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National award for Priestley teachers who provided online learning community during pandemic

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TWO teachers Priestley College, Warrington, have won a national award recognising how they were able to maintain standards of education during the pandemic by creating a community of online learners.

The Sixth Form College’s Association Awards celebrate outstanding practice across the country and Priestley was successful in the ‘Covid Above and Beyond’ category.



Sarah Graham, Assistant Principal for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, oversaw Priestley’s efforts to maintain standards during difficult months of lockdown, but the award was in special recognition of the efforts of tutors Wendy Winnard and Michael Grainger.
Together they helped create a community of more than 2,000 online learners, allowing people of all ages to continue their education.
“At a time when members of the Priestley community could have felt isolated, Michael and Wendy helped unite us all in a way that meant we all felt supported and inspired,” said Sarah.
“We are all grateful for, and humbled by, their efforts as they really did go above and beyond during such a difficult time.”
Wendy, a Chemistry teacher, and Music teacher Michael stepped up to help when the nation found out schooling was going to have to be done at home.
On top of their own teaching duties they set about upskilling all of Priestley’s students, tutors and many adults taking day and evening courses with the college.
They acted so quickly that everyone was ready for online learning from day one of lockdown.
“Our job was to give everyone the tools they needed to ensure they could continue to learn during the crisis,” said Wendy.
The dynamic duo created instructional videos to cover the basics of online teaching and learning, offered twice weekly professional development sessions as well as daily 30-minute lunchtime drop-ins.
During lockdown Michael was also offering one-to-one support from the safe confines of his garden shed.
They created a bespoke professional development website for Priestley staff and an online hub where teachers shared good practice.
Priestley now has 600 active Google classrooms, which during homeschooling saw an average of 300 posts per day and 4,000 documents shared daily – the record being 15,000 on 25th January.
“Education was especially important for our students during periods of lockdown as it gave them some much-needed structure,” said Michael.

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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