Dear Learners, Parents and Carers,
I do hope that you are all keeping well and managing during this unusual period.
I am writing to update you on the school’s approach to providing work to learners during this period of home learning. I have also included a link to an online video where I explain with examples how our approach is different and where some of the resources can be accessed. The video should make some of the written detail below much easier to follow!
There have been two key principles driving our change:
1. We wanted to shift from providing ‘lessons’ for home use in the absence of a teacher, to an approach in which we design fun subject-orientated mini-projects that our learners could undertake - along with involvement from other family members or carers should they be able or interested in joining in.
2. We wanted the academic content-rich spine to be consistent across subjects, although we are mindful that new learning over this period will need considerable amplification and re-teaching when we all return to school.
I will now give more detail regarding the three elements of home learning then that we have decided to adopt as a school from today.
The BBC Bitesize suite
We would like all learners to make use of the BBC Bitesize suite of home learning materials that are being released each day. These include a daily 20 minute ‘lesson’ available on iPlayer / the Red Button on interactive TVs and some linked lesson activities on the BBC Bitesize website. BBC Bitesize release a weekly timetable that details the subjects being offered each day of the coming week for each year group.
The daily lesson on the iPlayer/red button is engaging. It includes a range of famous presenters as it explores three subject areas each day. They are released each morning at around ten o’clock.
After watching the programme, learners should then visit the BBC Bitesize website and click on the *new* ‘Daily Lessons’ button from which they select their age group and complete each of the three subjects’ worth of interactive activities for that date.
(Certain classes, subjects and or year groups will be given more specific guidance on the activities by subject staff- for example, Year 9 Science students should do the material for Year 10 learners as they are already following a GCSE rather than a KS3 programme.)
On return to school we will adopt a curriculum that re-visits and builds upon the materials being provided by the BBC Bitesize resource each day.
Subject based ‘mini-projects’
We are aware that the local and national picture is of many households struggling to replicate school lessons at home. In response to this our staff are no longer going to try to provide the style of online lessons that we have so far. Instead we will provide our learners with a range of mini-projects that explore areas of interest within subjects. Our intention is to provide engaging, interesting activities that help maintain interest in exploring new ideas- without expecting every home to have a trained teacher presenting information, re-explaining ideas, keeping learners focussed and issuing detentions!
The mini projects (as I detail in the video) are designed with the following in mind:
· They should be fun and engaging- linked to the subjects that our learners’ study but not necessarily just part of the National Curriculum
· They should be completed in 3-5 hours. Each will come with detailed instructions
· They can be collaborative if desired- other people in your household can join in and help if wanted
· They should contain a practical element- for example the project might require that something is made, or that something is collected from your garden or during your daily walk
· The projects might well ask the learner to communicate with people outside of their household- for example by phoning friends or family members
· Whilst they may include weblinks to videos, podcasts etc they can be tackled without the internet. (Fact sheets will be provided to help if necessary)
· We want to reward good work and celebrate it. Teachers will award subject badges for great project work as well as displaying work on departmental websites and the school website/twitter stream
Other learning materials
Finally, some subjects with some classes will continue to provide alternative materials. This may be for a number of reasons:
1. Because the subject is not being covered by the BBC Bitesize resource.
2. Because a subject or a member of staff has a particularly valuable resource that they would like to continue sharing as they support learning or promote interest in a subject
3. To promote high challenge or in order to push a particular student or group of students
We are clear that we cannot rely on learning that we had planned to cover in our school curriculum being successfully acquired through home-learning during this extended period of school closure. We are therefore strategizing how we can best review the material that SPA learners have been asked to do throughout the school closure period on our return as well as address the gaps that we find.
Finally, may I wish you all my best wishes for your continued good health and wellbeing during these strange times. Rest-assured, normality will return as will my boring lessons in my (occasionally) untidy classroom. May I say that I, as well as all the teachers in SPA, do so look forward to seeing your children in there with us.
You can watch my video here.
Dr Evans, Deputy Head