Thornton College – virtual learning through Coronavirus

Posted 30th March 2020

Thornton College has continued to provide all lessons, assemblies and extra-curricular clubs virtually to all of its students during a time when schools have been told to close to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Thornton College remains physically open to key workers’ children and a number of teaching and support staff continue to work in the school.  However the majority of teaching staff are working remotely from their homes and going online to teach their lessons, interact with and support their students.  In this first week the prep girls have attended virtual assembly in the chapel, senior girls from all over the world have zoomed into lessons and many have interacted with their  friends socially.  Importantly, pastoral and safeguarding work has continued as girls wake up and are ready at their computers for morning registration with their form teachers before classes begin at nine.

Thornton College is MK’s only international boarding school with students attending from all over the world.  During this time of virtual learning students near and far, from Buckingham to China / Pakistan / Hong Kong / Spain have been checking in for registration and lessons. We have also put additional resources together to support students settling into a different working environment, with the Sixth Form team and students sharing videos of their home study spaces.  Students are continuing to make progress with their plans beyond the Sixth Form, having Careers appointments with Mrs Scott, Thornton’s Careers and Enterprise Leader, as well as attending virtual university fairs and making progress with their personal statements.  The Sixth Form team has also been checking in with some of our former Sixth Form students, including those isolating at universities in Europe and the USA.

‘Teaching the Sixth Form students this week remotely has been a joy; the girls have joined lessons with enthusiasm and embraced the opportunity to use additional technology. They have been creative using chat and photos to research and present back to each other. My highlight was teaching lessons to girls in the UK, Spain and China simultaneously; it was wonderful to see the girls working together as normal despite the physical distance.

In form time the students have responded well to contact via video; we’ve joined in prayer, quizzes and pastoral activities as normal. We have also taken the opportunity to see things that are not ordinarily possible such as meeting each other’s’ pets! I will treasure the moment we sang Happy Birthday to a student quarantined in her home country; She could not see her family or friends physically but we were able to sing and see her beautiful cake!’  Miss Suzanne Kurze-Kinton, Head of Business and Economics.

In our prep school we continue to be in awe of the positivity, enthusiasm and resilience of our wonderful pupils on a daily basis. Even the youngest children are able to sign on to Zoom for their remote learning lessons and teachers are greeted each day with cheerful smiles from girls who are happy to see their friends and who are embracing the opportunities to use technology in innovative ways. Teachers have been incredibly creative in the ways they are delivering their lessons to our EYFS, KS1 and KS2 pupils; from story dramatisations and ballet for EYFS children, coding, singing and scavenger hunts in KS1 through to debates, PE, investigations and RE performances in KS2. Indeed, the full timetable has been delivered with such little disruption that some girls have even commented that it is just like being at school, but better. As a community, we are stronger and closer than ever; the girls have loved sharing with each other snippets of their home life and we have also seen siblings and parents taking part in class activities from arts and crafts, science experiments, cooking and dance.

Zoom is helping us to maintain strong links with everyone and we to continue to support each other across the miles and time zones!  Most importantly, the school’s ethos continues to pervade every aspect of school life, with girls enjoying opportunities to share in reflection and prayer every day, meet with their friends and benefit from the caring, family atmosphere that marks Thornton College out as being so unique.