|8 Sep 2020|
West Buckland is an independent boarding school in Devon, taking a genuinely innovative approach to education by focusing beyond the classroom and developing important life skills. Their alumni association, the Old West Buckland Association, for past pupils and staff, is aptly named a friendship organisation, and ties together the values developed at the school with a mission to provide lifelong support and opportunities through the flexibility of the ToucanTech system.
'These three months would have been impossible without having such a good database, and the ToucanTech helpline has been incredible.'
Amanda Reynolds, Foundation and Alumni Director, West Buckland School Foundation
During the COVID crisis, West Buckland had to quickly adjust to online teaching to students from 18 countries around the world, while dealing with the financial fallout due to restrictions imposed and the resulting economic recession. In response, they immediately sought to protect the education of their current students and the financial health of the school, in order to provide outstanding education to the next generation of students. Through their ToucanTech system, West Buckland set up an emergency hardship fund in a matter of days and the West Buckland community quickly responded with aid to ensure that the students’ futures at the school were guaranteed. They raised awareness of their fund through emails sent from their ToucanTech database, which resulted in an influx of generous donations to help support their school and its students. As a result of their swift actions, and thanks to the generous spirit of their wider alumni community, West Buckland has so far enabled 27 pupils to stay on in the next academic year, with the goal still standing not to lose a single pupil due to financial hardship.
Their communications during this time demonstrated the flexibility of West Buckland, who regularly communicated with their students, alumni, parents and wider community by using their ToucanTech system to quickly provide newsletters and email updates to explain the school’s response, using the line ‘Stay safe and stay in touch’. This message was reflected through their efforts to keep vulnerable members safe: West Buckland worked hard to provide essential services for their community, including assembling a team to manufacture PPE for North Devon Hospice, and helping out by delivering prescriptions and food shopping to vulnerable people who were shielding. They also made sure to keep in touch with their community, by calling vulnerable members to check all was well and offer a friendly voice, and encouraged people to log onto the community site and post memories and photos, helping everyone to feel a little less alone in the midst of a difficult situation.
Their fantastic response to the challenges that these last months have brought has been welcomed by their community, and the extremely generous donations to the hardship fund has ensured that students can continue to thrive at West Buckland, proving that a close collaboration between school and community will provide benefits even in tough circumstances.
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