The National Education Union (NEU) has spoken to members and requested examples of good policy practices for blended learning and have received several responses for primary schools. The NEU recognises that schools vary significantly and what may work well in one school by not work well in another. However, the policy practices below may work well across a wide variety of primary schools.
There are many ways to deliver blended learning for primary schools and key factors to be considered. Parents and teachers will have to work together particularly with younger pupils who will need assistance accessing digital learning and will require adult help at home.
The age and level of pupils is an important factor and different pedagogies will need to be adopted when deciding on the best practice and approach to provide effective blended learning and each school will be different. Below are examples of practices used by our members to deliver blended learning to primary students.
Good policy practice in primary schools is based on principles and methods such as:
- Consistency in the approach to remote learning for all pupils who are not in school using quality online and offline resources.
- Continued support for child health and wellbeing and parent support.
- Communication between schools and families.
- Teachers contacting by phone pupils unable to attend school, with calls paid for by the school
- Enabling pupils to receive feedback and understand how to progress.
- Timetables created and made available so that parents and pupils have a structure to work from when home learning.
- Assisting children through means such as “catch up” (how the children are getting on at home), “check ins” (teachers give children the chance to share their thoughts and feelings) and “prepare” (teaching strategies adjusted to solving problems of distance learning).
- Use of commercial and non-commercial classroom platforms to create virtual classes enabling a central point of access for all lessons and resources and allowing teachers to host live and recorded lessons.
- Agreement and understanding with parents that where possible they should not attend their child’s lesson, contribute, or interrupt whilst a live lesson is in progress.
- In early years Tapestry is being used to upload documents, PowerPoint stories, videos etc. Parents can then share what they are doing with photographs and videos.
- Use of Microsoft Teams to make pre-recoded videos which parents/pupils can access via Frog or Tapestry.
- For younger children there should be a strong focus on reconnection and building relationships.
- Setting tasks for EY pupils through the use of CoEL approach; Characteristics of Effective Learning.
- Playing and exploring: shows how the child is engaging.
- Active Learning: shows how a child is motivated even when they encounter difficulties.
- Creating and thinking critically; shows the process of thought behind learning, developing their own ideas, and creating strategies for carrying these out.
- Short periods of face to face learning with online resources is highly effective particularly for younger pupils.
- Younger students who will need help from parents can use pre-recorded lessons at a time that suits their family.
- Sharing their online classes with other teachers across the school.
- Use of teacher’s “office hours” via video conference to enable one-to-one sessions.
- Use of readily available online functions. Microsoft whiteboard app is a collaborative workspace that allows teachers to interactive with pupils and write on the board for everyone to see, just like in a classroom setting. Loom app allows teachers to record presentations, with edit functionality and has an option to send a class a link.
- Teachers recording a podcast/lesson via Anchor
- Use of the TEDED platform, which enables teachers to search short videos that are available and prepared for various subject, books etc. Pupils can watch, then do multiple choice questions. Teachers can also edit the multiple-choice questions, if required.
- Keep learning fun through knowledge orientated games, incentivizing learners using platforms such as Kahoot, Quizlet and Pear Deck.
There are many online sites offering material to support remote learning. Below is a list of examples for primary learning resources: