The impact of online learning on schools

Earlier this year, the Headmaster was asked to give his thoughts alongside other School Heads across Melbourne on the adjustments to being back at school after our experience of distance learning during 2020. This is an excerpt from the article.

“We’re a boys’ school, and boys respond well to routine. If there’s an interpersonal connection with a teacher, and their peers, then a boy will learn better. We think it’s important for boys to be here at school.”

In 2020, the school changed its approach to “swot vac”, the study break between year 12 classes and exams. Traditionally, students spent the time at home studying, but after so much time spent learning remotely, the school flipped that on its head, encouraging boys to stay at school for that period. The results, Ross Featherston says, speak for themselves: Brighton Grammar achieved its best VCE scores ever last year.


For young boys at Brighton Grammar’s junior school, most of each morning was devoted to literacy and numeracy blocks, Ross Featherston says. “We’d then do a mindfulness session – we do mindfulness throughout the junior school – have an off-screen break, and then the afternoon would be about our specialist classes: art, PE, science.”

The school gave parents regular education packs with resources to supplement their sons’ learning. They also adjusted the program to parent feedback as the year went on. “We were mindful that for many of our families, mum and dad were working themselves, and trying to keep an eye on their six- and seven-year-old sons and their learning.”

Ross Featherston agrees that the interpersonal aspect of education is essential.

“[The year] fundamentally reinforced for us the power of those interpersonal relationships between teachers and students.”

The article appeared in the February 3-9 2021 edition of the Domain Review.

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