We were fast approaching the end of the strangest academic year and acutely aware of the need to plan for learning in September. However, what wasn’t clear at the time was what organisation of learning and curriculum we were going to be planning for; further school closure, blended learning, a return to ‘normality’? We had been using Microsoft Teams as the platform for our remote learning. This had been set up prior to school closure in a somewhat hasty way, but set up nevertheless. Our reviews of remote learning had revealed, despite the many successes in our practice, the predictable issues of internet and ‘hardware’ access for students, a lack of student skill in using platforms like Teams, some inconsistent practices across subjects in the way they were setting work and using the platform. Therefore, we knew that we wanted to capitalise on the digital skills our committed teachers had started to develop whilst keeping our learners and their growth at the heart of our work. We saw that digital strategies rooted in a well designed and high-quality implementation of the curriculum had got the potential to enable us to be flexible whatever Government announced about schools and September.
Hallam TSA provided our staff with a webinar on the recent EEF Research into Remote Learning and Home Learning and recommended a link with King Ecgbert School to grow our skills in the use of Microsoft Teams. By this point we had decided to run some staff training on Microsoft Teams before the end of term and, with the support from King Ecgbert School, we were able to turn this ambition into reality. Paul Haigh kindly provided an example of the school’s own recent staff training day on the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning, plus feedback on our proposals and examples of staff ‘How To’ tutorials. This inspired us to build our own Professional Learning Day, delivered remotely via Teams. Our own digital experts provided How To tutorials on the four areas we had identified as most useful for September learning and beyond, we set up mechanisms for help throughout the day and our teachers had the opportunity to practice and apply their learning to their planning for September. Our teachers are now much more confident in their use of Teams and aspects of Office 365, we have started to develop a comprehensive student ‘training’ programme for the start of next term and we are sure that whether in-school or out of school our ‘new look’ digitally enhanced learning will improve the engagement and learning of our students in the new academic year. We also predict positive effects on teacher workload, marking and feedback and the quality of modelling and explanation. We would highly recommend the EdTech School Demonstrator support from King Ecgbert School.
Assistant Headteacher Practitioner