Why embracing innovation and change is important for independent schools
PUBLISHED: 11:24 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:30 23 September 2020
An independent school should be adaptable, reflective and able to make swift decisions, according to Principal Emma Steinmann-Gilbert.
Mrs Steinmann-Gilbert, of St. Andrew’s School, Rochester, says embracing change has been key to her school’s success in recent months.
“The pandemic challenged all schools, but I was really proud of how our staff, children and parents coped,” she admits.
A well-rounded education
With approximately 300 pupils, aged two to 11, St. Andrew’s is a non-selective, co-educational, independent day school.
“While we are proud of our traditions, we are also ready to embrace change,” she stresses.
“We prepare our pupils for the next challenges they will face; getting into the secondary school of their choice and learning life skills.”
Kent and Medway have a grammar school system and St. Andrew’s ensures pupils are ready for their Eleven Plus and independent secondary school entrance exams.
“The majority of our children progress into grammar schools in the state sector,” Mrs Steinmann-Gilbert explains.
“Our academic results are very strong, but we also offer a very well-rounded curriculum, so pupils have the opportunity to explore and excel in whatever interests them.”
The best school experience
St. Andrew’s ability to adapt saw it move quickly to teaching via a new online pupil portal straight after the Easter holiday.
“We then progressed to live online teaching as well, then pupils were brought back as soon as possible for classroom teaching,” she says.
“It was important to me that every child had the opportunity to come back into school if parents wished, and the take up from our Year 5 pupils was the highest – we had one hundred percent of them back.”
It was also vital for our Year 6 pupils to mark their primary school years before moving on, she insists.
Instead of staging a play, there was a professionally filmed leavers’ movie and prize giving was held outside.
“We did everything we could to give them the best experience and the feedback was that it was better than before. The children learned that change can sometimes bring about good things.”
As it moves into its new year, St. Andrew’s has invested in its IT, including 1-1 devices for all of the Junior pupils.
“We want to enhance our use of IT in the classroom and ensure that if there is another lockdown we can move seamlessly into working from home,” Mrs Steinmann-Gilbert adds.
“As a team, with our parent-school partnership, we are ready for whatever comes next.”