Learning Gains in the midst of a pandemic: 2021 Year In Review

It has been an eventful year at Bridge Andhra Pradesh. Despite the closure of schools due to the ongoing pandemic, a new online learning resource @Home was launched so pupils could continue improving their knowledge remotely. This joined the already successful Virtual Learning Platform which provided pupils with online videos of lessons so they could maintain the classroom experience whilst at home. When schools did finally reopen in August, everyone was thrilled to be back in the classroom learning together again. There were many exciting new activities for children to be involved in, such as the Co-curricular programme, and special events like Children’s Day celebrations. There were also advancements in teaching subjects for pupils this year including an introduction in coding.

Much of 2021 has been shaped by the lockdown and closure of schools in Andhra Pradesh. However this did not deter pupils at Bridge who continued to increase their skills and improve on their learning through use of the new @Home resource. These materials were developed to ensure children kept on the path to success and reduce any disruptions to their learning as much as possible. @Home includes easy to follow learning guides, designed to be used by a member of the household with a pupil. Each learning guide contains a short lesson with targeted practice and answer keys. All that was needed was to select your child’s grade and follow the day’s learning guide with your child, helping them complete activities for each subject. A homework assignment was also included and parents could use the answer key at the end of the guide to review and provide feedback for their child.

Many wonderful resources were created for children to progress through important topics in the curriculum. Scientifically-based Self Study Activity Packs helped pupils studying at home to practice and learn core concepts from the syllabus, and included sufficient problems, comprehension passages and other activities. Digital Storybooks, with hundreds of stories in our virtual library, kept pupils reading and developing their fundamental literacy skills – important for learning in all subjects. Mobile Interactive Quizzes with hundreds of grade-appropriate quizzes in multiple subjects, which your child could take directly on WhatsApp and receive instant feedback, allowed students to practice and retain what they learned.

However, the most important technological asset that kept children learning during the pandemic was the Virtual Learning Platform which has been recording video lessons since August 2020. The Virtual Learning Platform was introduced once teachers discovered that over 80% of Bridge Andhra Pradesh families have a smartphone at home. Each video is a Bridge lesson led by a Bridge teacher, recorded in a Bridge classroom, timed for 40 to 45 minutes. Pupils pause the video with the questions, solve, and then replay, with the length of the video lessons between 15 and 25 minutes long. All videos are available for pupils to watch as many times as they want and, as of August 2021, over 2,500 videos have been made.

One of the jewels of Bridge Andhra Pradesh is the newly launched Co-curricular programme, designed to give pupils a holistic education that pursues academic excellence alongside the development of character. Pupils participated in a wide range of activities from arts, to music, to scientific exploration. The Co-curricular programme gave children the opportunity to pursue their passions, and develop skills such as leadership and teamwork, helping them to excel inside and outside the classroom. Participation in Co-curricular activities often led to involvement in tournaments, festivals and competitions for many in the community, opening a whole new world of travel and experience that they may not have otherwise been exposed to.

There were also greater learning opportunities for Bridge Andhra Pradesh pupils this year as the curriculum expanded. Hindi classes, which previously were only taught in grades 4 & 5 were started all the way from grade 1. Computing was also introduced to pupils in 2021 as Bridge took part in the nationwide Hour of Code scheme. Classes from S1 to S5 learnt all about binary code and the mechanics behind how computers work.

Celebrations of important days were also a big part of life at Bridge Andhra Pradesh this year. On March 8th we celebrated International Women’s Day with this year’s theme being #choosetochallenge. Women at Bridge Andhra Pradesh are leaders and are inspiring the younger generation, helping them to challenge expectations and rise above. We celebrated all the female leaders at Bridge, who work tirelessly to support thousands of girls to become confident, empowered young women through life changing education. In August we celebrated independence day and pupils learnt all about the rich history of the country. This November we had our Children’s Day Celebrations and pupils were able to show off some of the brilliant work they’ve done over the year. There were also celebrations and special events for Day of the Girl Child, International Literacy Day, Science Day, and many more inbetween. We always look forward to celebrations with pupils, having fun and broadening their horizons.

Hopefully 2022 will be another fun year filled with excitement and learning all together again.