Swiss Cottage School, DRC developed our Virtual School offer in March 2020 during the 1st pandemic lockdown. Our experiences of supporting pupils with complex medical needs that experienced absences from school due to hospital admissions informed the Virtual School design.
We worked with families to understand what worked well and what could work better to review the Virtual School from the Summer Term. This informed our planning for any classes that may experience the 2 week self-isolation period in the Autumn Term.
A two week timetable exists for every class linked to the curriculum pathway, classroom vision for learning, and EHCP priorities. Resources are prepared in advance so that any positive case response has an immediate support for families to avoid loss of learning. All staff were trained on the home learning technology in April 2020 and this was renewed in September 2020. This allowed for continued learning as the school responded to 32 positive COVID-19 cases in our school community.
The January 2021 lockdown informed a survey to all parents on their preference for onsite or virtual school provision. This also included a survey of staff on their preference of working onsite or within the virtual school. The school created hybrid class groups to support 118 parents seeking onsite provision and 142 parents seeking virtual school provision to shield with the COVID-19 variant.
Our virtual school is guided by the school’s 5 curriculum pathways:
The virtual teaching medium-term and short-term planning continues to be guided by our school’s planning process:
The virtual teaching is assessed in partnership with families. This is through reflective questions provided by the class teacher to the family that link to our school’s formative assessment process:
The school coordinates multi-agency provision (NHS therapists, CAMHS specialists) to ensure the virtual class timetable is connected. Families are involved in defining this timetable to promote their balance with home circumstances.
Monitoring Engagement and Welfare
A daily register is taken in the Virtual School for all pupils. The school has a cycle for monitoring engagement and a cycle for monitoring welfare of pupils. These are linked to the school’s normal processes:
Engagement: Weekly review cycle from the class teacher to identify successes and highlight any measures we can put into place to promote further engagement. This involves the following areas:
Delivery of resources and technology
Broadband dongles and SIM cards for families using mobile data
Modelling or examples of teaching approaches
Use of the school’s system from home (MyConcern and Communication Logs)
Welfare: Weekly monitoring meeting focuses on Virtual School cohort as a discrete group
Referrals from the weekly monitoring meeting to schedule a doorstep visit with families and/or planning meeting with multi-agency teams including NHS therapists, CAMHS specialists, and Social Care to put into place early intervention.
The Family Inclusion Team support families directly with wellbeing priorities.
The school day promotes teacher workload balance.
Teachers continue to have the morning 8:30-9:15 time for a meeting on Microsoft Team to outline planning and preparation with the class team for the online learning focus of the day. This includes opportunities for training and research linked to the long term vision for the class.
Clusters of teachers within the professional learning communities (NESTs) engaging in enquiry based reflective practice to develop approaches for delivering quality virtual learning and sharing best practice between professionals.