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Huge investment in technology helps Plantsbrook pupils

Plantsbrook students, teachers and parents dealing with the challenges of remote learning during lockdown are benefitting from huge investment in technology, the school’s new headteacher says.

The site in Upper Holland Road is currently looking after vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers, while an expanded curriculum of remote learning is being provided to all pupils, whether in the school or at home.

Jason Farr, who took over as headteacher at the start of 2021, described the immersive nature of the remote education being provided by Plantsbrook as ‘phenomenal’.

“We are currently operating with nine bubbles, with a range of students who are all on rotas with staff.  Each ‘bubble’ has two rotating staff, so they get a break.

“So, students are in lessons here in front of a computer, patched into the remote learning that their teachers are doing for the students at home – and at the same time a teacher at the front of the class, who is also hooked into a computer, is delivering lessons to kids who are all over the place.  Some are in the building and some are at home!

“Sometimes I walk around the classrooms and stand at the door, and it’s a sight to behold.  It is incredible, the level of engagement, and the submersion in what they are doing is phenomenal.”

Plantsbrook has undergone a multi-million pound rebuild in recent years, and Mr Farr believes the state-of-the-art IT system the new facilities boast has been crucial in delivering their ambitious remote learning plans.

“The facilities that we have has helped massively,” he said, “The IT that we have here now, the Wi-Fi and servers, it is business standard.  I dread to think how we would have coped in the old building!”

And the school has also invested heavily in hardware which is supporting the school throughout lockdown.

“We have invested very well in technology, like the Google Chrome books, which are perfect for this kind of learning, while our staff are used to using Google Classroom.

“We are set up to deal with this challenge, and I am confident we could cope with this for some time.  If lockdown has to go on for longer than February half term, I am confident that our kids will be getting a decent education with the set up that we have.

“There has been a lot of discussion about the ‘differential learning loss’ that the country is experiencing as a result of lockdown and its impact on schools; thanks to the planning we have done here, the team work we are seeing and the impact of the technology we have invested in I think our students will be in a better place than most afterwards.”