Remote education @ BFS information for parents
This information is intended to provide clarity and transparency to children and parents or carers about what to expect from remote education where national or local restrictions require the whole School or 'Pods' to remain at home.
For details of what to expect where individual children are self-isolating, please see the final section of this page.
Our Remote Curriculum
A child’s first day or two of being educated remotely might look different from our classroom-based approach in School, while we adjust our delivery for a longer period of remote teaching.
What you can expect for your child in the first day or two of being sent home for remote education; will my child be taught broadly the same curriculum as they would if they were in school?
Our children at Black Firs are used to following a holistic learning approach. Our curriculum at Black Firs starts from a theme connected to a class book. The studywork is delivered in a series of work assignments across the term. Our curriculum encourages our children to have good independent learning skills. Any remote work set, will be at the appropriate ability level for your child. Our termly planning is on the School website please see Accessing remote education below.
We teach the same curriculum remotely as we do in School wherever possible and appropriate. However, we may need to make some adaptations in some subjects. For example, there will be more online learning; more online links in our planning and we will make use of online learning resources, your child will be familiar with these as they are used in School too. The procedure for handing work in to the teacher for feedback will also be different than if they were in the classroom.
With all of our Remote Learning, the intention is that most of it can be completed without having to remain online. You or your child, can login to the daily Sway to see the tasks planned, then log-off and complete them with pen & paper. Then log back in to send the work to the teacher for feedback. Finished work is submitted via Teams or straight to Earwig.
We do make available physical, practical resources in the entrance area at School for you to collect. New reading books can be exchanged & more resources collected too. Your child’s teacher can email you copies resources too if you request them. Your child will be given their reading book, paper workbooks & a stationary pack when they were sent home.
Remote teaching and study time each day
How long can I expect work set by the school to take my child each day?
Please try to follow the timetable suggested by your child’s teacher on the website or Sway. If in your family setting, this format doesn’t work, you could reformat it to suit your home /work-life but make sure you establish a new timetable and stick to it. Young children need structured expectation for successful learning. We know this works because of detailed analysis of how children worked after our first closure; please read What we know works below
When we have analysed our ‘normal’ School day, we have found, that children spend approximately two to three hours engaged in direct, hands-on independent learning. The remainder of the time in School, they would be involved in group learning activities, question & discussion sessions, receiving instruction & feedback; practical learning; creative activities like art, music, drama, dance; group assemblies; play-times, lunchtime; sports & PE activities.
Our expectation is that direct remote education (our remote teaching and the child's independent work) will take children broadly the following number of hours each day on focussed individual activity:
Early Years teaching-team will spend 1 to 2 hours a day
In Infant teaching-team, this will increase to 2½ hours across the day
The Lower-junior teaching-team, this will increase to 3 hours across the day
The Upper-junior teaching-team, 3½ hours across the day, as a minimum in yr6.
We want our Remote Learning to closely resemble the range of activities in School. We have planned two to three hours of individual work a day. Then we will suggest a range of more open-ended, creative & practical learning tasks that children could continue working on for periods through the remainder of the day. They will also have on-going studywork assignments to complete; children spend different amounts of time completing these. We would also encourage a daily physical activity – a walk, cycle – and an opportunity to keep-in-touch with classmates & friends.
Teachers will plan online small-group reading or a maths video-call, via Teams, each week. Teachers will also be delivering small-group video feedback sessions across the week via Teams.
All children will have a weekly wellbeing call with a teacher from their teaching-team via Teams or a phone call; teachers will contact your child to arrange this. This is to fulfil our safeguarding responsibility. The Staff member will need to speak to your child.
Accessing our Remote Learning
How will my child access any online remote education you are providing?
Children & parents can access the daily remote learning planned for their class through the Black Firs website https://black-firs.co.uk/our-classes/ and then by selecting the teaching-team they are in from - Early Years – Infants – Lower Juniors – Upper Juniors.
At the top of the page, you will then be able to see the email contact information for all the Staff in the team. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email them.
