19 Oct 2020

A smooth virtual transition and thorough wellbeing strategy at Caterham School achieves top exam results

Written by Hannah Graydon, Caterham School
A smooth virtual transition and thorough wellbeing strategy at Caterham School achieves top exam results

Students at Caterham School enjoyed an astonishing 23,320 live lessons, 5,830 live twice-daily form times, and 1,540 live sports sessions this summer as the school switched to virtual schooling on day one of lockdown. The school’s long-term focus on digital and innovation ensured the switch from on-campus to online schooling could begin immediately.

The restrictions also saw a flourish of creativity with the entire school community coming together like never before to support each other. The local and regional community were brought closer together too as they donated laptops and over 10,000 pieces of PPE for local primary schools.

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A former pupil of Caterham School was also instrumental in the successful emergency Covid-19 treatment for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Said Ceri Jones, Headmaster: 'A significant advantage was our long-term focus on digital and innovation.

'Our success has not just been about use of the technology– it has also been about creating a positive mindset for pupils, parents and staff.

'We do not talk about ‘remote’ learning – we talk about virtual education and social interaction.

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'Throughout this remarkable time we successfully created a shared virtual school community which for many was the glue that held things together. The academic and wellbeing development of our community are equally important to us.

'Our success at Caterham is having an approach which is led by culture and underpinned by technology. A culture that focuses on innovation, education for life and inspiration; an education that focuses on a love of learning and results but also preparation for life beyond school which focuses on skill sets not job titles.'

Caterham School’s reasons for investing in digital have longer-term and broader aims than the need to support pupils during a lockdown, but the approach clearly benefits young people moving into a rapidly changing world.

Sixth Form pupils at Caterham take the school’s own EDGE digital course alongside traditional A Levels. The digital course has been designed with input from Accenture and other leading voices in the corporate and tech worlds, the EDGE course builds a mindset and skillset of innovation and problem-solving in pupils.

Younger pupils from the First Year upwards also benefit from Innovation Days which encourage problem-solving and teamwork from the off.

Ceri Jones noted: 'Our young people are moving into a working world that is changing swiftly – they need a mental toolkit that will see them succeed and adapt to change.

'The EDGE course compliments their academic study and the dedicated learning and teaching approach we have at Caterham which encourages a metacognitive learning approach in our pupils.

'This approach combined with our embedded Wellbeing curriculum ensures pupils are ready for an exciting and successful future.'

Caterham School’s alumni body actively supports current Caterham students too by running an Innovation Prize for pupils of all ages to enter.

To win pupils must work collaboratively to build and present their solution to an identified problem. The winners win a seed fund for their idea plus mentoring support too.

The alumni body also host an entrepreneurship and investment evening in central London each year to support Sixth Form and young alumni looking to make their mark in business.

The school’s overall approach has brought continued success. This summer saw two-thirds of all A Level results at top A* to A grades and 98 percent of Caterham pupils secured places across Oxbridge, Russell Group & top 10 UK universities- including medicine & veterinary courses.

Ten Caterhamians are now heading for Oxford or Cambridge University to join the 60+ Caterhamians already studying at the world-leading universities.

The school has also been recognised with numerous awards across a range of areas.

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Caterham was amongst the first UK schools to receive the National Children’s Bureau Wellbeing Award for Schools and was awarded the EdTech50 award at the House of Lords in 2019. Caterham is also an Apple Distinguished School and a winner of the Times Educational Supplement award for Best Use of Digital.

Reflecting on the impact of 2020 on education within the UK, Headmaster Ceri Jones said: 'There is much that we have learned in the past months that we will carry forward into our everyday practice as we return to physical school this autumn.

'We are also keen to play our part to decrease the digital gap for schools and young people where the provision is challenging. The gap is not simply about hardware but also about support and training for teachers as they adapt to new methods of teaching.

'For the last three years Caterham has held an annual conference for teachers called Education Evolution. We are delighted to have teamed up with Croydon Digital for this year’s online conference as we welcome speakers from the Home Office, London’s Chief Digital Officer, Microsoft and the London Office of Technology and Information.

'I encourage my colleagues across education to join in so we can continue to learn from and support each other.”

This article was originally posted on In Your Area on 8 September 2020. You can read the original article here.

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