Virtual school tours help kids make the transition


Virtual school tours help children in the north and northeast to continue their education.

Whether students are starting elementary school or taking the giant leap into first grade, educators are embracing technology to make the transition a little easier during the pandemic.

Traditionally, children have been able to visit the school they will join to get a taste of the next part of their learning journey.

Current advice from the Scottish government on the transition during visits from the Covid-19 pandemic states that preschool children can visit their new primary schools, although the number of groups should be ‘as small as possible’.

Those moving from Primary 7 to Grade 1 can visit in small groups and these tours can be supplemented with virtual tours and other online resources.

In the last year, most of the young people who have progressed have had online transitions.

But principals are using a blended approach for the class of 2021 and beyond as they began to accelerate the transition for students entering school during the pandemic.

In Aberdeen, for example, young people were able to see their new school through a computer screen.

Calmer times used to introduce children to island school

Dr Frances Murray of the Nicolson Institute.

Dr Frances Murray, who was principal of the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway for a decade, said they took advantage of quieter times during the school week to offer visits to new students.

She also said these are complemented by a video tour they organized by the council last year.

Dr Murray said: “Usually we had two days where the students could come and visit and experience the school, but we weren’t able to do that this year.

“We have a slight advantage in that we finish at 1:15 pm on a Friday, so we are using that time to give grade seven students to take a tour of the school.

“There are a lot less people at school on Friday afternoons, so it’s a good time to show them around. Some of the prefects also stay to help with the visits

“They have to follow rules like using hand sanitizer, wearing face coverings and keeping windows open.

“It helps address any worries they might have about going into first year.

“Last year we also filmed a school tour with me as a guide and sent it alongside the tours.

“The video was also helpful for new staff to watch. “

Vincent Docherty, Director of Education for Aberdeenshire Council, and Lizbeth Paul, Director of Kemnay Academy.

Board using virtual tours to give young people an overview of the new school

In Aberdeenshire, Banff Academy has set up a virtual tour to allow new students to see what the school looks like inside.

It uses a system called Thinglinks which means that students can “walk” around the school from the comfort of their own homes.

The authority’s education official, Vincent Docherty, said they were using a mix of different methods to help young people with their school transitions.

He said: ‘Schools in Aberdeenshire are using a variety of innovative ways to engage children and young people in transitional activities, best suited to the needs of local communities and within the framework of Covid-19 guidelines.

“This includes sharing interactive graphics, maps and tours, video clips, photos and introductions to school life, sharing family learning activities so parents and guardians can play a game. central role in talking with their children about this special stage in their life, and – where possible – allowing children and young people to enjoy visits to their new playground and / or their classroom. “

Friends, virtual classes and QR codes

The Northern Alliance’s regional improvement collaborative embraces the use of digital technology.

The body, made up of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland and Island Councils, said the use of technology has made it easier for parents to participate in the transition process.

Audrey Buchanan, who works with the Northern Alliance, said: “In many cases, digital approaches make it easier for parents and guardians to participate in activities and we know that many schools start their transition activities early for. ensure that young people have enough time to settle.

“We are using research from the Universities of Strathclyde and Dundee to inform our thinking and we have a ‘transition center’ open to practitioners from all of our boards to share examples of what is working well.

“Examples include the use of Thinglinks, virtual classrooms, QR codes that learners can scan to ask confidential questions, online sessions for parents and learners, outdoor tours, and many activities led by peers.

Some young people take advantage of the opportunity to develop new skills, with virtual opportunities to meet ‘buddies’ and sample videos shared by younger learners asking questions with their older peers who return the answers. “


Perry A. Thomasson