By Margot Buller, Head of Clore Tikva Primary School
ALL schools have been plunged into new ways of working since the first lockdown in March 2020. Clore Tikva was no exception. We had to adapt quickly to a virtual teaching environment with an outdated IT infrastructure. We had a steep hill to climb. Nevertheless, we have risen to the challenge.
Thanks to intensive staff training together with an injection of 60 new Chromebooks, courtesy of numerous community grants, our staff and children have been able to adapt quickly to a world in which Google Classroom is pivotal, using technology for blended and collaborative learning.
As a result of this upshift in use of technology, Clore Tikva was able to celebrate Chanukah with our partner school – the Kerner school in Israel. UIJA kindly funded an exciting collaborative project with children in both schools designing and making chanukiah using recycled and found materials. A joint Chanukah celebration across the many miles between Barkingside and Israel was a moving and emotional experience. Children from both schools shared their creativity and faith. Staff and children prayed, sang and celebrated together, dedicating their chanukiahs to family, friends and key workers.
When the short notice came that schools would close to all but the children of key workers, after the winter break, Clore Tikva was ready to fully embrace technology in order to create virtual classrooms for all our children. The children in school have Chromebooks and headphones and learn alongside their classmates at home.
Live registration, the core curriculum and Ivrit and Jewish studies are accessed live by almost all children. Parents are reportedly learning Ivrit; and, in the EYFS, making playdough alongside their children, making houses for the three little pigs and exploring 2D shapes in sandwiches.
Staff have felt challenged and are buzzing with a sense of achievement, parents are engaged in their children’s learning; and children are continuing to feel part of their class. As head, I am very proud of what the staff and Clore Tikva as a whole has achieved, not only in getting to grips with technology but also in creating fun and engaging learning environments for all our children, whether they are at home or at school.
Thanks to the Joint Jewish Burial Society, the Jewish Memorial Council, the Bradians Trust, the Gerald and Gail Ronson Family Foundation, the Jewish Community Day School Advisory Board and the Asda Foundation we have been able to buy a significant amount of new IT equipment, as well as stationery and PPE for those in school, for use in this new approach to learning.
As a result of the technological advances at Clore Tikva, new opportunities for a closer partnership with the Kerner School have come about. A computer club has been set up to push the boundaries of blended learning and a collaboration to take part in a short film-making project competition has been created.
Our ambitious governors, foundation and school staff are keen to make sure all children have access to a laptop, so that the children are able to fully embrace and develop their use of technology in learning; but to do so collaboratively in partnership with others, whether in Clore Tikva, the Kerner school or elsewhere in the community.
We understand that a number of children within the community are missing out on religious studies. To help keep those in the community connected to their Jewishness, we have been sharing our Havdalah and Kabbalat Shabbat Assemblies, both of which are undertaken by our Head of Jewish Studies, Samantha Bendon. We understand the importance of coming together as a community to support one another; a message that sits at the very heart of our ethos.