Where are our pupils?
I am head of a school for lower secondary education. We do have a lot of students from low socio-economic backgrounds and a lot of students whose parents are migrants. In the normal situation we do all we can to offer our students the chances they need. We offer a ‘prolonged’ school day after the regular lessons, where students can stay at school and do their homework. They can use the facilities of the school library, computers and there are several teachers present for support.
The Covid-19 pandemic abruptly put a change to all that. The government decided that schools were closed and teaching should be done online. Of course our teaching staff did all they could to offer online lessons. Although rather quickly a new daily routine was restored, our staff noticed that some students were missing, they just did not show up online. For our pupil population, being able to engage in online education is not self-evident… for a start, not all pupils do have access to a computer or laptop. Furthermore, their situation at home might not be supportive. We were truly worried about a large amount of pupils in our population. This was not only our problem, also other schools in the Netherlands were facing this problem.
How can we keep contact to all our pupils?
- consulting the overarching board of our school
- contacting the social workers connected to our school
- consulting the overarching Dutch organisation for secondary schools
- a quick inventory of the students ‘at risk’ was made by the teaching staff
- contacting the local government for financial support to provide laptops
- mentors of students ‘at risk’ telephoned and visited students at home
- providing a ‘lease’ laptop for students who need this
- with consent of the national Government, we were allowed to invite students ‘at risk’ to come to school