Finishing on a High

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

Kirsty Mackenzie, head of Teesside High School, reflects on an unprecedented academic year…

No-one could have predicted a school year like 2019-20 – it certainly will live long in the memory.

The coronavirus pandemic has enabled schools across the country to sit back and reflect on their working practices. At Teesside High, we went from delivering classroom education to our pupils spanning three-to-18 years to creating and implementing a virtual distance learning programme, almost overnight.

The resilience, tenacity and flexibility of our pupils and staff in adapting to working and learning from home has been nothing short of exceptional. The ability to innovate and develop new ways of working, using our expertise to meet the changing needs of pupils, is something that will benefit our organisation for years to come.

In 12 weeks of lockdown, Teesside High School staff delivered more than 2,000 lessons using Google Meet, implementing 113 modified schemes of work using over 20 supplementary online learning platforms.

Student engagement was consistently above 96–98 per cent for senior school year groups.

We have worked with great foresight to ensure our students will not be disadvantaged by Covid-19 in the future. We recently adapted our teaching timeframes for A-level study for Year 12 and GCSE study for Year 9, amending timetables to suit option choices and ensuring we had plentiful time to teach, recap and revise ahead of examinations in two years’ time.

Similarly, we devised an online transition programme for those heading to our sixth form, aware they have a long stretch out of education over the summer months due to the sudden closure of school.

I have taken great pride in the way our school community has shone through in often dark times. Through virtual VE Day concerts, the weekly Clap for Carers, online transition opportunities, daily pastoral challenges and family quiz nights, the spirit of Teesside High School has been at the forefront of everything we have aimed to achieve.

The last few weeks have provided some elements of normality, with ten year groups being able to return to school. It has been wonderful to hear our corridors and classrooms come alive once again, with purposeful learning taking place and pupils catching up with their friends and teachers after many months apart.

We are determined to continue with our phased reopening to welcome all year groups back in September and are pleased that recent government guidance will now allow us to do so. We are fortunate to be able to manage this safely with large, open spaces and small classes.

Despite a tough few months, we are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

I cannot wait to see all of our pupils back in school after the summer break. If one thing is certain, it hasn’t been the same without them.

Teesside High School’s friendly admissions team is working to accommodate interest in places for September 2020 and is now taking requests for appointments and tours (social distancing measures are in place).

If you wish to find out more, call 01642 782095 or email