Rugby School, in Warwickshire, captured the judges’ attention through its use of technology to help students adjust to lockdown restrictions.
Lead judge David James said its online teaching and learning programme “stood out, not only for the depth and breadth of its provision but also for its admirable determination to make its resources available to local and international students, including helping children in Nairobi learn English and maths”.
Academic and co-curricular programmes were reinvented for lockdown, he added, “with the performing arts standing out as being especially impressive and popular”.
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the school was already livestreaming music performances and sports events – such as the annual Crick Run – so that parents could cheer on their children in real time.
The sports department also uses the latest technology to track students’ fitness, with each student able to access a personalised coaching programme through an app, which has helped them restore their fitness to pre-lockdown levels.
Investment in technology enabled Rugby to continue with a largely normal timetable within three days of school closures. Lectures continued online, while virtual music lessons started the day after pupils went home. The lockdown did not prevent ensembles from continuing to play and record, with the music department creating its own YouTube channel to share performances. And house singing competitions were introduced to maintain bonds for students who would usually be boarding together.
The school used Microsoft Teams to allow play casts to rehearse together. Once different parts were recorded on students’ mobile phones, they were “stitched together”, along with sound effects and music, transforming a planned live performance at the Edinburgh Fringe into a radio play.
Technology also helped the school to continue its outreach work with children living in the Huruma slum in Nairobi, Kenya, with Rugby students connecting online to teach them basic English and maths.