173 pupils | Single form entry | Nursery - Y6
40% PP and 43% FSM with 5½ times national average of EHCPs
During lockdown, how did you manage remote learning?
We’re in a significantly high area of deprivation, so we knew that paper-based provision to begin with ensured an equitable offer to every pupil. We didn’t know how many had internet access; we didn’t know if they had data; we didn’t know if they had tablets or laptops. We printed work fortnightly for parents to collect and emailed those who didn’t.
We were open throughout Easter for the children of key workers and I suggested to staff that they use Oak in school as everything was being planned for us week on week. The lessons were ideal - the shorter Primary sessions were entirely suited to the amount of time pupils were able to concentrate for under the circumstances. Hence, we are mapping Oak to our curriculum as our strategy for contingency planning.
What are your plans for remote learning for the coming term?
Aside from being the Head, I also coordinate Geography. Out of interest, I did a quick mapping exercise of the Oak curriculum against our subject schemes and found that simple to do. Applying that to the whole school means straight away that takes volumes of work away from staff.
Curriculum cross-mapping allows me to get to know Oak really well and to understand what it has to offer for my particular area. Where it hasn’t quite matched, I plan to look at other Oak units because I strongly suspect that there will be other helpful lessons in there that I haven’t yet uncovered.
I love the fact that the lessons are not identified by year. This means that we can direct our high percentage of SEN pupils to resources discreetly without a loss of self esteem for pupils at different stages.
The more we get to know Oak, the more useful it becomes and I’m keen that I don’t want it to be something that we purely use with children who aren’t onsite. Ensuring that learning in school is really and truly married up to the work sent home for isolating children is where I hope we’re heading.
I’m increasingly aware that I could well end up in a position where it’s a class teacher who is out of school, and that’s when Oak will really come into its own again. So the benefits don’t start and end with home learning. I want the teachers here to use it to help to reduce their planning workload.
What sort of issues do you face around remote learning? What would stop you from using Oak?
I'm a big believer in not asking staff to reinvent the wheel. Oak is a quality product that has been designed and delivered by practising teachers - there’s credibility in that and nothing should stop us from using it.
Our biggest issue with remote learning is, inevitably, ensuring technology is available. We’re finding most parents are happy to use phones to watch the videos where they can, but we have laptops to lend out and we’ve bought 4G dongles for those without internet access. We’re in the process of ensuring that an equitable offer remains for our most vulnerable pupils.
How are you preparing pupils and parents for potential remote learning?
We're doing a lot of work in school and running small group sessions for parents and carers of our most vulnerable. In showing them how best to support learning, they are able to access support for themselves, too.
Parents have really welcomed it. Some of them have literacy and numeracy issues themselves and some have anxiety around education as a whole because of their own experiences. The threat is removed when I explain that they sit with their child and watch lessons together. It's not about them teaching a particular concept; it's about learning alongside their child. That's really, really powerful; it’s a lovely experience. The value lies in them working through it together rather than trying to replace the teacher.
And staff, how are you preparing them for remote learning?
Now we’re using Oak, they feel that they have more control in knowing what the learning looks like over time. It's now about making sure the work is sequential and not just setting work to be done in isolation.
It’s very much a ‘do with’ and not ‘done to’ process. That’s how we work as a team. By this time next year, hopefully we can return to class in the way it should be without panicking about potential lockdowns. But until then, if we put the work in now and we can get it right it will make the rest of this academic year much less stressful for everybody, which is how they feel too.
Some schools are using Oak in other ways - are you?
I’ll spend more time exploring Oak as I know there are even more things we could be utilising it for than we are doing with remote learning preparation.
I've been putting together a map of what children haven't been taught over the summer term against the Oak offer in the same way we are doing with our curriculum.
Once I do that I'll be sending this home to the parents of each year group and asking them to watch the lessons over the next few weeks with their child. Then staff can reiterate this learning in their classes and we can plug these gaps in learning. I believe there will be a real benefit in setting homework or extension tasks and using it to go back to missed learning from the summer, even if it is only light touch. We can't cover it the same way, but this will give exposure to concepts that they've missed.
What have you learned from lockdown that will help you with remote learning this term?
Initially our learning sat in isolation and it was difficult for staff to differentiate easily at speed. As we’ve moved through the process from where we were to using Oak, we’ve learnt that we can make remote learning really fit for the learning we would have been delivering anyway. Staff are having to work in very different ways and it's incredibly stressful. Oak is supporting and enhancing what we were already going to do.
We talk a lot about staff well-being and then I have to go to meetings and ask them to do so many things above and beyond what they should be expected to do. Oak is an incredible vehicle for supporting staff well-being.
And what would you say about Oak to other teachers?
Take the time to get to know Oak, because time invested now is going to save stress and panic at the point you get a bubble or individual isolating.
We’re not in competition with each other, so if people are doing things that make life easier we should be sharing those, even more so at the moment.
Oak teachers are ordinary teachers who have been thrown in at the deep end as well, initially creating resources in an incredibly short space of time. I think the quality of the resources has improved from the initial output and the lessons I’ve used in the new curriculum are really very high-quality.
What else would you like to tell us?
It has given me quite a lot of confidence that, in an area of such high deprivation, we can deliver quality learning to children under these circumstances. I’d really like to say thank you very much to everybody involved. You’re doing wonderful things.