Last week saw our first cohort of pupils collect their GCSE results, despite the disruption to our usual learning, there was great jubilation on the day of results with 97.5% of the school achieving grades 9-4. After such a successful year for results, we thought it would be fitting to look back at how our term of remote learning unfolded.
It was the end of spring term were disruption appeared to be imminent. 3 weeks before Easter was when we began our in-house training for both pupils and staff for understanding how to use OneNote and Microsoft Teams, the two staple products of our online learning. The use of Teams allowed our teachers to create separate social areas and workgroups, with lessons clearly set, dated and ordered. To monitor the success and likeability of our online learning, we sent our pupil and parent surveys to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of our approaches.
We began to rebuild our school day around these key points:
- To notsimply replicate a day that would exist on site
- To put wellbeing at the core of our offering
- To allow pupils to access the work from anywhere in the world at any time and under whatever conditions that they were in
- To ensure pupils continued a sense of community with the school and with each other
- To ensure that pupils and teachers would see one anotherface to face
- To provide as close to possible amount of teaching timeas when on site
- To ensure we continued pace with the academic delivery matching on-site learning
- To ensure academic rigour
- Toensure time for staff to prepare lesson, mark and generally provide quality offering
- Providing time for ongoing staff training
This led to a day where academics were in the morning before lunch, with 4 periods for KS3 and a custom timetable for KS4 with longer sessions. This meant we could still deliver 80% of teaching time whilst shortening screen time to look after the pupil’s well-being. The afternoon would be a mixture of well-being activities, group activities, form activities, house activities etc and every pupil had their own one-hour block reserved in the afternoon to have 1-to-1 time with any of the staff. This time was also used as time put aside for them to complete any extra pieces of work tot keep everyone afloat and comfortable with the workload. Below is an example of what our timetable looked like for our Year 11 pupils.
Microsoft Teams allowed each pupil to log on to a single location and have access to everything, all organised for them. Each subject was there, divided into sections for each lesson as they were delivered. Each subject had chatrooms for open communication that the pupils embraced. Pupils had their own folders and anything they completed in Teams was automatically viewable by the staff.
There were 2 guides designed for online learning, the ESM Online Design Guideline, which aided teachers with designing their lessons to include simplicity and variety, incorporating as many learning styles as possible such as videos, interactive activities, group work, solo work etc. The second guide was one designed for all pupils, parents and staff, which was the Working From Home Guide, this broke down the means for both pastoral and academic care, and included useful information such as year group timetables.
To reflect the lack of contact over lockdown, there was an Updated Homework and Marking policy put in place, more tasks were introduced that were automatically marked allowing teachers to instantly see where the areas where for improvement, regular feedback and low-stakes testing allowed for good monitoring and progression from home.
As well as the educational needs, we also understood the need to maintain the community spirit within Eaton Square Senior School, our Co-Heads Mr Wilson and Mrs Townshend lead weekly whole school assemblies alternatively by means of bringing everyone together. Our staff and parents also remained well connected through weekly coffee and catch up sessions via Zoom, this gave the opportunity for parents to share stories and provide more feedback on the remote learning experience.
There were some variations made to our lessons, in particular with creative arts, we combined music, art and drama into CAT (Creative Arts and Technology), during which the pupils looked at all aspects of larger subjects such as Greek Theatre, producing music, making instruments, poetry etc. Geography and History were also combined to take the opportunity to look at the subjects of both in a much more intertwined approach, looking at how Humanities shaped different places through thematic topics such as war, peace, resources and technology.
Since the pupils were stuck indoors, we sent them out virtually on a school trip each week to a selected location i.e. museums, parks and famous locations incorporating a mix of teacher and pupil led learning based on each trip.
As we reached the end of the summer term, the Year 10’s were allowed to return to school for a last bit of face-to-face learning before breaking up for their holidays. We also rounded of the term with an assessment week as we felt it was extremely important that the pupils had an idea of their progress and so we were aware of their areas for development.