Schools have witnessed unprecedented circumstances this year. As such, some of the country’s youngest pupils could be entering a new school year with only a few months spent in their previous setting. More importantly, transitional years like 6, 10 and 11 could miss a large section of their exam preparation. So, what does that mean for their ongoing education and your school’s learning environment?
Technology to support new learning methods
This year’s school closures have put an unexpected pressure on remote working, learning and teaching for many. It has revealed significant gaps in the readily-available educational technologies at pupils’ and teachers’ fingertips. It is clear the role of the school and teacher is as important as ever, but effective technology and robust infrastructure is necessary to bridge the gap between the classroom and home.
Do you believe the tools used to deliver learning in and outside the classroom — and the technology infrastructure that supports it — need some level of review, as a result?
What will learning look like, once schools are open?
We already know that schools will begin a phased reopening imminently, but how much of the classroom and wider school environment will remain the same, and how much will be approached differently? Will this year’s closures have an impact on your school’s longer-term strategy?
The pressure to keep children at a ‘social distance’ whilst learning will naturally have implications on your classroom setups, teacher’s interactive pedagogical techniques and collaborative learning activities.
At the same time, it’s critical to rebuild the social connections and academic motivation to help students excel in their new school environments. School leaders will need to focus on ensuring pupils feel as ‘normal’ as possible in the new environment.
Keeping the routines and processes of ‘before’ in place, as much as you can, will be critical. If your teachers already have their own preferred tools and technologies, it’s worth getting them to consider now how they can further extend their usefulness. Making more of the tools pupils are used to will allow remove some of the teething problems associated with remote learning, when it’s needed.
There’s been talk in the news recently of Scotland applying a ‘blended model’ to learning when schools return in August – combining part-time study in school with some home learning. This is a useful approach to consider in thinking about how you will manage the ‘operational’ side of remote learning – as you dial down time spent in the classroom, you’ll need to dial up remote support. Proactively encourage teachers to share the methods that are working within their own classrooms, so you can start to formalise your strategy.
The government has committed over £100million to boost remote education, with a particular focus on children from disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s worth reviewing the guidance to see whether your school can benefit.
Considering the wider community
As we get further into the phased reopening, it will be incumbent on the SLT to encourage an open, and ongoing, exchange of dialogue between teachers and leaders, and between teachers and pupils. It’s worth considering now the processes and communications channels you will need to have in place to make this happen.
More than ever, feedback from parents is going to be forthcoming. Do you have in place a robust strategy to receive, rationalise and action it? The use of parent comms apps will be key, as will making sure you have the resource ready to process what you’re hearing.
Assessing the national sentiment
At Promethean, we conduct annual research into the state of technology in schools, to understand how trends and strategies have evolved over time. This year marks the 5th year we’re asking educators around the country to share their opinions.
Whilst we recognise that in-class technology hasn’t necessarily been at the forefront of everyone’s mind during the school closures, we think it’s important to continue tracking trends and sentiment in schools — perhaps now more than ever. The past few months have reinforced the importance of teachers in the classroom having the necessary tools to do their jobs well.
What do you think the impact of this year’s school closures will be? How have you coped personally as an educator? Complete our survey to give your valued opinions on this, your school’s strategic goals and challenges, and be a part of our iconic annual report, the State of Technology in Education.
How has teaching changed since the pandemic?
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