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Hello from the Pre-Prep teachers!

This academic year hasn’t exactly followed the normal patterns of a school year and we’ve had to think on our feet about giving our pupils the most enriching and supportive experience possible.

One important part of our ‘year-end’ is preparing the younger years for the next step up – especially at seminal jumps, such as Reception to Year 1 (EYFS to Key Stage 1) and Year 2 to Year 3 (Pre-Prep to the Prep School). With school re-opening for the final weeks we’ve been able to do some of our transitional programme with the children in person. However, to help with the transitions further, and for general settling in after remote learning, we’ve put together a series of videos from the teaching teams.

We hope these videos help the Pre-Prep children feel familiar and comfortable with their class teachers ahead of starting a new school year in September. We may be a little biased… but they’re a brilliant bunch!

Our Pre-Nursery Teachers
Our Nursery Teachers
Our Reception Teachers
Our Year 1 Teachers
Our Year 2 Teachers
Our Specialist Teachers
Our EAL Team
Our Leadership Team

Remote Learning: Sport

Kieron O’Brien, Helen Miller & John Holland talk about how they’ve kick started students into action and inspiration for remote learning in sport

How have you continued to teach sport during remote learning?

John Holland: The whole world has been encouraged to stay active and complete daily exercise during this pandemic. Our first focus when online learning started was to encourage different ways students could stay active and gain the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. This term the focus has been much more student-centred, building their knowledge through research and completing different tasks, whilst being encouraged to be creative in designing a personal training programme.

Helen Miller: From an academic perspective, I have enjoyed finding new ways to help the GCSE and A-level pupils engage with topics ranging from the Ancient Olympics, Participation in Physical Activity and Sport development in the UK. These topics work well with research projects and we are starting to build an RST Academic PE website to benefit future students. The pupils have used lesson time to build a page, using their own ideas and formatting skills, and populate it with content from their research. This will stretch the ablest in the group and encourage any EAL pupils to write using sentence structures. The end result will incorporate ‘keywords’ from the syllabus and link to ‘quizlets’ to check their understanding!

Sport is a popular part of RST school life. Have your students engaged well with the online adaptations?

John Holland: Yes, they have! The variety of tasks set has kept students engaged and interested throughout. The current focus is on students building their own sports specific exercise programme, which aims to actively engage and build their PE knowledge and physical fitness, specific to a certain sport.  

Kieron O’Brien: The students have engaged really well. They have left behind more than just their classes and academics, and sport / fitness is a good way of bringing back a sense of community. As teachers, we’ve all encouraged students to share what is happening in their lives, especially given the stress, fear and strains in these uncertain times.

What has been the most challenging part of providing online sport?

John Holland: Ensuring the work set is adequate for all abilities and ages, and that students are focused and interested to complete the work to the best of their ability.

Kieron O’Brien: Perhaps the most common challenge teachers face in online is the lack of face-to-face engagement with students and other colleagues. It’s also been a challenge balancing diverse learning needs.

What have you learnt from this new way of teaching and learning?

Helen Miller: I have developed my technology skills tremendously through the online google training (Level 1 and 2). This has opened up lots of new platforms (and therefore ideas), including Google Scholar, Google Sites, Google sheets and a better grasp of Google classroom.

John Holland: Firstly my level of ICT has hugely improved. I have become much more competent in using online resources and have even learnt how to edit and create videos. Similarly, in times like this I think everyone has developed an understanding of the importance of exercise and physical well-being in their daily lives.

Kieron O’Brien: Students appreciate regular communication. Students need extrinsic motivation Share ideas, collaborate about online teaching experiences.

How do you think the current situation might benefit your department in the long term?

Helen Miller: The resources we are building up to support all pupils, but especially the EAL students who choose Academic PE (GCSE and A-level) will put the department in a much stronger position.

John Holland: Our department will certainly never take for granted the excellent facilities we have on site and how our curriculum allows students to maximise their learning by using these. Our improvement in knowledge of ICT learning tools will certainly aid the quality of lessons delivered in the future and also how these tools can track student progress and attainment.

Is there anything you would like to say to the school community?

