Lent term reflection
Our Lent term 2021 may have started with the majority of our community working remotely, to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but it ends with our staff and young people back at Palace Street.
In January 2021, the government announced new lockdown restrictions and the closure of schools, meaning a return to remote learning for most of our young people throughout January and February. Our School’s remote learning was much praised by parents/carers with comments like: “All teachers have adapted well to online teaching and made their best efforts to keep students engaged” and: “Teachers respond very promptly to queries. Form times are great for connecting with classmates and form tutor”.
During this new lockdown, Westminster City School received some incredibly generous donations from nearby investment company Polar Capital, our Old Westminster Citizens’ Association, and others that ensured all in our community had exclusive access to a laptop to support remote learning. As one parent/carer said: “Every one of my children now has their own computer. They can each do their work equally.”
Throughout this 2021 lockdown, Westminster City School staff worked hard to ensure other aspects of our usual school day continued, with assemblies and extra-curricular clubs (including Army Cadets, Latin and Cybernauts Coding) moving online. Our young people were encouraged to take part in our weekly Westminster City School Wellbeing Challenges, with different activities that involved spending time offline and that promoted outdoor activity and creative endeavours. We also continued our programme of careers events, to keep our young people thinking about their future, and our PE Department provided regular exercise challenges via our School’s Vimeo channel, to help our young people stay active and healthy.
Due to lockdown restrictions, many other activities moved online. This meant work by Westminster City School artists could be viewed online, as part of our Foundation’s annual art exhibition, and our young people also took part in a number of fascinating online events organised through the SSLP, with one Year 9 pupil joining a Q&A panel with David Lammy MP. Our Ash Wednesday Service was also recorded, to ensure it could be enjoyed online by all within our community at this challenging time.
With schools in England able to open from Monday 8 March, we introduced a staggered return by year groups, meaning all were back at Palace Street by Wednesday 10 March. On their return, our young people received an induction to update and remind them of our safety protocols and expectations, which include staying in their ‘bubble’, being as socially distant as possible and, as part of updated government guidance, wearing face coverings within our School buildings and classrooms. In addition, as part of the government’s re-opening plans, young people were given three COVID-19 tests on site, then asked to undertake home testing.
Our forthcoming Trinity term would normally involve GCSE and A Level exams but the government has declared summer 2021 examinations cannot be held as usual, due to disruption caused by the pandemic. Our Years 11 and 13 will instead receive grades based on a school assessment of the standard at which they are performing, so preparations continue at Westminster City School to support and guide both year groups through this process.
As Lent term 2021 drew to a close, our Year 11 cohort attended an end-of-term service at St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey, that reflected on their five years at Westminster City School and talked about the weeks ahead. Our sixth formers are also looking ahead, with the majority of our Year 13 having applied to start university in autumn 2021, receiving offers from a range of institutions, including leading Russell Group universities. We are currently featuring many of these inspirational students on our website and social media channels, talking about their exciting future plans.
Headteacher, Mr Broughton, said: “Reviewing Lent term 2021 has highlighted to me that, despite lockdowns and ‘bubbles’, the disruption of testing and different grading systems, our School remains true to our ambitions to educate young men and women. The wealth of opportunities and experiences outside of the classroom, as well as learning both virtual and in person, during this unusual term, has been heartening.”