Is Virtual Learning The New Normal?

From video lessons to dramatic expressions, Luxe checks in with the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle to discuss life in the 'new normal' and virtual learning...
Virtual Learning

As the oldest school in Newcastle, RGS is steeped in history, providing academic excellence to its students for almost 500 years. 

Renowned for consistently excellent results, which places the school at the top of the North East’s independent schools’ league table, the RGS is a place where aspirations are high and opportunities are endless.

Students go on to study highly selective courses at the most sought-after universities, but also leave the school realising that life outside the classroom has been equally fulfilling. 

One of the many benefits of the school’s exceptional history is that it has the confidence and resilience drawn from weathering previous storms. RGS was last mandated by the Government to close in 1939, when the school in Jesmond became the North East’s regional war room and a beacon for the North East region.

Decades later, 2020 has presented tremendous challenges but they have quickly transformed their model of teaching so that they now have the ability to deliver their full curriculum virtually. 

Despite what has been an unparalleled year for schools across the country, RGS rose to the challenge through lockdown and beyond to deliver exceptional remote learning and impressive online support. 

We very quickly developed our digital competencies and taught the full curriculum through Microsoft Teams, ensuring the benefits of personalised and live teaching, as well as essential peer to peer interaction, albeit in a virtual environment.

“As in so many organisations that have had to adapt in the face of this unprecedented change, the learning curve has been steep. However, equally our outstanding teachers did what they do best; they engaged, inspired, encouraged and challenged our students, albeit through the medium of a screen.

“Our students have responded with their typical enthusiasm and insatiable hunger to learn; their positive attitude exemplifies the culture at RGS.”  Says Geoffrey Stanford, Headmaster

Having built expertise, the next stage in the transformation for RGS was to develop outstanding teaching whether students are learning from home or learning in school.

In this new uncertain world of changing restrictions, all schools will need to adapt to this inevitable scenario, and the RGS has worked hard to keep ahead in such a fast changing environment. 

The RGS proactively shares its learnings with local state schools, with the hopes to raise aspiration and attainment across the whole of the North East.

In a year like no other, a number of historic traditions at RGS have been transformed. The ‘Class of 2020’ experienced a virtual graduation, there have been remote speeches, prize giving, sports’ award celebrations and online parents’ conferences.

Less conventionally, there has been virtual kitchen discos, remote House competitions and highly creative online sports’ challenges, not to mention the most inspiring philanthropic efforts to support the region, including their bursary students during severe hardship. The school has worked hard to ensure that all students continue to benefit from the rich experience of school, and all that an education at RGS has to offer. 

“Looking ahead, RGS is focussed on giving our students continuity, consistency, a full curriculum and broad extra-curricular opportunities. Our students will undoubtedly be the generation of the pandemic, but I am determined they will also realise the rich benefits of a revolution in virtual learning.”  Says Geoffrey. 

The Royal Grammar School Newcastle is looking forward to holding its first ever Virtual Open Day on Saturday, 14 November, where the school will showcase its digital expertise to demonstrate that there really is more to life at the RGS.  


For more information visit, rgs.newcastle.sch.uk

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