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Thinking About... (Summer 2020)

Turner prize winner Jeremy Deller, physicist Dr Emma Springate, artist Lisa Milroy and historian and writer Iain MacGregor were among the speakers who delivered eight weekly Thinking About webinars engaging pupils across a wide spectrum of our community during the 2020 summer term.

Aims

In response to the Covid-19 school closures the College began a series of online talks called Thinking About...

Our aim was that pupils from Dulwich College and partner schools could access the talks at home on their own personal equipment. The Zoom webinar function was chosen as it met safeguarding and accessibility requirements.

Background

Dulwich College has a history of inviting guest speakers who generously give their time to speak to pupils. When we built our auditorium we designed it with the intention of it being used as a public space for talks and performances.

When Covid-19 caused the sudden physical closure of schools in March 2020 we responded by establishing a series of online talks that students would be able to access remotely and independently. We promoted these primarily to our partners in the SSLP and also to other secondary schools with whom we have contact.

Resources

Turner prize winner Jeremy Deller, physicist Dr Emma Springate, artist Lisa Milroy and historian and writer Iain MacGregor are amongst the speakers who have delivered eight weekly Thinking About webinars engaging pupils across a wide spectrum of our community. Whilst being experts in their field, our speakers gave further exclusive insight into their professions, lives and interests which were often wide reaching and multifaceted. In this respect, perhaps the most humbling story was that of refugee Connie Abbe reflecting on her own experience of fleeing South Sudan at the age of seven and her good friend and former child soldier Emmanuel Jal.

Impact

In total, 57 educational establishments (35 of which were state schools) took part in one or more talks with 528 unique logins. Over two thirds of the logins (364) were from the Southwark Schools’ Learning Partnership (SSLP).

Feedback has been very positive with many pupils returning for for more than one talk despite the variance in topics covered. The ease of attending online has proven more accessible than attending in person.

Pupil Involvement

Pupil engagement has been key to the success of the Thinking About series. Each webinar features two students who host the Q&A.

Using the Q&A function provided with Zoom webinars the audience are able to submit questions which the student hosts read out. Feedback is that this is more comfortable than raising ones hand in an auditorium to ask a question.

All webinars have been recorded and where possible made available via YouTube to those unable to attend live.

Frequency

Following the success of the summer term pilot, the series will be continued in 2020/21 and expanded to further engage schools within the SSLP by supporting them to host their own webinars and creating opportunities for pupils to co-host and be part of the selections of keynote speakers.