Despite the current challenges around the majority of our pupils learning from home, we have started the term on a high by ensuring children both at home and in school experience the same quality-first teaching and learning they would get in the classroom.
This is as a result of the extensive planning and preparation we had done before the start of the year. We took the findings and insights we gained during the first period of lockdown last spring and summer, and with other Paradigm Trust schools built a robust plan of action which we could apply should we need to close and engage in remote learning again.
Our preparation continued when children were back in school, during the autumn term we investigated the best way to use the technology available, and our staff became adept with the tools they would need to teach remotely.
So when, with barely twelve hours’ notice, the official notification that schools would be closed to all children (apart from vulnerable and key worker children) was received, we were able to move swiftly to remote learning with a minimum of disruption. Now we are teaching with a mix of recorded and live lessons, including our fantastic RWI lessons as reading is our main focus and we want this to continue even though we are in different locations.
Our approach to teaching online adapts to fit the age group. The older children are more independent and able to concentrate longer for live and recorded lessons, while the younger year groups benefit more from shorter, more attention-grabbing snippets of input. As well as customising lessons to year groups we are also tailoring them to their learning groups so the work we provide is suitable to each child’s academic capabilities.
One of the major challenges during the first lockdown was the digital divide, with many families unable to access the online resources available due to a lack of appropriate devices and/or a reliable internet connection with sufficient data allowance. To overcome this challenge we have loaned school Chromebooks where needed, and purchased dongles and data for families who need them. We are also supplying non-digital resources for lessons such as Art and DT.
It’s important all our pupils continue to get the support they need, so we ensure pupils at home can get in touch with an adult throughout the school day via Google Classroom or a live video link. We are supplying the meal vouchers to families who are eligible, and our Pastoral Care team continue to support pupils where needed. Our EHCP pupils are able to come into school if they wish and our SENCO has arranged for support staff to provide interventions/extra support/speech and language therapy, as they would in school.
Lockdown is a challenge, but one we are meeting head-on. It is an opportunity to adapt and improve our teaching and learning, both in the classroom and remotely online. As we would do in normal circumstances we are seeking the most effective ways to teach, testing different innovations and then sharing those that have been proven to be effective with the rest of the school and the entire Trust. It is our goal to always deliver an effective, challenging and interesting remote learning experience for our pupils, so they can all achieve their best.