Schools in the WE network have been sharing how they have been adapting to the ‘new normal’, and schooling during Covid-19. WE asked Oakfield High School to share their experience, and how they had adapted the curriculum to ‘support a successful return to school for everyone’.
Oakfield is an 11-19 School & College for learners with complex learning needs. The school strapline ‘Learning today for our tomorrow’ demonstrates the commitment to raising aspirations and the unshakable belief that every learner has the potential to succeed.
During the past few months, it became clear that as a community we had all been through some very different experiences, some had struggled, others had thrived. Time to reconnect as a school community was going to be vital to a successful return to school for everyone. Our re-engagement plan was developed to allow staff and learners the time to share, reflect, reconnect and enjoy being together again.
The curriculum was shaped around project based learning with a theme ‘All about Me’. Initially, the focus was routines and safety. Everyone in school needed some time to get used to the new routines, discuss their worries and learn about what being safe means. Next, staff and learners celebrated their own journeys, celebrated any achievements and reconnected with each other. Activities to build confidence and self-esteem formed an essential part of the curriculum at this point. An emphasis on developing metacognitive strategies to prepare the learners for the full curriculum was a ‘golden’ thread throughout. Staff assessment and dialogue was used as evidence on how well the young people settled back into school and determined how quickly they moved as individuals to the transition curriculum. The transition curriculum focused on engaging learners in a broad and balanced curriculum, where all subjects are delivered.
We decided not to deploy baseline assessments across the school to identify gaps in learning. As an alternative, teachers are are using hot and cold tasks to assess learner’s prior knowledge and celebrate the knowledge, skills and understanding they have retained. The allocated time for PE has been increased, to promote health and wellbeing in consideration of the current situation, where learners may be at home more than usual. In the transition phase, Key Stage 4 and 5 learners started their accreditation based curriculum and adaptations have taken place to ensure all learners will be able to achieve their qualifications.
To ensure that the impact of any further lost learning opportunities are minimised, we have developed a blended learning approach. School staff utilise Microsoft Teams to remain connected with learners and provide work from the lesson should a learner be in isolation. In the event that a ‘bubble’ has to self-isolate a distance learning package has been designed. This consists of the learner’s engaging in a full remote curriculum where a mixture of face to face lesson with digital work is set to support the learners at home. The distance learning curriculum also includes time for play and social opportunities.
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