MOVING to online learning has been a massive cultural shift for WA schools, but capturing the solemnity of Lent came with its own unique challenge for St Patrick’s primary in Freo’s CBD.
Lent is one of the biggest celebrations on the Catholic Church calendar and a time of gathering, so St Patrick’s deputy principal Celeste Cooks admits to some butterflies as they rolled out their online version for kids stuck at home.
“We though it would be a big challenge, and the churches were all closed, but one thing in our favour was the parish videoed the Stations of the Cross and continued with the Easter story,” Ms Cooks said.
A video of each staff member saying a line from the school’s prayer was also sent to families with a personalised Easter message from Ms Cooks.
She said there was a great response, with one family live streaming their own Easter play and kids sharing Easter hats which they’d designed digitally.
St Patrick’s was already an “Apple Distinguished School with every kid having their own iPad, smart tellies in each classroom and teachers creating books in maths, English and humanities for Apple Books.
Principal Bernadette Higgins said staff adapted well to suddenly staring at screens rather than beaming faces.
“At a time when the education situation changed so quickly with the pandemic, we were well-prepared to implement online learning quickly and seamlessly,” Ms Higgins said.
“The students’ learning did not need to be disrupted during this time.”
Year 1 teacher Kahli Smith said the transition to remote learning was challenging at times due to the hands-on nature of play-based learning in the school’s early years education program.
But she counts herself lucky the school was already focusing on technology.
“We have a clear vision at our school on how our technology-rich environments can support each individual student and their learning goals,” Ms Smith said.
At the other end of the age spectrum, year 6 teacher Chris Webster says his students embraced remote learning.
“Our young students have managed to connect with
staff and their peers through twice-daily video conferences, allowing those personal relationships to remain,” Mr Webster said.
“But this online space has also allowed students access to learning materials and through our online chats they are able to submit their tasks,” he told the Herald.
by EMILY BURNELL and STEVE GRANT