BLENDED LEARNING POLICY – October 2020
The closure of schools in March 2020 due to Covid 19 saw a wide variety of home learning policy and practices implemented over the lockdown period, with a range of different outcomes for pupils. Difficulties included access to IT (staff and families), lack of time to prepare staff, pupils and families for long term home learning and a lack of training for staff on how to undertake and deliver ‘virtual’ learning.
In September 2020 as schools fully reopened, the issue of further outbreaks of Covid 19 quickly became an issue. However unlike in March, pupils are being sent home either individually or in smaller groups (bubbles) to self-isolate, leading to a need to provide teaching both virtually and face to face. This is an ever-changing situation and the requirements for pupils’ isolating at home is likely to continue throughout the coming academic year with little notice. So, this needs careful planning and whole school policy and procedures which are understood and followed by all staff and understood by the school’s community. Equally, the issue of access to IT remains a concern for many pupils and families and so strategies other than online learning continue to need to be provided.
The policy is written with reference to the latest research available from the EEF (September 2020)
This policy is an opportunity to ensure that homework and home learning is fully embedded into delivery of the school curriculum in a meaningful and sustainable way, whether pupils are self-isolating or not. Its purpose is to provide a structured approach to blended learning which ensures consistency and equity for all pupils. Please see appendix 1 - Remote Learning Offer – for what will be offered in different circumstances.
A blended learning approach is where students learn at home via electronic, online media, through paper ‘packs’ of resources as well as traditional face-to-face teaching to ensure pupils are given equal opportunities to access the curriculum, whether in school or learning at home.
Home learning builds on and complements what is done at school. The blended learning approach considers how to incorporate:
- synchronous learning – where pupils and teachers interact in a specific virtual space, through a specific online medium, at a specific time – video conferencing, live chatting, live streaming lesson.
- asynchronous learning – where learning happens on the individual’s schedule. Teachers provide the materials and assignments with pupils having the ability to access and satisfy these requirements within a flexible time frame. Materials might include paper-based materials, directed texts, self-guided interactive learning resources, pre-recorded lessons and podcasts.
- To ensure equity of learning and curriculum opportunities for pupils in school and at home
- To set out expectations for all members of the staff community with regards to blended learning across the school
- To ensure a consistency of approach to blended learning which is understood by staff, pupils and families
- To provide appropriate guidelines for data protection and safeguarding
- Pupils are inspired, motivated and engaged to learn, through blended learning approaches that vary according to their appropriateness to the particular learning context.
- Pupils are encouraged to become independent learners
- Staff are encouraged and supported to adopt fit-for-purpose and innovative blended learning approaches. These approaches are enabled by academic and professional partnerships and appropriate institutional investment in learning technologies.
- Digital literacy is recognised as an important graduate attribute and a core skill for academic staff.
- Flexible delivery options are offered to reflect the needs of pupils, the intended learning outcomes and the availability of resources.
- Blended learning will not always include flexible delivery and so will not always provide pupils a choice of where and when they can study.
- Blended learning and flexible delivery are chosen to enhance pupil engagement and learning outcomes.
- It is recognised that blended learning and flexible delivery may require increased investment of resources to ensure sustainable delivery of high-quality learning and teaching.
- Technology is considered an opportunity to capture data regarding patterns of pupil participation (learning analytics) to inform monitoring for at-risk pupils, to promote just-in-time learner support and to provide information to pupils
- Teacher workload has been taken into account when deciding on the blended learning offer
- Roles and Responsibilities:
A. Senior Leaders
Alongside other responsibilities, senior leaders are responsible for:
- Ensuring the school has an effective platform for sharing work with pupils and receiving submitted work which is used by all staff
- Providing immediate training for staff to ensure confidence in using the school’s technology and the virtual platform and planning a programme of regular IT CPD including opportunities for staff to share learning, practice and support each other
- Co-ordinating the blended learning approach across the school.
- Setting clear vision and direction, for example whether the blended learning approach differs depending on year group/key stage. E.g. is EYFS different to KS1?
- Auditing IT resource gaps among staff and pupils including establishing which device(s) pupils use to access learning at home.
- Considering how to address immediate IT resource gaps for staff and pupils.
- Creating a long-term plan for maintaining up to date IT infrastructure within school, for staff and pupils.
- Deciding on the school’s approach to synchronous/asynchronous learning and the data protection/safeguarding issues which impact on this.
- Agree the expectations for home learning for all year groups/subjects
- Ensure parents know and understand the expectation and provision for blended learning. Communication should avoid complex curriculum content but focus on support for self-regulation, quiet place to work, organisation of equipment, work routines and habits, trying to personalise messages to accommodate literacy levels where possible.
