Mill Hill School went into lockdown, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, from Monday 23 March 2020.
Mill Hill School reacted as quickly as possible to adapt to an extremely challenging set of circumstances, with the focus on minimising disruption to teaching and learning to ensure that the academic future of each pupil was not compromised.
There were inevitable barriers along the way, with the current Year 13 pupils not attending in person academic subject lessons between March and July, and only returning for the start of term in September. The pupils had to cope with the delivery of lessons being moved from the School’s original online platform (Firefly) to Google Classroom, and then on to Microsoft Teams in September, with each transition requiring a period of adaptation for both teachers and pupils. The Summer Term’s virtual timetable consisted of two live lessons per subject per week, rather than the normal eight in-person lessons for each subject.
Mill Hill School has an international boarding contingent, and pupils who returned to their home countries in certain circumstances had difficulty accessing online lessons due to restrictions on the internet once home. This will inevitably have impacted adversely on their academic progress.
Year 12 examinations which would normally have taken place early in the Summer Term of 2020, were moved to the Autumn Term and took place on return in September, affording the pupils minimal opportunity to improve their level of academic attainment between the completion of their examinations and the completion of their university application. These examinations were condensed into three days, to minimise the impact on continued Year 13 study. The information gathered from these examinations will factor into that used to produce Year 13 A Level predicted grades.
Each day in lockdown, co-curricular activities were provided throughout the afternoon, including university guidance, sport, and a variety of co-curricular activities to maintain engagement. The resilience of Mill Hill pupils is to be applauded in terms of their interest, involvement and contribution to their virtual school community, however we cannot underestimate the impact that the global pandemic has had on them, by restricting their access to enrichment opportunities such as lectures and work experience.
Concern for the emotional wellbeing of the pupil body has been paramount throughout the lockdown and in the physical return to school this term. Pupils remain in year group ‘bubbles’ and whilst the School has reopened, socialising outside year groups is not possible and sporting and other co-curricular opportunities remain constrained. This is likely to be the situation for some time.
Pupils are exceptionally resilient but remain somewhat unsettled by the ongoing disruption nationally and globally. In writing this statement the level of COVID 19 infection locally and nationally continues to rise, with several cases amongst pupils and staff here at Mill Hill. This will unfortunately, intermittently, characterise this academic year.