Distance Learning Letter – 28th September 2020

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28 September 2020


Dear Parents/Carers,

The purpose of this letter is to outline to you the approach that we will take to distance learning, should it become necessary.  Thus far our arrangements are working well and attendance is good, however we need to be prepared for all circumstances. We will endeavour to keep the academy open for as long as possible for all students, however in the current circumstances there are a range of scenarios that may require some students or staff to stay at home. There are also circumstances where the academy may be directed to close for a proportion, or even all of the students, for a fixed period of time. The purpose of this document is to outline how we will manage the range of circumstances that we may be faced with.

The key principles that underpin this remote learning plan are set out in the Government Guidance on the Reopening of Schools (August 2020). This guidance states that, “remote education, where needed, is high quality, safe and aligns as closely as possible with in-school provision: schools and other settings should continue to build their capability to educate students remotely, where this is needed.”

In developing this contingency plan, we are expected to:

  • Use a curriculum sequence that allows access to high-quality online/offline resources and teaching videos that are linked to our curriculum expectations.
  • Give access to high quality remote education resources via our distance learning website 
  • Select the online tools that will be consistently used across the school in order to allow interaction, assessment and feedback, and make sure staff are trained in their use (Google Classroom).
  • Recognise that younger students and some students with SEND may not be able to access remote education without adult support, and so we will work with families to deliver a broad and ambitious curriculum.
  • Assess appropriately, providing suitable guidance and feedback based on the work that is undertaken.

Currently the small number of students who are absent from school each day are able to collect the work that they have missed from their Google Classroom. Teachers will upload the lesson resources they have used each day and pupils, once they are well enough, should use these to stay up to date and catch up if needed. 

There is a possibility in the future that if Dartford becomes an area of concern that all schools will enter the government’s ‘Contain’ strategy (see annex 3 of the following document for the full detail: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/containing-and-managing-local-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreaks/covid-19-contain-framework-a-guide-for-local-decision-makers) .

Tier 1 of this strategy would not change our current arrangements, but if the government put us into Tier 2 schools would be required to reduce the number of students on-site. In these circumstances we would implement a week on-site and week off-site learning strategy. Students would follow their ‘normal timetable’, accessing the full curriculum. Whilst on-site, the teaching would be face-to-face with their usual class teacher (where possible). The off-site teaching would follow our Blended Learning Strategy. Year 11 and 13 would be exempt from this strategy and would be in school full time to aid their preparations for public exams.

In the case of a whole year bubble being required to self-isolate, teachers will deliver ‘live’ lessons from the academy as per the timetable. Students will be expected to log in, if they are able, at the time of their lesson. A register will be taken and absence followed up centrally. We appreciate that not all students will have access to appropriate equipment to do this and we will ensure printed resources are made available. 

If at any point in the future we were facing the prospect of whole academy closure, our response will be dependent on the circumstances at the time. In a regional lockdown, staff will be expected to place detailed and comprehensive resources on the Google Classroom for lessons taking place the next day. As much as possible, these will contain rich media such as video and audio linked with presentations. These will be supplemented by live lessons, but the frequency of these will need to be determined based on the local situation. In a localised Wilmington Academy closure, staff will provide live lessons as per the timetable for pupils to log in and access augmented materials placed on Google Classroom.

Whilst we fervently hope that these arrangements will not be required, I would reassure both parents/carers and students that we remain committed to all our students regardless of their circumstances. Whilst there is no doubt that being physically present in the academy is by far the best option for all students, if circumstances arise that prevent this,  we will do our utmost to ensure a positive learning experience continues for all.

Yours faithfully,

Mr M Gore