The New Year was upon us, and with it the time to decide what to do about a major event in the GCA calendar – the annual Reading Competition in March. Our first thoughts had been: ‘impossible in a pandemic! Our second thoughts were: ‘Rather than do nothing, could we do it differently?’ If…
- …schools were interested, with so many other challenges facing them,
- …staff could somehow get students together to rehearse,
- …they could produce a video of the candidates performing, which could be uploaded onto a platform and which adjudicators could access remotely……….. then it might be feasible.
So we took a deep breath and started investigating all these possibilities.
I have to say we were delighted by the response. Seven schools stepped up eagerly to the challenge. In spite of having little contact in school, they found enough time to rehearse.
Both staff and students, after months of remote teaching and learning during lockdown, had become sufficiently familiar with using various recording methods to produce clear, confident performances, either from home, or in school with correct social distancing.
Colleagues on the Organising Committee pitched in in various ways, including the crucial job of liaising with the schools on the production of their videos and organizing these on our GCA Google Drive, from where our adjudicators were able to access them and make their decisions.
The experience was always going to be different from our usual ‘live’ competition: for the students it lacked the buzz of a school outing, the interest of hearing others reading ‘their’ passage and the excitement of the final round; there was no tea and chat half-way through, giving the staff the opportunity to network and learn from each other.
But instead the judges had more time to consider their verdict on each performance, solo or dialogue, and to write detailed, constructive feedback, which was appreciated by staff and students alike. Our thanks go to Miss Sarah Parnaby, Mr. Phillip Parr, Mr. Henry Cullen and Mr. Stuart Macaulay for their time and expertise.
We have all learned a lot, through and from the process and are glad we took the plunge. Although there was no formal prizegiving and applause, book-token prizes were sent to the worthy winners of each Section, and all competitors and their teachers deserve a round of applause for embracing this unusual challenge.