Suffolk school cuts summer holidays by three weeks

James Harrison, head teacher of Saint Felix school in Southwold. Picture: SAINT FELIX SCHOOL

James Harrison, head teacher of Saint Felix school in Southwold. Picture: SAINT FELIX SCHOOL - Credit: SAINT FELIX SCHOOL

A Suffolk school is cutting its summer holidays short to help pupils catch up on learning they have missed because of Covid-19.

Saint Felix, a private school in Southwold, is staying open a week longer than planned and will then open up two weeks earlier in August – subject to government guidelines – so that international students can return safely.

The school, which teaches childrens from ages two to 18, made the decision after consulting with students and their families.

Since the coronavirus lockdown came into place at the end of March, the school has been running live online lessons for students as far away as China, Tanzania, Germany and Russia.

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Pupils have received up to four online lessons per day, as well as assemblies, chapel services and pastoral time with their tutors. The lessons are fully interactive and all pupils can be seen and heard.

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The lessons have taken place on a bespoke secure platform that teachers were trained in the use of during the Easter holidays.

Headmaster James Harrison said: “As soon as it was clear we had to close, our priority was to replicate the learning experience at home. The key was always going to be using the skills of our teaching staff and I have been overwhelmed with their dedication and the results. Most of our students live locally, but we have had lessons involving students from all over the world happening in real time, thanks to our early use of safe and secure technology.

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“The education and wellbeing of our students is always paramount, so the extra time at the end of the Summer term will ensure everyone enters the holidays exactly where they would have been in their learning journey - while our August opening for overseas students means we can open in line with government guidelines in September. We are prepared for any eventuality including a second lockdown should the unthinkable happen.”

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One respondent to an online survey of students and parents undertaken by the school said: “The remote learning from Saint Felix has worked very well as my daughter is able to focus, finish all assignments which are set and has the time to produce quality pieces of work set by her teachers. This in turn has enabled her to become more confident. It is great that she can see and interact with all her friends too.”

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