Years 8, 9 and 10 Have Their Say...
Beginning the new school year in 2020 has, for obvious reasons, been unlike any previous restart at Stratford Girls’ Grammar School. Our returning students, who are already accustomed to our environment, have been met with a new one-way system, sign-posted floor markings, hand-sanitising stations, staggered start/finish times and a daily timetable that has been altered more than ever before. Nevertheless, students are coping well with these changes and there is a genuine feeling of happiness throughout school.
But there is no need to take our word for it. Over 100 SGGS students from Year 8, 9 and 10 have taken part in a survey to share their thoughts on the new school year. As you would expect, their positive and ambitious outlook continues to shine through.
Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of students selected seeing their friends again as their favourite part of returning to school. This is always to be expected after the Summer break, but especially considering the events of last term. We are immensely proud of the speed at which we implemented a virtual school environment, and of our students and teachers who continued to work collaboratively, efficiently and successfully during the lockdown. It was undeniable however that losing the social interaction of attending class together was a challenging aspect for everyone. The excitement of seeing friends and teachers once more has generated a buzz around school with students energised and enthused for learning each day.
“My favourite part has been seeing my friends again, after so long and catching up with everything that has changed in school” – Aditi
“Being able to see my friends and make new ones. I also like being in the classroom and not on a computer” – Lily
“Everything! Coming on site, seeing friends and other people, learning in a more engaging way with a reinforced timetable, and being able to speak to teachers” – Darcey
Adapting to change
Beyond the excitement of being able to socialise on school grounds again, students are having to adjust to essential safety measures we have put in place as per Government guidelines. We have worked hard to ensure a safe environment has been devised and continue to do so for the ongoing protection of students and staff. It should not come as a surprise therefore that almost all students who responded to out survey highlighted the new timetable and movement restrictions around school as the biggest change to their school day since returning.
“Most of my lessons are in the same area, I don't walk around school anywhere near as much” – Zoe
“The timetable, with tutor at the beginning and in year group houses” – Maisie
“Hand sanitizer everywhere and the one-way system” - Lillia
Despite these changes being unexpected, even unthinkable as little as six months ago, our students have continued to show resilience, understanding and a willingness to adapt. Some confusion is to be expected, especially in the first few weeks, but most students realise this and have even surprised themselves at how well they have adjusted to the new way of attending school.
“I think it came naturally, I actually adjusted to it quicker than adjusting to the fact that I'm in Year 10 now!” – Janya
“I think I have adjusted quite well. It is a bit new but I prefer it to online learning and isn't too different from a normal school day. Even though teachers and students can’t physically make much contact, I have still been getting a grasp on the subject material, which just shows how great the teachers are!” - Erin
“The learning itself doesn't seem to have changed lots and the timetable I am getting used to. I also like having our lessons uploaded on teams as it helps my learning” - Sophie
A safe place to learn
As well as the systems implemented on the school grounds, all access to school during the day is now through an electronic pedestrian gate. Additional gates have also been installed onto our sports field. Between 9am and 3.30pm all school gates are locked and the site is secure. New security lighting has been installed and Yew hedges planted around the front of the manor.
We are pleased to report that over 90% of the students responding to our survey indicated that they currently feel safe at school since returning this term. We are particularly proud of this as it indicates that our measures are not only helping keep students safe from a health standpoint but helping to reassure those who might be apprehensive about socialising again. Furthermore, with the roll-out of new processes, stations, gates and more it would not be unexpected for students to have felt intimidated or scared. As usual however out students have taken this in their stride.
Ambition is never lacking in SGGS students and this has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our returning students remain as driven as ever with many already looking ahead to learning new subjects and preparing for examinations. Some students have, as you would expect, prioritised getting back to normal as what they are looking forward to most in future. The majority of these students have sighted sports and trips as a key reason for this. But just as many have overlooked current restrictions entirely and remained focused purely on taking the next step in their education and future careers.
“I'm looking forward to furthering my learning in my subjects and spending more time with my friends” – Phoe
“Sports clubs restarting, hopefully trips and progressing with my course work” - Emma
“All the learning, opportunities and just being part of school” – Zion
Lastly, all students surveyed were asked to rate out of five how happy they were to be back at SGGS. We are delighted to see that the average score given was 4 out of 5. The happiness and safety of SGGS students remains the number one priority of our school. Everyone at SGGS continues striving to give students the best platform to achieve.