There aren’t many creatures more innovative than teachers. A drive to find resourceful ways to deliver the best for pupils has always been at the foreground of the profession.
Oak was set up to help teachers with contingency plans for potential remote learning in a challenging year. But ever the innovators, teachers are telling us about the new and unexpected ways their schools are using Oak to support their work.
Catching up on missed learning
After months away from classes, teachers are using Oak lessons and units to address any gaps identified in pupils’ understanding. They’re able to make sure that catch-up work is easily tailored to individuals whilst pushing forward with the new year’s curriculum.
Donna Lewis, head of Broken Cross Primary in Macclesfield, is mapping missed learning against Oak’s curriculum in the same way her school has for remote learning. This will then go home for parents to support their children.
She says, “I believe there will be a real benefit in using Oak to go back on missed learning from the summer, even if it is only light-touch. We can’t cover it the same way, but this will give pupils the opportunity to have exposure to concepts they’ve missed.”
Increasingly, schools are facing scenarios where teachers are having to isolate whilst their classes or bubbles of pupils remain in school. Setting cover is difficult at the best of times, becoming almost impossible whilst ill or managing family commitments. We’re learning how Oak can make it easy to set a fully planned and resourced lesson to support the cover teacher, so pupils don’t miss a beat in their learning. If Oak’s curriculum is close to your own, we’re seeing teachers simply share a link to the next relevant lesson, making it simple for colleagues picking up topics at short notice.
One secondary Head of Science let us know they’d be doing just that, saying, “The lessons are of a level of quality that a non-specialist could still take the class through, so I fully intend to plan to use them to save us having to create large volumes of cover work at short notice”.
In the classroom
Teachers are telling us that their use of Oak is also extending to their classrooms. We’ve listened to feedback and made the resources downloadable and editable wherever copyright allows, meaning teachers can use the materials to help their termly planning. This is not only leading to a smoother transition between school and home learning but has the obvious benefit of reducing workload, too.
As Sam Harries, head at Swallowdale Primary School in Melton Mowbray explains: “Some of our teachers are using Oak videos and resources to complement their whole class teaching, because it’s supporting a reduction in their workload. Oak won’t just be used for home learning; we’re going to run our curriculum for the whole school around a lot of the Oak resources to ensure children at home will be getting very similar to those in school.”
As more schools move to online homework as an easier way of tracking assignments, schools can also use this to get ahead of the game on remote learning. Setting Oak tasks for homework exposes pupils and parents to the process that might be needed for self-isolation or lockdown learning.
Stephen Easton, Headteacher at Marine Park First School in Whitley Bay, has made Oak homework part of their school routine: “We’ve been using and would recommend schools consider using Oak for some homework activities. This helps raise the profile of this resource and helps teachers, parents and pupils get used to using it. It then means we can scale this up when needed for full remote learning.”
Training and CPD
Then, of course, there are the trainees and early career teachers who haven’t been able to observe others in the way we’re used to. A particularly surprising use that we keep hearing about is how trainees themselves, or at the suggestion of schools and universities, are using the video lessons as CPD and observing Oak teachers in action.
Other schools are sharing lessons beyond trainees and experienced teachers are also reaping the benefits. RE subject specialist Nikki McGee noted: ‘One idea I’ve had is to give staff training time over to watching some of the lessons. To say to a teacher, ‘If you’re unconfident in an area, then why don’t you watch how this subject specialist explains this difficult concept’ is great CPD. We all benefit from observing other teachers and at the moment we can’t.’
Remote learning and beyond
However Oak is being used, a reduction in workload in any way that’s needed during one of the most daunting eras of education is undoubtedly welcomed; extending those benefits into and beyond the classroom is even better.
Oak is here to share the load of planning remote lessons as a contingency – but being by teachers, for teachers, it’s perhaps unsurprising that tales of other beneficial ways to use the resources are being shared all the time.