A round-up of the some of the incredible things done by schools across the north-east has been released as term comes to an end.
Alongside the list of achievements of pupils, teachers and parents across Aberdeenshire, education bosses at the council expressed their gratitude for their efforts during this “incredibly difficult times”.
At one school, a teacher created dozens of videos to help parents and pupils deal with barriers caused by technology.
The member of staff at Mearns Academy produced the 47 videos which were made available to schools across the region.
At Meldrum Academy pupils were treated to Harry Potter-inspired activities, including making their own Butterbeer, designing potions and growing magic beans.
Meanwhile, pupils at Gartly School were treated to a virtual school trip to Macduff Aquarium using webcams across the site.
And a special website has been launched by Aberdeenshire Council, Shine a Light on Lockdown, keep a record of their memories and experiences during lockdown, with pupils invited to share their highlights, and what they’re looking forward to.
Director of Education and Children’s Services, Laurence Findlay said: “We are hugely grateful to everyone out there who continues to give of their best to support children and young people through an incredibly difficult time.
“This includes parents, carers, teachers, school support staff, social workers and our multi-agency partners: you really are fabulous and we appreciate your efforts.”
Chair of the Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, Cllr Gillian Owen added: “To all of our young people across Aberdeenshire – well done.
“The last few months haven’t been easy for anyone but you have shown remarkable resilience and I’ve seen loads of examples of fantastic work you’ve done in lockdown. If you are in need of support or assistance, please reach out, keep being your wonderful selves and keep learning.”
Vice Chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce summed up by saying: “We hope you all have an opportunity to take a well-earned break during the summer holidays.
“As we strive to use lessons learned during lockdown to inform future thinking, the new Shine a Light on Lockdown website is a great way for us all to share and reflect so please pop your submissions in.
“I would also like to underline the importance of us all continuing to look out for each other while schools are closed. If you have concerns, please do get in touch. We will look forward to seeing you back in school in August.”
Aberdeenshire Lockdown Learning Highlights
- At Banff Academy, Pupil Squads of 12-20 pupils have been supported by a member of school staff, a Squad Leader, to assist in home learning, including a daily ‘check in’.
- Meldrum Academy created a support & feedback channel to help pupils feel more comfortable asking for help. One of their teachers also produced 47 how-to videos for pupils, parents and teachers which were made available across the authority to remove the barriers that technology was presenting early in the lockdown period.
- At Meldrum, they’ve also carried out weekly on-line chats to support pupils’ mental health, developed FAQs for primary 7 pupils and parents as part of the school transition programme, and produced both an online transition for all pupils to meet through Teams, but also hand delivered “Harry Potter” themed packs to pupils taking part in their extended transition programme. The packs included suggestions for making their own Butterbeer, designing potions and some magic beans for them to grow (and a small pack of Bertie Bott’s beans to keep them fueled up for all their activities!) Hand delivering the packs to pupils meant that staff got to meet some of our new S1 pupils, and more importantly, pupils got to meet their new teachers face-to-face.
- In Performing Arts, a number of schools have used Soundtrap (an online recording studio), Performing Arts Online showcase, encouraging pupils to design, build and play their own instruments. They have also used tools like Sway, they’ve been digitising assessments and pupil workbooks, pupils have been creating “live audiobooks”, some have also taken part in Somewhere Over the rainbow challenge – part of Music Education Partnership. They’ve also set performing challenges using virtual keyboard and even had an Olympic Challenge – pupils pick musical events record and submit their videos
- At Turriff Academy they have broadcast a ‘pass the book challenge’ to promote reading with S1, they are having a staff versus pupils mileage challenge to promote health and wellbeing and have their new S1s involved in their Virtual Transition through GLOW. Staff have been ‘on call’ to answer queries, provide feedback, organised door stop deliveries, distributed chrome books, they have attended many webinars, supported each other to increase skill level and developed many new strategies. Many pupils have become more engaged as lockdown has continued as result of teachers continuing to develop new ways of delivery. It is also important to note as well as the learning and teaching side of things, wellbeing has been supported by all staff, especially our extended pupil support team finding solution-focused and innovative approaches.
