Kingswood School is now open again, stronger and better than ever. Welcoming an increase in the number of pupils for the 2020/21 academic year, staff members are reporting that they are fielding more calls from interested families too.
In the next few months, Kingswood will be virtually hosting three Virtual Open Events for interested families: Sixth Form Open Evening, Whole Senior School Open Morning, and Prep School Open Morning. Students and their families will be able to virtually tour campus facilities and participate in a live Q&A session that will address enquiries regarding campus life and the curricula. All three events have generated RSVPs from many keen parents.
What is behind this rise in interest? Staff and teachers believe it is likely due to Kingswood’s swift and effective handling of the pandemic. When the UK went into lockdown at the end of March, schools closed to curb the spread of coronavirus; only children of “key workers” and vulnerable children could still attend.
Shutting a school is an extraordinary step. To protect its community, however, Kingswood School knew it was the necessary and practical route to take learning online.
Moving classes from its traditional physical mode to the virtual world was a big change — but one that turned out to have huge payback for the independent, co-educational day and boarding school located in Bath, Somerset, England. Throughout lockdown, dedicated teachers carried out classes virtually with minimal disruption to academic progress. Other aspects of learning that would have been practised in-person on campus were taken into consideration and continued online too.
This includes keeping students mentally and physically active — something Kingswood School has prioritised even before the pandemic. With classes conducted online, the importance of staying active was amplified further. Hence why teachers and staff made sure pupils had a variety of fun and engaging activities and sports challenges to take part in even under quarantine.
Deputy Head (Academic), John Davies says, “I am hugely proud of my colleagues, who have responded to the call to approach their lifelong vocation in an entirely new way within a period of weeks. Teaching is a challenging undertaking at the best of times, even when you can share a room with 20 young people; so much of our craft is based on finely honed instinct and human interaction: the flicker of an eyebrow that suggests scepticism, or the droop of shoulders that indicates confusion. I marvel at the resilience and ingenuity of my excellent colleagues as we seek to leverage all the tools at our disposal and find new ways to make a connection.”
Staying creative and inspired
Living under lockdown was challenging. Understanding this, Kingswood teachers and staff got students to stimulate their creativity and imagination through the arts. The drama department managed to get students involved in various challenges that were made available by theatre companies active on social platforms. Students even produced a virtual production titled “Coronavirus Time Capsule,” the first episode of a week-by-week response to the pandemic from the eyes of students. Pupils also put on a show for the quarantined school community, recording virtual concerts from their homes with guidance from their music teachers.
Being able to create together, teachers maximising every tool at their disposal to connect with students, a range of pastoral care initiatives — these are just some of the measures Kingswood School took to strengthen its sense of community.
Another achievement the school is proud of is its array of contributions to the UK’s fight against COVID-19. The Kingswood community came together, alongside other local independent schools, in a mass effort to produce and distribute personal protective equipment — like masks, wash bags, scrubs — to general practitioners, hospitals, care homes, clinics, and more.
The school also offered accommodation to hospitals at risk of overcrowding, supported local businesses by promoting their events across the school’s social media platforms, and donated to multiple charities. To help in any way possible is one of the school’s core goals — a pandemic only bolstered its efforts further. Pupils got to witness a fine example of what giving back means, creating a generation of empathetic and kind students.
Ready to return to school
Under the supervision of newly-appointed headmaster Andrew Gordon-Brown, Kingswood has greatly anticipated the return to normalcy as lockdowns eased. The 200-acre campus, located in Lansdown, Bath has fully embraced the necessary changes that are to be made, which is in line with advice and protocol set by the UK government.
On their first day back, new and returning pupils were taken on guided tours to understand how the recently implemented one-way system works. Thus far, the response among students has been positive, with parents reassured that social distancing is strongly enforced at Kingswood.
The school will continue to monitor the temperatures of anyone on its grounds, minimise contact with unwell individuals, enforce frequent and thorough cleaning of hands, introduce enhanced cleaning methods, maintain social distancing, and enforce the use of appropriate personal protective equipment.
As for extracurricular activities and sports, they will be reintroduced slowly over the term. Contact sports will not be encouraged until it is once again considered safe and allowed.
What sets Kingswood School apart?
One of the advantages to being a Kingswood student is that a pupil’s day does not end when their last class does. Kingswood is open at all hours and provides a full-fledged neighbourhood experience to boarders. Peers and teachers are neighbours, mentors, and friends.
In their “second homes,” Kingswood boarders can expect Music and Art blocks, where they can spend some extra time practising. With more than 100 co-curricular activities offered during the week and at weekends, there is something for everyone. From Model United Nations to script writing and kayaking, Kingswood pupils have access to as many skill-building opportunities as possible. During the weekends, boarders get to enjoy organised trips to theme parks too.
This year, the Lower School’s newest boarders spent their first weekend enjoying activities in their “bubbles,” such as crazy golf and sports on the Upper School’s playing fields. They also took a trip to the city centre where they saw Bath’s key landmarks — such as Bath Abbey and Royal Victoria Park — and checked out its high street.
Always forward-thinking and with a can-do approach, Kingswood School is excited to have students back on its grounds once more — stronger and better than ever.