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Cirencester Deer Park School

Cirencester Deer Park School

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Remote Learning Review

Using our Remote Learning Plan

We were all very pleased to welcome back our pupils in Year 11 on Wednesday 18 November 2020. We were very impressed by their collective and individual commitment to learning remotely online during a period of self-isolation following a confirmed case of COVID-19. They are to be congratulated on their high level of attendance in MS Teams. This was consistently above 95%.

Similarly, owing to staff shortages, Year 9 returned to school on a rota this week and we are looking forward to seeing them and all other pupils, including those in Years 7 and 10 who we asked to self-isolate, on Monday 23 November when we hope we will have a full complement of pupils and staff in school again.

While our pupils have shown tremendous resilience over the last two weeks, I am also very grateful to our teachers who have been incredibly flexible. They have all adapted exceptionally well to changing circumstances and teaching our pupils remotely in school or at home.

All schools are required to have a Remote Learning Plan and we shared ours following consultation with staff at the end of September 2020. However, while individual pupils who have been required to self-isolate have been able to access lesson materials in MS Teams and Show My Homework since October, from Friday 6 November 2020, we had to implement our own ‘Tier 2’, first for Year 11 and then from Wednesday 11 November 2020 with pupils in Year 9 and some in Year 7.

Working with our Heads of Faculty, the school’s Leadership Team have reviewed the provision and we will be making a few changes to help our pupils continue with their learning and balance our teachers’ workload should we need to implement our remote learning plan again for large groups of pupils.

In our Remote Learning Plan we set out our expectations for pupils, parents and staff. We are all making our best endeavours to maintain the rhythm and momentum of learning and we are doing so in unprecedented times.

Parents at home are in a privileged position as they would not normally be able to listen in to lessons. However, while live lessons are taking place in MS Teams, the immediate presence of parents and other family members is strongly discouraged:

  • Staff and pupils are expected to safeguard each other. Our live lessons in MS Teams are intended for pupils registered on our school roll only and should not be made public as we do not have permission to share data outside of our school community.
  • Our use of MS Teams is as a learning tool: it is not for use to communicate with friends or others outside of lessons or to share content that is not relevant to the learning. Any discussion should be about the lesson and its objectives/focus. It is especially important that language is appropriate, polite and courteous.
  • Pupils should keep their microphones on mute during the class unless their teachers want them to speak and contribute to the lessons. Teachers may use targeted questioning. If necessary, the teacher may choose to mute a pupil’s microphone. Pupils can indicate they wish to contribute by putting their ‘hand up’.
  • Pupils and staff can choose to use their cameras if they would like to, however, if they do not want to they can still be involved in the class. If they choose to use their cameras, pupils and staff are advised to have a blurred background to avoid things that could distract the lesson.
  • Teachers will make it clear if they choose to record a lesson and their reasons for doing so and where the lesson will be stored and how it can be accessed.
  • Pupils should not take photos or screenshots or record all or any part of their online lessons. This would be in breach of our Acceptable Use Policy and data protection. Where this happens pupils will be withdrawn from the group and, if it becomes a persistent occurrence, we will have no option other than to review our provision and withdraw online lessons in MS Teams across the school.

We are extremely grateful to pupils, parents and staff for their cooperation over a challenging fortnight. We appreciate the constructive feedback we have received and we will be factoring all of this into our future planning:

‘I just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work supporting the Year 7s who have been self-isolating. The teachers have done a fantastic job ensuring that the children have felt part of the class lessons using Teams. Some days have been quite hard work for my daughter with 4 or 5 live lessons - too much screen time and tied to the desk - but she has coped well and kept up with all the tasks set. The ideal day has been 3 Teams lessons plus Show My Homework tasks. She can’t wait to come back to school on Monday, get some exercise and see her friends! Thanks again for the excellent organisation and support.’ Year 7 parent

I am immensely proud of what we have been able to achieve here at Deer Park and this is down to the goodwill and commitment of staff. As headteacher, I have a duty of care to help our teachers manage their workloads and look after their wellbeing, alongside those of our pupils, and this is a delicate balance. At present we are going above and beyond what is required to ensure all of our pupils can stay connected with us and make good progress in their learning during these uncertain times. I would not want to have to pull back on this because of some inconsiderate behaviour.

Chiquita Henson, Headteacher