On the 19th March schools closed their gates to all pupils except for two groups.
- Children whose parents are classed as key workers
- Children who are classed as vulnerable (with a social worker or with special educational needs).
Figures collected by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) suggest that in 94% of schools, no more than 20% of pupils are now attending.
For many parents and carers, this presents the challenge of managing their children’s education whilst trying to maintain their own workload.
For schools it may mean sending out resources and work for students, a process that could be streamlined by utilising any number of digital products.
Educators experienced in remote learning warn that running a digital classroom is much harder than bringing an adult workplace online and that schools should be aware of the potential pitfalls.
A digital shift may put low income pupils at a disadvantage
Not all homes have computers or high-speed internet. Lower income families are much more likely to rely on smartphones for internet access and children in these households may not be able to access sophisticated software.
Younger children need A LOT of supervision
The onus here falls on parents and carers to be on hand to help with switching on, logging on, reading instructions and staying on-task. Even tech-savvy parents will find this difficult if they are also required to work from home.
Brilliant teachers are not always digital experts
In some ways online lessons are similar to traditional classroom lessons but in other ways they are very different. For example, classroom management becomes a different animal online and the lack of visual feedback (to monitor engagement) can be a challenge.
Spending huge amounts of money on digital resources is not an option for most schools.
So what can schools do in this situation? We think there are a few things.
- Access free online learning resources.
There’s a lot to choose from. BBC Bitesize offers resources clearly divided into subject and age categories, YouTube’s Free School offers a range of educational videos and Twinkl has just offered free access to its resources for one month. Also worth a look is TED-Ed which is full of lessons from teachers around the world.
- Use messaging apps to streamline mass and individual comms
Most schools have nailed this area already but many apps are now offering ways to power up both your parent-school and pupil-school comms.
- Share positive news on Social Media
In a climate where bad news has become the norm, it’s become especially important to raise spirits (and your school’s profile) by sharing success stories from around your digital community.
This can be an incredibly powerful tool for teachers who need to communicate face-to-face with pupils. Google hang-outs for example enables teachers to present on screen, provide pupils with one-on-one time or alternatively reach a group working on the same curriculum.
These are turbulent times and no-one knows fully the longer-term impact of the crisis on the education sector. If you need additional digital support at this time, please get in touch.