Contingency Planning: Our strategic self-review for remote and hybrid learning
The DfE released its guidance on contingency planning for remote education back in the summer –when the majority of us were housebound due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, we’ve observed pupils and teachers slowly returning to school, even in times of tightened restrictions in response to rising case. The question of what the long-term effects of lockdown could be on young people across the country is a high-profile concern for both Government and educators, not only from a learning perspective but also from a social-emotional perspective. As such, we can expect schools, colleges and universities to stay open for as long as they can. But despite this desire to keep learning in the classroom, all schools need to develop a robust contingency plan should closure be required again in the future.
The DfE expected schools to have an education contingency plan in place by the end of October for state-funded, school-age children unable to attend school due to COVID-19. This requirement could easily apply to situations where bubbles of students are told to self-isolate, where local restrictions require pupils to remain at home or where larger national lockdowns come into effect.
The DfE have specified the following guidance for developing these contingency plans for school leaders:
- Use a curriculum sequence that allows access to high-quality online and offline resources and teaching videos and that is linked to the school’s curriculum expectations
- Give access to high-quality remote education resources
- Select the online tools that will be consistently used across the school in order to allow interaction, assessment and feedback and make sure staff are trained in their use
- Provide printed resources, such as textbooks and workbooks, for pupils who do not have suitable online access
- Recognise that younger pupils and some pupils with SEND may not be able to access remote education without adult support and so schools should work with families to deliver a broad and ambitious curriculum
When teaching pupils remotely, the DfE have also specified the following guidance for educators:
- Set assignments so that pupils have meaningful and ambitious work each day in a number of different subjects
- Teach a planned and well-sequenced curriculum so that knowledge and skills are built incrementally, with a good level of clarity about what is intended to be taught and practised in each subject
- Provide frequent, clear explanations of new content, delivered by a teacher in the school or through high-quality curriculum resources or videos
- Gauge how well pupils are progressing through the curriculum, using questions and other suitable tasks and set a clear expectation on how regularly teachers will check work
- Enable teachers to adjust the pace or difficulty of what is being taught in response to questions or assessments, including, where necessary, revising material or simplifying explanations to ensure pupils’ understanding
- Plan a programme that is of equivalent length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school, ideally including daily contact with teachers
Although the above guidance helps to break down exactly what educators should be able to achieve, school leaders will need to establish what high-quality remote education looks like in practice.
In response to this, we convened the Bett UK Advisory Board to co-create a strategic self-review for remote and hybrid learning that can inform and help to refine your contingency plan. The purpose of this review is to help school leaders interrogate existing contingency plans, identify areas that require improvement and to spark new ideas for approaches to remote learning. The self-review sheet gives you the opportunity to rate how effectively your school fulfils each of the requirements of the DfE’s contingency plan requirements. Divided into 4 key sections – Leadership, Safeguarding, Teaching & Learning and Assessment – we invite you to consider how your current plan meets each of these needs. From here, you’re welcome to explore our list of expert suppliers and innovators to explore how you can build on your existing plans and continue to improve your remote learning provision.
You can download our strategic self-review here.
In the spirit of teaching and learning in the context of COVID-19, where peer-to-peer learning has proved to be the best way to ensure success and effective teaching, it is vital to support one another on the road to providing high-quality remote education for all.
If you have questions about our strategic self-review, or if you feel we’re missing something that others would find helpful, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.