Mrs Samantha Scott, Head Teacher
At Heathcote, our families know we teach to our specifically designed ‘Heathcote Values Curriculum’ that is individualised to our school to enable our pupils to grow in determination, resolve, commitment, drive and resilience. These skills were certainly tested for all of our Heathcote community earlier this year when we had to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in true Heathcote style, we immediately responded by fighting back: training staff and pupils before lockdown to enable us to continue our curriculum of excellence for all.
Our strategic learning programme focused on live teaching sessions each day, from our 2 year-olds in Nursery to our 11 year-olds in Form 6. The KS1 and KS2 pupils received four live daily lessons – form time, Maths, English and a foundation subject on a rota (Science, Humanities, Music, Drama, PE, Art). Even though we were offsite, our children’s education remained paramount and we were able to deliver a continuous programme of specialist subjects, including one-to-one interventions, catch up provision and 11+ lessons – all delivered face to face via Microsoft Teams. Even our school assemblies and open days were successfully delivered online!
As lockdown progressed, we found other schools began to develop similar technical programmes and capabilities to us. However, I truly believe we led the way in Essex with regard to the extent and quality of our educational delivery. As a school, we always strive to go beyond excellence, as identified in our ISI inspection last year. We extended our provision to use Microsoft’s OneNote for uploading and live marking/quality feedback for our pupils including 11+ papers, quizzes to gain assessment opportunities and quality first teaching experiences. Our teachers commented that working through a problem using the live system with a child felt as though they were actually looking over the pupil’s shoulder at their workbook. Amazing!
Furthermore, we decided to go beyond our teaching and facilitation expertise and train all teachers, admin and learning support staff as Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIEs) – and our Computing Subject Leader, Mr Daniels, has been trained as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE). Heathcote has also recently been selected by Microsoft to take part in their school’s showcase programme with the aim of us becoming an elite Microsoft Showcase School (currently less than 50 schools nationwide!). We are definitely continuing to lead the way in Essex, if not in England!
We have been absolutely delighted at the positive feedback from families regarding our home learning programme, consisting of packs of provision, projects and live lessons each day. This enabled pupils to maintain usual levels of progress in almost all cases, which is incredible and we are so proud of our pupil achievements.
Additionally, families have commented on the staff’s dedication to uplifting the children’s spirits. We have strived to show an awareness of mental health and emotional wellbeing and the need for pupils to experience daily, valuable, social interaction with staff and their peers. We recognised our social duty and have ensured our three trained Mental Health First Aiders are available to reassure pupils and keep spirits high. Heathcote pupils, as always, see a challenge as an opportunity to enrich ourselves, engage in personal targets and work to develop ourselves – at Heathcote, we turn every event into an opportunity to flourish and fly!
Following the easing of lockdown procedures, we were quickly able to welcome back our Nursery, Reception, Form 1 and Form 6 pupils and then, two weeks later, facilitated the return of all classes maintaining safe, secure bubble groups. We were thrilled to have the school return as a whole even though it was not quite as usual at this stage. The heart had returned to Heathcote!
All of our pupils continue to make us proud but especially our Form 6 pupils before they made the transition to secondary following the most challenging time in educational history since World War 2. We were delighted as we received notification of their secondary places – all first choice schools – grammar places, Independent school selection including multiple academic and creative scholarships, and local secondary school places. Well done Form 6! We miss you but you have a special place in Heathcote history and our hearts.
At this time, the school continues to engage, enrich and achieve and we realise that whatever life throws our way we continue to build our Heathcote family’s resilience and maintain progress and excellence for all.