Headteacher tells of children’s struggles in home school isolation
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A Norfolk headteacher has shed light on the challenges school closures pose for children not seeing their classmates or teachers on a regular basis.
Jordan Sullivan, who took over as head of school at Cobholm Primary Academy in Great Yarmouth in September in the midst of the pandemic, said the school had regularly evaluated remote learning provision to help pupils adapt to the isolation of learning from home.
He said: “One of the main challenges we have faced is that children really struggled not seeing their classmates or teachers on a regular basis.
“That’s why we brought in live assemblies every morning for each class, where the teacher and assistant introduce the topics for the day, answer questions, offer feedback from previous lessons and generally promote a sense of enthusiasm and positivity for the coming day.”
Mr Sullivan, who was previously vice principal at Stradbroke Primary Academy, said the challenge for teachers was to make sure remained engaging and exciting despite the lack of classroom interaction.
He said: “This could be devising treasure hunts where children can search for certain items at home with their parents, setting offline work to help families without the means for their child to stay connected throughout the day, live marking the weekly knowledge quiz, or even encouraging times tables competitions between classes.”
Like many schools the academy, which is part of the Inspiration Trust, has faced challenges making sure all its pupils have online access to lessons.
Supporting our most vulnerable children is a key priority, said Mr Sullivan.
“Ensuring every child has access to a device, staggering assembly times to help parents supporting multiple siblings, and even setting up a ‘test student’ account to see how the system works from a child’s perspective, have all been instrumental in our efforts to keep children learning,” he explained.
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“But what matters most is making sure that children are still learning, and so we developed an approach to assess and track engagement in remote learning to ensure that no child goes unnoticed.”
It means follow up phone calls if any child does not take part in the live assemblies, as well as daily phone calls for every child we have identified as requiring additional support.
“Keeping these relationships strong is right at the heart of our remote learning success and is easily as important as the technological side of things,” he added.