Remote Learning at Balfron High School

Overview

From Monday 11th January we returned to remote learning for all of our learners, as announced in December and extended on 4th January. For now we understand that this will be until at least Mid February.

Though remote learning has its limitations, recent research by the Education Endowment Foundation (April 2020) has suggested that remote learning can be successful.

“Pupils can learn through remote teaching.

Ensuring the elements of effective teaching are present – for example clear explanations, scaffolding and feedback – is more important than how or when they are provided. There was no clear difference between teaching in real time (“synchronous teaching”) and alternatives (“asynchronous teaching”). For example, teachers might explain a new idea live or in a pre-recorded video. But what matters most is whether the explanation builds clearly on pupils’ prior learning or how pupils’ understanding is subsequently assessed.”

We are in a good place to deliver remote earning over January because:

  • Our teachers have been busy developing their skills in using Google G-Suite and have made great use of Google Classroom and other apps within the suite.
  • Our teachers have shared innovative practice and we have been proactive in sharing examples of good practice within team meetings.
  • We have established an excellent set of digital support resources for teaching staff and learners alike.
  • All of our teachers have been issued with laptops, with cameras built in.
  • All of our learners have been issued with Chromebooks. Learners have become used to and have developed skills in learning using G-Suite, especially Google Classroom, Docs, Slides and Google Forms, and being issued work and getting feedback in Google Classroom using posts and assignments.
  • We have developed streamlined systems of communication for learners to have contact with class teachers, pupil support staff and to flag technical issues with technicians.

What is remote Learning ?

Education Scotland have defined this as,

“learning that is directed by practitioners and undertaken by children and young people who are not physically with the practitioner while instruction is taking place.

 What should learners and parents expect?

For us, this will mean learners being engaged in a range of ways, primarily directed through our Google Classrooms. Work will be assigned there and materials such as PowerPoint style presentations, notes – written / audio, short video clips and more will be used to engage learners and support them to undertake tasks to the best of their ability and enable them to learn. Learners will be able to ask for support through the class stream, or can email their teachers directly.

 Feedback

Remote learning does not replicate the full time classroom based experience and degrees of appropriate learner autonomy, flexibility, parental support, and independent learning are assumed. Teachers will follow their timetables and should be on-hand to support learners, however, please do not expect immediate responses. Our teachers will do their best to support, but be mindful that they will be supporting multiple young people during that time and may have other important priorities demanding their attention.

Whilst work will be assigned, not all pieces will be marked/marked in detail with feedback by the teacher. This is entirely normal, as the teacher is best placed to prioritise the way for tasks and formative assessment to be reviewed. It may be more appropriate at times to skim work for quick feedback, use peers assessment strategies and buddy up learners or for learners to self-assess using success criteria / marking instructions. This method of managing feedback, “Four Quarters”, is normal practice and grounded in research by Dylan William.

Guardian Summaries

We recognise that parents and carers are vital partners in our work. This function will remain in place to allow for parental engagement. The summary will continue to take place each week and give parents / carers a good overview of work posted, submitted and outstanding.

 Equity

All learners should now have a device to support with the remote learning package that we are providing. We have issued Chromebooks to all learners to remove any barriers to digital learning. If there are any issues with Broadband we may be able to support with MiFi dongles – please contact the school office email for support with this.

We recognise that other factors around equity may exist for learners and their families, from competing pressures at home, lack of study space, stretched bandwidth due to numerous devices operating at the same time, young people with caring responsibilities, to name a few. We will alleviate if we can for factors affecting our learners and we will always show compassion and understanding where barriers to learning exist.

Free School Meals

Free School meals can be applied for at any time during the school year. The eligibility criteria and a link to the application form can be found here – https://www.stirling.gov.uk/learning-education/schools/school-meals-uniforms/footwear-clothing-grant-school-meals/.

If you would like some more information or to speak to someone about your situation, please contact the school and ask for Dr. Appelquist. Alternatively, you can reach her by email appelquistc01s@glow.sch.uk

Stirling Council have also committed to making Free School Meals payments over school holidays in February and Easter in 2021.

Educational Maintenance Allowance

The Educational Maintenance Allowance can be applied for at any time in the school term and as soon as a pupil turns 16 years of age and meets the requirements regarding household income. Full information as well as the form can be found at the following link –

https://www.stirling.gov.uk/learning-education/schools/school-meals-uniforms/education-maintenance-allowance-ema/.

Again, if you would like more information or just to discuss if your child would be eligible please email the school.

Stay Period Protected Stirling

Free sanitary products will continue to be available in school during the next few weeks. There will be a pickup spot at the front entrance to the school where any pupil that requires some can pick up what they need.

As ever, if you have any questions or require any assistance with any of the information above or any equity related issue please get in contact with Dr Appelquist and we will endeavour to help in any way we can. Please email our school office should you wish to discuss support with us.

 Google Meet

Some teachers may engage learners in “live” meetings using Google Meet where this is appropriate for the learning. Others may prefer recorded videos that they post up using this function. Please note that there is absolutely no obligation for our teachers to use this method of delivery. Some teachers may prefer and be more confident with other platforms to engage learners. What matters most is that learners are being engaged, stretched and challenged to a point that will allow them to progress with learning and develop their ability with us over this period.

Google Meet does require consent. Teachers will manage this for their own classes.

Parents/carers should not attend any live Google Meet that has been created for the teacher to engage their students.

If a parent /carer wishes to contact the school then they should use the normal, established process of contacting the Form Class Leader or Principal Teacher Pupil support for their son/daughter. If they are curious about lesson content then they should discuss this as a useful consolidation exercise with their child. Other supports will be highlighted within this document to support with parental engagement in the learning.

