Another term flies, or crawls, towards the end and so the next batch of government guidance on Covid for schools to digest and plan for arrives – of course it does.
One of the big changes is that close contacts of pupils who have tested positive for Covid will no longer need to isolate, only those who have tested positive will.
While this will be a welcome change for many parents, pupils and teachers who will hope to see less disruption from large numbers of pupils having to isolate due to one case, it will bring new challenges.
After all, with Covid case numbers continuing to rise, especially among the young, it seems likely that – come September and beyond – we should expect to see a handful of pupils from every class having to learn from home.
How will we manage to provide an education for those at home at the same time as teaching those in class? It won’t be easy, that’s for sure – but, as ever, we have to find a way to ensure that we’re ready for this in September.
Here are some ways, as a head of department, I am planning to do just that.
Online learning: How to handle teaching in the classroom and remotely
1. Parallel resources
We are fairly well organised as a department and have a shared drive with all our lesson resources neatly sorted, lesson by lesson.
What I need now is a separate folder in each lesson’s folder for the remote option. We can then populate this as a department so that everyone knows where to go to grab what they need at a moment’s notice.
2. Make use of what you have already
I have been saying since the first lockdown that our time may be better spent creating recorded lessons that can be accessed on-demand rather than trying to hold live remote lessons.
Because we did this we now have a bank of recorded lessons with annotated and narrated Powerpoints and Loom video, ready to go and without live teacher input.
What I need to do next is sift through what I have and choose the best version of any duplicated lesson and see where any gaps might be.
3. Borrow from others
Where I do have gaps in my pre-recorded remote learning provision, I will see what I can steal from elsewhere. Oak National Academy has worked with teachers to provide a complete curriculum for almost all subjects across the key stages, and I may be able to fill in gaps from this.
The only issue is that this may not necessarily align to one's own curriculum – the case studies and options chosen will be different, for example. In this case, I will see what else exists within our wonderful sharing profession.
With tens of thousands of teachers creating remote lessons up and down the country, I am sure someone will have what I need. We’re not in this alone, so let’s help each other wherever we can.
4. Make alterations to the curriculum
Finally, I will need to have a look at what we are planning to teach in that first half term and think about what needs to move.
After a year or so of trial and error, I have a better idea of which activities and which topics work remotely and which do not.
The planned fieldwork may need to move to the spring (I am a natural optimist) and those lessons on adiabatic lapse rates should probably wait until we are all back in the classroom.
Mark Enser is head of geography and research lead at Heathfield Community College in East Sussex. His latest book, The CPD Curriculum, is out now. He tweets @EnserMark