Student Stories: Sally Welton, student-teacher caring for key worker children

Sally Welton is a mature student at Herts currently studying a one-year School Direct (Salaried) course, as she pursues a career as a primary school teacher. With children of her own, Sally tells us how she has adapted to remote working and online learning while juggling family life during the Coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 Impact

How has COVID-19 impacted your university experience/work?

My training school experience halted abruptly following instruction from the University to suspend all training placements. I completed 4 out of 6 weeks. My school was stricken with staff absence from isolating staff to those who were shielding. Some children were also absent which reduced class sizes. It was also apparent that some children were suffering from anxiety around the uncertainty of the situation.

How have you adapted to the challenges imposed by COVID-19?

My training experience has taken a drastic change in direction and instead of teaching in a classroom I am now delivering learning online and feeding back to children via remote resources. I am currently ‘observing’ as many lessons as possible and joining webinars/podcasts to continue to develop my teaching experience.

My training has taken a new direction in the use of IT and teaching. I am having to adapt the way I teach and feedback to pupils.

Our University seminars are now delivered online by lecturers at Herts. We are all having to learn new ways to teach and deliver lessons.

Adapting to remote working

How have you found staying in your placement during this difficult time?

Unfortunately, many of my mentors and tutors have been forced to self-isolate. This has meant all deadlines have had to be delivered and assessed online without face to face dialogue.

Although I am not in school daily to teach, I am part of the ‘teaching rota’ to teach keyworker children. My contribution to school life has changed significantly but I am keeping in the loop with planning and delivering twice weekly home learning grids for children to complete.

Have you taken on any new responsibilities since the lockdown?

I am liaising with parents daily as we have a dedicated email address set up for any queries regarding home learning.

I am also monitoring and allocating reading books on our online resource Bug Club. Last week we made a video from all the staff at Garden Fields School to say ‘hello’ to our classes.

I have also taken on the project of liaising with our feeder nurseries for our new EYFS children who will start school in September. Ordinarily we would be visiting these children in their setting but as it stands, we are having to contact the nursery schools and childcare provisions to make alternative arrangements to help them transition to mainstream school as smooth as possible.

Support and staying connected

How have you stayed connected to your course, tutors and classmates?

The University have been fantastic in keeping us updated with our course and where possible, our timetable is being met in the way it was originally planned but just via a different medium. My seminar group have a WhatsApp group, so we keep in touch via this.

Julia Mackintosh has been absolutely amazing and answered all of my many questions as the weeks have progressed! She has kept us updated with any changes and reassured us throughout what is a very unnerving time as we are so close to completing what has been a very intense year.

What support have you had from the University/your placement?

I am very fortunate and have had as much support as I could possibly need from both the University and my training school. My training school have kept me informed of my teaching responsibilities and expectations. We have regular meetings and email updates from our SLT and Phase Leaders. Herts lecturers have been superb in delivering our lectures in what are quite extraordinary times.

Special shout out to John Mower who delivered a fantastic and thoroughly engaging 3-hour maths seminar even though he claimed to be a self-confessed technophobe! He did brilliantly and we all loved it!

Community and Personal life

How has COVID-19 impacted your personal life?

Having been hospitalised with pneumonia before, I have been a little anxious about transmission of the virus when in school and teaching key worker children. However, I actually think I may have had it as I was very poorly in March with all the symptoms – 5 weeks later and I still have no taste or smell!

How have you been keeping busy?

The pandemic hasn’t impacted my personal and community life any more than anyone else, but we are all adapting to new routines!

We had to collect my son from his university early, but it is nice to have him home – the house feels complete again! Although not in school I have had more than enough to keep myself busy with working from home and supporting my 13 and 15-year-old son and daughter with their home learning. I am also fortunate to have a dog, so we walk him frequently which keeps us active.

Advice for others during this time?

Stay home but keep connected.


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