Please see a parent guide to Google Meets here; Parent Guide

Please see a learner guide to Google Meets here; Learner Guide

We are working in partnership to support the learners of Balfron High School. Our staff are absolutely dedicated and hardworking professionals, but equally we are still developing our skills in this area and will find this period of remote learning challenging. Just like many of you, lots of us are parents, caring for other relatives, working in our school Hub supervising and juggling many other important priorities. This may get in the way of immediate responses or live teaching, but we will do our utmost, as always, to provide the best education we can to our learners. Our young people are in a fortunate position to have our team in their corner and to have been so well equipped with Chromebooks from Stirling Council.

What do we expect of learners?

All learners should follow their timetables each day and log in to their appropriate Google Classrooms for the subject timetabled. Class teachers will be following these times too, so this will allow the greatest opportunity for support. We hope that this structure will support with learners feeling more organised and that it will create a supportive scaffold to structure their days and keep them in a routine for their return to in-class learning.

Please see our school day timings here: School Day Times

Learners should complete all assigned tasks as directed by the teacher. Whilst we recognise that there is a greater degree of flexibility and autonomy in remote learning, young people should not pick and choose which tasks they complete. Teachers and promoted staff will be monitoring and measuring participation and repeated failures to engage with/complete work may lead to interventions to support learners back to full engagement.

Learners must maintain their usual high standards of behaviour when engaging with teaching staff and their peers whilst using our virtual learning platforms. As is normal in school, any failure to meet with our school standards, expectations and values will initiate an intervention to support the learner to better positive engagement.

 Mental Health

We recognise that remote learning will be better suited to some learners and other may feel isolated from their routines, school supports, friends and their social lives. As a school we are committed to our safeguarding responsibilities. Each young person has an assigned Form Class Leader or Principal Teacher of Pupil Support (PTPS) who will remain on-hand to support with any pastoral issues. Where a need arises please get in touch with the appropriate FCL/PTPS or House Depute Head Teacher to seek support. We encourage our young people and parents / carers to reach out to us for support where needed.

By way of some general well being advice, learners should keep their days varied and maintain a healthy balance between their school work, exercise and socialisation. We hope that the routine of following their usual timetables supports with this and encourage learners to;

  • take regular breaks from learning, as we do in school during interval and lunchtime
  • Eat healthily and stay hydrated
  • Avoid too much screen time – remote learning does not all have to be done digitally! Taking breaks, chunking tasks and seeking a range of study activities should help keep learning fresh and stimulating rather than overwhelming
  • Get outdoors – Stirlingshire is a beautiful place to exercise in and explore – go for a walk / run / cycle etc each day and escape from the screen / school work and refresh your mind to make it better able to cope
  • Find time to chat with friends either online or by phone – remember this can also be a fun part of study routines and peer assessment

Again, if a learner is beginning to struggle with their mental health, please reach out and seek support from us and we will do what we can to be there and support.

The School Counselling Service is still available.
Karin Figliolini is our counsellor.
Counselling and Time2Talk is still available via telephone and video calls
You can contact Karin the school counsellor on-
Email: figliolinik@stirling.gov.uk
Telephone: 07881311001
Also, the following resources are available to help:
https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/looking-after-yourself/coronavirus-and-mental-health/

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/stirlingeps/information-for-young-people/

Other online platforms for curricular support

 e-Sgoil

e-Sgoil is a national platform where live teaching, resources and Senior Phase study support is being offered. There are live lessons on during the school day and these can be signed up for pupils by teachers, however, we anticipate that most learners will not require this resource for day time lessons and that our own BHS virtual learning environments should keep our learners busy.

Senior Phase Study Support takes place in the evening and we recommend this for N5 – AH level study.  More information and the sign up sheet can be found here; e-Sgoil info

ACHIEVE

Achieve is an online learning resource that covers many of the N5 & Higher courses taught in Balfron HS.  It requires a subscription – the school subscription code has been shared through the S4/5/6 Google Classrooms on 16th February 2021.  You can view the intro video here: Achieve: Learn – Assess – Self-evaluate – YouTube

 SCHOLAR

For certain subjects, many learners in the Senior Phase (S4 – 6) will be very familiar with SCHOLAR . SCHOLAR contains online resources and sometimes there are live and recorded video sessions for subjects. Follow Scholar on Twitter @SCHOLARuk to find these. Learners already have their username (their SQA SCN number) and password (that their teacher also has access to).  To access, click here:  SCHOLAR Login

SQA sites

For Senior Phase learners the SQA website offers access to past exam papers and the marking instructions for them. These are excellent consolidation tools and offer learners the opportunity to test themselves using real past papers. These can be accessed here; Past paper finder

There is also the understanding standards site that provides useful guidance and information on qualifications. This can be accessed here; https://www.understandingstandards.org.uk/

 BBC Bitesize

This site offers a great range of subjects and levels covering S1 -S3 and Senior Phase qualifications. You should narrow down to the Scottish resources and then the subject and stage specific material. Use this link to access; https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize

 SPEC – Stirling’s Digital Learning Hub

Please see sections here for secondary learners and parents.

Learners area: https://spec.stirlingschools.net/secondary-hub/secondary-learners

Parents area: https://spec.stirlingschools.net/secondary-hub/secondary-parents-and-carers

 

Further information

Our school Twitter – @balfronhigh

Our school website: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/st/balfronhighschool/

Google classrooms – keep checking in and you can contact teacher for learning ideas and guidance here.

SCHOLAR – https://scholar.hw.ac.uk/using.html#parents

 

What if I have more questions?

Please email any questions to the school email and we will do our very best to answer them.  balfronhs@glow.sch.uk

The Head Teacher will continue to email updates – keep checking these for vital updates and news.

We look forward to working as a team and in partnership with our families to utilise our Google Classrooms and technology to enhance the learning and teaching for our learners.

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