Coping with Covid-19 – How myON supports distance learning at Plumcroft Primary
By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager
The coronavirus pandemic has forced schools to adapt quickly to enable students to keep learning, most of them from home. With little time to react to the decision to close schools to almost all students across the country, the pressure was on to find innovative and practical solutions.
In this post, read about the approach taken by staff, students and parents at Plumcroft Primary School in Greenwich, south London – a long-time user of Renaissance solutions and early adopter of myON – who quickly established a distance learning portal with myON Projects at the heart of their solution.
Richard Slade, Headteacher
“When the signal was clear that schools would close due to COVID-19, our attention quickly turned to how to engage pupils over distance. The challenge was to continue learning, provide structure and maintain standards for every child, whilst also engaging parents. We have many Pupil Premium, free school meal and English as an additional language pupils at our school, so engaging with all groups was a key focus in our planning.
“The challenge was to continue learning, provide structure and maintain standards for every child, whilst also engaging parents.”
“Having dismissed the idea of photocopying work packs for sustainability reasons, it was the teaching team who first suggested utilising myON Projects, which they felt could be a great way of us engaging with all pupils in a variety of learning styles.”
Relieving pressure on parents
“The focus on mental wellbeing and pastoral care was also at the forefront of our initial planning. We were concerned that parents could become overwhelmed by the perceived ‘perfection’ of others, especially from social media, which could lead to an impractical timetable for pupils. That is why myON Projects is such an ideal solution, as it puts the onus back on us – the professionals – to create teaching projects and assign them to the children.
“Once we had decided that myON Projects would be our tool of choice, we set our year group teaching teams the task of creating differentiated projects suitable for each class. To help keep things simple for parents, we created the Plumcroft Distance Learning Portal on our website, with regular updates – and the response has been fantastic.”
Engaging the whole school
“The whole-school NHS Nightingale Project is a particular favourite of mine. The children are assigned age-appropriate books to read along with a variety of tasks, including art projects that can be supervised by parents. The completed tasks are then submitted online by the children, which are then seen by the teachers and allows them to provide valuable, motivating feedback that is beneficial to both the child and parent.
“From a school perspective, it’s also up to us to track engagement. It’s great to know who is engaging, but in many ways it’s far more important to know those pupils who aren’t engaging for whatever reason, because that’s going to be our potential ‘tail of underachievement’. Using the individual reading data available will be vital in ensuring we monitor the pupils who are disengaged, and intercept early.
“My long-term hope is that by the time we get to September – if we’ve done our job right – we’ll have ensured that a good level of reading engagement has been achieved and sustained, as this is the kind of core activity that enables accesses to the rest of the curriculum. myON Projects will then continue to be one of our key delivery tools in terms of engagement as it supports deep learning, as opposed to just reading.”
–Richard Slade, headteacher at Plumcroft Primary School
Nicola Burton, Year 6 class teacher
“I have found that teaching in its traditional form has been impossible in the current situation, so we’ve had to be flexible and adapt to the platforms we have available to us. We have had to rethink what it is we want our children to achieve during this period, and how best we can help them to do that. As always, some children will not engage as well as others, but this is also true of the classroom – so it has been a matter of tailoring learning to meet individual needs.
“This is where myON has been invaluable: it allows us to assign projects on an individual basis as well as a whole-class basis in an efficient way. myON itself has such a vast range of books to cater for so many abilities, not to mention interests, that we’ve been able to offer our children projects that are fun, interesting, and can involve the whole family. Involving their grown-ups in their learning can by the key to engagement.
“myON Projects have played a huge part in getting the children engaging with online learning.”
“We have found that myON Projects have played a huge part in getting the children engaging with online learning. We have used the different task settings to attach YouTube links, research links and to add poetry and art tasks, as well as the more formal writing tasks. We’ve also found that being able to set the children more creative-based tasks using myON Projects has the advantage of engaging most children – not just the more academic ones, but also the harder to reach kids. Once the children are online, then it’s much easier to engage them in the more formal learning platforms of Accelerated Maths and Accelerated Reader.”
–Nicola Burton, Year 6 class teacher at Plumcroft Primary School
Fiona Dussard, parent of Year 6 pupil
“To be honest, I’m not enjoying distance learning/working from home, but as a family we understand the importance of it. We are very keen to keep our minds and bodies active during this time, and the school setting projects for the kids to engage them has been a welcome addition to the routine for us – as you can see in our ‘Floating Raft’ task.
“The kids have really enjoyed the project set for them by the teachers, and they really enjoy the choice of such a wide range of books through myON – and especially enjoy the quizzes that you can take on Accelerated Reader.”
–Fiona Dussard, parent of a child in Year 6 at Plumcroft Primary School
To learn more about how Renaissance supports distance learning at Plumcroft Primary School, sign up to watch our on-demand webinar. watch this webinar. To see how we’re supporting students and teachers during school closures, click here.
Strategic Education Manager
Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.