Research School Network: Bringing School into Your Home Rosendale Primary School and Research School

Bringing School into Your Home

Rosendale Primary School and Research School

by Research Schools Network
on the

Kate Atkins, headteacher for Rosendale Research School, describes the strategies her school has used to respond to school closures and continue supporting their students.

It is likely that schools are going to be closed for a considerable time. Schools had to try to create remote learning systems in a matter of days with very little time to stop and think. Not surprisingly, many schools sent home learning packs’ probably based on principles of homework. Whilst this might work for a couple of weeks, schools will need to do something markedly different in order to meet pupils’ needs over the coming months.

The first thing we need to make clear is that these children and young people are going to have a significant gap in their skills and knowledge. Schools cannot counter this with online learning. The act of education, as all the evidence tells us, is a complex one that involves being responsive to need and answering questions right away, to name but a few things which require us to be face to face with our pupils. 

In the meantime, however, schools need to think about what their pupils and families need right now and what the evidence says about home education. 

At Rosendale we have thought about six key principles of home learning. We think it should be able: 

  • To promote positive mental health and wellbeing in children and families
  • To continue to develop children’s thinking and reasoning skills
  • To provide opportunities for children to revisit and consolidate knowledge already taught to achieve fluency
  • To provide entertainment for children so that adults can work
  • To promote positive family relationships
  • To maintain the community of Rosendale Primary School

We wrote to our families to give them some guidance about, including an initial suggested timetable (see below) to provide structure for pupils who are used to their days being mapped out for them. However, we also advised parents to give their children the opportunity to have some control over when they do things to make it easier for them to stick to it.

Schedule Table

Every day teachers make a video explaining the work for the day (see our class blogs). For example, they might say Today’s maths practice is to learn the two times table off by heart” or The creative activity for today is to draw a picture of an erupting volcano and label it” or Here is a picture to inspire your writing. Write no more than 500 words about the picture. Remember to use conjunctions and subordinating clauses in your writing”.

As we do not expect parents to teach new concepts to their children, these are practice and consolidation activities. And we try and explain terminology as much as possible, e.g. what a conjunction’ is. 

We thought it was very important for the emotional wellbeing of both pupils and staff that they got to communicate with each other daily. So every day the class teachers upload a short video for the pupils to their class blog, along with any daily activities. We currently use WordPress and our YouTube channel, which we have found very easy to use. In the video they say hello to the class, explain what the activities are for the day, talk about the work the pupils have been doing, give tips on how to improve and generally have a chat to the children. We also upload a daily assembly (including singing assembly), story sessions and other things that pupils would normally encounter in a school week.

Class Blogs

But how can the children respond to their teacher? Well, we were in the fortunate position of already using a digital facility called Seesaw’ which describes itself as a platform for student engagement that inspires students of all ages to do their best, and saves teachers time! Students use creative tools to take pictures, draw, record videos and more to capture learning in a portfolio.” And that is exactly what it does. Every pupil has a Seesaw account and they can photograph their work or record an audio or video clip. The teacher then receives a notification to approve the work, which then appears in that pupil’s account. Staff and classmates can also like’ or comment on the work. 

We have found that this is hugely motivating for the children and already we have over 80% of pupils across the school (including our most vulnerable pupils) communicating with their teacher via Seesaw. It is also very quick and easy to see who has not been working for a few days and we can make a welfare call to check on families and see if they need other support. Of course, we are aware of the digital divide’ and the amount of access that our families will have either to wi-fi or to devices. 

This was all new to us and we knew that we were going to need to reflect and think about how we wanted to move forward. The Easter break allowed us to send surveys to parents and children. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the pupils’ responses were particularly heart-warming:

Maths is great. I like creative time because it is fun. Everyday I am learning new things. Today I learnt the words ‘castle’ and ‘moat’.

When I see you I know you haven’t abandoned me.

It reminds me that things will go back to normal.

They also made some great suggestions for how we could improve it:

Responses Table

By working collaboratively as a staff alongside our pupils and families, we have begun to develop a home education package to support children, families and our whole community to be happy, be busy, keep thinking and remembering and to value education for all the wonderful things it gives us.

Rosendale is always happy to support other schools and if you would like to talk to us please contact us at info@​rosendale.​cc.

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