- Kemnay Academy has created a series of padlets on topics including mental health and equalities, they created a Thinglink for their P7 virtual transition, they’ve devised pupil versus staff PE challenges, and issued ICT resources as well as learner packs.
- Gartly School were due to be doing Sustainable Learning with Macduff Aquarium this term so instead organised a virtual school trip to the zoo instead, using animal webcams from around the world. They did lots of research and different activities during the week, culminating in a “bus trip”. Total engagement of the pupils and great fun was had by all!
- At Auchterless, they’ve been providing bereavement support for pupils and their families affected directly by Covid-19, they also undertook a Virtual World tour taking in 11 countries across 5 continents to enhance awareness of the world beyond Scotland’s lockdown – opening young minds to the amazing sight, cultural richness and diversity across the globe, using YouTube and Google Earth.
- Uryside School held a virtual sports day, P7 school show, virtual field trips, full end of year awards ceremony, with awards delivered to individual homes and presented a virtual ceremony and combined celebration end of year assembly, as well as a host of other events.
- Across the Inverurie Cluster pupils have enjoyed: A Virtual interschool sports day (inaugural year of an annual event), A Multilingual cluster song (English, French, German, Spanish), A Visiting specialist across cluster teaching in PE, languages (Spanish and French), Drama, Music, and P1 transition planning and sharing has been done among staff too.
- Kintore School implemented Wellbeing Wednesdays to encourage families and staff to be mindful of their wellbeing needs during the challenging times. This has been wide and varied but peaked with the virtual sports day activities, led by Pupil Support Assistants.
- At Port Erroll they have been hand delivering packs to ensure equity for all, providing Individual timetables/activities to support individuals, sharing technology.
- At Banchory Primary School they have welcomed our new P1 pupils though a ‘virtual transition’. This includes videos of the school, staff and an online learning platform space has been utilised. Teddy the dog has been telling stories (P1 teacher’s dog with an app) and this has been a very popular motivator for the whole school community.
- King Edward School staff, parents and pupils worked incredibly hard to provide quality on-line learning throughout the school closure. Staff received many compliments from parents as to how hard they had worked, how much they appreciated the work being set and how good, varied and innovative the work was.
- Crudie School has done a number of things: making reading videos, Thinglinks to support with transition to a new teacher, P1 transition activities (story sessions, videos from all members of staff, inclusion in virtual sports, personalised phone calls to new parents), daily activities on Google classroom (differentiated to the needs of the children, with videos, worksheets, practical activities, games and online links), virtual interschool sports by PE specialist for the Turriff cluster small schools, weekly activities to support emotional HWB by the cluster IPT, group maths games with pupils on Teams, grids with activities for topic and other curricular areas, phone calls to pupils who have limited online engagement to carry out numeracy and literacy activities.
- Echt School worked collaboratively with the Scottish SPCA to present pupils with a design challenge, requiring them to use creativity and problem-solving skills to research, plan, design and construct their own Scottish animal themed robot which the SPCA then judged. Having Primary 4-7 class collaborate in groups on their ‘Campaign for Kindness’ billboard task (the culmination of school focus on the 12 Meta-skills set out by Skills Development Scotland) felt like breaking new ground and adding some valuable social constructivism to our home learning.
- Methlick primary used Glow Blogs for home-learning. They have had bi-weekly themes and devised grids with different tasks and challenges in numeracy, literacy and health & wellbeing. They involved local and Scottish celebrities and health workers to share their inspirational stories and created a virtual online quiz for families.
- Glass Primary ran a virtual VE day with the children arranging and then having tea & toast like the soldiers did, all done at 3pm together.
- The Huntly cluster did a virtual sports day and the children were given certificates.
- At Peterhead Academy – from using Teams to assign work and chat with pupils to creating a collaboration area for students using OneNote, they have also used Forms to provide instant feedback on quizzes and narrated PowerPoints as well as learning how to use Screencastify to create short video clips to explain tasks. They’ve also upskilled in using Thinglinks, Kahoot, Quizlet, Explain Everything and used free apps or sites including Manga High, My Maths, Linguascope, Language Nut, Scholar and BBC Bitesize.
- Peterhead also created a transition website for all our new S1 pupils – staff making activities, welcome videos, videos of how the school looks – how to get around the school – full of information and as interactive and interesting as possible.
