laptops to help wherever needed.

Our rigour and structure to the school day is absolutely central in our approach to online learning. Every lesson is face-to-face, with a teacher, and our pupils are never sent away to work unaided. As with every aspect of our education, friendly, expert, specialist teachers are always available to help every single child. Online lessons are similar to in class lessons so our pupils’ cognitive loads are managed and their welfare is always utmost in our minds.

Of course, academic lessons continue to be effective and challenging, but it is so important to note that these online lessons are also balanced with outdoor and sporting activities. Every day, pupils are challenged to take part in exercise, including live, online yoga classes, fitness routines prepared by our gymnastics teacher as well as an enjoyment of the outdoors, creating a love for the environment that lasts a lifetime.

Finally, we make sure that the important things are being learnt, there’s no complicated software or tricky logins. It’s so easy to access our familiar teachers; pupils can focus on what is important, they enjoy their lessons with their friends and, just like they do in school, they make amazing progress.

So what is it that makes Ard-e learning so special? It is the pupils, the parents, the teachers: The Dream Team!