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#stillStMarys: 120 years of face to face learning makes the leap to online

#stillStMarys: 120 years of face to face learning makes the leap to online

On 20 March 2020 St Mary’s was one of thousands of schools in the UK to close its physical school gates to students, other than those children of key workers, in an unprecedented response to the government’s, and the whole country’s, fight against COVID-19.

As one door shuts, another one opens, however, and the following Monday the school’s virtual gates opened as one of the oldest schools in Cambridgeshire became near fully online. Students continued to take part in discussions and group work, had face time with teaching staff as well as independent study and research. Following the first week of teaching a survey was sent to parents and students to get their initial feedback and the response was uplifting in such a challenging time.

From quality of teaching and leadership, to communication, academic challenge and pupil well-being, the survey reveals high levels of parental satisfaction across the board.

The survey provided an insight into St Mary’s parental experience following the transition, and builds on the positive results from a 2019 independent survey run by RSAcademics.

Key features

The 2020 results show a high level of satisfaction among parents:

  • 98% of parents said that they and their daughter were “clear about how remote learning at St Mary’s is being facilitated”.

Regarding their daughter/s:

  • 94% have been able to access all their academic lessons
  • 87% were able to check in with their tutor daily
  • 83% have experienced a variety of virtual teaching methods

One parent commented: “We are very grateful and amazed by how well the school was prepared for the distance learning. We are experiencing exceptional teaching and pastoral care even through remote learning. What a wonderful school and staff!”

Students also showed high levels of positivity about the move to online home learning:

  • 100% were able to communicate with their teacher in lessons
  • 96% successfully communicated with other members in their teaching groups.
  • 98% were able to contact their form tutor, with the rest saying that they knew they could if they needed to.

One student said: “It’s very good that we have a structure which motivates me into doing work and it is very interesting seeing my lessons online.”

This builds on the 2019 results, which also showed a high level of satisfaction:

  • 80% of Junior School parents are completely or very satisfied
  • 81% of Senior School/Sixth Form parents are completely or very satisfied
  • Over a third of parents said St Mary’s exceeded their expectations.
  • Over 90% of Senior School and Sixth Form parents rated a wide range of features as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ including: leadership, pupil well-being, subject choice, behaviour, creative opportunities and academic results.
  • Regarding the Junior School, an impressive 100% of parents rated the behaviour, quality of teaching and the relationships between pupil, staff and parents as either ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

A strong partnership

By investing in open communication with parents, St Mary’s is able to place priority on enhancing aspects of the School that matter most to parents. The 2019 and 2020 surveys represent a further strengthening of the parent partnership at St Mary’s. Prior to the 2020 survey, many parents had already contacted the school expressing their thanks for ensuring a seamless transition to online home learning for their daughters.

One parent commented: “Thank you for your leadership and your reassurances these past few weeks and making, what seemed to us, to be a seamless transition to online learning this week. We have been so impressed by the commitment and care we have received from the staff. We feel very lucky to be a part of the St Mary’s community and we continue to feel the girls’ education is in very safe hands.”

A member of the school’s support staff added: Thank you for your heroic efforts to continue to educate and support the girls […] The school is also providing an essential and invaluable service in the provision that is being offered for the children of key workers”.

Charlotte Avery, Headmistress of St Mary’s School, Cambridge says: “Our teaching and support staff rose to the challenge of moving our teaching and learning online over the last few weeks, providing the girls with a seamless experience of online home learning and ensuring that our provision continues to be excellent. Although we have moved online we are #stillStMarys! I’d like to thank our parent body for their unwavering support at this time”.

Read more about our 2019 Senior School and Sixth Form parent survey.