Teaching and Learning Update

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Dear Parents/ Guardians

We are delighted to have welcomed our students back into school and are proud to announce that despite the challenging times we currently face, our attendance rate is impressively high at 95%, well above the current national average of approximately 87%. We are very proud of the measures taken to ensure everyone’s health and safety and our students have adapted well to the new ‘normal’ practices including a one-way system, staggered starts/ finishes and bubbled lessons, breaks and lunches. Wearing of facemasks in communal areas is mandatory (unless with medical reason not to) and students have followed this rule without fuss, appreciating the importance of protecting the wellbeing of everyone in our community.

Now that we enter the third full week of the new term we wanted to take the opportunity to update you on key aspects of teaching and learning so that you can feel confident that quality of education in addition to wellbeing and attendance are the School’s priorities now, and moving forward.

Students spent a total of nearly 4 months away from school. In that time our staff did an excellent job setting work on Skooler (our digital learning platform) and providing regular pastoral communication to over 1400 students, all this whilst caring for their own families too at home. The AEN Faculty also provided an unbelievable level of support visiting homes and helping with the distribution and collection of bespoke work packs to those unable to access work digitally.

Despite this sterling effort from our staff here at East Barnet school, we fully appreciate that nothing can beat face to face teaching and are aware that although many students engaged fully with the home learning opportunities provided, there will be some, for varying reasons, who did not. We must remember that this is not just an East Barnet issue but part of the national picture in that many students have missed out on valuable education provision through no fault of their own.

Whilst we can not simply reteach the last 4 months now that we are back in school, there are many measures which have been put into place to ensure we provide a well-planned Recovery Curriculum to help close any knowledge gaps that may exist for some and help all our students get back on track. The various measures are outlined below:

  • Introduction of a new school-wide literacy programme. All students in Y7 – 11 are engaging in a weekly etymology session in which students get to explore word roots and broaden their vocabulary range.
  • Year 7 are trialling a new Guided Reading programme, which if successful will be extended  to other year groups.
  • ALL lessons now start with a ‘RoPE’ Challenge – which are activities centred on Recall of Prior Education. This allows for previous subject content to be revisited to help those who may have missed out to catch up and to consolidate prior learning for others.
  • Students in examination year groups have been rated on their engagement in home learning during lockdown to aid identification of those students who require additional intervention and support in or beyond lesson time. 
  • Heads of Year have identified specific students who require additional support post lockdown and have organised after school bubbled provision for this.
  • In class formative assessments have been planned to assess students learning and help identify any knowledge gaps, therefore aiding planning.
  • In the Sixth form where possible, a 6th lesson has been timetabled to give additional contact time to deliver content.
  • Wednesday afternoons are to be utilised for the Year 11 and Year 13 Mock exams to avoid losing valuable curriculum time.
  • Homework being set for students focusses on consolidation of learning rather than the introduction to new content.

Whilst we do not envisage a second lockdown, it is imperative that we are proactive and plan for it in case it was to be enforced. We as a school are busy preparing for a range of different scenarios. The planning is summarised below.

Current Situation: A small number of students at home self-isolating or shielding.

Education Provision:

  • A virtual Form Tutor (Mrs Warrington – a current EBS English Teacher) is working remotely, contacting each family on a weekly basis by phone.
  • The Virtual Form Tutor delivers the Literacy initiatives – Word of the week (Year 7 – 11) live on Microsoft Teams and sets the Guided Reading task (Y7).
  • A weekly timetable is provided for all students to access based on a good range of subjects. The lessons are based on Oak National Academy resources which provide pre-recorded lessons with teacher voiceover.
  • Students complete the work on the computer or in their exercise books and email evidence of completion to their subject teachers and the Virtual Form Tutor.
  • For KS4 students the pastoral support Officer (Mrs Norton) supports the Virtual Form Tutor by liaising with subject teachers to ensure appropriate work is being set.
  • For KS5 students work is sent directly to each student by the subject teachers by a mutually agreed means – Skooler, Teams, SharePoint, OneNote or email.

Scenario 1: An Increased number of students are self-isolating at home which becomes too great for our Virtual Form Tutor to effectively support.

Planned education provision:

  • Form Tutors will make a wellbeing phone call home whilst the students are isolating
  • PSHEE work, Word of the Week and Guided Reading activities will be immediately available on Skooler for students to engage with.
  • Subject teachers will upload lessons being delivered in school on Skooler.
  • Students isolating at home (if well enough to) will access and complete the work following their daily timetable and return evidence of completion by uploading work to Skooler.

Scenario 2:  A whole class or Year Group is sent home to self-isolate due to confirmed case/s of Coronavirus 

Planned education provision:

  • Form Tutor/s will send a wellbeing email to all members of the group during the isolation period
  • Subject teachers will upload lessons to Skooler. Where possible, lessons will be delivered live on Microsoft Teams or be pre-recorded lessons with teacher voiceover.
  • Isolating students will access and complete the work and return evidence of completion.
  • Students will follow their normal daily timetable.

As isolation is expected to be no longer than 2 weeks, there is not an expectation for subject teachers to mark the work completed at home. We will make sure there are lots of opportunities for ‘green pen’ self-marking in the work set. Opportunities for assessing work will be provided on return to school. If, however, a child is shielding or forced to self-isolate for an extended period of time, feedback will be provided in line with our feedback policy.

Scenario 3: The school is closed due to enforced lockdown.

Planned education provision

  • Form Tutors will ensure a fortnightly phone call is made to each member of the group and a weekly Form Group email will be sent.
  • Teachers will deliver lessons either live on Microsoft Teams or provide pre-recorded lessons with teacher voiceovers on Skooler. Use of other purchased and free digital learning resources will be planned.
  • Timings of daily lessons will be centralised (to remove the current staggered model) and information will be shared with parents and students at the start of lockdown.
  • Teachers will plan for assessed pieces of work which will be submitted on Skooler for teacher feedback.

Whilst Skooler will be our primary learning platform – the main place where all work will be set if home learning is required, we recognise that there are a number of teachers who already effectively use other digital resources such as Teams, OneNote or SharePoint to set work with specific classes they teach. Whilst we are encouraging the school wide use of Skooler, we will allow established practices and uses of other platforms to continue.

To prepare students and parents for these possible future scenarios the Computing Faculty is currently delivering lessons in school to upskill students in the use of Skooler and Teams. The faculty is also producing screencasts which will be uploaded to the School’s website imminently to help parents use the digital platforms effectively too.

Teachers are currently using CPD time planning for this blended approach to learning and we are confident that if necessary, we can move seamlessly to a remote education provision that will continue to support your child’s learning from home.

A digital survey has recently been sent to all parents of students in Y7 – 11 to audit computer access and to gain consent for future participation in live Teams lessons. The link to the survey was sent via text message. If you do not have a Microsoft account yourself (which is needed to access the survey), you will still be able to access it through your child’s school account. The link to the survey will be sent to your child’s school email (Outlook) account by Thursday. Year 12 and 13 students will be sent a survey to complete independently.

Please ensure this survey is completed at your earliest convenience so that we can fully support all our wonderful students in every way possible. 

Kind regards

Mrs Hurst
Associate Deputy Headteacher

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