The latest national lockdown has seen all schools partially close, with those not attending school accessing remote learning.
With 83% of children at schools in The Stour Academy Trust now at home, the switch to remote learning, although challenging, has been an overwhelming success.
Across the eight schools in the Trust, 1,889 children and staff are currently using Microsoft Teams to take part in over 400 live lessons and access over 500 video lessons a week.
Part of the success of such a large scale move to remote learning has been the result of the hard work and preparation by staff. All schools in the Trust have been using Microsoft Teams since September to allow children whose year group bubble had closed to access live learning from their Teacher.
Rachael Howell, CEO of The Stour Academy Trust has made it clear that having a system of quality remote learning on standby was key:
“I believe that remote education, although not ideal for young children, is very achievable with the right planning and preparation. All schools were asked by the DFE to have plans for remote education in place at the start of the year and, following the March lockdown, we knew there could be a possibility this could happen again. Children have a right to continue their education during this time and our parents, many of which are working from home, need support and a structured approach to learning from home. It is simply unacceptable to have not planned for this eventuality given the events of the past year.”
The need for IT equipment for children at home has been well documented nationally. Since the start of lockdown, the Trust has loaned over 500 school devices to children and 20 Wi-Fi dongles for families who do not have access to the internet.
A Trust spokesperson said “We have worked tirelessly to develop our remote learning provision for our children and invested in the resources required to do so. Our children in Key stage 2 receive live teaching, delivered by their class teacher, every day. Our younger children receive a combination of live sessions and pre-recorded lessons. All children are set independent tasks and receive feedback about their learning and parents are consulted weekly regarding wellbeing and progress. Our support staff are also providing 1:1 video sessions to support children who require extra support for their learning and/or wellbeing.”
The Trust has made a short video highlighting its latest period of remote learning:
When asked to give their feedback about how the Trust can continue to improve the provision, parents have been overwhelmingly positive about the remote learning experience so far:
“I have not as of yet come across another primary offering live learning for KS2 pupils… So a massive thanks for this.”
“From the outset you’ve done the best you can, given the circumstances, it’s amazing what you’ve achieved. Listening in on my son receiving a full day teaching online puts the challenges I face working from home in perspective!”
“First and foremost, I’d like to congratulate the teachers and assistants in how they’ve handled the first week of online schooling. From what I’ve seen/heard of my two boys’ classes, I think they’ve done a brilliant job.”
Miss Howell was clear that the provision already provided was not the end of the story, “Parents have been overwhelmingly supportive and provide us with regular feedback so we can continue to develop and enhance the provision. We work in a partnership to ensure the children continue to make progress in these challenging times. Although we can’t wait to have all children back in school, we are excited to see what remote education can offer and how this can be further developed.“