- Create a culture and ethos of openly rewarding and celebrating achievements related to work being done at home by individual pupils both during and after isolation and share with parents
- Monitor the effectiveness and consistency of blended learning.
- Monitor the equity of provision provided for pupils at home and at school
- Monitor which communications systems work best: text messaging? Calls? Website? Letters?
- Monitor the security of blended learning systems, including data protection and safeguarding considerations
- Regularly refine and update blended learning practices and procedures based on feedback
- Identifying the barriers for pupils in regard to access and engagement with learning.
- Providing blended and flexible delivery options, to support increased access to learning for diverse pupils, taking into account the resources available.
- Recommending appropriate intervention and support strategies for pupils to ensure the development of basic digital literacies required for learning.
- Identifying the current digital literacy proficiency of pupils.
- Regularly reviewing blended learning approaches used in subjects across the whole curriculum for applicability, relevance and best practice in relation to pupil needs and desired learning outcomes.
- Ensuring resources are distributed to provide ongoing professional development of staff regarding innovative blended learning approaches and clearly considered pedagogical design.
- In order to ensure teachers are able to perform the minimum expectations outlined above; the school will provide a range of training opportunities that teachers should have access to before any planned school closure. Teachers should ensure that they have looked through specific instructions, watched walkthroughs, and attended teacher training sessions. If teachers require support with any aspects of blended learning, they are encouraged to consult the Senior Leadership team.
B. Governing board
The governing board is responsible for:
- Monitoring the school’s approach to providing blended learning to ensure education remains as high quality and equitable as possible
- Ensuring that staff are certain that remote learning systems are appropriately secure, for both data protection and safeguarding reasons
Alongside other responsibilities, teachers are responsible for:
- Taking responsibility for keeping up to date on best practice in using the school’s technology and digital platform (teacher standard 8)
- Explicitly teaching pupils how to learn independently if at home - how to organise themselves (providing visual timetables /written timetables), their learning, their day; how to get online to access key resources; expectations for learning each day and how to upload completed work (teacher standard 2)
- Teaching pupils how to use the virtual platform and identifying any specific provision/resources which individual pupils will need to access the platform
- Preparing a ‘pack’ of resources which pupils can pick up and use at home before they leave school for isolation
- Considering what support for reading can be provided: reading books? Online books? Reading aloud?
- Making provision for online lessons and for interactions with individual pupils and providing opportunities for interactions between pupils
- Providing activities that involve consolidating learning
- Making use of formative assessment to accurately identify knowledge and understanding gained using the information to support planning on the pupil’s/pupils’ return to school.
- Giving pupils working from home regular feedback and encouraging them to respond to the feedback (Teachers’ Standards 6)
- Checking in regularly to monitor both academic progress and their general wellbeing. Teachers will be expected to pass on feedback to Senior Leadership Team, particularly if there are concerns or a lack of communication.
- Providing catch-up provision for ‘returners’ based on the pupil’s engagement with home learning.
- Where teachers are at home self-isolating but not unwell, they should deliver remote learning, following their usual timetable where appropriate, using the school’s chosen platform(s).
- Pay due care to the nature of tasks set, so that learners have a range of activities to complete at home and are not exclusively working on a screen.
- Teachers should be available to contact parents if needed, by email or phone (when phoning from personal devices, dialling 141 before the number will ensure the teacher’s own number is kept anonymous). If contact is deemed excessive the line manager will be able to support and, if necessary, escalate to SLT.
- Unless there are extenuating circumstances, teachers will be expected to be contactable remotely by colleagues, pupils and parents. Teachers also should ensure their communication with learners does not encourage unhelpful work habits. All communication should take place during usual school hours, with no expectation for colleagues to read or respond to emails after 3.30pm, although responses should be made to electronic messages within one working day in normal practice. For those who are on part-time contracts, communication is expected only on the days on which they would usually work.
- Teaching Assistants
Alongside other responsibilities Teaching Assistants are responsible for:
- Liaising with teachers around content and putting together home learning packs for pupils in each year group, should they be sent home to self-isolate.
- Ensuring sufficient resources packs are available for any child sent home.
- Supporting the teacher with home learning administration.
- Supporting the teacher with welfare calls where appropriate.
Alongside their teaching responsibilities, SENCos are responsible for:
- Supporting teachers with blended learning for pupils with SEND across the school.
- Monitoring the progress of pupils with SEND and work with teachers to identify where pupils are not engaging and need targeted support.
