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Clayhall primary school goes on virtual class trip to NYC during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 June 2020

Glade Primary School took a virtual class trip to NYC during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Roy Chacko

Glade Primary School took a virtual class trip to NYC during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Roy Chacko

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Despite the coronavirus lockdown a Clayhall primary school took a class trip to New York City - virtually - to learn one of their favourite songs from professional musicians.

Kelly Singer from the Manhattan School of Music taught the children the song Kelly Singer from the Manhattan School of Music taught the children the song "You've Got A Friend in Me". Picture: Roy Chacko

While schools across the country have had to quickly adapt to remote learning, Glade Primary School was ahead of the curve thanks to an innovative programme it has had in place for the past five years. It saw pupils taking virtual class trips to Brussels, Australia and Indonesia.

This time around the school took a virtual trip from the comfort of their own homes for a visit to the Manhattan School of Music (MSM).

Because of the time difference MSM teacher Kelly Singer woke up bright and early at 6am to teach the pupils the Randy Newman song You’ve Got A Friend In Me from the movie Toy Story.

Glade Primary uses the Redbridge VC (Video Conferencing for Global Learning) network twice a month to connect its pupils with museums and cultural organisations around the world.

Headteacher Farzana Hussain said she was astonished at how well her staff adapted to the shift to home learning. Picture: Roy ChackoHeadteacher Farzana Hussain said she was astonished at how well her staff adapted to the shift to home learning. Picture: Roy Chacko

Every December the school visits MSM for a music lesson and a trip to see Santa, and normally the trips are done from classrooms in the Atherton Road school.

Headteacher Farzana Hussain said: “It’s such a privilege to be sitting in our homes in Ilford being able to participate with the Manhattan School of Music.

“Even in these unprecedented times we can still continue our visits.”

Kelly, who is a professional opera singer and recent graduate of MSM, taught the children moves to go along with the songs, before doing vocal exercises over the piano.

The pupils sang the lyrics “When the road looks rough ahead and you’re miles and miles away from your nice warm bed” - just a few feet away from their beds during the lesson.

Mrs Hussain said the shift to online teaching during lockdown has presented challenges but she was astonished at how quickly staff were able to make the switch.

Dr Warren Kidd, education researcher and senior lecturer at the University of East London, conducted focus groups with teachers at Glade to study their shift to online teaching during the pandemic.

He said a clear message he’s heard from teachers is that the success of their online teaching is thanks to support from parents who have to be involved in helping set up their child’s lessons throughout the school day in a way they’ve never dealt with before.

An education researcher from UEL has been conducting focus groups with teachers to see how they're managing An education researcher from UEL has been conducting focus groups with teachers to see how they're managing "the special moment in time" during lockdown. Picture: Glade Primary

He added: “The feeling from the school is it’s really capitalised on their strong communities but also developed them in unpredictable and unprecedented ways.

“This is about the maintenance of relationships, which were already strong.

“They also see this deeper benefit, of pupils’ wellbeing and the continuation of their school community, in another mode of working and that’s significant.”

Dr Kidd regularly works with Mina Patel, who runs Redbridge VC, to study remote learning but jumped at the chance to observe Glade and document “the special moment in time” during lockdown.

He said: “There’s a story here that other schools could learn from - the complexities around how they as a school community have to be flexible and accommodate new school teaching, but commit to having the same types of classroom as they would in the face-to-face world.”

He said Glade’s teachers still had the same high expectations of their pupils’ behaviour, language, turn-taking and giving feedback but were able to do that all online now.

“They’re also very flexible in making their teaching individualised and personalised and still being able to offer individual guidance and support even though they’re working in this new online mode.”

Mrs Hussain added: “Given the uniqueness of the situation, teachers understand that this shift will entail a lot of trial and error.

“They are aware that some things may work better than others and that everyday may entail new challenges.

“In essence everyone is giving it their best go and taking every day as it comes.”


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