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Originally published Autumn 2020, by Andrew Simpson Headteacher

Arundel Cof E Primary School

AS a community we are all learning to live a new normal in the knowledge that the future will not be like the past. Our world, our priorities, our perceptions will not be what they were at the outset of this year. Like many organisations ACE had to adapt very quickly to a different way of life, most significantly by finding new ways to teach and learn both at home and school. One of our main tasks now is to reflect on this moment, to consider what it might require of us, and what it might make possible. Looking at the positive in any situation is a key aspect to our school philosophy at ACE, and this alongside our three values of Hope, Faith and Love, allows staff, children and members of our wider community to look at things from a growth mindset whereby we can continue to learn from what we have done. Learning is about collaboration – in these time by utilising technology such as Zoom – through talking and sharing ideas, understanding how to learn, taking responsibility and believing that effort will lead to success.

We would like to share with you some of the marvellous work our dedicated staff, children, parents and governors have completed at ACE during lockdown. ACE has stayed open every day and thanks to the amazing staff we were also able to open during Bank holidays. This article is different in style to how we ordinarily report on our activity at ACE, but these are extraordinary times and as such we felt it would be valuable to reflect on the idea that we are all connected and as a such we should all help and draw strength from each other. Thank you for taking the time to read about our very different school way of life over the past few months.

Lesson 1: Everything is connected

The first lesson the Covid-19 pandemic taught us was the idea that everything is connected. At moments of immense change, we see with new clarity systems in which we are immersed, such as the education system, change around us. We see what’s strong, what’s weak, what’s not quite right, what matters and what doesn’t. As a school we had to decide on what to prioritise and to trust in our faith in order to best serve our children.

The children learnt about the importance of knowing about the world around them, keeping up to date with the news and considering how we can reach out to our neighbours in love. As part of this children worked on a range of activities, such as developing their own food banks to give to those families most in need, writing and sending postcards to key workers, displaying their rainbow drawings in their windows as a sign of hope and thanks to the NHS and sending gifts to those who needed them.

St Nicholas’ Church supported ACE through providing us we with weekly worships and Father David and Mr Simpson stayed in regular contact to ensure that the school and the church worked together to support the needs of our community. Pastor Steve, from Arundel Baptist Church also maintained his regular contact with the school.

Lesson 2: Staying connected

As a school we were fortunate to have set up remote learning in 2019, which meant that we were already equipped to provide families with online learning through means such as videos, online interactive lessons and regular contact with parents and children in order to ensure children were learning every single day through an interactive

platform, allowing them to flourish both at home and at school. Examples of some of the content that the children received included the daily Mr Cox challenge, weekly Zoom catch-ups with classes, daily worships, story time and daily learning activities. As a result of this the children produced some amazing pieces of work.

At a time when many of us have spent more time at home looking outward at this unanticipated world, as a school we felt it more important than ever to let our children and families know that we were thinking of them and were missing them very much. As part of this the staff produced a fabulous musical video showing that there is always hope and to remind us all that life can still be fun, even in these very different and strange times.

We in turn have been inspired by the messages we have received from so many people. Children have inspired our staff through their resilience, flexibility and determination to make life better. Jackson in Year 4 child illustrated this perfectly with his diagram:

Lesson 3: Learning and evolving

As a school we have learnt from the experience of the past months and we are sure it will help us to further develop the learning opportunities we provide our children. We would also like to thank our marvellous school families who have really risen to the challenge and have truly been ACE through these challenging times.

We have further developed our knowledge of technology such as video conferencing, the use of Google and Microsoft platforms and have been reminded of the huge capacity that children have to evolve and develop as learners. Our children have also seized the opportunity to utilise technology and have carried out works such as producing marvellous health and safety films for children returning to school as well as welcome packs for those children who are joining ACE in September.

As a school we believe that education is about learning from the past, evolving and ensuring that we help our children to develop into people who have Hope, Faith and Love at the heart of all that they do in order that they may flourish in this ever-changing world in which we live.

We hope as a school to use this experience to learn, further improve and to pursue change in ways that once seemed impossible. We may have a profoundly different sense of ourselves, our communities, our systems of education and our future, but we are emerging from this experience into something that will continue to help the children of ACE to flourish through the Gospel of Hope and grow into the people God is calling them to be.

We are looking forward to welcoming all our ACE children back into ACE in September 2020.