Helen Miller: As we reflect on the world around us, our lifestyles and our happiness, make sure that you take time for yourself. Whatever this may be – art, poetry, music, exercise or reading!

John Holland: It has been a great effort by all the community to keep going through these difficult times. The teachers have worked hard to plan and develop engaging activities and the students have shown excellent determination and perseverance to continue their learning journey. All the RST teachers are looking forward to welcoming the students back to school and hopefully the students will be rewarded for their hard work with the unveiling of our new sports hall.

History Activity: What’s Your Story?

What’s your story? Whether you are a history boffin or not, it’s great fun to find out about your own personal family history. That’s why our Senior School history department have put together this activity to help you discover the who, what, where and when of your family tree. It’s easy and will no doubt throw up some interesting discoveries. After all, without those before you, there wouldn’t be a you!

To enjoy this history activity, start by watching the simple ‘how-to’ video guide then download the assets below to get started. 

Remote Learning: Art

We caught up with Mrs Barnes, Head of Art (Prep), to find out how she’s designed a successful remote learning programme for her subject.

How have you been teaching art and design remotely?

We are using a combination of instructional videos made by our own art teachers, as well as ones by online artists. Both help the children understand the new skills they are learning, but then the main part of every lesson is producing independent artwork in their sketchbooks. We are really trying to use art lessons as a break from the screens and a chance to unwind. We use an app called ‘Seesaw’, which acts as an online portfolio where the children all upload their work for their classmates and teachers to see. We use Google meet for anyone who is stuck (or just wants to show us how their work is progressing!).

How have the pupils responded to the online programme for this subject?

The pupils have been amazing! Many spend their free time finishing work because they want it to be their very best work. I have also seen a rise in the artwork produced outside of lesson time; many children are creating quite spectacular pieces by following their own interests or learning from YouTube. I will have a very hard job to decide who should win the end-of-year prizes for art this year because of the amazingly talented pupils and their dedication to the subject.

What have been the biggest challenges of teaching art and design online?

One thing I love about teaching art is walking around the room and seeing the pupils engrossed in their work. This is the time I ask them about the choices they have made, discuss their progress with the skills we are learning and check if they need any support. Online learning is so different; the biggest challenge is working out how to offer guidance whilst they work. Generally, once they understand the task the communication stops and they get busy (which is great for their independence), so the feedback I give them has to come after the lesson, once they have uploaded their work for me to see. Research shows feedback and comments are more effective given in the moment, so this is something I am continuing to think about.

What’s been the most positive outcome of this temporary change to teaching and learning?

Many very inspiring organisations have overwhelmed teachers with access to learning resources and training. I now spend a huge amount to time learning new skills as both an artist and a teacher. Of course, my technology skills are improving too, but I have found time to study oil painting methods and have further explored the realms of digital drawing, which is just incredible. The website I have used most is called Skillshare (and has a free trial, if you’re interested!). I have enjoyed learning from many artists on there, who offer styles which are completely new to me.

It is easy to get stuck in a routine, especially as we are usually all so busy, and I have enjoyed the change to how I organise my time. I hope that my exchange of shopping centres and trampoline parks (for my children, not me!) for this wonderful personal development goes beyond the end of this strange time that we are in now.

What are you doing as a department to keep children engaged?

We are keeping the focus on art skills each lesson, as well as teaching about amazing artists from the past and today, so that the pupils stay on track with the curriculum. We also have many art competitions and activities (in a dedicated ‘Fun Tasks’ section of the timetable) to lighten the mood a little. Currently, we are asking families to recreate famous pieces of art in real life and share photos of their recreations; the prize for the best entry will be a family sized reward of art goodies and tasty treats, delivered to their door!

What one piece of advice might you give to fellow teachers, based on your personal successes within online teaching?

Make instructions as simple as you possibly can and provide clear examples of what the outcomes should be. Sounds just like normal teaching!

Is there anything you would like to say to the school community?

We will help develop a cohort of resilient, independent, problem solving pupils in this challenging time – so keep persevering, the rewards will benefit us all in the long run.

Remote Learning: Music

We spoke to Mrs Westlake & Mr Collings in the music department to find out what they’re doing to get pupils to tune into their subject.

