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Research School Network: Learn-AT Home Principles Thoughts and advice on home learning from Learn Academies Trust and Learn-AT Associate Research School


Learn-AT Home Principles

Thoughts and advice on home learning from Learn Academies Trust and Learn-AT Associate Research School

by Kyra Research School
on the

The Learn-AT Home approach has been developed around some core principles that relate to the key priority of safeguarding health and wellbeing for families, and of staff and pupils. Bearing in mind that teachers at home may also be juggling childcare, illness, caring responsibilities and home-schooling their own children, we designed an introduction to Learn-AT home which identified some if-all-else-fails’ essentials that parents/​carers should try to secure as part of a simple, structured daily routine. These activities are not dependent on information being received from the teacher, and could happen if, for example, the teacher is not available:

  • Having conversations
  • Reading – for practice and for pleasure, and for information as part of planned learning
  • Math practice – e.g. multiplication tables and number bonds
  • Daily physical activity – using resources like Joe Wicks PE/​fitness YouTube videos
  • Accessing online/​TV educational resources
  • Helping with household chores, food preparation

Parents are encouraged to establish a simple structured daily routine to support children and family emotional wellbeing:

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In making decisions and reviewing the design of our home learning offer we have considered issues of online access, particularly in relation to disadvantage. Useful references include the EEF recent evidence review of the best evidence around supporting children to learn remotely, the Sutton Trust report, Social Mobility and COVID-19 (Montacute, 2020) and Dr Dan Nicholls’ blog, Urgent Action Required’ (Nicholls, 2020). We have taken account of teacher workload, data protection and importantly – safeguarding implications relating to online learning. The EEF, NSPCC and SWGfL provide useful resources and sources of information relating to safe and effective remote/​online teaching and learning.

Dan Nicholls presents some issues relating to home learning likely to exacerbate the achievement gap very starkly in this table:

Table 2 Mark 2

He suggests we create effective Distance Learning through the eyes of disadvantaged children throughout the pandemic; based on the following principals:

  • Accessible: High clarity, specific instructions, dependable in format, encourages routine. Limit all barriers to accessing and completing learning.
  • Sequenced: Ordered and progressive, does not assume high levels of inference or cultural context. Random content in the wrong order does not support learning and progression.
  • Proportionate amount: Is achievable, meaningful, and encourages completion – too much work will encourage opt-out
  • Engaging and compelling: Build in hooks and engaging tasks that encourage return and continuation of learning. Reducing disadvantaged propensity to self-deselect
  • Human interaction: The more we can give a sense of human interaction and narrative with the more likely it will generate further motivation
  • Validation and feedback: Encourage further working by validating and acknowledging completed work

The vast majority of parents in Learn-AT schools can receive email. With this in mind, (and updated following a review on 16/04/2020), Learn-AT teachers use Arbor to send an email to parents/​carers each day with a menu of tasks for the following day, from which parents are asked to select three tasks in addition to daily reading and the other elements of the daily routine outlined above:

  • English and Maths
  • Other foundation subjects are included in the menu of tasks. Some schools are organising foundations subject provision around a core theme so that families with more than one child can manage the activities more easily e.g. History – Kings and Queens
  • Family challenges (see example attached)
  • Each Friday children are asked to participate in a MS Forms weekly quiz to evaluate engagement. The form includes a section through which parents can provide feedback to the teacher about the week’s learning.
  • From 20/04/2020 these tasks will be aligned with the new BBC Bitesize online learning offer to enrich provision and optimise access to high quality teacher input for disadvantaged pupils: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize
  • Also from 20/04/2020, teachers will make use of Oak National Academy lessons and resources to enrich and support planned provision: https://www.thenational.academy/
  • Families with no internet access are provided with paper-based work packs, including pre-printed resources such as CGP workbooks
  • Stationery/​craft packs are provided for pupils eligible for pupil premium to support lessons and creative activities.

Providing human contact and interaction and gaining feedback from parents/​carers

School have been innovative in finding safe ways for children to see’ their teachers during the closure period. For example they have recorded video greetings and assemblies and released them on school YouTube channels and Facebook accounts and sent photographs via school Twitter accounts.

Because we know teachers are missing their pupils and pupils and families are missing contact with teachers, this half-term, we are trialling a parents’-evening-style’ booking system to arrange online audio calls from teachers to children and families at regular, pre-arranged intervals. We have developed a protocol for this which meets safeguarding and data protection requirements and considers teacher workload carefully.

In order to improve feedback systems without exposing teachers to overwhelming individual demands for email communication from parents, we are setting up year-group email accounts via which parents can send their children’s work to teachers, provide feedback and suggestions which can be considered by teachers as they review and design their ongoing provision. Teachers are not expected to provide individual feedback or undertake marking of work from a distance. General acknowledgement of pupils’ work can be provided in the daily email and via publication via school Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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