This time a year ago, remote learning for school children was almost unheard of, but the closure of schools forced a rethink of how we continue to educate our boys. ‘Bedford@home’, our programme of remote learning, was introduced at the start of the first lockdown, and while it took some time to get used to, boys soon got into the routine of sitting down for academic lessons in front of laptops rather than in the classroom. Since then, the challenge of making lessons exciting and as engaging as possible has put teachers’ creativity into overdrive, and we have seen some truly inspiring online lessons.
PE lessons have been slightly more of a challenge, and while there have been resources for boys to keep the momentum of their physical education from the start of lockdown, our remote PE and Games lessons have evolved somewhat over the 12 months, with boys enjoying two lessons of live sports twice a week, as well as pre-recorded games skills sessions to ensure they get their recommended quota of physical activity.
Simon Lincoln, Head of PE in the Prep School, explained, “Getting the boys to engage in physical activity is more important than ever. As they are not physically in school, they are not moving as much as they would usually be. They are not walking to school, walking between lessons, playing at breaktime or running around after lunch, for example.”
It is important for the boys to have regular full-body workouts, which is why we have introduced live HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Not only is it good for the boys’ overall fitness, but it is great for their mental well-being. We make it light-hearted and fun, and seeing everyone participating on the screen is a real boost for the boys and the teachers too.”
Each live HIIT session is run by two sports teachers, one demonstrating the exercises, and one who dials in to monitor the boys’ attendance and gives feedback on technique and effort. In the Prep lessons, keyworker children who are learning on site, also help the teachers to lead the sessions in person. James Hinkins, Director of Rugby, said, “Ideally we want to see everyone in the class performing with correct technique – this is the most important thing. Firstly, to maximise the benefits of the exercise and secondly for injury prevention (short- and long-term).”
One of the prep boys said after a session, “I was panting really hard after the burpee challenge. Great challenge. I am going to have a go at both warm-ups next time”.
In addition to the HIIT sessions, the boys learn from pre-recorded video tasks to practise skills; currently, these are for hockey and football. The skills are kept purposely simple and accessible, and boys are encouraged to send in videos of themselves completing their skills. Not only do they get recognition from their teachers for doing this, but it also encourages them to turn their cameras on.
Mr Lincoln said, “It is really important that the boys turn their cameras on for the sessions as this helps with engagement and motivation. We have had a few parents, and even a dog, join in!”
While most of the remote sport is non-competitive, sport would not be sport without a competitive element! With this in mind, the sports department have created a series of sports challenges for the boys to take part in and submit their scores. For example, how many squat jumps or keepy-uppies can they do in a given time? There is even a half-term family mountain challenge; will they reach the top of Slieve Donard or the dizzy heights of Ben Nevis in the number of steps they can collectively climb?
Mr Lincoln added, “The commitment of the boys has been fantastic. They have fully engaged with the programme and seeing their peers doing the exercises too has enabled them to feel part of a team.”
In addition to their PE and Games lessons, the boys can also take part in extracurricular live sessions and can access advice on nutrition and healthy eating.