How are you teaching music online?

We are using a variety of different media including interactive worksheets, listening and watching exercises, interactive song and dance and lots of cross-curricular activities (for example, science with sounds and dynamics, geography and history to learn about world music and historical eras and different musical styles emerging).

Have the children engaged well with the remote learning programme for music?

We have had some very encouraging responses from children participating each week with our activities. It has been fantastic to see so many flourishing through online learning and enjoying the tasks that we have set.

What have been the highlights so far?

The responses to the ‘virtual choir’ have been fantastic. Despite our geographical distances, it was our goal to bring the RST family together through singing in a virtual choir. Music is an essential part of our school life; it offers an opportunity for the whole community to share a sense of energy together, and the choir demonstrated that so well.

The instrumental programme has really taken off. Numbers are steadily growing each week for virtual instrumental lessons. We would like to say a huge thank you to our visiting music teachers for their professionalism and commitment to making this possible for the students at RST.

What has the feedback on remote learning from music been like? Have you had to make any adaptations to the initial programme?

The feedback has been very positive and the content of students work has been very promising indeed. As you can imagine, it has been a challenge to adapt such a practical subject for remote learning, but we feel we’ve successfully continued to stretch our talented musicians in a fun and dynamic way.

What one piece of advice might you give to fellow teachers, based on your personal successes within online teaching?

The enjoyment for the children must remain the priority.

Is there anything you would like to say to the school community?

Keep calm and ask Mr. Burkhill!

Our Remote Learning Programme

Find out how Mr Burkhill, Head of Computing (Pre-Prep & Prep), has created our school’s world-class remote learning platform.

How has the transition to remote learning been?

Rugby School Thailand was in the fortunate position of having contact with schools from across China and Asia which allowed us to be somewhat prepared for the inevitability of school closure. This preparation made the initial transition much easier than without such help – it has nevertheless still been a huge challenge. It goes without saying that to shift from physical face-to-face learning, to screen-based remote learning, requires a complete rewrite of teaching pedagogy, training and a reliance on technology that is unprecedented in normal teaching. To achieve those aims in a matter of days is challenging for any organisation.

How did you devise the programme?

We put together the programme primarily by liaising with fellow international schools across China and Asia. The sharing of advice and resources was already in effect before school closures reached Thailand and this enabled the best of the existing programmes to be taken, adapted and rewritten to suit the needs of the systems, parents, pupils and staff of Rugby School Thailand. In turn, we are also sharing what is working well and what is not working so well with the wider education community, in the hopes that we can all stay adaptive, flexible and together, and produce the highest quality of remote learning possible for our pupils.

What has the feedback been like?

We are incredibly grateful for the feedback from parents, the majority of which has been very positive. This allows us to keep doing and building on what is working, and change what is not. This is a world-first shift in education, and it is therefore paramount that all parties involved continue to communicate to get it right. It is impossible to produce a system that fits the needs of everyone perfectly, and remote learning is challenging. Thankfully our programme has had a really positive response and it is far more the difficult nature of remote learning that has been commented on by parents. 

You can see some of the wonderful comments we’ve had from parents here.

What have been the main challenges?

The challenges related to converting a school from face-to-face learning to remote learning are numerous, but the key ones we’ve seen are:

  • Change of routines
  • Change of pedagogy
  • Technological disparity
  • Technological infrastructure
  • Training of parents, pupils and staff
  • Merging of work, school and personal lives

From the school’s perspective however, perhaps the greatest challenge is to deliver a programme that will continue to reflect the high standards parents and pupils have come to expect from Rugby School Thailand, whilst still maintaining motivation for all parties involved, to continue the teaching and learning journey for an undefined length of time. The ongoing challenge of course is to identify ways in which a relatively simple physical task in a classroom can be flipped to a ‘virtual’ and remote task online.

What key adaptations have you made since launching in March?

The programme is forever changing. Our main adaptions have been to try and streamline the workflow for all parties involved. This includes regular tutor check-ins to try and maintain as much social welfare for our pupils and tutors as possible, moving to fixed, termly timetables and less clicks to navigate the remote learning website. The more streamlined and routine we can make the programme, the easier it will be for everyone to stay engaged and motivated.

