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Positive steps towards normality in Perth schools

Date

June 5, 2020

Published by

Penrhos College

Perth schools are beginning the process of returning to normal, as Phase 3 of the COVID-19 WA roadmap is announced and Western Australia continues to record Coronavirus cases in the single digits or none at all.

Penrhos College was the first independent Perth girls’ school to welcome students back for Term 2 with all girls from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 able to return to face-to-face learning from April 30. Our students embraced the opportunity to reconnect with school life in a range of positive ways on return to the classroom and we’d like to share some of our observations with you.

How Penrhos students are showing a positive attitude to school as restrictions ease

After weeks of absence from their peers, plus the disruption to their regular schedule, we are delighted to see Penrhos girls displaying such refreshed enthusiasm for classroom learning. Across the campus, our teachers have noticed:

  • Strengthened social bonds as students reconnect
  • Heightened awareness of health, safety and hand hygiene
  • Increased appreciation for face-time with teachers
  • A more solution-focus approach in applying new technology skills
  • Appreciation of fixed routines
  • Increased student use of the facilities of our 21st century learning spaces

Our Principal, Meg Melville, says the decision to welcome students back was in line with government advice, which placed a strong emphasis on educational needs as well as the emotional health of students in Western Australia.

“We wanted to re-open as soon as possible, not only for the children’s education but also for their social wellbeing,” Principal Meg Melville says, “students and parents reported feeling restricted while confined to their homes. Parents often lacked the equipment and resources to teach their children day-to-day, as well as factoring in entertainment and family time. Supervising remote learning is a tough task, especially with active younger children.”

How Perth schools adapted to remote learning

The need for schools to rapidly adapt to online learning highlighted not only the exciting untapped potential of technology in education, but also the resilience and talent of our educators. Penrhos parents reported in a recent survey that keeping a 5-year-old focused on their homework was a particularly challenging endeavour, and many parents are breathing a little easier knowing a normal routine is back.

We are also pleased to observe from our parent surveys that there is a keener or new-found interest in their children’s learning.

“With remote learning, we became more aware of what our daughter learns at school, and the age appropriate activities and learning goals she is expected to complete. This is something we’ve always wanted – to be more involved in her learning,” said one Penrhos Junior School parent.

How Penrhos parents can help maintain the momentum

This is an ideal time to strengthen the new bonds parents developed around schoolwork through remote learning, by:

  • Taking an active interest in homework tasks
  • Sharing real-world examples children can relate to
  • Seeking opportunities to engage in conversation about schoolwork
  • Encouraging (safe) socialising, as routine returns
  • Connecting with other parents through Penrhos’ closed parent Facebook groups to share experiences

With these silver linings, we can choose to view the COVID-19 lockdown measures as an unprecedented opportunity which enabled us to learn much more about our current generation of students, and how we can engage in their learning to ensure they receive the best possible education for the remainder of 2020.

If you would be interested in further support, parents and carers are invited to contact Penrhos Full Circle psychologists to take advantage of our new wellbeing initiative for adults. We want to connect our parents, carers and staff to wellbeing best practice, to our student pastoral programs, and to each other. Please visit penrhos.wa.edu.au/news/penrhos-full-circle/ or email Penrhos Psychologist Tracy Hart at hartt@penrhos.wa.edu.au for more information.