Sir William Borlase's Grammar School

Teaching and Learning

From September 2020 - a COVID-safe school

The design of the timetable that we are using from September 2020 is influenced by a series of constraints. These can be summarised as follows: 

  • to minimise excessive movement around the site, to minimise the contact between students in different year groups 
  • to reduce the number of students each teacher sees in a day 
  • to minimise teaching time lost by controlled transitions between lessons
  • to enable staff to teach in specialist areas
  • to protect the breadth of our curriculum
  • to maintain reasonable start and finish times of the school day
  • to continue to provide a meaningful tutor time experience
  • to facilitate the continued running of student-led clubs and activities

A new structure to the day

The key change that we have made to meet these objectives is to move from a day structured around 5 one-hour periods (Tutor-P1-P2-break-P3-P4-lunch-P5) to a day structured around two extended periods and a one-hour third period (Tutor-P1-P2-P3).  In effect, by conflating the timings of P1, P2 and break into one extended period we are able to include within it separate 30 minute breaks for each Key Stage.  The effect of this is that we reduce the number of lesson transitions by 50% and facilitate a much greater level of control over these transitions.  The number of rooms that a typical student will spend time in over the course of a day is also reduced from six to four and the total number of students a teacher sees in a day is reduced.      

In overview, KS3 students have approximately 40 minutes of teaching, a 30 minute break and then 1 hour 15 minutes more of teaching, KS4 has 1 hour 20 minutes of teaching, a 30 minute break and then 40 more minutes of teaching and KS5 have 1 hour 55 minutes of teaching followed by a 30 minute break.  The 2 hour 30 minute sequence complete, it then repeats in the time previously occupied by Periods 3 and 4 and part of lunch.  At the conclusion of this second 2 hour 30 minute block, students move to a one hour lesson before going home. 

A new structure to the week

The extended lessons remain in the same classroom with the same subject teacher.  This is achieved by transitioning from a two week to a four week timetable.  In Weeks 1 and 2 the A and B week lessons 1 and 3 would be extended and in Weeks 3 and 4 the A and B week lessons 2 and 4 would be extended. 

The advantage of this approach is that the curriculum time dedicated to each subject remains exactly the same.  As it is built on a two week timetable it would also be straightforward to transition to the school’s standard timetable, either in the event of the COVID restrictions being lifted or in the event of us having to move to a Borlase@Home lockdown context.

In the event of lockdown: Borlase@Home

In the event of having to return to a full lockdow, Borlase would move back into the Borlase@Home environment that we so successfully developed between March and July.  We would continue to follow the school timetable, albeit with slightly shortened lessons.  Our approach would be based on the Google Apps for Education tools that our staff and students are familiar with.  In particular, we would use Google Classroom and Google Meet to enable our students to keep in touch with their classmates and teachers and to remain on top of their studies. 

The timings of our Borlase@Home school day are as follows:

8.40 - 9am Tutor time
9 - 9.40am Period 1
9.50 - 10.30am Period 2
10.30 - 11.15am Break (clubs and societies)
11.15 - 11.55am Period 3
12.05 - 12.45pm Period 4
12.45 - 1.30pm Lunch break
1.30 - 2.10pm Period 5

We make a distinction, during a Borlase@Home period, between active and passive lessons.  In active lessons, students have the opportunity to engage directly with their teacher and, often, their fellow classmates too.  Generally this is through the use of Google Meet.  Passive lessons are set through Google Classroom and do not involve direct teacher contact: they provide students with the chance to explore topics or questions more independently.  Keeping in touch with the classroom experience as much as possible is important.  For that reason, all students should have at least one active engagement with their teachers each week, in every subject.

We just wanted to write to thank you and your staff for the tremendous effort put in to continue to educate the children at Borlase. We are incredibly impressed with the ’Google Meets’, documents, videos and presentations (all to timetable) and our two boys have embraced the new set up.  A huge thank you to all your staff at this incredibly difficult time.