Remote learning during the COVID pandemic
This information is intended to provide clarity and transparency to students and parents or carers about what to expect from remote education where national or local restrictions require entire cohorts (or bubbles) to remain at home or where individual students are self isolating.
Students working at home should expect to receive exactly the same curriculum as is available in normal circumstances on the academy site. Parents and carers can be assured that if students engage with their prep and lessons with all their effort, there should be no loss of education and progress. We are not providing a cursory or makeshift solution to the lockdown but a comprehensive curriculum which is exactly the same – with the exception of core PE – as would be delivered in the academy building. The content is the same and the method by which we assess student progress and keep a check is exactly the same. Students should be completing their prep, attempting their prep quizzes in online lessons and submitting what we call ‘consolidation tasks’ for marking so that we can see their progress. This is exactly what we do in normal circumstances. The only difference is the method of lesson delivery.
We have moved remotely to Microsoft Teams to ensure that this is possible. Students have an individualised timetable of online lessons which has been sent home. This timetable is inclusive of all core subjects, humanities, arts and languages – in fact all subjects which students would have studied in normal circumstances. There is an exception for core P.E. for obvious reasons but all students are offered access to a fitness ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ video, filmed by the PE staff and published on Microsoft Teams for all to access at any time.
The academy will also be continuing to deliver weekly ‘personal development’ briefings to provide education in PSHE and personal development topics, mental health and well-being, drug awareness, and how to study well at home to name a few. These sessions are short assembly-style messages, delivered in the same way as lessons are sequenced.
We are also ensuring that students are still able to access enrichment activities where we can. One way in which we have offered this is by inviting students to a virtual theatre in place of our usual trips to theatre. Here, students are able to gain a better understanding of texts, novels and eras they are studying.
During usual academy operation, students are expected to further support their own studies with novels and educational apps and websites, such as ‘Bedrock’ for vocabulary, ’Mymaths’ for Maths practice, and ‘Linguascope’ for languages. This is still in place and tasks and log-ins have been re-issued to students. Data from these platforms are collected, correlated and followed up by staff.
Where Federation exams are timetabled, students will all receive the same examination paper they would have received in the academy, which is sent via Microsoft Teams and handed in online for teachers to mark. Teachers are able to access data such as time spent on the paper and how many times the paper was minimised to look for clarity and honesty in students’ responses to exams. For SEND students who have access arrangements during exams, students will be invited into the academy to allow for those arrangements to be made. ‘Read aloud’ functions and overlays are also available where attendance is not possible.
Finally, compulsory interventions that were in place to support students’ progress particularly if they have an educational need, are still in place on Teams, over the phone and, in special cases, in person.
What should students expect immediately on being sent home?
If we have to send students or bubbles home and the rest of the academy are in the building, students will normally be able to log on to Microsoft Teams to view from home the lessons they are missing. Teachers are able to share their lessons at the click of the button, so students at home and in academy can access the same content at the same time. Please see the penultimate section for further details on this.
In addition, of course, Prep Packs are a fixed provision, so students should already have their packs to work on in the normal way. Students are also able to access Prep Packs via the academy website, student portal or Microsoft Teams.
For those with additional learning needs, an adapted version of the Prep Pack is available and will be allocated to students accordingly.
Are there any differences between what students could expect at home and what they expect in the academy as normal?
The academy has tried to transfer as much of the ‘in-academy’ experience as possible. Online lessons have been carefully designed to look as familiar as possible. To do this, the lesson layout and sequence will match the scheme of work already set out. The structure of lessons (‘Do now,’ ‘Prep Quiz,’ lesson, and ‘Consolidation task’) is an arrangement that teachers at Riverside have had in place prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, so students will be conversant with this. This is the same for Prep Packs and pastoral members of staff monitoring behaviour.
At the beginning of lessons, students will enter their class meeting online, and much in the same way as in the academy, complete a ‘Prep quiz’ which tests their recall of the core knowledge facts in the prep article they have read and then complete a short writing task, known as a ‘Do Now’ which is designed to show their understanding of the core knowledge in the prep article. As the students are used to, this is followed by their lesson which consolidates and embeds the core knowledge in the order of their teacher’s lesson plans, and finally a ‘Consolidation task’; a short writing task at the end to secure the information they have just been delivered.