Click on the Sway link to access the daily & weekly planning. We have chosen to use Sway as the main access point for daily learning because it is accessible from any internet web browser, on any simple device. For example, it will open on a Smart TV browser, an Amazon Fire Stick browser or older, more basic computer or tablet. It doesn’t matter what the operating system is for the device; it works on Windows, Apple, Linux, Android, iPhone. The webpage link will remain the same every day so, you can leave the link open - children won’t have to browse elsewhere.
Below this sway link, in the text, is an outline of the termly planning for your child’s teaching team. You can see the terms class story-book teachers are planning to use and the overall planning theme. By opening the planning .pdf at the bottom of the page, you can see the coverage for the leaning planned.
We will also continue to use Microsoft Teams. Your child can access the teaching-teams Microsoft Team page through their Office365 login https://teams.microsoft.com/ Your child should know their login as we use it in School and it was sent to you via email. If you have lost the login details search your email or contact your child’s teacher, via email at the top of the page, and they can send you a reminder.
If my child does not have digital or online access at home, how will you support them to access remote education?
We recognise that some children may not have suitable online access at home; either because of suitable access to a device or stable internet access. We do make available physical, practical resources in the entrance area at School. Your child will have been sent home with workbooks & stationary when we closed.
With all of our Learning, the intention is that most of it can be completed without having to remain online. You or your child, can login to the daily Sway to see the tasks planned, then log-off and complete them with pen & paper. If your child is still struggling, their class teacher can email resources to you for them to use or you can collect paperwork from School entrance area. Your child’s work can be emailed back to the class teacher for feedback & marking or dropped-off at School. Please let your child’s teacher know when you have dropped work off.
For families really struggling because of suitable computers at home, we do have a limited number of laptops that we can lend during School closure. Please contact your child’s teacher, via email, or discuss it during weekly well-being call.
We continue to analysis children’s access to remote education during closure and we will also approach families who we consider are in most need.
How will my child be taught remotely?
We use a combination of approaches to teach children remotely.
Most of the learning will be set, to be completed independently, following similar processes to how your child works in the classroom at School. We will include video or audio instruction or explanation in our Sways or we will link to existing online explanations and websites. Teachers are available online via Teams Chat or via email for your child to talk to if they are ‘not sure what to do’ or need more explanation or get stuck.
There will also be weekly small-group tutorials, weekly guided-reading or guide-maths and at least a weekly well-being call. These will be organised by your child’s teacher but they will need access to Teams.
We do use existing websites like EdShed for spellings & multiplication tables. The older children use SATs companion for revision. We use online reading book websites too. We also use Khan Academy for maths.
Khan Academy, although American & slightly annoying, has video, graphical cartoons & hyperlinked explanations built-in to provide support. It is also a very sophisticated website as it uses algorithms to track your child’s performance. It offers different questions, further practice & support or advances a child’s learning based on the speed and accuracy of how they answer questions. The teachers can see all this data; they know how long your child has spent answering questions; if they got stuck; what they did next. Khan also has a number of other subject areas that children can explore if they wish.
We have just bought in ‘Writers Toolbox’ which is an online resource which improves children’s writing. This is the single most difficult learning activity to do remotely. Teachers are frustrated about not being able to intervene and feedback in as timely a manner as we would in the classroom to aid your child’s writing. We hope this online resource will help support your child’s writing.
We don’t believe full-time live-teaching is suitable; children shouldn’t be in front of a screen all day; it isn’t manageable for you at home because it imposes a structure on your home-life, it would require a good quality computer throughout delivery & use a lot internet bandwidth slowing access for everyone else at home.
For learning to be most effective, we want time spent interacting with teachers online to be about feedback and support - not about delivery. Your child’s learning is what this is about not about teachers teaching or child-care via remote screen-time. Good learning is about the quality of feedback; it needs to be timely and it needs to be good quality.
Please make sure if your child needs support and you can’t help, or become exasperated, your child contacts their teacher. We generally find that these conversations are more beneficial to your child, if you aren’t present. This, we know from children’s feedback, is because 1. they need to have a ‘chunter’; 2. the teachers will be more direct and purposeful; 3. Children are more vocal & talk; 4. They will defer to you & just not listen if your present – defeating the point of the call.
Engagement and feedback
What are your expectations for my child’s engagement and the support that we as parents and carers should provide at home?
