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Pupils thank teachers at King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy for lockdown support

Mackenzie Stocker, Jake Smith and Ellie Brown are all studying in their final year at King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy. We recently asked them how they have found the experience of learning through a pandemic and how the school has supported them during the period of lockdown.

From left to right: Mackenzie Stocker, Jake Smith and Ellie Brown

Mackenzie and Ellie have been learning remotely using Microsoft Teams to access their lessons and schoolwork, whilst Jake has spent most of his time in the school building, albeit in a very different way to usual and still using Microsoft Teams within the classroom environment. Jake comments: “Remote learning has had its positives and negatives. There has been more flexibility, meaning if we get really stuck on something, we can always replay any videos and return to it at another time, but there are lots of distractions at home and so I prefer being in school where I can have more structure”.

Jake moved to Birmingham from Liverpool and when searching for a secondary school he says it was the open evening at Balaam Wood Academy which helped to make his decision. “Everyone was so welcoming and friendly at the open evening. I was nervous as I had not only come from a different school, but from a different city, however I immediately felt more relaxed after speaking to a few of the teachers and having a walk around the classrooms. I left the event feeling like I was already a part of the community and knew that Balaam Wood would be my first choice”.

The common theme that emerged from talking to these pupils was how supported by the staff they have felt throughout lockdown. Mackenzie said “Here at Balaam Wood Academy, I feel like I am more than just a number or another pupil. As we are a small school, I feel more connected to the teachers. I don’t feel like you would get that as much in a bigger school”.

Balaam Wood Academy has a reputation for being able to offer and help and support to its pupils and the wider community. Mackenzie went on to say, “Whenever I am feeling stressed out about a subject or even a situation away from school, I feel confident that I can approach my teachers and they will listen and will try to help me to resolve any issues”.

Ellie’s younger brother started the school in Year 7 this year. He has autism and had previously struggled at his primary school as he didn’t really get the extra attention he needed. “Since arriving at Balaam Wood he has commented about how much he now enjoys learning and the help he receives”.

Mackenzie is Head Girl at the school, and when asked why she wanted this position, she responded: “I wanted to be able to help give a pupil’s perspective to staff members and report back on anything that may or may not be working, to put ideas forward for initiatives taking place within the school and to be an approachable face for my peers to contact if they were upset or needed advice from someone other than a teacher”. She also attends meetings with the Student Council and said “I feel privileged to have this position and feel like it helps to make a difference”.

All three pupils will complete their journey with King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy this year. Mackenzie and Ellie intend to undertake A-level courses at local colleges, whilst Jake has always wanted to join the Army and so will be attending Army Foundation College in Harrogate, training to become a Junior Soldier. We wish them all the very best of luck for the future.