Sheffield Girls’ moved to Guided Home Learning back in March 2020 following the closure of schools to the majority of students due to Covid-19. Using our existing e-Learning platform, Firefly, along with G-Suite, teachers and pupils were able to quickly adapt to the unprecedented situation. Our pupils have been able to continue their learning throughout this period, take part in co-curricular activities and keep in touch with friends and teachers.
We caught up with pupils from all year groups to see how they’ve found this unusual time.
Georgia, Year 5
I found the transition to Guided Home Learning a bit nerve wracking but the teachers helped and I settled in easily. A highlight of my week is our form time session with Miss Green where we get to talk about everything and our homelife and pets. The first day of Guided Home Learning was a bit of a challenge when Firefly went down but I was reassured that it would be alright and we were soon up and running. My favourite part of Guided Home Learning has been that we still get to interact with our friends and teachers via Google Meet and that we still have support if we need it. However nothing would replace being in school with my lovely teachers and friends and I can’t wait for that day to begin.
I was very comfortable with using technology because we use it already in school. I also had a home Chromebook before this period of time so that I am used to how everything works and the key features that I need to use. I have truly enjoyed using Firefly and Google Meet because of how easy it is to access our work and the tasks that we need to participate in. I have also found Google Drive really handy because of the way our teachers get to mark our work and access it. I have really been supported and reassured during our Guided Home Learning and everyone has motivated me in learning. Thanks to all the teachers who have helped during guided home learning you have made this time so much better.
Samirah, Year 7
The year 2020 has been quite unusual (to date), so many unexpected events have taken place internationally which have caused us to adapt to an ever-changing world. Back in 2019, we would never have dreamed of sitting at our own desks at home and the class being united only by Google Meet. The transition to Guided Home Learning has been a simple but strange one, the teachers have been on-hand to support us and the set tasks have been clear and informative. My favourite part of Guided Home Learning is being able to produce a piece of work independently with as little teacher input as possible and reviewing the outcome. Many people may feel like their education has been disturbed by lockdown but I don't agree because the only main educational aspect in which we have missed out on is practicals. As important as practicals are, we have still been having live lessons and being set tasks so we are still learning and are privileged to be having those. I feel like I have received support from teachers whenever I ask and have been satisfied with the explanation. Overall, the Guided Home Learning experience has been as positive as possible for me in the current situation.
Amelie, Year 8
When my class heard that we were going to be able to do school from home, to be honest, we were all extremely happy! But as it neared time for us to actually finish school we realised how much we would miss each other and the school environment as a whole. During our first week of Guided Home Learning, I found it very hard to try and stay in an educational mindset instead of just lying in bed, but I was determined that I would try to make this as “normal” as possible. I learnt that you have to be very organised to stay on top of your game!
I was worried about being isolated and bored but actually, we have managed to keep up our lively class environment and we can always speak to each other when not in a live lesson. Technology definitely isn’t an issue for me, I’m used to using the Chromebooks at school and use Firefly all the time anyway and love typing and writing on docs.
I don’t think my learning has been interrupted, in some lessons I actually think I ask more questions and in some learn better now, I even have some clubs which I’ve loved because being musical is very hard from home! Guided Home Learning has also been great for my confidence. I’m now proud to be someone who is brave enough to turn on their microphone and video, who talks up rather than just writing in the chat. I want to be back at school but I’m so glad we have been able to have this kind of learning as some people haven’t been able to get anything like what we have.
Rebekah, Year 9
The transition to Guided Home Learning has been smoother than I imagined. During March we all knew that at some point schools would close and I think there was a bit of excitement about that. The first few days felt strange; I missed my friends and teachers and I missed the atmosphere of school, and even the classrooms. But very quickly we got into the swing of Guided Home Learning, and actually it wasn’t too bad.
We have had talks in PSHE about positive mindset and I think most of us have realised that this is something we just have to get on with. I am comfortable and confident with technology so using Google Meet has been a great opportunity for me. I have extended my knowledge and understanding of Firefly. I can bookmark self-registration and personal pages, so it makes it easier and faster to complete tasks. I enjoy helping my friends and teachers with any tech problems and as a Digital Leader and Google Certified Educator I enjoy passing on my knowledge and expertise. I enjoy live lessons as it’s really good to see my friends and teachers. Since we have our cameras switched on we can wave at each other as we would have done in class and have some interaction.
Guided Home Learning has given me opportunities to do things that perhaps I wouldn’t have done if I was in school. A big advantage of not having summer exams is that all the time I would have spent revising and making flashcards has been used to enter competitions such as Young Geographer of the Year, the Bright Ideas Competition and enabled me and my friends to carry on with our Go4SET project. I’ve also continued with my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award and used my initiative to alter what I had planned to do into something that was COVID-19 safe.
Overall, I have enjoyed the experience of Guided Home Learning but I do miss my friends and my teachers. It’s good that we can see each other through Google Meet so we don’t end up looking at a screen or looking down at our books all day. We can still interact with each other – but just in a different way.
Nikhita, Year 10
I can safely say the Summer term has been one of the most interesting terms in my years at Sheffield Girls’. Moving to Guided Home Learning and working remotely has been a challenge however the school has ensured my preparation for my GCSE exams next year has been interrupted as little as possible. The abrupt transition at the end of the Spring term from being in classrooms to having to work remotely has been so much more smoother than I could have hoped for. Despite occasionally having the odd hiccup with the platforms used, predominantly Google Meet, the IT team has always been on hand ready to sort out any issues so my quality of education has not been affected. It's been really nice to see some of my teachers who were initially unsure about using various websites, really embrace the new changes. By using Pear Deck and Jam boards, it feels very much like I’m in a classroom collaborating with my peers. Personally I feel my year group and I are pretty comfortable working remotely as much of the resources we use online, we’re quite familiar with. I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received when working remotely whether it’s been pastoral or academic, as my teachers haven’t hesitated to go the extra mile in supporting us to ensure we’re not alone during these uncertain times.
Jessica, Year 12
The transition to Guided Home Learning was easier than I expected as Google Meet was so simple to use and having to get up later for school was an added bonus! We had lots of advice before lockdown which meant that I felt really prepared for “live lessons” and seeing everyone virtually (and sometimes their pets) helped bring a sense of normality as it seemed like we were in a classroom, albeit a slightly different one! I feel very lucky that my education hasn’t been interrupted. In the Sixth Form we’ve had the same level of support in helping us make our post-Sixth Form choices as we would have had in school. Recently we had a UCAS day with Personal Statement workshops and a virtual University Fair.
I can’t stress enough the endless support and commitment the teachers have shown us. From answering countless emails or just simply asking how you are, not because they have to but because they really care, it’s nice to know someone’s there if you need them. They always ensure that we fully understand the lesson material and are more than willing to help you in whatever way they can.