Just like all schools across the UK, Epping Forest’s Oak-Tree Group has had to adapt its provision to cater for home learning and online education while schools were closed due to the pandemic.
Claire Osborn, Group Education Principal, discusses why she feels that the latest period of home learning has been so successful; “The Oak-Tree Heads and teaching teams created a home learning programme that reflected as closely as possible the high-quality, personalised learning experience that the children would experience in school.
Not only have they been able to access innovative and purposeful live lessons, but they have continued to create opportunities for children to connect with their friends and peers in form times and group work, and have also provided a personalised experience with one-to-one or small group sessions and daily pastoral support. In addition to this, special initiatives to support pupils and families have included mental health and wellbeing resources, guidance about internet safety and regular contact and wellbeing calls to families.
We have planned carefully to ensure that our pupils can feel happy and confident to return to school once the lockdown has ended, but we also recognise that for some pupils, this time has been extremely challenging and so our wellbeing teams are well-prepared to provide additional support to those pupils who may need it.”
Mrs Jacqueline Job, Headmistress of Normanhurst School believes that listening to the parents was key to the success of the online learning programme. “We have kept in touch with the parents throughout the process in the form of surveys, well-being phone calls, calls from the teachers to discuss specific pupil needs, and even virtual parents’ evenings.”
“We tried to make the pupils’ time at home as engaging and interesting as possible. In addition to the normal learning, we set tasks and themed days including Homemade Soup Day, exercise challenges, raising money for charity, enjoying the ‘Big Bird Watch’, taking virtual visits to the zoo, producing some exceptional artwork and so much more,” adds Miss Moreen Barnard, Head of Coopersale Hall in Epping.
Mrs Moon, Headmistress of Braeside School in Buckhurst Hill recognises the need to support the children when they return to school. “When we return, staff will be focusing on reintegrating children back into their daily routines, into learning alongside their peers and helping to nurture friendships once again. Pupils will need support for their wellbeing – both physical and mental. This will be built into our short-term and long-term planning.”
Sue Belej, Headmistress of Oaklands School in Loughton, agrees, “When the children return, we will need to ensure there are no gaps in their learning. We have a comprehensive assessment programme throughout the school that will be used to check their levels of Maths, English, phonics, spellings and general language and literacy. These will provide an up to date snapshot of each child’s level of learning in all these areas to provide the basis for individual targets and identify those children who may need support through Intervention Workshops.”