During this challenging time, it is more important than ever to be part of a network; to have the space to talk to colleagues, hear what they are doing and share ideas.
Our WE virtual meetings are designed to support you during this challenging time. They are an opportunity to learn with and from colleagues across the country during this fast-moving situation. Discover our WE ‘Summer Curriculum’ for Trusts, Primaries and Secondaries.
Colleagues from Wensum Junior School shared their current practice during this week’s WE primary network call.
How Wensum Junior School are providing a high-quality, remote whole education
1. Balancing reading, writing and wellbeing. The offer from school revolves around a daily diet of reading, writing and THRIVE activities. The THRIVE activities, based on promoting positive mental health and emotional wellbeing, aim to ensure that when children return to school, they do so happy and motivated to learn.
2. Responding to the needs of their families. Some families like the structure of a timetable or online learning, others need activities which take them out of their homes through suitable, socially distanced, daily exercise or forest school activities.
Many families need a bespoke individual support programme and regular catch-ups with teachers to focus on wellbeing. Through the THRIVE approach the school is focused on identifying the needs for each child, developing or updating their individual action plans and sharing these with parents.
3. Focusing on trust and relationships with families. The school is emphasising that children engaging with the school is the most important thing – there are no expectations around work being returned. Instead the school is focusing on open, honest communications between staff and families, encouraging them to be honest about their struggles and the help they need with no fears of being judged.
4. Taking a personalised approach to communications. “There is no one size fits all”. Wensum Junior School’s bespoke approach includings online platforms, emails, delivered hard copies, phone calls and doorstep discussions.
5. Sending postcards home – and engaging children in this activity. Postcards are being sent home as part of the THRIVE activities. These have now developed so children who are coming into school are also sending postcards home to their friends.
6. Setting up an honesty library to ensure books (suitably cleaned) are sent into homes to support continued reading.
7. Avoid adding to the pressure on parents. Acknowledge that this isn’t home schooling (a conscious decision that some parents take and plan for) and it isn’t just online learning- it’s home learning, and everything the children do and share is equally valued.
8. Using remote learning platforms that match the school’s needs. The use of Seesaw is helping to re-engage and re-ignite learning at home. Activities and work shared through Seesaw can be linked to skills and provides a platform to provide validation/ feedback to families
9. Celebrating all home learning. The school is ensuring that they recognise and give value to all home learning – photos of baking, planting, phonics, writing, creative work and playing games with family are all valued equally by staff and celebrated.
Leaders on the call also shared other practical suggestions on how they are demonstrating their Whole Education approach
1. Use student voice/school council groups to share ideas and hear feedback from pupils. Host virtual meetings to hear about pupils’ worries or concerns around their learning and return to the physical school building.
2. Find ways to maintain your virtual school community. Primary leaders were continuing to build the community of the school through weekly assemblies, newsletters and video messages from the headteacher.
3. Find ways to celebrate and share the learning children have done at home when schools are more open. Preparing now means children will be able to look back on the learning they have done at home, remember it and know that their teachers valued them.
- One school was uploading work from pupils who couldn’t access the internet at home onto Seesaw, so when they return they will also have a portfolio of memories to look through.
- Another school is already planning to display children’s work from home on the walls when children start returning
4. Family meetings (suitably socially distanced) can support families to provide a remote, high-quality whole education. They provide an opportunity for families that need it to come into school and have discussions with a teacher to encourage and support the children on how to have meaningful learning experiences at home.
5. Draw on the support of your local community, who are keen to support schools during this crisis. Reach out on social media for the things you need support with. Within a short time of tweeting about children wanting to bake and the issues they were facing getting flour, the community was able to help
6. Find ways you can use existing curriculum materials to support a remote whole education with families. Filby Primary school in Norfolk have collaboratively developed the Filby 50 – the 50 skills that they want their children to gain during their primary school years – which are now helping families develop wider skills together at home.
Register your interest in the series to share your ideas with other trust leaders across the country and find out how they are tackling shared challenges.