How to review your online learning provision

As schools remain largely online, at least until March, it's important to keep reviewing your remote learning offer, says this school leader
28th January 2021, 12:00pm
Rebecca Lee


How to review your online learning provision
Coronavirus School Closures: How Schools Can Review Their Online Learning Effectively

Remote education. 

Those two words encompass a whole world of challenges, from maintaining student engagement to supporting staff and managing parental expectations. Nobody is finding this easy.

Boris Johnson has recently announced that schools could begin to reopen more fully from 8 March. However, this is a provisional date, and as we don't yet know exactly how long we'll be teaching remotely for, we must invest time in reviewing and improving what we're doing.

What worked in week one may not be so effective now and, as our students' motivation and enthusiasm for remote learning wavers, we have to be ready to adapt.

Coronavirus: Making the most of online learning

Working out what works is tricky when you're teaching through a screen. So how can we make sure that we're providing the best remote education possible? The answer lies in constantly questioning what we're doing and being ready to make changes.

1. Use your engagement tracking data

The Department for Education expects schools to "have systems for checking, daily, whether pupils are engaging with their work". It makes sense to use that data to review what's working and what isn't.

Questions to ask:

Are all students accessing the work set? Ensuring that all students have what they need in order to access the work is a priority, and supporting individuals who are not engaging is the next step. This could mean phone calls home, encouragement, "how to" videos, setting up one-to-one support or adapting timetables.

How regularly are students accessing lessons? Are there patterns of engagement for year groups, subjects, times of day or even mediums (live and prerecorded)?

This might tell you that a department needs support or that there needs to be more live lessons or that you need to rethink what time of day lessons are scheduled for.

Accessing the work set is one thing, but how well are students engaging? What's the quality of the work being submitted? If students are watching recorded lessons at 2x the speed and then submitting an end-of-lesson quiz score of 2/10 then something needs to change.

2. Ask stakeholders what's working 

Remote education has created a complete role reversal - our parents are inside their children's classrooms and we are outside of them. So it's more important now than ever to seek feedback from all students and parents (your view of how it is going might be skewed by listening only to the ones who volunteer their feedback).

To ensure we hear from everyone, we're sending out a survey to parents and students every few weeks. We're using this to gauge how long students are spending on their school work, how challenging they're finding the work set, what their views are on live and prerecorded lessons and anything else they want to feed back to us.

We're also talking to our students who are in school every day. They're accessing the same work as students at home so we can get really good feedback from them about what works and what doesn't.

All of this information has been invaluable in helping us to refine our remote education provision.

3. Talk to other schools

As a school in a multi-academy trust, we're able to utilise our networks across the trust to share ideas and resources to ensure that we're all taking advantage of the expertise within each school. Our teaching and learning leads meet regularly to review remote education and find ways of improving what we're offering.

If your school isn't in a MAT, it makes sense to use local connections to compare notes with other schools and share best practice.

4. Fail often and recover quickly

We're going to make mistakes ('You're on mute, Miss!') - and that's OK.

Whether it's the way lessons are happening, or the design of the curriculum, we've got to keep pushing ourselves to improve. Sometimes, in trying something new, it will mean opening ourselves up to failure. But we're a resilient bunch, us teachers, and we'll keep learning.

Rebecca Lee is assistant headteacher at Wyvern and St Edmund's Learning Campus, part of Magna Learning Partnership

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