News & Views article
We’re staying open and free into next year
22 July 21
It’s been a tough year for teachers, schools and families managing the impact of the pandemic. Here at Oak we’re glad to have played our part, supporting teachers and pupils with over 130million lessons.
While Oak was set up as an emergency response to COVID-19, over the past 15 months teachers have shown their trademark ingenuity in making the best use of our resources in a wide range of ways.
We’re therefore pleased to confirm that our 40,000+ lessons, slides and resources will remain available and free into next year. Whilst restful summer holidays are deserved more than ever, any teacher that wants to can now plan to use Oak for September.
To help, we’ve created new planning pages, so you can get set across 35 subjects, from EYFS to Key Stage 4 and for those in specialist settings.
Since schools fully reopened 30,000 teachers and 150,000 pupils have used Oak every week. Teachers’ innovation has seen them continuing to access our Teacher Hub to save themselves time and ease their workload around:
- lesson planning - with Oak’s lessons mapped against the national curriculum
- teaching in-class - with teachers creating and supplementing their lessons with Oak’s editable resources or ‘team-teaching’ with our videos
- preparing cover lessons - especially for those teaching outside their subject specialism
- setting homework and revision
- providing lessons for long-term absent pupils
You can read more about our research into how Oak has been used by teachers since schools fully reopened here.
We’ve also seen how teachers are using Oak beyond the classroom to boost their own professional development. Trainee and early career teachers have been using Oak to observe other teachers’ approaches, whilst experienced teachers have been using lessons for inspiration when covering a new topic or looking for a fresh approach to a familiar subject.
As we head into autumn and winter, we remain hopeful of a smoother term. But we've seen how COVID-19 variants have the potential to cause more disruption.
We initially saw the spike in infections in the North West of England lead to an increase in Oak’s usage - almost three times higher than usual in Salford and Wigan and double in Manchester and Bolton. As the disruption spread country-wide, the number of pupils using us surged to 300,000 last week. Whilst we hope schools will move closer to normality from September, Oak’s ready to provide contingency support should pupils need to self-isolate.
That’s why the Department for Education has agreed to extend Oak’s funding, with £2.1 million to cover two more terms. This investment provides national back-up and insurance for the country’s schools at the equivalent cost of £80 per school.
As we look further forward, we’re continuing to look for a sustainable future for Oak. We know there’s significant demand from teachers for our support and we’re committed to keeping Oak open and free to schools as long as possible.
As part of this, we have been asked by the Department for Education to consult with our partners and stakeholders about transferring the ownership of Oak’s brand, platform and intellectual property to the Department.
Oak and the Department want to maintain Oak's principle of curriculum independence, being 'of the sector, for the sector', and that our resources would remain entirely optional.
Thank you for your continued support for Oak - we look forward to staying by your side into next year.