Firstly, I would like to thank you for your support so far with remote learning. I completely understand that this is a really challenging time for us all, so everything that you have been doing to support and encourage your child during remote teaching has been greatly appreciated by our staff. A very big thank you for this. As we enter our second week of remote teaching, we thought it would be useful to explain our approach.
Like everything we do at Durrington, rather than basing what we do on what we think might work, we base what we do on what the research evidence says is most likely to work. We think this is crucial, because the education of our students is too important to be left to chance. In terms of remote teaching, there are two general approaches that schools can take:
- Recorded lessons – where the teacher records a video of themselves teaching a topic and/or introducing a task and then shares this with students.
- Live lessons - where the teachers use a platform such as Zoom or Google Meet to have a ‘live’ session that students can connect with via their camera and microphone.
Alongside this, students might also be set a task that they complete independently. However, when teacher input is required, these two approaches tend to be used.
Schools are taking different approaches to this. Here at Durrington most of our remote teaching so far has been based on teachers recording a video and then sharing it with students. These videos either give instructions to students on what to do so they can work independently, or directly explain the concepts being taught. Teachers will carefully explain new ideas, model to students how to use this new knowledge and then give them feedback on how they have done and how to improve. During these lessons, students will be asked to pause the video at key points, to enable them to complete the tasks. This also means that students can go back over the videos to help embed their understanding of the topic.
Students then submit their work via Google Classrooms, for teachers to review and assess. This approach is based on evidence from a number of sources.
In April 2020, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) who are a charity that synthesise and share educational research with schools said the following:
“Pupils can learn through remote teaching. Ensuring the elements of effective teaching are present – for example clear explanations, scaffolding and feedback – is more important than how or when they are provided. There was no clear difference between teaching in real time (“synchronous teaching”) and alternatives (“asynchronous teaching”). For example, teachers might explain a new idea live or in a prerecorded video. But what matters most is whether the explanation builds clearly on pupils’ prior learning or how pupils’ understanding is subsequently assessed.”
More recently (January 2021) the Research Team at OFSTED said the following:
“Some think that a live lesson is the ‘gold standard’ of remote education. This isn’t necessarily the case. Live lessons have a lot of advantages. They can make curriculum alignment easier, and can keep pupils’ attention, not least as the teacher has more control over the learning environment. But live lessons are not always more effective than asynchronous approaches.
There are some specific difficulties in doing live lessons. It can be hard to build in interaction and flexibility. This means that giving feedback can actually be less effective than when we use recorded lesson segments followed by interactive chats, or tasks and feedback. Using recorded lessons produced externally can allow you to easily draw on high-quality lessons taught by expert subject teachers. The challenge here can be to make sure they are integrated with the curriculum.
Because evidence suggests that concentration online is shorter than the length of a typical lesson, filming a classroom lesson may be ineffective.”
So to summarise, it is the quality of the teacher instruction that matters more than the way in which it is delivered. Our priority is always to ensure that the quality of teaching is the best it can be. The effectiveness of this approach was borne out by the fact that our students who engaged with our remote learning during the first lockdown returned with relatively few gaps in their learning as a result.
Moving forward, over the coming weeks some of our teachers will be introducing live elements to their teaching e.g. touching base with their classes or to discuss a specific topic. This blended approach uses the best of both methods. Alongside this, teachers are interacting with students in a number of other ways:
- Mote voice messages are used to give personalised feedback to students on their work submitted to Google classrooms.
- Written feedback is used for some pieces of work submitted on Google Classrooms.
- The stream on Google Classrooms is used to ask and answer questions.
- Whole class feedback videos are shared with students, giving them specific feedback on tasks they have completed and submitted to Google Classroom.
- Google forms are used to test and assess students.
This supports teachers with the ongoing assessment of student progress, informs their planning of future lessons and retains personal interaction.
Pastoral teams are also utilising a range of approaches to stay in contact with students and further details of this will be shared with you in due course.
In terms of your ongoing support, please continue to ensure that students have all the resources they need to work e.g. pen, paper and pencil, a quiet place to work away from distractions, ask them questions about the work they are doing and check they are submitting work for each lesson. Periods of relaxation and exercise in between lessons are also really important. This document might be useful to support you with this:
We hope this helps to clarify our approach to remote teaching and again, thank you for all you are doing to support this. As ever, if you have any questions or concerns, please do contact us.
Head of School Improvement (DMAT)
Director of Research School