We are in the second phase of schools only being physically open to the most vulnerable, and we learned a lot about how to operate from the first one. So much so that we intend to try to carry on as much of the ‘normal’ learning that should take place, even if that is much harder when it is being done via MS Teams and Office 365. Below are some key pieces of information followed by the answers to some of the key questions parents may wish to ask. We appreciate this is not at all easy for any of us, but we are determined to be as courageous and rigorous as we can in our academic expectations and as collaborative and nurturing as we can in our methods.
Key Practical Information About Remote Learning
1. Children will have enough learning to do to fill their entire school timetable, but not all learning will have a live ‘in person’ session with the teacher. Instead the learning would be explained via a pre-recorded video, or very clear written instructions. Teachers are, however, available for contact and discussion throughout the day. Please see the table below that outlines how often live sessions will happen. The key takeaway is that only Y10 exam classes, Y11 and Y13 are having a live session at all times. Please see later in the document for an explanation as to why and what they would look like.
Year 10 Exam classes, All Year 11, All Year 13
|Live session, in person (not pre-recorded) from the class teacher every time, with some of the practical subjects having fewer, but with one-to-one sessions across the week instead.|
|Other year groups in subjects that normally teach 3 or more hours per week||At least two sessions live and in person from the class teacher.|
|Other year groups in subjects that normally teach 2 hours per week.||At least one session live and in person with the class teacher.|
|Other year groups in subjects that normally teach 1 or fewer hours per week||There may not be a live element. Where possible one live session with a specialist teacher who may not be their class teacher. Possibly in larger groups than one ‘class’.|
2. If learning submitted to the teacher is not as good as it should be or is missing by 10am the next morning, we will be putting a C2 for Home Expectations on the school system to allow us to track how much children have or have not been learning during this period.
3. The school day starts at 9am and finishes at 3.30pm, with ‘lessons’ on the hour or half past the hour. Please see the table below.
4. We are going to expect those in live sessions to have their cameras on so that everyone is clearly participating.
Following the first few days of remote education, will my child be taught broadly the same curriculum as they would if they were in school?
The short answer is: approximately yes, but probably not at the pace one would expect were children in school. Each subject will make decisions based on their understanding of the situation of the children and how it fits into their plan for the year.
Teachers will be working together to make sure that they are delivering consistently. Each week we send out a bulletin on a Friday to tell you what each year group is studying over the coming week. The learning will be set for your child via Microsoft Teams.
How long can I expect work set by the school to take my child each day?
The aim is that every child – each of whom would experience five hour long lessons per day in normal circumstances - will have at least five hours’ worth of learning to complete daily. Depending on the year group, this will either be in the form of five live sessions with a teacher (which will incorporate plenty of independent work), pre-recorded explanations, or independent tasks that prepare/consolidate their learning.
How will my child access any online remote education you are providing?
The primary method of access to remote learning is via a digital device using their school login on Microsoft Teams and Office 365. This is accessible either through the downloading of apps onto the device or through a web browser.
If my child does not have digital or online access at home, how will you support them to access remote education?
We have already distributed nearly 250 devices to the families of homes that have needed them. If it is impossible to access then we will work with you to make that possible, either through providing a device, assisting you with access to the internet, or if absolutely necessary, providing work packs to your home.
How will my child be taught remotely?
The proportion of ‘live’ teaching depends on the subject and year group. Even with the very best access to devices and internet, it is impossible to recreate the classroom experience directly and we are not going to try to. The way the children are taught is by focusing on clear explanation and modelling, followed by making sure that they are able to consolidate that with individual practice. That could mean a full 60 minutes of live sequenced activities together, or it could mean explanation from the teacher at the front of the session followed by thoughtfully sequenced and clear consolidation activities while the teacher remains available to help when needed.
What are your expectations for my child’s engagement and the support that we as parents and carers should provide at home?
We accept that this is a difficult time for everybody and that is going to be impossible for most families to sit with a child and work with them throughout the day. However, we do ask that is that families focus on the following:
How will you check whether my child is engaging with their work and how will I be informed if there are concerns?
Currently, each day teachers will be logging any concerns with regards the work a child has done on the school system by 10am the next morning. You should see on the Gateway app what the subject is and which teacher is concerned.
Each week we make welfare calls to as many children as possible, but we also will prioritise on any given day those children who appear to have been least engaged the day before.
How will you assess my child’s work and progress?
This will differ for each subject and across different year groups. However, general principles still apply: teachers will feedback on individual pieces of learning, children will take quizzes to assess their knowledge and the content of what is taught will be adjusted in our revise-revisit-deepen sessions based on the work that children produce. Teachers are also available online throughout the school day to answer any queries from children.
How will you work with me to help my child who needs additional support from adults at home to access remote education?