During the lesson, teachers will give students the opportunity to ask questions in the chat box and they may even ask specific children to feedback and answer questions too.
For the ‘Consolidation task’ at the end of lessons, teachers will set the task as an assignment, and allow students to go away and complete this by a certain time. The teacher will stay present in the teams meeting for a while to allow students to receive initial support.
Members of the pastoral team will be present in lessons to reinforce behaviour rules, and other staff are also present to undertake specific roles designed to ensure that the TEAMS experience runs safely and smoothly such as reminding students to join, allowing students into the lesson and regulating the ‘chat’ function. These roles allow the teacher to focus on delivery and assisting students.
How many hours of remote lessons and study is set each day?
Key Stage 3
4.5 Hours per day of lessons
1.5 hours per day of prep and consolidation
Totaling 6 hours per day
Key Stage 4
4.5 Hours per day of lessons
1.5 hours per day of prep and consolidation
Totaling 6 hours per day
These hours may vary slightly for SEND students who may be invited to interventions prior to or at the end of an academy day. Individual students will be contacted with this information.
Lesson timings run from 9.15 to 3.30 and are arranged to ensure a 15 minute break in the morning and a half hour break for lunch.
Students need access to the internet for remote education, as all lessons are streamed on Microsoft Teams. The lessons are live but recorded as they are presented, so students may access these later if they are unable for any reason to access them live.
Students receive hard copies of their Prep Packs, and so should continue to use those ahead of their lessons. These are also accessible via Teams and the academy website for download or can be collected from reception at the academy at a safe, social distance.
Where teachers would hand out paper copies of resources and worksheets in class, these have now been made available online, and are shared with the class at the time they are needed.
Quizzes and consolidation tasks have been transferred onto ‘Microsoft Forms,’ which allows students to type or select appropriate answers.
As described earlier, access to other software programs and apps and provision of novels or plays continues.
We have been fortunate enough to be granted some laptops by the government under the ‘get help with technology programme.’ In most cases, our highest priority is to allow disadvantaged students who do not have access to a device, or disadvantaged children with special educational needs and disabilities to borrow laptops. We maintain a waiting list of students of whose needs we are aware and they will be contacted when a laptop becomes available.
Laptops are loaned to parents or guardians, and must be signed for.
Students can access any materials if they do not have internet access by informing the academy office who will organise for hard copies of the materials to be sent home via the post or collection from the academy office if at a safe social-distance. Prep packs and novels are, in any event, available as a hard copy.
Students completing work in this way can return their work back to teachers either via post or bringing work in and dropping it off at the front office.
For any student that is not able to access the internet, has not been allocated a laptop, and cannot return work or collect it through the post or visiting the academy, the academy is open and functioning – as part of our provision for the vulnerable students and key workers. Parents and carers in this position should contact the academy.
For temporary assistance, we have a team of staff available during academy hours for live troubleshooting of common problems.
For more information on the governments “get help with technology” scheme, please visit
All students are expected to attend all online lessons on time or attend our provision for the vulnerable and children of key workers (which we refer to as our ‘small school,’) if eligible.
All students are expected to engage fully with lesson content and complete any work set by teachers. The completion of ‘prep quizzes’ and ‘consolidation tasks’ is monitored and – as usual – is compulsory.
Students are expected to prepare themselves for their lesson in the normal way by reading and internalising the contents of the Prep Pack ready for the completion of their ‘prep quiz’ and ‘do now’ in the lesson. Even where students know that they may not be able to attend a live online lesson and will watch it as a recorded lesson, they should still complete the prep work, the ‘do now,’ the ‘prep quiz’ and the ‘consolidation task.’
Our rigorous standard behaviour rules still apply and in addition the pastoral team have issued and delivered via TEAMS to students ‘standards of etiquette’ required in online lessons. These include, for example, using the ‘chat’ for content related questions only and writing in the ‘chat’ in standard English only.
Members of the senior leadership team and the pastoral team monitor lessons continuously to ensure that these standards are observed and apply the same methods of intervening in poor behaviour as they would in the academy; first reminding students and then warning them and then removing them from the lesson. If a removal occurs, parents or carers will be called.
