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News & Views article

SEN Support - Accessible remote learning & making the most of the Oak offer

Alistair Crawford

29 January 21

Schools continue to do the most incredible job to support students and families. I’m very much in awe of colleagues who are offering high-quality teaching and support not only to students in school but through their remote learning offer to those at home. The professionalism, expertise and resilience exhibited under these circumstances is inspiring!

Students who rely on SEN support are potentially facing some of the greatest disadvantages in this latest lockdown period. Many of them are less likely to have a place to remain in school as a ‘vulnerable child’ compared to their peers with an EHC plan, and in many cases are finding remote learning more difficult to access and engage with this time around. This blog explores some ideas and strategies including how you can best make use of the Oak offer to meet the needs of students working at SEN support.

Inclusion lies at the heart of the Oak National Academy offer, with all lessons and resources designed to be accessible for all students. Our lessons have all been through robust quality assurance processes and have been tested by leading SEND practitioners and other organisations in the SEND community of practice.

Our accessibility features include:

  • Closed captions for all videos

  • BSL interpreted English & Maths lessons for our younger students (Y1 - Y3)

  • Considerations to colour palette / contrasts & font size

  • ARIA hints throughout the website to support navigation

  • Visual support & Makaton signs in specialist lessons

  • Full transcripts available for all lessons

SEN support learners will likely require a more personalised remote offer and additional support to access online lessons, which in turn can add pressure and workload for their teachers. With thousands of high-quality lessons available that can be matched and aligned with your own curriculum, our advice is to not reinvent the wheel. Instead, consider how Oak resources can be personalised to best meet the needs of your students when they can’t be in the classroom with their usual support.

To help you tackle the issue of supporting SEN learners, here are ten top tips on inclusive remote learning from our amazing community of practice:

  1. Compare your curriculum with Oak National Academy, and wherever you can, pick out the resources and lessons that match. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

  2. Year group references have been taken out of all lessons, so students working a touch behind their peers can access lessons without impacting on their confidence & self esteem. Use this to select materials for you pupils to personalise how you are meeting their learning needs.

  3. Consider the pace of learning e.g. break lessons down and spend more time concentrating on fewer lessons. Screen fatigue and concentration issues are becoming very common barriers to learning.

  4. Taking quizzes or test elements out of lessons can help reduce anxieties for some learners. Consider any anxieties that may be reducing their engagement. You can turn quizzes on or off when you share a lesson from the Teacher Hub.

  5. Feedback has told us that repetition & overlearning has worked really well for many students with SEND (and in a number of cases has led to accelerated learning). Build this into lessons to establish routine and embed new learning.

  6. Oak’s lessons can be downloaded and adapted via the Teacher Hub, providing opportunities to scaffold and develop further resources and activities to support students working at SEN support. Where you need to, use ready-made resources as a starting point to adapt for a learner’s needs.

  7. Using the C-STEP principle (see below) can help to further personalise Oak lessons.

  8. Using Oak lessons has allowed teachers to focus more of their time on giving feedback, checking wellbeing and connecting with students and families. Instead of spending too much time planning from scratch, make time to focus on the important things that only their own teacher can accomplish.

  9. Remote learning is very much a partnership in which student and family voices are key. Work with them to create the best remote offer for their context.

  10. Encourage families to make the most of serendipitous learning. Helping around the house, daily exercise and even playing in the snow has lots of educational value!

Hopefully our Oak resources and the ideas shared in this blog are able to support you in making your remote offer accessible and engaging for all students. Find the specialist lessons, mainstream classroom (without references to levels or year groups) and Teacher Hub on our website, as well as further support and guidance at support.thenational.academy.