What is unique about RST's remote learning programme?

According to UNESCO, over half of the world’s student population is now out of school, most engaging in some form of remote learning. Due to the nature of the situation we are in, Rugby School Thailand’s remote learning programme is not unique. Yet, at the same time, has been moulded and adapted to use systems that pupils and staff are already familiar with and can fit into the needs of our community. Every school shares similarities, but every child is unique; such is the case with our programme.

How do you motivate children to work remotely?

Motivation comes from within. Every teacher knows that they must inspire curiosity that provokes a passion, which then motivates. This cycle is hard enough to maintain face-to-face, and is even more challenging in a remote setting. We therefore continue to research, train and trial new ways of doing familiar tasks to keep children’s curiosity flowing. We have adapted the programme to help with this; including a mixture of video recording, live video support, instant messaging chats and a plethora of apps.

How do you think this programme will benefit staff and students in the long term?

There are many different articles appearing through this crisis that detail evidence that people’s attitudes are being changed by current world events. People are no longer receiving instant gratification, patience is a daily necessity, gratitude is being found in the small things. In addition to those points, I think the role technology can play in the classroom will forever be enhanced, people that were not confident before have found new confidence in the situation and systems are developing at a faster rate than ever before. Microsoft recently announced that Teams (used by many schools, particularly in China where Google services are blocked) is now their fastest growing product ever. Google are reporting new levels of system traffic across their services. There are dark times attached to this period, but I also think there is so much good that has, is and will come out from this situation.

‘Save Us, Save Doctors’

One of the owners of our school, Khun Taya Teepsuwan, has initiated a brilliant new project with some friends. ‘Saveเรา Saveหมอ’ (‘Save Us, Save Doctors’) aims to support the doctors and nurses working on the front line of this pandemic. There are various components to their work; all of which will bolster much-needed medical supplies.

The first part of the project has involved hand-making 5000 cloth masks. High demand has left a national shortage of masks. By producing cloth masks for people in the community, more surgical / medical masks can be available for the doctors who need them so crucially. Volunteers have been making and distributing cloth masks to non-medical workers who need them most. For example, motorbike and car taxi drivers, garbage collectors and many more. This production and distribution will continue for as long as there is a shortage of masks.

The second part of the project is an art auction to raise money in support of doctors and nurses. The group behind the project asked 5 famous artists to draw pictures and put them up for auction. So far they have raised 165,000 THB from the auction and have used those funds (in addition to other donations) to buy important medical equipment, such as PPE suits, face shields and N95 masks. These have all been donated to Rama hospital.

The third component to this incredible project has been creating the ‘Hero Bags’.  Many doctors are spending night and day in hospital: eating, sleeping and working tirelessly . The ‘Hero Bags’ offer survival kits for individual use including many necessary items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving kits, cutlery, tumblers, pillows, blankets, towels, shampoo and shower gels, sanitizers and energy bars. With many donations already contributed, initially the team plan to create 500 ‘Hero Bags’.

Khun Taya and friends, plus the wonderful volunteers, intend to continue these different projects within the ‘Save Us, Save Doctors’ campaign for as long as we are in this crisis. Now, more than ever, we need to help each other to help this country.

If you would like to donate to the project please see the bank details below.

Prep School Sustainable Development Murals

As a school we’re passionate about sustainability, which is why the Prep School pupils were so excited to paint the UN’s ‘17 sustainable development goals‘ as murals around the Veraphan Building. Each mural, designed and painted by the children here, beautifully encapsulates the goal with creativity and colou.

1. End Poverty

2. Stop Hunger

3. Good Health & Wellbeing

4. Quality Education

5. Gender Equality

6. Clean Water & Sanitation

7. Affordable & Clean Energy

8. Decent Work & Economic Growth

9. Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure

10. Reduced Inequalities

11. Sustainable Cities & Communities

12. Responsible Production & Consumption

13. Climate Action

14. Life Below Water

15. Life On Land

16. Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

17. Partnerships For The Goals

Guiding children through the coronavirus

The new coronavirus pandemic has inflicted a global health concern that young minds will be aware of, but perhaps not fully understand. There is a growing concern for the impact the pandemic will be having on mental health, with increased levels of anxiety in both parents and children.

