A Truly Virtual Education Environment for Pewsey Vale School

Following the huge disruption to education caused by Coronavirus in 2020, Pewsey Vale School made a decision, in October 2020, to build a virtual learning environment for its students, should the country face further lockdown measures.  

A Wiltshire secondary school with 300 plus pupils, Pewsey Vale is ambitious for its students on and off campus.  It believes in providing an engaging education, supporting students to achieve and personalised learning.  Excalibur’s specialist education division, Techs4Education, was asked to build a remote learning environment that could deliver on these values for both students and teachers. The project was completed during the Autumn Half-Term break.  

Whilst the school was already using 365 Office for Education, Techs4Education, facilitated the full roll-out of Microsoft Teams across the school to all students, teachers and administrators.  All members of staff were issued with laptops and Department of Education laptops were distributed to those pupils who did not already have a mobile device.  All Teachers underwent advanced Teams training.  

Working alongside the school’s teachers, Techs4Education created individual ‘Teams’ for;  all tutors, subject classes, year groups, Senior Leadership team, All Teachers, Admin staff and All staff.  Policies were agreed in the best way for teachers to seamlessly control the classroom experience, from camera and mute on/off protocols to preventing students from kicking other students out of a class.  A useful weekly report also shows who is or isn’t attending classes and how long they remain logged in.

Full training gave staff a comprehensive understanding of Teams.  This meant that  Techs4Education was able to utilise and fine tune some of the more complex features available via Teams for Pewsey Vale.  These include video over Teams and an integrated homework setting which allows teachers to set, track and mark homework for students.  The ability to measure individual progress is particularly important for students in year 11 and 13 who are undertaking national exams and assessments.  

Pewsey Vale had not predicted a further UK coronavirus lockdown in 2021, but it was well prepared for one. Parents have been impressed by the smooth transition to virtual based schooling this January and provided some very positive feedback to the Head Teacher;

“A huge thank you to you and your staff for such a  seamless transition onto Online Learning. At this incredibly stressful and unusual time, you have all met the challenges brilliantly.  I cannot thank you enough …. we feel so well supported by your brilliant team”. 

“We managed to login with no issues this am and had a well-structured day. Talking to my colleagues who have schools across Wilts, berks and Oxfordshire, our experience at PVS was far better than most, so thanks to you and your staff for the continued hard work”.

“I have to say that with the limited time, resources and in the wake of 9 months of extremely tough teaching conditions, I’m really impressed with the arrangements for the online learning, I can only speak for my son, but after an initial issue opening anything in a Browser, he has attended all lessons today and has actually enjoyed the experience. As a 13 year old, I think just being in contact with others, even in a virtual environment, has been of huge benefit and I see a much more motivated child than during the first lockdown. I would like to thank you and all the staff for your continued dedication to maintaining as productive learning environment as possible, and I consider my son fortunate to be at Pewsey Vale School!

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