How are schools delivering remote learning in a way the does not impact on quality or require continual parental participation?
Portland Place School, Marylebone, London, has been continuously monitoring the effectiveness of its remote learning through staff, student and parent feedback and, so far, the response has been positive.
Portland Place School delivers tailored learning through small class sizes and personalised learning paths, which led David Bradbury, headmaster, to say: ‘It was key for us to provide the same level of attention in remote learning as we do in the normal classroom environment. Some of our SEN students require specific support, as do those for whom English is not their first language; it was imperative that all our students were fully supported, and so we had to ensure the right style of teaching support was available for each and every one of them in their individual learning needs.’
With these requirements in mind, Portland Place School implemented a range of remote learning techniques. ‘We decided not to overcomplicate things to start with; we stuck with tools students already knew how to use,’ says Mr Bradbury. ‘The school already provides iPads to every student and many also use laptops as part of their daily school work’. Students were able to access all their work through Firefly other apps on their school iPads, which meant the normal school timetable was followed as closely as possible with constant communication with teachers.
‘Later, we decided to explore and trial video link platforms,’ Mr Bradbury continues. ‘There are many and we don’t routinely use them in school but we looked for stability, ease of use and security. We settled on Microsoft Teams and Zoom.’
A typical day at Portland Place School now starts with a live face to face registration period, followed by live virtual classes, reflecting the usual timetable. Work is set through Teams and Firefly. There are also over 90 lessons such as music being delivered to students across the UK and abroad each week, through live virtual classes.
‘The ethos of our school is ‘Happiness Gets Results’, so we wanted to ensure that the mental health and pastoral care of our students were not forgotten’, says Mr Bradbury. ‘At Portland Place School we ensure a minimum bi-weekly contact with form tutors and heads of year, in addition to the usual daily lessons. We consider the face-to-face element of teaching so important, and so class teachers also check in with their classes at least once a week through Teams or Zoom, as part of our programme to monitor engagement.’
Counselling sessions are set up on line and extra drop in sessions for students have been added so those who don’t normally see a counsellor will have the option to do so, should they wish.
When asked in the latest survey whether they thought the online work set was challenging enough, a large majority of parents agreed or strongly agreed. The vast majority also agree that their children are being well cared for while the school is online.
Find Portland Place School’s online listing here