I think that I speak for all teachers, parents and pupils when I say I’ve never had a back-to-school run up quite like this.
Schools’ doors are re-opening for the Autumn term. And there’s no question that pupils being back in class with their teachers is the best thing for their learning, development and sense of routine. But the coronavirus pandemic continues to present challenges for every teacher and school.
With classroom bubbles, pupils and teachers shielding, and the uncertainties of local lockdowns, it’s not going to be a normal school set-up.
The ask on teachers is tough. They need to keep their pupils, and themselves, safe. They have to have a back-up plan in case they are required to provide remote learning. They need to help pupils transition back to the physical classroom. For many there’s extra support needed to catch up on missed learning. Oh, and they need to deliver a full, normal year’s worth of lessons too.
It’s not going to be easy. Teachers have really raised the bar to support pupils with remote learning. Now we need to help them prepare as best we can for whatever the year brings.
To support, today we’ve launched our new teacher hub. It will have nearly 10,000 free, high-quality lessons and resources to complement remote and in-school teaching.
Thousands of new video lessons and resources
A team of 300 teachers spent a chunk of their summer holidays creating and recording the video lessons and resources, ready for you to use however you wish.
We’ve learnt a lot from our first term and have listened carefully to feedback from teachers. You told us you needed:
- A broader curriculum
- More lessons upfront to ease planning
- More flexibility in how to order materials
- An ability to download, edit and adapt resources
We’ve taken this all on board and worked hard to improve our offer so we can better serve teachers. If we can help lighten the workload for teachers as pupils return to class, then we’re happy.
An (unfinished) national resource
Before I outline the specific changes we’ve made, I want to acknowledge that, whilst brilliant, I would be a fool to claim they’re perfect.
Across the year we’ll review and improve any lessons that aren’t working as well as they could. We’ll need teachers to feedback – providing positive, constructive suggestions. Recording and publishing a lesson for the world to watch is hard, so we’ll ask for equal measures of kindness and expertise.
Most importantly, we want this to be an ongoing effort, with the profession leaning in to create something every teacher has a stake in – a shared national resource to support teaching, learning and workload.
Now, with that important caveat, here are some of the changes we’ve made to our resources.
Expanded range of lessons
We’ve got more lessons covering a wider range of subjects in the most popular topics, from reception through to Year 11. An online version of the national curriculum like this, covering every age group, has never been done before. But I also know that a curriculum is, and should be, a school’s choice. So this has shaped the rest of our approach.
Download and edit resources
Each school and each pupil is different. So wherever copyright allows (which is about 70% of the lessons), teachers can now download, edit and adapt slides and worksheets. They’ll know what’s best, so we should let them decide how to support their pupils. We’ve also removed reference to year groups on videos so teachers can match lessons to pupils based on ability, rather than age.
The situation in schools could change at a moment’s notice, so teachers need flexible resources which can fit in and complement their plans. Our new lessons will work in any order that suits you. Teachers can also access our online classroom to follow a suggested weekly schedule as we did last term.
Many schools have their own existing learning management system, our job should be to make it easier for you to share Oak’s resources within those. So teachers will now be able to share units, lessons or individual resources with colleagues or pupils – each has a link you can send on email or through your existing virtual learning platform.
We know some pupils struggled with internet access and a lack of digital devices over lockdown. These should not be reasons for any child to miss out on a high-quality education. So, where we have suitable copyright, our resources can now be printed off to support those without devices at home. We’ve also continued with captions on all lessons and British Sign Language for the youngest. The ability to edit resources also means teachers can adapt and tailor lessons to individual pupil needs.
The generous advice and support of subject associations, unions and hundreds of teachers has enabled us to create a more inclusive and collaborative offer.
Our specialist lessons will also be launching in early September. We’ve expanded our offer and you can read about the innovative approach we’ve taken. We want to make sure specialist and SEND learners get the full focus they deserve and our offer is made widely available.
More to do
But there’s always more to do. We’re planning to add more mainstream subjects, resources and functionality throughout the year so Oak can be as useful as possible to teachers and pupils.
We’d particularly like to explore PE, DT, Drama, secondary RHE, primary Art and primary MFL. We’re talking to schools and subject associations but if you know a partner who could develop lessons do let us know via our social channels. Our hope is to establish partners and develop a curriculum in subjects in the autumn term, so we can produce lessons ready for January.
Supporting a consistent education for all
Teachers face a challenge year ahead. As they’ve provided time and again, I’m confident they’ll rise to the occasion despite the uncertainty.
Whatever scenarios Covid-19 presents for schools in the weeks ahead, we hope Oak National Academy can be here to ease a little of the pressure and be a useful resource by teachers, for teachers.