If you feel that there is a general issue with your child accessing the learning (which should also be flagged by the system for checking the quality of response as outlined above) then please contact your child’s LDY directly or use the email firstname.lastname@example.org
If a child is stuck on something specific and needs direct help from an adult, they also have the opportunity to raise that in any live sessions, in the class chat or directly via email with their teacher.
If we feel that a child needs a high level of support we will be inviting them to come onto the school site as a matter of course. However, the Inclusion Team will also be in close contact with those they already know will need more support and will work to differentiate or feedback on that learning in tandem with the class teacher.
Why are we not just having a ‘live’ school timetable for every child, every day?
Firstly, of course we want every child to feel as part of the school as possible, to learn as much as possible and keep a routine. We know doing live sessions will support parents in keeping their children on track and engaged. Live contact matters a lot for mental health also. For the exam cohorts it matters all the more; they need to be providing ongoing evidence to teachers that we can use to support them in getting as good a grade as possible. They also look likely to be taking high-stakes exams when they return.
However, it is more complicated than just having a full time ‘lesson’ every hour. We know that not every child will be able to access everything live and in the moment due to the lack of a device, difficult connection, or device sharing in households with more than one child/adults working from home. Also, just as, if not more importantly, live teaching is not necessarily the ‘gold standard’ for remote learning, but certain elements of practice are. In short, for learning, it matters less how, but much more what.
This is supported both by recent Ofsted guidance on remote learning…
…and by research by the Education Endowment Fund.
Not only does it take teachers a lot longer to prepare for online learning (they are currently reworking the curriculum again for the third time in nine months) but they need to be available to respond to children and make sure that there is follow up on what is and is not being done.
A huge part of the process of teaching is high quality feedback, about 90% of which happens in person and is impossible to recreate online. If we do it online, it is normally far more time consuming. What may have been a thirty second interaction with every student in a class there and then, can become a ten-minute discussion with a number of different children who get in touch hours later on Teams or via email. Teachers need to have time and flexibility in their working day to track children, assess their learning closely and respond effectively.
If we were to attempt to reproduce the full school timetable ‘live’ we would have to all but rule out being ‘on call’’ for students. That would be awful and counter-productive.
If we were to do nothing live at all and all pre-recorded, there would be no sense of connection or ‘school’ and it would become very dry and inhuman very quickly. Therefore, because we believe that the frequent assessment of learning, tracking and chasing are a massive priority, we have gone for a balance and adjusted the amount of live sessions each teacher may do in a week. Live sessions will not necessarily be full lessons, but the first part of the lesson will be with the teacher explaining and checking, while being there live to answer questions while children work through their learning.
This does not compromise the expectation for clear instruction, explanation, assessment and feedback. We are also encouraging teachers to collaborate as much as possible on the production of resources, or not produce something that someone else already has. So they may use both external resources or those made by their colleagues as and when appropriate.
Why are we using a school system that is normally for sanctions to track what children are doing?
One of the challenges of the last school lockdown was that we never quite got to the bottom of knowing for sure what had or had not been done by children. Now everyone is familiar with the systems and we are more practiced (plus teachers have schooling and nursery care for their own families), it is possible to chase and support on a daily basis.
When a C2 is registered, it is not as a punishment. It is as a way of us knowing who is able to be most on top of what is going on. Most importantly it allows us to tell parents whether or not their children are really doing what they are supposed to and of children knowing they are accountable for it.
If a child has not done work to the satisfaction of the teacher before 10am the next day then a C2 will be logged on the system. This will be visible to you as a parent via the School Gateway app that almost everyone is registered on and uses for payments. That should keep a record for you so you know what is happening.
Why are we changing the school day?
This is because we feel that both families and teachers will benefit from having an extra half an hour in the morning to get the household ready before being ‘online’ begins. We recognise how complex this is for everyone, given the need for lots of adults to work from home as well as children needing to have a space to learn from home. It also makes it much clearer for everyone when children are likely to be supposed to be doing something. There will not be an assembly or tutorial on every day and there is no ‘work’ to be done. The lockdown school day will be as in the table above until the first year group returns to the school site.
Why are we expecting cameras to be on?
This comes back to engagement and a sense of connection. It also means children will need to get themselves ready to learn and should not be sitting with their phone on their lap while playing on their games console. The latter being commonly talked about as a problem nationally. We will have protocols for this that teachers and children will be made aware of, but be assured that attendance to the meeting will be restricted to Kingsmead students and staff only.
How we get children to participate in learning matters. This is something that teachers will get better and better at and we are looking at the best ways of doing this. We want children to be ready to answer unexpected questions, respond to quizzes, or use break out rooms for small group discussions. Having the camera on should only be a start.