As soon as news of COVID-19 emerged back in the Spring Term, Ardvreck immediately implemented a series of measures to reduce the risk of infection. Our main priority has always been the health, safety and welfare of pupils, staff and all those in our wider community. We are very grateful for all the co-operation and understanding we received from all members of our community, especially parents, in this regard. Families across the world are affected by both illness and the range of implications caused by this present situation and, for this reason, the importance of supporting one another remains at the forefront of all our undertakings.
Whilst visits to our school are currently not permitted under the Scottish Government’s lockdown regulations, the Headmistress welcomes telephone enquiries. We currently have places in most year groups; please telephone the school office (01764 653112) and, if your call is not answered immediately, please leave a message and Mrs Kinge will call you back at her earliest convenience. An online meeting can be arranged and, as soon as circumstances permit, a visit may be arranged over the summer when you will have the opportunity to tour the school and to meet the Headmistress and other key staff.
We are committed to providing our extraordinary, all-round education and excellent pastoral support for our pupils throughout this crisis. At the start of the Summer Term, we moved to a remote learning model using the Google Classroom. We were fortuitous in having the Easter holiday to research widely, across the globe, with regard to the suitability of online learning and recommended hours of screen time for the age and stage of our children. As a result, we have been able to cherry pick the best scenarios to suit the needs of Ardvreck children and to suit our outdoorsy ideals; with a nod to our feisty ethos, we have named it an Ard-e Education.
The day begins at 8:45am with a live, online assembly for the whole school, with live music and hymn singing. All children receive four, 45 minute lessons between 9:00am and 12:30pm, with their teachers present on screen for the duration. There is a break time for half an hour after lesson 2 during which time the children are encouraged to play outside. After lunch the children are required to undertake music practice (which they must log online for monitoring purposes) and then a daily, sporting challenge is set (which again is logged) – usually to be completed outside. Face to face, online pastoral support with the child’s tutor then ends each day in a calm and reflective manner. Even children in our Nursery are receiving, active, outdoorsy, online sessions with their teacher! Online instrumental music lessons are also an enormous success, as well as learning support appointments and sessions with the school counsellor, if required. Every Saturday, we release an Ard-e Challenge which pupils, parents and teachers complete – we have received some hilarious videos so far!
“I just wanted to say how delighted we are as parents at the quality of virtual teaching from your amazing staff! I’ve just come up from my daughter’s classroom where I was sorting out an ironing pile the size of Ben Nevis and I listened in on her music class with Mr Grant – just as I’ve listened in on many of her classes when I get a spare minute – and I’m blown away by the enthusiastic, professional, engaging and most of all fun teaching you are providing during these difficult and restrictive circumstances. Most of the time I don’t want to leave the room because I’m enjoying the lessons so much! Well done to you all!”
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to say how brilliant and outstanding, though of course unsurprising, the Ardvreck online education has been. Just exemplary. My children look forward to ‘school’ and rave about it – particularly the challenges and the music lessons. Friends in England and in Edinburgh, particularly with children at private schools, are complaining about pre-recorded lessons, lack of structure and the complete stress of it all. That has not been the case with Ardvreck. The live learning; the interactive nature of teaching; the encouragement of outside activity (where possible) and time away from screens; the nurture of each individual and the sense of humour and calm, quiet authority of the teaching has just been exemplary. It has been so all-inclusive that loneliness and isolation are just not an issue. Missing friends yes, missing out no. Never have I felt more proud of the school. I had a new mum contact me and she is very excited about next term. So this is just a great big thank you to staff and governors for not only keeping the show on the road but making it a damn good one. Thank you.”
“I just wanted to send you a very quick email to congratulate you on what I’m sure was an enormous effort behind the scenes to get the remote online learning available and working so well for the whole school. To have accomplished this as a prep school, with the limited resources available, is a spectacular achievement. Please pass on my congratulations and appreciation to all the teachers. Well done.”
“I cannot tell you how fantastic everything that you and the teachers are doing is; our son is engaged, interested, focused and happy, and this is ALL because your amazing Dream Team are creating the same magic online that they do in the classroom. We have been so impressed by all of it. I know how exhausting, draining and time consuming it is to adapt, plan and deliver lessons in this way, and I’m sure that you all feel like you’re working harder than you ever have. It has not been for nothing! We are enormously grateful, and appreciate your hard work and commitment more than you can imagine. Thank you to you all, so much.”
“Thank you very much to you and the team for all that you have done and are doing to keep the schooling going. Having the lessons is great and the extra challenges are good to keep the morale going. I think you have managed to maintain the Ardvreck spirit and the education in line with its ethos. A huge well done to all of the team.”
“I’d just like to reiterate our thanks for everything you and the Ard staff are doing for the children, we have loved the family Ho Down dance, doing hobby horse courses etc and the assemblies and classes are second to none. It is staggering how committed and effective the Ard response to COVID has been. Thank you!”
Pupils will continue to be taught by their classroom and subject teachers and will also continue to be tutored by their tutor. As with remote learning, tutor contact will be via the Google Classroom, where each tutor group is set up as a classroom. Each tutor has developed his or her own way of keeping the group motivated and happy, just as they would have done if they were meeting each week at school. During the corona virus pandemic, a pupil’s tutor will be the centre of their school life, and the children’s first point of contact.
We continue to provide a wide range of support and opportunities for pupils to develop their skills, attitudes and habits of mind in a healthy and productive way. An engaging programme is being delivered this term, including but not limited to:
Outdoor Education: our outdoor team continues to provide tuition in bush craft, camp building, campfire safety, den construction, whittling and much more. The children are encouraged to venture into the outdoors as much as possible.
Sport: online coaching demonstrations to maintain and improve fitness in a variety of sports, including early morning, online yoga sessions.
Music: online individual instrumental lessons and a range of further opportunities, including the House Music Competition and congregational singing.
Community Action: we are engaging with our annual charity partnership, The Amber Trust and, through various challenges and fun activities, we are raising money to enable blind children to access a musical life.
We appreciate that our sixth form (year 8) pupils and staff have been working towards the goal of Common Entrance examinations in June for quite some time. At this stage of the year, dialogue between the Headmistress and each child’s chosen senior school is well developed and, between us, we have taken the decision for our sixth pupils to sit Common Entrance remotely, under examination conditions, in the comfort of their own homes. The examinations will be marked internally by Ardvreck staff and the results will be shared with each child’s chosen senior school. The intention is to honour all the hard work and achievements of the children and to present them with their well-deserved ISEB certificates at an awards ceremony as soon as circumstances permit.
The safety of our pupils, staff and parents remains at the heart of our planning and modelling. Whenever we are permitted to open and in whatever form, we are preparing to be able to provide the highest levels of hygiene and any necessary social distancing. We are continuing to develop robust procedures and protocols and, with reference to the advice of Public Health Scotland, we are currently considering all our options, including regular monitoring of pupils and staff well-being, regular temperature checks, testing for COVID-19, quarantine measures and social distancing across the school site, to name but a few.
If return to the UK at any point, either this term or next, for our overseas boarders requires a period of quarantine, we shall seek to provide this in school. If we regather and a second wave of infection requires the closure of schools nationwide, we shall do all we can to look after our boarders for whom home is overseas.
As soon as the Scottish Government sets out its strategy for schools across the UK, we shall be able to apply our various modelling scenarios to this, making any adjustments we deem necessary to ensure the safety of our community. We shall update this information as soon as we are able.