Saint Ronan’s School, in Kent, has transformed a tumultuous 12 months into a “year of wonder”. As well as finishing the year with excellent scholarship and common entrance exam results, the school also opened a new art, DT and computing centre to inspire pupils’ creativity.
Saint Ronan’s used Microsoft Teams to establish a programme of imaginative online lessons during the pandemic, and provided a series of “how-to” packs for parents. To give pupils a sense of continuity, weekly assemblies, daily registrations and pastoral one-to-ones were preserved.
During that challenging time, staff were asked to contribute something “extra” – from origami skills to a “Cakey Bakey” to PHeW (psychological health and wellbeing) meditations. The school organised daily photography competitions, riddles and stories, and a virtual paper aeroplane tournament to keep pupils’ spirits up. From online concerts to “cringeworthy” staff videos, the school made sure its cohort felt engaged, safe and nurtured.
A daily radio programme included “Thought for the Day”, chapel, housekeeping messages from the deputy head, the weather, interviews with staff, and poems and stories written by pupils, interspersed with jingles produced by the director of music. A daily TV news broadcast provoked hilarity, with house-point banter, competitions, challenges and birthday announcements.
Each week, the head accepted a challenge set by pupils, which saw him make appearances as everyone from a Marvel villain to a hero of the Wild West. At the end of the news, the head of art took on the role of weather forecaster, performing skits that included training her cats and making a face mask that she could keep on while eating.
Lead judge Mike Abraham said the “year of wonder” showed “a wonderful care of the development of the individual”, and he particularly enjoyed reading of the “outstanding scholarship results, the Saint Ronan’s TV and radio, the PHeW mindfulness programme, new arrivals at the farm and the many examples of staff ‘sprinkling fairy dust’ on areas of school life”.