03:26PM, Thursday 07 January 2021
Primary schools were put to the test this week as the Government u-turned and told them to switch to remote learning for most pupils.
After initially being told primary pupils should return to school this week, Boris Johnson announced on Monday that schools should close their doors to most pupils, with only vulnerable children and the children of key workers attending school in person.
Fortunately, many schools knew this was a possibility and had made contingency plans to switch to remote learning for the majority of students.
However it has still been a mammoth administrative task, making plans for both the students working at home and the significant number still in school.
“We still have about a third of the children coming in, which is typical for all schools,” said Gemma Donnelly, headteacher of Braywick Court School. “When people say schools are closed, we are very much not closed.”
From the last lockdown a lot has changed in terms of teaching.
The Government has made it legally binding to provide remote lessons with 3-5 hours teaching a day – to be checked by Ofsted.
Whereas previously children had been receiving Powerpoint lessons and ‘death by worksheets’, students will now attend virtual classrooms on Zoom or other platforms.
“It’s more engaging for the children when they can see their teacher and ask questions, and send each other messages,” said Ms Donnelly.
“They have taken to it very well, putting up their hand and muting themselves – I think it is setting them up well for the future.
“If it goes on too long there might be a drop in engagement but at the moment they are coming in willing and enthusiastic.”
Headteacher of Highfield Prep, Joanna Leach, highlighted the need to consider the mental health impact of not attending school – as children will lose out on the social interaction they are so used to.
“It’s important in these challenging times that we are reassuring, calming and positive about having to revert back to guided home learning for our girls and their families,” she said.
“The absolute priority is mental health and well-being.
“We all make sure that as part of the working week we all have opportunities to support each other.”
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