Richard Anderton, teacher at Meer Green Primary School spoke to Birmingham Eastside about the challenges of remote learning.
All schools and colleges across the UK are closed to most students and moved to remote learning till mid-February. However, children of key workers and vulnerable children can still access schools.
Although it’s not a perfect way to teach and learn, teachers and students have shown flexibility throughout the pandemic. Anderton said:
“I have seen first hand the resilience of teachers and their students to ensure that effective learning still takes place.”
Richard said that it is easier to support children when everyone is in the same classroom and it’s really hard to replace the face-to-face learning experience.
“Collaboration between children is more natural and everyone benefits from the social aspect of school life, whether that’s in the playground or the classroom.”
Many teachers and students have faced a lot of challenges with homeschooling since the first lockdown but the biggest challenge is to ensure that everyone has equipment to access their online classes.
Richard said that all children at Mere Green Primary School from years 2-6 have their own iPad and are “extremely confident with digital technology”.
“For the last three years, we have used a digital workflow system called Showbie where teachers can set work for their class to complete on their iPad. This has meant both staff and pupils were prepared for when lockdown was announced and enabled engaging and purposeful learning to take place.”
According to Richard, Mere Green Primary School, is one of the few schools across the UK that are fortunate enough to have access to such technology.
“As a school community, we realise that we are in the minority of schools”
“Remote learning has brought to light the technology divide that is evident across the country. It would be great to see children have technology available to them no matter their socio-economic background or upbringing.”
Richard believes that although government is “moving in the right direction when it comes to free laptop and tablet schemes” there’s always place for improvement and government could do more to ensure that every child across the nation has digital equipment.
To engage children in home learning is not the easiest thing to do but Richard believe that in order to keep children interested, teachers need to “think outside the box” and even “make a fool of themselves”.
“Each Friday, we have a special Zoom with a fun activity. Last week, we had a ‘bring your pet to Zoom’ where children brought a variety of pets”
“I hosted a fancy dress Zoom quiz. Children made a great effort and we even had a dog in fancy dress! I, of course, had to take part and borrowed my sister’s giraffe onesie, which the children found very amusing.”
Although it’s a very stressful time, Richard said that Mere Green Primary School did their best to make sure that everyone within their community “have their thoughts and feelings listened to”.
Anderton says that throughout the pandemic parents were very helpful and flexible in adopting to a remote learning.
“Since the first school closure, parents have been incredibly supportive and complimentary of all the hard work staff have put in”.