Rydal Penrhos’ Additional Learning Needs department has worked exceptionally hard to remove the remote learning barrier during the lockdown.
It has been argued that pupils with Additional Learning Needs have been disproportionally affected by the various lockdown periods over the last 12 months due to COVID-19. However, at Rydal Penrhos, the level of support has not only continued, but in some areas has increased to ensure that pupils can access regular check-ins, wellbeing support, organisational assistance as well as academic overlearning, planning and support.
Recent Guidance from the UK Government stated:
The aim of education is to deliver a high-quality curriculum so that pupils know more and remember more. Remote education is one way of doing so. The aim of high-quality remote learning is to ‘dissolve the screen’ to remove the remote barrier.
This is something that has been especially evident at Rydal Penrhos during the second educational lockdown. The introduction of free iPads for all pupils has been a major asset in the current climate, with ALN staff encouraging the use of this state-of-the-art technology to improve independent learning.
Sarah Seenan, head of Rydal Penrhos’ ALN department, said: “The iPad voice to text dictation facility has allowed pupils who often find putting their ideas down on paper to independently create imaginative pieces of writing.
“The immersive reader facility then allows them to independently review and check their work for errors. Those pupils who have Bluetooth keyboards have stated that they have transformed their iPad into a mini laptop.”
A recent study from the Education Endowment Foundation examined the best evidence for supporting pupils to learn remotely identified five key areas:
Teaching quality is more important than how lessons are delivered
High-quality lessons have continued at Rydal Penrhos over the last 12 months thanks to the sterling commitment of staff. This has ensured goals remain unaltered and there has been a minimal loss of learning despite the obvious disruption.
Ensuring access to technology is key, especially for disadvantaged pupils
The introduction of free iPads has ensured each pupil has access to the technology required to engage with live lessons, in addition to receiving expert support and guidance from teaching staff whenever they require it. This has been highly beneficial from a learning standpoint, which will be brought back into face-to=face learning when all pupils return by Monday 22 March.
Peer interactions can provide motivation and improve learning outcomes
Rydal Penrhos introduced virtual form time activities to encourage peer interaction along with lesson activities. This was implemented with a view to enhancing the wellbeing of pupils in such an uncertain time and included things such as bake-offs, puzzles, desert island discs and many more fun-filled activities.
Supporting pupils to work independently can improve learning outcomes
The IT skills of the pupils have taken a sharp upturn thanks to their exceptional ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment. The use of Microsoft Teams, OneNote and OneDrive have given pupils an added dimension to their learning, which were incredibly well received and even fun to learn for young and old.
Different approaches to remote learning suit different types of content and pupils
The commitment to pastoral care has ensured that pupils’ individual needs are recognised constantly at Rydal Penrhos. Children’s mental health matters are more important than ever before and this is something that has been recognised throughout the school before COVID-19 and will be at the forefront of educational planning long after pandemic concerns have diminished.
Alison Hind, Head of Pastoral Care at Rydal Penrhos, added: “The wellbeing of all our pupils is of paramount importance, hence a number of initiatives were launched to help all members of the community feel connected and supported
“This included Health and Wellbeing sessions via Teams, live workouts delivered by members of the Health and Wellbeing faculty and a new reading initiative and various related activities have also been launched.
“Form Tutors are always in regular contact with their tutees and are there to assist with any concerns in the first instance.
“Our Heads of Key Stage are very experienced in pastoral care and, alongside a number of other members of staff, have undertaken Mental Health First Aid training to provide an added layer of support and identify and liaise with support services as required.
“Reverend Nick Sissons, our Chaplain, also holds qualifications in MHFA and, as ever, was on hand to help when required.”
Anyone wishing to enquire about Rydal Penrhos School can do so by calling 01492 530155, email email@example.com or register your interest online here: https://rydalpenrhos.com/admissions/apply-now.