Following the recent Government updates, it has become necessary to update our stance on remote learning and specifically live streamed lessons. The key message at Gosforth Academy is for us to focus on providing high quality work set on Frog, maximise engagement and provide effective feedback to students. We see this as being critical to the successful delivery of remote learning, and appreciate all the support offered by parents with this.
We also understand the need to maintain contact with students throughout the period of remote learning, and we will be in touch in the coming weeks to support all students with pastoral and welfare checks. Students should of course, always contact class teachers or pastoral staff where further support is needed.
We too have had to react to guidance for the current circumstances we find ourselves in and our position is continuously evolving. We hope you understand that the developing picture in education requires us to develop strategies that best meet the needs of the students we serve. Our provision is therefore naturally different to that at other schools. We remain confident that our approaches will continue to support our students at this challenging time.
In answering the questions below, we hope that you will understand our approach to remote learning for students whilst face to face teaching is not possible and why we have adopted it.
How will students know what they have to do?
We use Frog, our Virtual Learning Environment, to set students their assignments. They should check this on a daily basis, as well as their school e-mail address. Invitations to live lessons that take place will come through this, and it is also a useful way to contact teachers to seek clarification or to submit work where this is requested. To access Frog, all you need is internet access. There is also a Frog App that students can use on their phone. We have asked subject teachers and departments to provide work that should:
- Be set using Frog Assignment. Instructions will be provided by teachers as part of the assignment.
- Be set to ensure that students will have a comparable amount of work to the lesson time that is being missed.
- Be, relevant, meaningful and ambitious with appropriate sequencing. This will be in line with the departmental curriculum plans.
- Offer the opportunity for formal assessment and feedback, in line with department assessment policy and statutory guidance. This could be through the file drop facility, Frog feedback, using the text box or by some other means.
How much work should students have to do?
We have asked teaching staff to set the work that would have been completed in class that week. It is apparent that student productivity at home can vary greatly, but teachers and pastoral staff will challenge those who fail to engage. Additional work will also be provided by departments to ensure students have enough to challenge them. Work could include content coverage, a range of class activities, assessments or homework provided for the rest of the group.
How often will students receive their assignments?
They will usually receive them on a weekly basis, with one assignment per subject (although this may be more for Sixth Form where two teachers share a class and deliver different elements of the course). This may include a number of smaller tasks, PowerPoints or other activities. Further work may need to be set as teachers deem necessary or if the work is better suited to smaller lesson by lesson assignments.
How will new subject content be taught remotely?
There is no single strategy that is the right one for all subjects, given the obvious differences involved in their delivery, and we believe that subject specialists should decide upon and use a range of activities to do this.
Teaching staff have been strongly encouraged to use resources such as narrated PowerPoints and these will be linked to Frog assignments. This will allow students to hear their teachers’ voices, and have key information on the slides highlighted, much like they would do in the classroom. Where this is not possible or deemed appropriate, students are urged to contact teachers to seek additional clarification on topics that are new and/or challenging for them.
We are constantly reviewing our provision and ensure that this is appropriate for the challenges that we continue to face. A Contingency Plan for potential future disruption has been created and current trials look positive for future developments. We are pleased to say that feedback from trials has been positive, but has also raised additional logistical challenges. We have tried to adopt an approach that is fair and manageable for both staff and students. This way, provision will be effective and consistent.
Departments have successfully developed the use of live lessons as one of many important strategies used to teach Sixth Form students remotely. Throughout, we have followed the available guidance and prevailing circumstances to ensure this is done safely for those involved. This has been trialled successfully in school, providing safe and effective learning as well as additional capacity.
We also feel that the latest guidance allows us to expand the use of live lessons to include Year 11 classes, where departments deem this suitable and appropriate. We will look to expand this to offer these to Year 10 and Year 9 students in the coming weeks. Live lessons are just one tool available to teaching staff that can improve the learning of students.
What can students expect in terms of feedback from their teachers?
We expect that teachers to provide formal feedback in line with the assessment policy within the department, meaning that students will be assessed at the same intervals as they would have whilst in school. This may depend on the content and stage of delivery but please contact the relevant department if you would like further information. Assessments will be set as part of the assignments on Frog or some other means, but this will be monitored by the Department Leader. It is essential that students and/or parents make contact with teachers where further feedback or support is required.
Other assessment and feedback opportunities will be provided in a less formal manner. This may include verbal feedback where possible, e-mail contact, quizzes and telephone contact where appropriate.
What should students do if they have difficulties with their work?
Students should make contact with their teachers using their school email account if they need any further advice, support or guidance with regards their remote learning. This may be to ask questions about the content or the tasks that have been set or because they have been asked to communicate with teachers as part of the assignment.
Why is the remote learning at Gosforth Academy different to that offered at other schools?
We have and will continue to offer a provision that is different to that offered in other schools; no two schools have exactly the same circumstances and rationale. We have looked to develop our provision to ensure that is in line with the latest DfE guidance, but more importantly ensure that it fits with the very specific characteristics of our school. This needs to be accessible, consistent and appropriate for each course we offer whilst being safe and manageable for each student involved.
We will continue to review what we offer, and liaise with other similar schools in the area, sharing our practice with them when asked. We will update you with any changes when they are put in place.
Why are all lessons not being live streamed?
Changes to the provision in this area have been deliberately gradual, although we currently provide live lessons to three of our five year groups. We will continue to examine the efficacy of this provision and the research in this field moving forward and plan the rollout of live lessons to all year groups where appropriate.
We aim to ensure that our provision is consistent and as effective as possible, whilst focusing on the key elements of successful delivery – quality resources and feedback, and ensuring that engagement is as strong as possible.
Why are students not following their normal timetable?
We hope that students will adopt strategies that are right for them, and in most cases this will be the use of a structured day of study. Live lessons, where available, will also take place in the normal timetabled lessons so these periods should be prioritised at all times.
We are also very aware that families have a varied level of availability of devices at home for their children to use, and that some are finding it difficult to manage the competing demands of their children for access to them. Having to be online at specific times for specific lessons means a lack of flexibility for students and for staff, when all lessons are delivered in this way. This has the potential to complicate learning still further for students whilst access to teachers would also be severely limited. This is central to why we have decided not to insist on students following their normal timetable at home in full.
My household does not have wi-fi and/or adequate devices at home. What can I do to make remote learning easier for them?
There are a number of Government schemes which we are involved in which aim to improve access for students in this situation. Please get in touch with class teachers, pastoral staff or Ms Stanley if this is the case, as they may be able to help. This support has recently been extended to include Sixth Form students.
How can I see the work that has been set and how well my son/daughter has been engaging?
We will contact you if there are concerns over the engagement of a student. This will be by the class teacher or department lead in the first instance, but the relevant pastoral team where issues persist. We have been grateful for the support and proactivity that parents have offered in response to such concerns since March.
Frog Parent also allows for parents to see the assignments set for students at any point, and the progress that they have made, so this can be a very useful facility for parents to use.
How can I best support my son/daughter as part of their remote learning?
This will be a very challenging circumstance for students, regardless of their previous progress and focus on their learning. You know them better than anyone, and encouragement should be supplemented with reminders where they are needed. Routines and accessing the help of their subject teachers is also very helpful.
All Year 11 students have received a full suite of Revision Guides and there are also a number of websites that provide resources to supplement the teaching that has been provided on Frog. Some examples of these include Oak Academy and the BBC who are offering educational programming for secondary school students on BBC2 every weekday. The following links are some examples of what is available:
Where can I find out more information about remote learning and the expectations placed on schools?
Please use the following links to understand more about expectations of schools and helping to ensure that your child is able to learn safely online.