Engagement in Remote Learning is now an expectation; it’s not optional. Teachers will plan appropriate work for your child to complete and the expectation is that your input should be minimal; encouragement and positive praise & support for targeted achievements. Parents need to make available a suitable device to access the daily learning Sway and also a computer device, ideally with a camera, to access Teams when required. If your child gets stuck, their first point of contact should be their teachers who are online and waiting to provide support.
Your child will need help with establishing a routine at home and encouragement to engage with their teachers and classmates. They may also need help with basic IT making online calls, uploading work etc.
We would expect parents to carry on regularly hearing your child read if age appropriate.
How will you check whether my child is engaging with their work and how will I be informed if there are concerns?
Your child’s teaching team will be continually monitoring their engagement and learning outcomes. Some of the online resources we use monitor this meta-data very precisely – EdShed, Khan and Teams. Learning assignments set, all have a ‘hand-in’ date too. Teachers will be following up any work which is late. Techers will be messaging through Teams so, please keep an eye on your child’s Team Chat.
If your child’s teachers have specific concerns, they will contact you in the normal way either by phone or your email.
How will you assess my child’s work and progress?
Feedback can take many forms and may not always mean extensive written comments for individual children. For example, whole-class feedback or quizzes marked automatically via digital platforms are also valid and effective methods, amongst many others. Our approach to feeding back on child work is as follows:
It’s important your child hands-in their assignments on the requested dates so that teachers can access and feedback how they are doing. Future assignments are planned around the quality and quantity of the work submitted.
Your child knows the drafting process we use in School and how they are supposed to respond in this process. There is a short Sway here which explains are approach in School if you wish to be better informed.
Additional support for children with particular needs
How will you work with me to help my child who needs additional support from adults at home to access remote education?
We recognise that some children, for example some children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), may not be able to access remote education without support from adults at home. We acknowledge the difficulties this may place on families, and we will work with parents and carers to support those children; this will be individualised depending on your child’s age and ability.
For children with EHC plans in place, our first priority would be to identify your child as ‘vulnerable’ and for them to continue attending School. We will make whatever adjustments we can to keep them as safe as we can. If appropriate, their one-to-one Staff will be working with them at School.
If they don’t have EHCP or if they are self-isolating, your child’s teacher will contact you individually. They will assist by setting appropriate work, suggesting learning approaches more relevant and being more flexible with hand-in dates.
Remote education for self-isolating children
If my child is not in School because they are self-isolating, how will their remote education differ from the approaches described above?
Where individual children need to self-isolate but the majority of their peer group remains in School, we will continue to offer remote education in a similar way as outlined above. Daily lesson plans will be available via a Sway etc. There will also be much more opportunity to live video-link to their classmates in the classroom; each classroom has a video connection.
One-to-one support will differ from the approach above because staff will be full-time in School. We will organise one member of your child’s teaching team to be key contact. They help to personalise your child’s daily learning. They will also organise support and feedback. It maybe for the period of self-isolation we can lend a laptop too if required.
What we know works
After our first closure, we carried out a detailed analysis of how children worked, what they produced, how often they accessed online planned resources. When children returned last summer / September, we then made comparisons about their attainment against historical expectations.
The children who had maintained their age-related attainment were the ones who had followed our suggested timetable during lock-down. They generally demonstrated better engagement with two key life-long learning skills 1. self-regulation; 2. innate motivation. Even as adults we can find these challenging but children who readily engaged, and were keen to ‘show-off’ what & how they’d learned, maintained the best progress.
Young children need structure and direction; this is one of the most unsettling elements with School being closed. Indeed, feedback from last summer’s parent’s questionnaire showed that families who had more structured days, achieved more harmonies home-lives. Also, evidence showed the quicker families established a structured approach the easier and more engaged children were; the easier life at home was for everyone.
Furthermore, children who returned to School last year after lockdown, having had a more structured time at home, settled more quickly back in to ‘school-life’ and by Christmas had ‘caught up’ with their learning.
Regardless of our academic ability or prowess, it would seem (like we didn’t know) that one of the greatest life-long learning skills we can help our children develop is greater internal drive and motivation. The perseverance and ‘grit’ to apply one’s self now and defer gratification, is one of the keys to a successful and contented life. A key skill in achieving this, is appreciating and achieving self-regulation.