Go An Orley Farm Digital Pilot

Dear Parents,

We are constantly being bombarded in the press by the negatives surrounding the prolonged period of lockdown that we have all recently experienced. The adverse impact of school closures is particularly prominent in the news and there is the added risk that localised lockdowns could see a return to periods of remote teaching.

However, we as a school have decided to focus on the many positives that can be taken from the last 6 months and behind the scenes staff and pupils have been collaborating as we reflect on the many ways we can learn from these experiences. I am proud of how Resilient and Flexible pupils and staff have been, not to mention the Ambition that everyone showed as we found ways to maintain our incredibly broad and balanced curriculum despite the most adverse of conditions!

Many years ago at the start of my teaching career, I went to the Headteacher to ask whether we could make a change to the school day as I felt that it would benefit the pupils - he told me that it would have to go through a process and when he saw my disappointment he reminded me that...

Schools are like oil tankers, it takes an extraordinary amount of energy to move the rudder and it'll take 5 miles before you notice a change in direction!

...I am delighted that Orley Farm has never held this outlook! Recent events have simply confirmed to me the need for schools to be agile, flexible, adaptive and responsive if they are to harness the opportunities that are presenting themselves today in the middle of this storm, after all, we expect this in our day to day lessons!

Therefore, I am delighted that we are launching a pilot programme simply named 'Go' that looks to take the best and most effective experiences from remote teaching and marry them with the best of our traditional provision before the lockdown. This pilot will start with our current Year 7 pupils who will shortly be receiving their own Microsoft Surface Go, with keyboard and scribe in order to build on their MS Team and One Note portfolios that they started last term.

Many Senior Schools have already adopted this way of working and in light of recent events many more have introduced it for the coming academic year. We are confident that this will provide pupils not only with more capability to develop their learning around each subject but also prepare them for Senior School. As a school we are mindful that any changes to the way we work must benefit the pupils so for that we reason it will be a two-year trial. A number of schools have introduced 'bring your own device' to school but with the variation in software and performance, we felt that providing the devices this year will offer us with the best chance to stress-test this scheme across a year group.

As a teaching group we are very excited by the opportunities that this will provide to our senior pupils, not only the ability to continue with the variety of mediums we were able to access during remote learning but in further enhancing the broad and balanced preparation we provide in readiness for transfer to senior school and life beyond.

I look forward to updating parents on the outcomes that we discover in the coming year as we have all reassessed so much of what we thought we knew about our classes - streaming learning allowed different children to shine - I have a funny feeling that we are all going to embark on a lot of new learning and who knows where this pilot might take us for future generations of Orleyans!

Tim Calvey