You wouldn’t know it, but the “school holidays” are over, and today students start back at college and primary schools.
In notices that have gone out to parents, many local Primary schools are noting that this term is like no other in the history of NZ education.
The process is new to everyone, and the schools are putting a lot of effort into making it work as best they can.
Flexibility has been key, as schools are well aware that parents are uncertain about their input into the process, as well as having other demands on their time during lockdown.
Silverdale School principal Cameron Lockie says Silverdale’s distance learning programme is a mix of online and offline learning.
In a notice to parents and caregivers, he says the school has developed a website that is available to everyone. Teachers are available to reply to emails Monday to Friday, 9am-1pm.
“We don’t expect you to become the ‘teacher’ – more of a support person for your child's learning,” he says. “We have provided your child with enough independent work for them to do alongside you. We appreciate you too will likely be working from home, so the suggested timetables and activities are optional. Feel free to make the timetable work for you and your family or run with your own ideas.”
Orewa North Primary principal Katherine Pascoe says the school has rolled out an online programme with a flexible curriculum.
“Our staff have been meeting on online platforms during the holidays and are enthusiastic and committed to making this work as best they can for our students and their families,” she says.
The home learning provided for students of Orewa Primary is described as offering a variety of learning experiences in the hope of motivating children’s curiosity, creativity and love of learning. A suggested timetable, with teacher support, has been provided but families are reminded to make the best decisions that work for them.
Principal Diane Lambert says the school would like this to be an easy and enjoyable time for families, working around other commitments.
Links to Red Beach School’s online programme have been provided to families with the added instruction from Principal Julie Hepburn to “do what works best for your bubble”.
For students of Whangaparaoa College, the big difference is that work is being done at home without face-to-face connection with teachers.
Deputy Principal in charge of curriculum, Dawn Sullivan, says because the college is a Bring Your Own Device school, online learning is a part of students’ normal way of doing things.
She says for in-home learning, some changes have been made to programmes and teachers have been asked to connect with students through video conferencing or email as well as being available to answer questions and give advice. The school day is a little shorter – from 11am-2pm
“We are very fortunate that only a very small number of our learners do not have access to a device or to the internet and we are working with the Ministry of Education to get these learners online and with a device as soon as we can,” Dawn says.
And what of the post-lockdown future? Red Beach School’s Julie Hepburn says “we are constantly being reminded that everything is going to be quite different as we move forward beyond the lockdown. What this means for Red Beach School we have yet to be told. Much is being written about how this could look but the reality is – nobody knows!”