We are hopeful that as many parents or carers as possible attend our periodic ‘information evenings’ which allow us to deliver information to parents and carers so they are well informed regarding the platforms students are using.
We also expect parents or carers to communicate with the academy if there are any issues, including but not limited to; technology, lesson/Prep content, safeguarding, mental health or behavioural concerns.
We also kindly ask that all parents and carers keep their contact details up to date with the academy office to allow us to communicate effectively
The attendance of each student is monitored immediately. During the lesson, the teacher, the staff assisting in the lesson and pastoral team members monitor attendance and send a ‘request to join’ invitation to absent students directly from the software. We have asked all parents and carers to remind students to download the TEAMS App on to their smart ’phones if they have one so that these automatic ‘request to join’ invites call the student’s ‘phones.
If students do not attend, have not accepted the ‘request to join’ above and staff are unaware that they will be absent, then a member of staff will make phone calls home to parents and carers in the same way that we would treat un-authorised absences within the usual academy routine. If calls home are not picked up after many attempts, a doorstop visit during that week may be necessary.
Absences to interventions will be followed up with a courtesy email.
‘Do Nows,’ ‘Quizzes’ and ‘Consolidation tasks’ are monitored for completion and quality. Teachers and administrative staff are able to access data such as; scores for Prep quizzes, progress on commercial apps such as ‘Bedrock,’ time spent on tasks and how many times the student has minimised the screen. This data gives us a good insight into student engagement.
Concerns will be passed onto pastoral staff who will follow up with ‘phone calls home. Concerns for SEND students will be passed onto the SENCO who will ensure appropriate provision is applied.
We have revamped our ‘My child at School’ platform to give parents and carers even more in-depth information about their child’s learning than we have been able to offer before. Here, parents and carers can review their child’s attendance and Prep scores.
Learning support staff will monitor progress against individual student targets.
Prep quizzes are used to test independent engagement with the Prep articles. Feedback on Prep quizzes are distributed immediately to students themselves via the “check results now” button at the end of their quiz where Microsoft Forms has been used.
Staff are able to access data from these scores not only on an individual basis but also in groups such as SEND students or vulnerable students for example, and this will be addressed suitably.
The usual protocol for Prep quizzes is then followed up by staff, where prep scores will be uploaded onto ‘My child at school’ so parents and carers can see the data for themselves. Members of staff will call home where necessary to inform parents and carers of scores that require improvement, and to give assistance with accessing the Prep Pack.
Feedback on Consolidation tasks in some circumstances is immediate for GCSE students; teachers are able to edit and give feedback live where appropriate.
In all other cases, teachers will assess what students know and have remembered from the prep and the lesson and give feedback on tasks and assignments before the next lesson. Feedback is given on any gaps in learning and any core knowledge that the teacher feels they need to re-teach.
For formal exams and assessments, such as Federation exams, the usual protocol will apply whereby data reports will summarise examination results.
We recognise that some students, for example those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND,) may not be able to access remote education without support from adults at home. We acknowledge the difficulties this may place on families and we will work with parents and carers to support those students in the following ways:
By delivering group and 1:1 interventions as often and as richly as is available in the academy under normal circumstances, for example:
- Read, Write, Inc.
- Toe by toe
- Speech and language therapy
- Reading intervention
- Maths intervention
- Entry level GCSEs
- Social skills club
Students with an EHCP or moderate-high level SEND are invited to attend the ‘small school’ which allows access to LSA support and smaller, intense academy sessions. Here, teachers and LSAs can either deliver slow breakdowns of lessons, or help students access the same lesson content as everyone else and offer reading assistance and discussions as a class in relation to the work being asked of them. The small academy is also an opportunity to support those with needs such as routine and minimal change to be implemented.
The SEND department are working hard to ensure that students with an EHCP have their requested hours of support met either through ‘small school’ LSA support, 1:1 interventions or group interventions.
Weekly welfare calls are conducted to speak to both parents or carers and students, and concerns may be passed on here.
The academy counsellors and psychologist is still available for those who have been referred.
Tutorials on how to access the ‘read aloud’ function, enlarging text and a digital coloured overlay for dyslexic students are made available either during 1:1 sessions on Teams or through a link to a video.