What has been the most challenging aspect of teaching at Lawrence during the pandemic?
We are a predominantly “English as an Additional Language” (EAL) school in Liverpool. Our children are great - there are traditionally very few problems with behaviour and we have very strong community links. Incidents that do occur are dealt with quickly through constant communication with parents. Between March 2020 - July 2020 Lawrence moved online using the school website and/or paper based resources - KWV children were identified and educated at other schools and all of our staff went on a rota to work with children from these schools while also providing either online or paper based resources for our own children.
Our pastoral team have worked tirelessly to deliver what our families needed, including borrowing school equipment and SIM cards to improve their on-line access. This often meant members of our school physically walking around to the houses of the children with vouchers and laptops. Staff talked to parents twice weekly by telephone about any issues they had, including obstacles to on-line learning.
Keeping regular learning going during the period that the school was closed was of great importance to reduce the impact on children’s education. However we understood that everyone’s circumstances at home would be different. Some families had one child to support while others had several. Some families had one device to share while others may have had more – and some things may work differently on different devices. Some parents might have plenty of time to help their children learn, while others would be working from home and may have had much less time and some children would be able to work more independently than others or need greater challenge.
Due to this we were providing a flexible approach to remote learning. We offered a variety of weekly learning activities across the curriculum so that children could work their way through as much as they were able, at a time that suited them. Daily or regular reading and times tables was a priority.
We wanted the remote education provided to be equivalent in length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school and would include both recorded or live direct teaching time, and time for pupils to complete tasks and assignments independently. The amount of remote education provided was, as a minimum:
• Key Stage 1: 3 hours a day on average across the cohort, with less for younger children
• Key Stage 2: 4 hours a day
Class Teachers posted daily work on Google Classroom for their class. This outlined a range of learning activities in the full range of subject areas and contained tasks and links to follow (in any order and at a time that suits across the week). We appreciated that some families wouldn’t be able to engage fully, and in this case we suggested they focus on key learning priorities to try to reduce the impact on children’s core Maths and English skills - Reading and Basic Skills in Maths were a priority.
Opportunities to join in with time-scheduled GOOGLE MEET events were set, for example Read Write Inc Phonics Live Lessons, Times Tables Rockstars Class competitions, Bug Club, Active Reading and Games, etc.
Throughout the day, further posts on Google Classroom add extra detail or examples as necessary and assignments will be set to ‘collect in’ a piece of work.
What were the plans at Lawrence for helping students catch up with "lost learning"?
From September - December 2020 the Recovery Curriculum, using our Liverpool Local Authority plans to catch up in English and Maths, was used extensively not to replace lost learning but to support the children by easing them back into school gently. January 2021 would have been the next phase for targeting children identified as having slipped further behind and as a result of the second lockdown we started in April 2021 using the National Tutoring Programme for recovery for more than 200 of our children. We used guided reading to support our curriculum ‘catchup’ from September 2020.
During the January-March Lockdown, if parents were unable to access the internet or did not have enough devices then they were asked to contact the school for support. Children unable to access on-line learning through GOOGLE CLASSROOM were set paper packs of work that met the current curriculum topics and requirements. Work was set for a short period and arrangements for more extensive packs and methods of feedback and assessment were arranged with each family by their class teacher. If parents required a paper pack, these were prepared and were collected from the school office upon request. To avoid congestion, a time was allocated by the office staff for you to collect work.
Class teachers arranged online learning to meet all current curriculum topics, subjects and requirements.
Staff used daily GOOGLE MEET sessions with groups of children to check reading, progress and to give feedback - children who were not on GOOGLE CLASSROOM or who were not in email contact with the class teacher were telephoned twice a week by the class teacher to check each child’s progress. SMT, Class Teachers and Mentors carried out numerous face to face home visits.
Written work was set for 2 weeks and arrangements for feedback and assessment was arranged with each family by the class teacher.
If parents needed to contact the school or their child’s class teacher for any reason, this was done by ringing the school or by contacting the school’s email or through GOOGLE CLASSROOM or the class e-mail each family was given.
Optional events and enrichment activity ideas were spread out each week to help keep children engaged and enthusiastic, as well as supporting their social interaction and physical and emotional needs - Google Meets and Live PE for example.
What pastoral provisions are in place now students are back at school?
There was a focus on the wider curriculum, especially PE from September 2020 - this was noted as a positive in our Health and Safety visit October 2020. We spent a long time going over the new Covid rules to help keep our children safe in school. This also involved the children operating in a new way entering and exiting the school, staying in bubbles in school and in class and generally making sure they didn’t feel like this was too oppressive. We have a specialist mentors who children can go and talk to if they at any time feel like this is all too much.
What tactics were used to engage, particularly younger pupils, with online learning?
Most children were expected to take part in daily lessons through Google Classroom. If accessing GC was a barrier to learning, other digital resources were available (some children have logins for Flash Academy, MyMaths, TT Rockstars, Purple Mash, Bug Club for example). Parents were satisfied that their child was engaged appropriately with these resources. Teachers updated and monitored these resources regularly. SMT “popped in” virtually and informally to reading sessions led by teachers and learning support officers. There were high levels of engagement, especially with our youngest children. Our PE teacher did better “Joe Wicks” online PE lessons than Joe Wicks - we often had between 70-80 children in each Key Stage regularly taking part in his sessions.
In general, how have our children reacted to the disruption of the past year or so? How has the pandemic affected their mental health and wellbeing?
Our children have been superb - we fully expected behaviour and mental health to take a knock when we came back both in September 2020 and March 2021 but our children have proved to be very resilient.