ETSS WICKLOW
 

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2021 starts with the challenge of dealing with a school closure in January - so we move to our online plan as practiced in the training day in November and this film sets out our goals in the weeks ahead. 

This video was created by three very talented film producers in the second year SPHE class and sends out a great message about wellbeing and the importance for every student to find a good way to do their school work.

FIRST CHALLENGE OF 2021 - WE ARE READY!

With school closures a feature of life in the past year, the question has been - how can we provide the most professional online learning product? As a new school with only first years and second years, we have been in the perfect position to develop a prototype for online learning - a prototype that allows us to keep education going! 

 

In terms of our journey with online education, we were the same as everyone else last March when the first closure was announced - we had little experience of online education. We decided back then to take as progressive an attitude as possible in working online and looked at the possibility of providing students with live classes. This involved training staff and building confidence in a form of teaching way outside everyone's comfort zones at the time. We developed protocols for teachers and students and organised a normal timetable. As skills and confidence grew, we were able to introduce new initiatives: (a) an online ASD class for ASD students; (b) an SNA support plan using breakaway rooms in Microsoft Teams; (c) a very modern online detention system which thankfully we never needed to use; (d) a system for tracking and working with students struggling to engage; (e) a homework club; (f) wellbeing initiatives such as assemblies, student of the month awards & online chess competitions; (g) a full set of online exams for the summer; (h) invitation days [for the incoming first years to attend classes for a day; for the Board of Management to see how the online school functioned; for parents to join classes and meet the teachers]. School ran as normal every day and teachers and students settled into the new routines. 


In September, when the school reopened, we decided that we wanted to hold onto this expertise and ran a training day in November to prepare for any future closures that might happen. We trained all new teachers and students into our system and now we are perfectly placed as a school to deal with the new school closure happening in January. The staff at ETSS Wicklow will run a fully functional virtual school during this school closure - the entire timetable, online! Of course, there are challenges to think about such as how we can work best with practical subjects, but teachers are showing great creativity in this regard and students have brought plenty of resources home to help improve the quality of their practical classes. 


The core points of our online learning plan are:

  • provide training for teachers so that they are comfortable delivering online classes and are up to date with the best apps
  • provide training for students so that they know how to work with the platforms and apps and get the best out of them 
  • think through methodology carefully - plans can include practical off-screen activities for sections of the class 
  • develop protocols for teachers and students on best practice for online learning
  • develop protocols to help improve situations where students are not engaging 
  • take elements of the online school back into practice when the school reopens (e.g. the use of Microsoft Teams assists real life classroom management perfectly)


We are proud to be pioneers in this new and challenging era and to be able keep everyone's routine as close to normal in an extraordinary time. Everyone at ETSS Wicklow is committed to making the most of this opportunity to work with an emerging educational model and it may well be that what is happening now will lead to changes in the way education works in years to come - ETSS Wicklow students will be ready!  

FASTEST GROWING SCHOOL IN WICKLOW TOWN

There is a great feeling among staff and students at ETSS Wicklow that something special is happening as this new school evolves. It's a school which embraces technology, a school which is ambitious to lead - not too many schools launch a national event in their first year of existence as ETSS Wicklow did in not only organising a Model United Nations event for schools all over Ireland, but providing training for teachers and students from schools across the country in how Model United works.  Our objective is to be the best school we can be.   

Another example of our ambition at ETSS Wicklow is our approach to curriculum. Look at the short courses on offer and you'll see philosophy, linguistics, dancing, guitar and debating - not to mention a newly created cross-curricular subject named 'Pegasus' which allows students time to work on cross-curricular projects of their own design - a creative space in a busy school life.  We hope as you explore this website that our objective to be a forward-thinking school is clear and that you will find our way of looking at education refreshing.  

LIVESTREAMING - THE LATEST INNOVATION 

One of ETSSW’s newest students, Ayah Mohamed, made history on Friday 23rd October when she attended lessons in ETSSW from the comfort of a library near her home in London!  Ayah was able to join her classmates and continue her learning while abroad.  

Ayah logged on to her live lessons in the morning and her first lesson was taught by her Irish teacher, Jake Firman.  

Speaking about her remote learning experience, Ayah said, ‘I really enjoyed the session on Friday 23rd and I'm really looking forward to live classes at ETSSW in November.’  

Thanks to all the staff who have embraced our livestreaming service which is also used for students cocooning or social isolating due to the Covid-19 pandemic - yet another great example of the innovative spirit at ETSS Wicklow!

 TEN OTHER INNOVATIONS AT ETSS WICKLOW 


1.       Model United Nations Conference for First Years and Second Years

2.       Students on the Board of Management - bringing student ideas directly to the Board

3.       Curriculum Innovation: (a) The Creativity Project (Pegasus); (b) Guitar on the Curriculum; 
          (c) Gardening; (d) Linguistics

4.       Multi-Whiteboard Room for group work and project work 

5.       Multi-Screen Room to get rid of the idea of 'the back of the class'

6.       A blended learning approach to screen time and screen-free time for use of iPads                                                    - writing and speaking encouraged as ways of learning actively

7.       Students on the Advisory Board of Studies to discuss methodology with teachers 
 
8.       School Festival - Concert, Sports Day, Social Time - Emphasis on Participation 

9.       Oral Exams in all subjects at Easter - let's talk about our learning!

10.     Debates involving members of the community (e.g. students, parents/guardians, staff)

ENJOYING LIFE AT SCHOOL

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