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Spotlight On: St Albans School and the Hertsmere Vaccine Hub Project

Posted on: 03 Aug 2021

Duncan Phillips, head of DT at St Albans School, and Jane Roberts, the school’s head of partnership and community link, explain how staff and pupils have been supporting their local community – and the vaccination effort – during the pandemic.

At a challenging time for all, when gestures of support and goodwill can make all the difference - and with a pertinent school motto ('Non Nobis Nati' - Born Not for Ourselves) - St Albans School has continued to proactively support the local community during the COVID crisis, and the school’s partnership programme has rapidly shifted from its usual focus to offer assistance in several different ways.


Our science and DT departments made donations of PPE safety goggles to local agencies (NHS hospitals, GP services, care homes, and schools including partner primary schools) and the Sixth Form Centre and school kitchen donated food and drink to local food banks, homeless shelters, and a community response kitchen (feeding NHS staff, key workers, and vulnerable groups in the community).


Sixth form pupils who were unable to visit their usual partnership placements put together puzzle books and quizzes to send to partner primary schools and created folders of poems, letters and pictures which were sent to the local care homes, school alumni and elderly members of the community who were self-isolating.


Remote learning provided us with an opportunity to share school resources, lessons and expertise, and our head of PSHEE, who had been very involved in partnership PSHEE, adapted her remote learning lessons for our partner primary schools and sent out weekly PowerPoint lessons to share with the local schools. In addition, we welcomed over 100 local sixth formers to our popular Stephen Hawking Society lectures. The lecture club is aimed at sixth form scientists and mathematicians, and has been fortunate enough to attract speakers such as Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt, Sir Michael Berry, and Professor Stephen Hawking (a former pupil of the school) in the 15 years since its formation. As the lectures were taking place remotely, we were able to extend an invitation to sixth form students from many schools across Hertfordshire and guest speakers joined us from home and abroad. Another of our co-curricular activities, PhysicsBeyond (developed for Year 12 and 13 students with an interest in physics and maths and exploring the subject beyond the school syllabus) was also offered to local schools and pupils joined the sessions remotely via Teams.


More recently, a St Albans School parent, who, alongside her GP colleagues has been running a large COVID vaccination centre for the residents of Hertsmere, approached us with a request for some assistance. The medical team had been preparing the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccinations in the kitchen and transferring them to the tables in the hall for their large army of volunteers to administer, using homemade cardboard and sponge containers that were not fit for purpose.


The parent reached out to St Albans School’s design and technology department to ask for support in designing a container that they could use to transport the vaccines safely. The department worked tirelessly, with the assistance of a group of fourth form GCSE pupils, in designing and producing suitable trays, built to the specifications requested.


The custom-built trays were recently used for the first time and the response of the volunteer vaccinators was overwhelming. They commented, ‘the containers will totally transform the way we can safely deliver these lifesaving vaccines to our patients,’ and ‘it will allow us to work even faster giving the COVID vaccine which is so important with the ominous threat of the Delta variant.’


The design and technology department was delighted to be a part of this successful community collaboration and St Albans School continues to encourage and inspire their pupils to live its motto 'Non Nobis Nati’, Born Not for Ourselves.

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Images of the custom-built vaccine trays, designed and produced by St Albans School's DT department.

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About Duncan Phillips and Jane Roberts

Duncan Phillips is head of design and technology at St Albans School.

Jane Roberts is St Albans School's head of partnership and community link.