- At Inverurie Academy, in addition to a full programme of virtual learning including videos, surveys, learning materials and challenges, they have: held a virtual award ceremony, had achievement slips for online learning, offered technology ‘fix-it’ sessions for students with connectivity challenges, given out iPads & network dongles, conducted a fully virtual transition programme for our new S1 students and engaged all of the community with a virtual learning progress survey to gather the views of parents/carers, students and staff on this new environment.
- Fetterangus School have bought the rights to a script and have adapted it for film. Each character is recording their part at home, line by line and the Headteacher is splicing it all together for an “Online Summer Show”, to be released on July 3rd at 2pm. They also competed in a five week “Great Fetterangus Bake Off”, devised a Talent Show with talents ranging from birthing a lamb, through poetry written and performed by the child, to gymnastic floor routines and dancing, all put together into a film and compered by the HT.
- At Keithhall, in addition to weekly core work, pupils were given PE lessons, French, Outdoor Learning activities, Kodaly activities, Accelerated Reading quizzes to complete, online topic work P1-3 ‘Our Body’ and P4-7 ‘Forces’ both topics with practical science experiments to complete. P6/7 took part in a virtual residential trip, Nursery children, P3 P7 took part in a week’s transition activities and the whole school took part in a music Week.
- At Durris School and Crossroads Nursery they organised a virtual leavers’ assembly with iMovies for the whole school community to enjoy, been running a weekly focus on different artists – culminating in a Virtual Art Gallery iMovie at the end of the week, they ran a virtual sports day, for P1 transition – staff all read stories with linked activities. They also sent new P1s a bitmoji of their teacher with a list of fun activities to do ‘together’ over the summer holidays.
- New Pitsligo and St. John’s school have been using Purple Mash as their main online platform and as it was a familiar site for staff and pupils we were able to have learning up and running immediately and maintain it every single teaching day thereafter. Meanwhile computers and other resources have been delivered wherever required. The team has maintained contact with all families, and they have worked in shifts in the keywork/vulnerable pupil hub.
- The Mintlaw Cluster have also opened a satellite hub in New Pitsligo for pupils where families were under growing pressure. They have done a huge amount to maintain morale including staff videos, online sports day, weekly challenges and weekly online assemblies. They have also created little videos of a book written by the pupils last year, read by staff in English and Doric and posted to Facebook in time for bedtime. They have worked in partnership with the local Covid support shop, where many staff also volunteer and used this as a pickup point for things like the seeds and pots for a sunflower challenge.
- Lumsden held a virtual One Planet Picnic with all the pupils, parents and staff in the school. As an ECO school, the focus of the picnic was: Local and seasonal foods – what grows well in Scotland and the UK? Organically grown – food that looks after the soil and wildlife too, ethically traded – food that respects the people who produce it, Reduce packaging waste – especially single use plastic, Reduce food waste – it makes sense.
- Towie School have been using Microsoft Teams to keep in touch. The P6/7 children have meetings with their class teacher to discuss their learning and resolve any difficulties.
- Rosehearty School has continued to recognise and celebrate successes through the use of Head Teacher awards – they’ve been out and about physically delivering these through pupils doors (across both our villages of Rosehearty and New Aberdour – not the mention the numerous farm roads I’ve driven up).
- Mintlaw Academy ran a highly successful Virtual Awards for S4-6 to celebrate attainment / achievement. they ran an S1 Transition online with 80% engagement, they’ve had staff and pupil challenges throughout lockdown, held a Health and ran staff and senior pupil interviews via Skype as well as holding all staff meetings online.
- Oyne School created a learning hub website for each class where learning grids with core and additional tasks and all online links could be accessed including White Rose Maths and BBC Bitesize links. This has been combined with comprehensive home learning packs including a wide range of solid resources and ‘non-screen’ activities, online subscriptions such Accelerated Learning and Sumdog, weekly virtual class meetings for the upper school, virtual transitions including a virtual residential trip and challenges with other small schools in the cluster, virtual book clubs supported by PSA staff, daily contact via SeeSaw and regular contact via phone (and where necessary socially distanced’ doorstep visits), virtual parent council meetings and volunteering in hub school for key worker children and home schooling own children.
