How has Sidmouth’s St John’s School adapted during lockdown?

PUBLISHED: 17:22 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:22 23 June 2020

St John's School, Sidmouth

St John's School, Sidmouth


What have we learned together? Every cloud has a silver lining, never underestimate the adaptability of children.

St John's School, SidmouthSt John's School, Sidmouth

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.”

This inspirational quote by Catalan Cellist and Poet Pau Casals, could well be our Mission and Vision here at St John’s, as it articulately summarises everything we strive for. We have always been referred to as the small Devon school with a big heart, one of the flagships of the world-renowned IES-SEK organisation and determined to make a difference in the local environment. Small school, big heart, big shoes and a positive mindset, to believe that “we can”, and show the necessary resilience to demonstrate that “we can”.

St John's School, SidmouthSt John's School, Sidmouth

However, it’s a truism that COVID 19 has changed our sense of normality, education and reaffirmed our traditional values through renewed family life and self-dependence. As many other schools have suggested, COVID 19 has actually helped us in this mindset and positivity, has made us analyse risk assessments, programmes of work, learning styles and most importantly, the wellbeing of our students, staff and of course families. The risk was actually trying to continue as normal, swap class interactive white board for home laptop with Zoom or equivalent, and pretend that we were simulating normality for the benefit of all students. That was never going to be the case, and so together, we have made a new reality, learning alongside our students and really understanding that they are “marvels, unique, with the capacity of everything”. How could we ever doubt it? Possibly because we allowed teaching to get in the way of real learning. After all, as Albert Einstein so eloquently stated: “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school”.

So what was the plan? Creativity, constant individual support by all means available, and a host of practical activities from cooking, crafts, film production, on-line fitness to all year groups, wellbeing exercises and even fieldwork! While Key worker children explored our extensive grounds, using imagination, leadership and team work to create dens, build tree swings assisted by our supportive Maintenance team and relearn how to be children in ample space and fresh air; other classes undertook virtual fieldwork with our “Roving Reporter” (aka our PYP and Junior School Co-ordinator). One unit of work for Year 4 was “Where our food comes from”, so having discussed, researched, produced mind maps and asked their questions, our Roving Reporter walked them through a local farm, interviewing the owner who could describe not just the organic crop, but how it benefitted the soil and environment, which fauna and flora it protected, along with where the crop would be processed before it ends up on our plate. Other virtual trips included a local bakery and coffee roastery, with the luxury of an accompanying slide show and question/answer session.

What have we learned together? Every cloud has a silver lining, never underestimate the adaptability of children, and that true education “learns to learn, learns to do and learns to be” (Jaques Delors). We would add “learn to live together” and make our school and world, worthy of its children.


St John’s School, Sidmouth

Address: Broadway, Sidmouth EX10 8RG

Phone: 01395 513984

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