Oak Academy plans curriculum for schools using rotas

National online academy drawing up broad autumn curriculum with more flexibility to help schools bringing in pupils part time

Catherine Lough

online learning

Online learning through Oak National Academy is being planned to continue during the autumn, with a more flexible curriculum on offer that allow schools to "pick and choose" resources, Tes can reveal.

Jonathan Dando, a spokesperson for the platform, said that schools in September could be running "two schools" for pupils at home and in classrooms, and that under a rota system, the academy's approach would need to be different from the one rolled out this year.

Oak is exploring funding options from a variety of sources and an announcement is expected in the "next few weeks".  


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"One of the things we are really mindful of is next year, schools could have to run two schools. So they might have to run a school where there is a class of 15 in the school and probably there will be another class at home, and pupils will be on rotas, or someone could catch coronavirus and the whole school goes into lockdown for two weeks," he said.

"So, if you’re teaching Macbeth on Monday and Tuesday, you want to be able to pick up your online lesson on Macbeth on Wednesday. It’s not helpful if you’re doing Macbeth and Oak is doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

"One of the things we’re thinking about at the moment is how do we make a curriculum that’s as broad as possible and is flexible – so, rather than us saying, ‘Monday, you must teach this and Tuesday, you must teach that’, a school can pick and choose more from it so it matches what they were trying to do."

Last week, 10 million lessons had been accessed through the platform. However, funding for the programme next year is yet to be finalised.

Matthew Hood, Oak National Academy's principal said schools had raised concerns over managing teaching in school and at home. 

“So we are actively considering keeping our doors open to make a contribution. But we know anything we do would need to be different from the rapid response we’ve done to date, taking on board the feedback we’ve had,” he said.

“We’ve heard three things from teachers and school leaders. Firstly, give them more notice so they have more time to prepare.

“Next, create more flexibility in our curriculum to help support the different approaches they might take – we’re too rigid right now.

“And lastly, our curriculum would need to be a sector-wide, collaborative effort so it could align to as many schools’ existing plans as possible.”

Julie Carson, director of education at the Woodland Academy Trust, which runs four primary schools in London and Kent, said: “We don’t know what’s going to happen next year. But all the heads I’m speaking to are making plans for disruption and more online teaching. For example, there could be a local outbreak and we need to have a plan for that.
 
“We also expect to have fewer staff because of isolation and sickness. We have used Oak National Academy through the lockdown and it’s really helped us. So if Oak ran through the 2020-21 academic year, that could take a load off the remote teaching plans.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment. 

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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