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Leading the way in online learning: how we achieved an online timetable

From the outset we looked to build a 100% online interactive teaching provision and it is clear that this term this has proved to be hugely successful.

Our experience at the end of March 2020 illustrated that the setting of assignments, pre-recorded lessons and black screens with an avatar were never going to deliver the high standards of education our pupils, teachers and parents wanted. TEAMS and ZOOM both provided excellent opportunities for online teaching and the new function of breakout rooms on TEAMS is an excellent addition to the armoury.

We were also acutely aware that pastoral care was going to become even more crucial and this necessitated a visual connection.

One of the deciding factors, however, was the consideration of what really makes effective teaching. Setting assignments certainly encourages independent research and promotes intellectual enquiry but it can also be sterile if it is not presented in a suitably engaging way and well scaffolded. Setting work simply transfers the role of the teacher to the parent and this is a path fraught with risk; it is also inefficient.

Most important of all is the child. Engaging with a teacher, asking a teacher for help and guidance and seeing a teacher are essential parts of a child’s learning experience and it was only too clear that live, interactive lessons could deliver all these.

The one additional benefit to easily forgotten is that the children can also interact with each other. This doesn’t replace the playground, drama, choirs, bands or sports field – but it is infinitely better than a black screen!

As we’ve all grown used to this new form of teaching it has been astonishing to see the speed with which new initiatives and skills have appeared. Our teachers are constantly swapping ideas on what really works well, on how to break up lessons, on how to balance screen time with down time. Online pastoral tutor periods have spawned a wealth of discussions and the number of online challenges and competitions in flow is inspiring.

But the real judges – it is the parents and pupils. And the verdict – yes please, it works well.

Posted on: February 3, 2021

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