- New Deer School have worked to provide daily individual and sibling learning opportunities rounded up by an interactive Health and Sports week.
- Banchory Academy’s list is also endless and includes weekly live lessons in science, faculty YouTube channels, making use of online resources, online quizzes, assignments in Teams, PowerPoint presentations, weekly online check in meetings, online subscriptions, use of tools including Padlet, Twitter.
- At Glenbervie staff have ensured that families have been supported emotionally, educationally and with technology through the creative use of whole school themes such as VE week, Wildlife week, Health & Sports week that allow families work together creatively on the home learning tasks, supported through Virtual HT assemblies, Virtual Teaching, Teams wellbeing check-in’s and social media celebrating success.
- Mackie Academy pupils have also enjoyed continuing with their learning throughout lockdown. A highlight has been seeing the achievements of young people who have taken part in the Young Enterprise Company Programme elective this year. They took part in the Strathclyde University Business exam and have all passed with flying colours.
- At Tipperty School during Lockdown they have hosted an online Science Fair and also an online Garden Fair. They delivered seeds to children’s houses and challenged the children to grow them in different conditions, updating us on their progress. As part of VE Day celebrations, staff and children wrote letters and sent pictures to a local Care Home, as well as sharing the children’s family VE Day celebrations with the rest of the school community online. They are also hosting a virtual Leavers Assembly for the p7 Leavers.
- P7 pupils in Slains, Foveran, Tipperty and Arnage schools have been attending weekly online transition quizzes organised by Slains school so that they can meet some of their new classmates for S1.
- Banchory Primary has had teachers record science, French and Spanish lessons on YouTube then shared. Over a fortnight, ever teacher recorded themselves telling a story which was shared with all families.
- At Westhill Academy staff have never worked as hard in upskilling themselves across a range of ICT platforms and programmes, to ensure our pupils’ progress in learning continued smoothly. Learning across the curriculum and at all levels has continued, and by communicating regularly and confidently with pupils online, they have monitored their engagement and wellbeing, and have kept in regular contact with parents/carers, too. From encouraging origami projects to pupils completing the Bronze IDEA award. Pupils have also designed stage sets in boxes, been challenged to create their own personal planners and even conducted experiments using their local surroundings.
- The Gordon Schools started a trend when it comes to PE. Right at the beginning of lockdown, colleagues put together a very comprehensive Health & Wellbeing resource for all pupils. Very quickly this was adopted universally across Aberdeenshire and renamed accordingly.
- At Kellands, staff have adapted to home learning with enthusiasm, rapid professional development, innovation, creativity and sensitivity to the health and wellbeing of families. Examples include: In the nursery they have been having live story sessions using Facebook, all staff and over 250 pupils did a Key worker thank you video which has had to date over 12.5k views, the whole school did a fabulous health week incorporating celebrities (inc Judy Murray, Paul Lawrie, Stuart Armstrong and Britain’s tallest man Paul Sturgess) setting daily activities, a health grid full of Health and wellbeing tasks, live daily workout with 3 of our teachers, interactive Sports Day and a daily health recipe to follow.
- At Elrick Primary, they had a virtual residential week with staff and pupils engaging in different challenges. This also included an evening catchup on Microsoft Teams to make the experience seem as real as possible! They also planned themed weeks for younger pupils. Pizza Week was very popular with a high level of pupil/family engagement. This covered a range of experiences and outcomes including Fractions, Graphs, Art& Design, Food Technology, French, Literacy and Music. The school’s virtual sports day encouraged staff and families to get involved and enjoy being active outdoors. Staff have done an amazing job at keeping pupils engaged in a variety of creative and innovative ways.
- Portlethen Academy, like many schools, has seen high percentages of engagement across all year groups as a result of consistent communication between staff, pupils and parents. They have distributed over 60 devices to pupils to help with accessing work online. For P7 pupils preparing for Transition, they have a Team where all pupils are able to ask questions and join in discussions, meeting new people virtually; they have been sharing videos from all our staff introducing themselves and their role in the school; tasks have been set to help pupils and staff get to know each other better and Google Meets have been held with P7 parents to keep them informed and allow their questions to be answered too.