- Designated Safeguarding Lead
The DSL is responsible for:
- Following up any concerns raised by teachers through their interaction with the pupils and log it on MyConcern.
- Ensuring that all vulnerable pupils are spoken to at least once a week during periods of remote learning, with the focus being on well-being.
- Admin Staff
Administrative staff are responsible for:
- Ensuring all parents’ phone numbers and emails are up to date
- Tracking self-isolation periods to ensure that individuals and groups of pupils/parents know when they are expected to return to school.
- Report attendance concerns to the DSL or a member of the SLT.
- Data Protection Officer (DPO)
- Ensure relevant polices are up to date and update the school’s privacy notice to include any new data processors e.g. Microsoft, Google, J2E
- Ensure all staff are trained appropriately to take account for any changes to the school systems due to remote learning.
- Get copies of data sharing agreements for the new data processor (on their web sites)
- Carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment to identify risks and how schools will reduce the risk
- Consider pupils who need identity protection
- Check if parental consent is required to use the data platform by referring to the platform’s T&Cs
- Check to see if staff already have personal Microsoft accounts and ensure staff understand and have had training on how to avoid a conflict of accounts to reduce the risk of breaches of data and personal/special category data belonging to the school being stored on personal drives.
- Identify which systems are currently being used and will continue to be used
- Identify how any ‘new’ technology will integrate into what is already in place
- IT staff
IT staff are responsible for:
- Fixing issues with systems used to set and collect work
- Helping staff and parents with any technical issues they’re experiencing
- Reviewing the security of remote learning systems and flagging any data protection breaches to the data protection officer
- Assisting pupils and parents with accessing the internet or devices
- Ensure infrastructure of student feedback systems, learning management system, wireless networks and online student services are maintained in a timely fashion to ensure minimum disruption to learning patterns.
- Pupils and parents
Assuming that a pupil is healthy and well enough to work, learners will be expected to participate as fully as possible in the remote learning process, attending relevant live sessions, completing independent work, and submitting tasks promptly and to the best of their ability. Pupils will also be expected to read and respond to communication from the school (e.g. an email from a form tutor/ class teacher) on a regular basis.
- Treat remote learning the same as classroom learning (Despite being at home, it’s important to remember the same rules apply as being in the classroom, particularly in respect of behavior and conduct. Focus on learning and don’t get distracted by your surroundings.)
- Take regular screen breaks (Whilst remote learning might be an exciting experience to begin with, having prolonged periods of time in front of a screen isn’t always healthy. Remember to have regular screen breaks where possible and in your spare time, try to get some fresh air and enjoy other activities away from electronic devices).
- Only communicate through approved school portals and platforms (It’s important that you send messages and any pictures or images required for class through approved school channels, such as internal learning portals or approved platforms. This will help to keep your personal information safe and secure).
- Don’t use school platforms to discuss personal matters (It’s important to keep your school communication channels separate from your own personal communication with friends and family. Don’t be tempted to engage in casual discussions or send images, videos or links via official school apps or platforms that aren’t associated with your learning).
- Use classroom language (If you are encouraged to communicate through emails and online messages, don’t use shorthand text speak and write as though you would speak in class. Remember to be respectful and polite and avoid positing negative comments or spamming the chat).
- Always conduct video learning in an open space at home (To get the best experience from remote learning, it’s important to create the right environment around you. Try to set up a mock ‘classroom desk’ at home in an open space so parents can supervise if necessary. Avoid bedrooms as this could be considered inappropriate).
- Not share passwords or other sensitive information (In order to begin your online lessons or to gain access to learning materials, you may be provided with login details and passwords. In the same way you keep your personal details private, always keep these safe and never share them with others).
- Look after their mental health and wellbeing (Remote learning ultimately means working alone and missing out on daily social interaction with your friends. If you ever feel frustrated, low or sad, it’s important to discuss how you feel with your parents or your teacher. Keeping in touch with friends over the phone or on social media can also help to keep your spirits up).
- Not record or take pictures of their teacher or classmates during online sessions
Staff can expect pupils learning remotely to:
- Be contactable during the school day – although consider they may not always be in front of a device the entire time
- Complete work to the deadline set by teachers
- Seek help if they need it, from teachers or teaching assistants
- Alert teachers if they’re not able to complete work
- Make the school aware if their child is unwell or otherwise unable to complete work
- Seek help from the school if they need it.
- Take an active interest in their child’s learning (As a parent or carer, remote learning will be a new concept for your child and there are bound to be a few teething problems to start with. Take an active interest in their learning and help support them whenever they need help).
