ONLINE teaching should only be used "where there is a genuine benefit to pupils" - a headteacher has said.

Keith Metcalfe, headmaster at Malvern College, said teaching over Zoom had been invaluable during lockdown, but that one to one teaching remained essential.

He said: "It is really important for a school to have a coherent message and that can only really be achieved with the whole school in school, and with face-to-face communication.

"We coped very well last year with our pupils not being in the classroom, but relationships are an extremely important part of teaching.

"It’s about pupils interacting with the teaching staff and also with each other, which just isn’t possible to the same level online.

"You can’t beat the experience of being on the sports pitch together or performing together, in terms of the core and transferable skills that each child learns.

"Our Boarding Houses are another key part of the Malvern experience.

"They become like an extended family and are where you learn to build strong relationships and develop a support network. You can’t replicate that online.”

Mr Metcalfe said the school had taken a ‘cautious approach’ to the first two weeks back at school and would be keeping a careful eye on government guidelines.

The school is also keeping in place some of the measures it introduced last year to cope with the pandemic.

He added: "We are testing pupils regularly and we have our own PCR machine on campus.

"Pupils are currently wearing face coverings in certain settings, although not in lessons or the boarding houses.

"We can quickly step up or step down measures as required.

"We have a range of activities at weekends and during last year we moved many of these outdoors.

"The pupils really enjoyed it, so we will be doing more of that.

"But last year there were also certain restrictions on extracurricular activities, which have now been lifted so we can return towards normality this year.

"We can bring back more of our music and drama programme and we are very much looking forward to performances again.

"We are risk-assessing them and, where we can, we will move events outside."