In lockdown one the school moved to live lessons after two weeks after initially using Go4Schools to set daily tasks per lesson – five per day. This move better enabled the students to learn but did require a steep learning curve for staff. Engagement in live lessons during this period was in the region of 50 – 70%. However the students were allowed to miss their live lesson and instead to work upon their tasks at a time to suit them, to accommodate the sharing of IT resources at home. This then did result in students letting work build up and become an insurmountable amount and therefore the school bought a lot of laptops, made classrooms in school available and moved to fully live lessons. This then improved engagement.
Through lockdown one the school bought 20 of their own laptops, PJ sourced 20 from DC, we were allocated 30 from the DfE and then Dorset allocated us their surplus devices just before the summer, which amounted to another 30 machines. So in total 100 laptops were given out.
To support staff we issued a weekly newsletter where we collated all of the tips and techniques that staff provided us with so that all could benefit. We also tasked Learning Area meetings with sharing this best practice amongst their teams.
In an attempt to raise engagement and to also track lost learning the school introduced H1, H2 & H3 codes (home learning codes in rising order of severity) so that non engagement could be tracked by both the school and by parents and the school then graduated its response; initially contact with the student was made, this then led to email contact with the parent, then a telephone call to the parents to see if there were any barriers to learning, IT / internet access was then offered and the final step was to invite the student into the school to work in a staffed work room.
Over lockdown one, the school initially catered for 25 students in school but this rose to 60 students by the end. This room was staffed on a rota basis.
In terms of tracking our students, weekly contact was made with every student via their tutor, this was then logged on the year group pupil trackers, which ensured that any students that we had not spoken to were then picked up by their HOY or PM. The vulnerable students were then also spoken to by their HOY or PM and if this contact was not possible the school conducted home visits. This ensured that we knew our students were safe and the pupil trackers were also invaluable for teaching staff as they let them know their students’ situation as they were updated live.
All FSM students were given supermarket food vouchers, right from the start of lockdown, so that they would not go without.
For those 10% of students that did not engage at all, the school introduced Extended Day once the school reopened, which was when the students were booked into a P6 each day and were supported in catching up. The school also staffed a GCSE withdrawal room to enable students to drop those courses upon which they had fallen too far behind on. And finally, the school purchased Tassomai and paid for Hegarty Maths as a support for students to fill their curriculum gaps.
While we deliberately did not start testing the students straight away upon their return, as we were aware this could be demotivating and stressful, we did meet our stated aim of Find the Gaps, Fill the Gaps, Fire their Motivation through our new focus on retrieval and no stakes quizzing.
This led the school to the position of no student being behind by Christmas. Y11 and Y13 also took their mock exams in November and this data showed that Y11 were the most prepared year group we have ever had at this point, whereas Y13 were behind when compared to a ‘normal’ year but were not behind for a COVID year group.
The approach to supporting students in school for lockdown two was slightly different and the critical students were accommodated in the Study Centre. The vulnerable students were split into smaller groups of roughly five students and were supported by a dedicated TA in a dedicated IT room (the TA’s preferred this option over them staffing a fuller room on a rota basis). And the students who would not engage were then supervised by SLT as teachers could not be used as they were delivering their live remote lessons.
In lockdown two the school moved instantly to live lessons, via Teams with students submitting assessed work either via Assignments or Classnote. Every lesson had to have a live element and the teacher had to be available for the entire lesson to answer questions and to support their class. The school also conducted developmental drop-ins (DDI) to support staff and to share best practice. The school again collected and disseminated best practice and top tips every week. Staff INSET was also employed to share this best practice. The student engagement in this lockdown, with this approach, was much more successful with 95% engagement at the start – only dropping to 70% right at the end. Several student surveys were conducted and improvements were made to the school’s delivery in light of what the student (and staff) told us; we moved to 50 minute lessons so that students had time to upload work at the end of lessons or to take comfort breaks, we started to use ‘break out’ rooms in response to the students missing social interaction and we encouraged and allowed discussion in tutor time as well.
In order to streamline the tracking of students completing their work (to take account of teacher workload), the school moved to single H codes and introduced N codes. Not being present in a live lesson was logged as an N. Not completing a satisfactory amount of work for the week was logged as an H. This meant that heads of year were provided with a weekly breakdown of their year group and their engagement. This then allowed themselves and the PM’s to engage with their year groups and their parents and to remove any barriers to learning. This also then led to more students being invited into school.
Vulnerable students were dealt with in exactly the same way as they had been in lockdown one.
Again extended day is being used to ensure those students who were behind, catch up. With maths, English and science delivering lessons to those who did not engage.
The school used a mixture of letters, presentations and assemblies to communicate with the students and their parents and a dedicated web site was set up for this purpose.