- Monitor their child’s communication and online activity (It’s important to remind your child that despite being at home, the same level of behaviour and conduct exists as if they were at school. Encourage them to remain polite, remember their manners and not to post or send any negative comments just because they are behind a computer).
- Establish a daily schedule and routine (Working from home and trying to learn in a more casual setting that pupils might associate more with play and a degree of freedom might take a bit of getting used to. Try to stick to a daily routine and use timetable/schedule that schools have sent home to help pupils keep on top of their daily learning).
- Ensure their child’s learning device is in a public space in the home (It’s important to consider where your PC/laptop/tablet is placed if live video is being used. Try to keep the background neutral with no personal information visible and move learning devices out of the bedroom as this could be deemed inappropriate).
- Ensure their child only uses official school communication channels (It’s important that all communication with teachers and school staff is directed through approved school channels, whether that be through the school’s online portal or the relevant secure messaging site).
- Maintain feedback with teachers (Engage in communication with teachers where possible and try to feedback progress and development as well as any helpful suggestions around the learning process. Be transparent but remain professional and only use official channels to communicate).
- Encourage screen breaks away from devices (Remote learning will inevitably require more interaction with computers, laptops and tablets. Teacher’s will invariably advise on screen breaks however it doesn’t hurt to keep a check on their time online or encourage them to get some fresh air/exercise).
- Implement safety controls and privacy restrictions on apps and software.
- Familiarise themselves with relevant school .
- Monitor their child’s wellbeing and mental health (Remote learning will likely mean that your child won’t get the same level of social interaction and might not see their friends for a while. Keep a check on their wellbeing and try to encourage them to get out as much as you can. Whilst learning from home might seem fun and exciting to start with, missing out on seeing their friends everyday might take its toll).
- Make sure an adult is with the pupil during any individual video call
- Ensure pupils are in either their dining room, living room or kitchen and not their bedroom.
- Ensure pupils are dressed and ready–not in pyjamas.
- Provide reminders about staying safe online.
2.1 Accessing personal data
When accessing personal data for remote learning purposes, all staff members will:
- Connect to the school network using only a school remote desktop connection
- Ensure that no personal data leaves the school premises.
- Avoid the use of a personal device that shares their personal contact details e.g. a private phone or email address.
- Use Year group email addresses to communicate with parents.
2.2 Processing personal data
Staff members do not need to collect and/or share personal data such as emails, phone number as part of the remote learning system.
2.3 Keeping devices secure
All staff members will take appropriate steps to ensure their devices remain secure. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Keeping the device password-protected – strong passwords are at least 8 characters, with a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters (e.g. asterisk or currency symbol)
- Ensuring the hard drive is encrypted – this means if the device is lost or stolen, no one can access the files stored on the hard drive by attaching it to a new device
- Making sure the device locks if left inactive for a period of time
- Not sharing the device among family or friends
- Installing antivirus and anti-spyware software
- Keeping operating systems up to date – always install the latest updates
- Letting SLT know if a device is stolen, or system corrupted or accessed by unauthorised 3rd party.
In accordance with its E-Safety Policy the School will deal with e-safety incidents in accordance with the procedures outlined in that policy. We will, where known, inform parents of incidents of inappropriate e-safety behaviour that take place out of school.
The school’s Child Protection Policy has been reviewed to reflect the current situation. The safety and wellbeing of our pupils and staff are a priority. A MyConcern log will be recorded and the DSL will be contacted if there are any concerns regarding any pupil working from home. Pupils identified as vulnerable will be telephoned at least once during any two week isolation period.
When pupils are learning remotely at home – perhaps during a local lockdown or for those who may need to isolate – the need to be alert to their online safety is even more pressing. Teachers will naturally take ownership and responsibility when seeing any kind of inappropriate online behaviour and sometimes that will mean talking to parents too.
Pupils, parents, carers and teachers are reminded that the school’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy still applies to all interactions between pupils and teachers. In that policy, there are specifically prohibited behaviours and reporting obligations to which teachers must adhere, whether they are at home, in the community or at school.
4. Monitoring arrangements
This policy will be reviewed following the self-isolation of a bubble and fortnightly during Leadership meetings. The Governing Body will review and approve it annually.
- Links with other policies This policy is linked to our:
- Behaviour policy
- Child protection policy [insert if relevant:] and coronavirus addendum to child protection policy
- Data protection policy and privacy notices: See Appendix 4
- Home-school agreement
- ICT and internet acceptable use policy: See Appendix 4
- Online safety policy
- Anti bullying
- Health and Safety