Here are some ways you can help protect your children in every way:

Good health and hygiene

Regular handwashing should be de rigueur in every household at the moment, as this is understood to be the best way to keep germs away. Self-care, including handwashing, is something we teach our pupils as soon as they join in Pre-Nursery, so hopefully many children already understand the importance of this. A great video to help them learn a fun but thorough technique is here.

This is also a key time to keep vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables part of every meal and offer additional supplements to boost your child’s immune system. Make it a fun experience by reading books about how food helps our bodies (Usborne “lift the flap” books are particularly engaging), getting them to help you cook nutritious family meals, or seeing if you can create a rainbow on the plate together by including many colourful fruit and vegetables.

Give them accessible facts

Children will be aware of something going on, especially if school closes as a precautionary measure. Be honest, with simple facts about the virus that allow them to understand what it is. No fuss, no emotion, no drama, just the basic concept of the virus and what we can all do to keep ourselves and our loved ones well-protected. A great video you can show them is here.

Practice mindfulness and relaxation together

If you’re feeling anxious about the uncertainties of the virus, which is completely understandable, then your child will be picking up on that. Try practicing some mindfulness or relaxation together. Children often focus well on Cosmic Kids Yoga videos, and the Cosmic Kids YouTube channel also offers mindful sessions too. Another good way to instil mindful thinking is lying with your child, each with a soft toy on your tummy, and watch the toy rise and fall as you count your breaths together. You could even simply listen to calm music or audiotapes together. The key thing is to tune into calm moments with your child(ren) where you cut out the noise and anxiety from the world beyond.

We hope everyone can find positive ways through the uncertainties of these times.

As you guide your child though the coronavirus pandemic, take care of your own mental health too Here is a good article from the BBC that we’ve shared with our staff.

Why choose our Sixth Form?

A child’s Sixth Form experience can really shape their lives. These final years of school are an important stepping-stone into further education and life beyond. Shaping university applications means building a body of experience to demonstrate exceptional aptitude as well as gaining top-class qualifications.  Here are some of the reasons our Sixth Form really stands out:

Academic

We offer a whole host of subjects to be taken as A levels. These exams replicate all aspects of the IB but with greater flexibility, and A levels also allow students to specialize (for example in sciences, or arts). Many universities recognize them as giving a deeper understanding and development in topics taken onto degree level.

Support

Sixth Form years are the foundation years for early career development, so having support and guidance to make the right choices really matters. We tailor support to each individual, allocating personal tutors who offer weekly 1-to-1 sessions to ensure students are looked after academically and pastorally. Tutor groups and class sizes are small, too.

Personal Development

There is so much more to schooling than academic achievement. We want to see our students flourishing as rounded individuals who are ready for the real world – which fits with our school mantra: “the whole person, the whole point”.  In Sixth Form our Community Action Programme means students have dedicated time for weekly charitable service, and they can join the Duke of Edinburgh award as part of this. Our daily co-curricular and sport inclusions also help students develop passions and important core values. These bespoke experiences form the basis of university applications and often reflect specialist routes such as Oxbridge, medicine or engineering.

Preparation For Life

Where school is full of support, the next step may not be. Our Sixth Form students receive insightful career advice and do a practical “Preparing for university” courses, where they learn to cook, budget, understand how to get the most out of university and look for accommodation. Boarding can add another level to this preparation.

University

Our senior teaching staff meet the rigorous Rugby School standards; they have a degree in their subject and many have attended top global universities. The teachers are perfectly placed to help students achieve entry to these sought-after institutions, too. We offer portfolio preparation, university (and Oxbridge specific) application routes, helping with all aspects of the application process to universities around the globe (including in-house IELTS and SAT preparation). Tutors guide students to broaden their horizons, build prospects and take on leadership roles where possible.

To speak to a member of the Sixth Form staff or arrange a private tour, please contact: admissions@rugbyschool.ac.th