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Everyone Learns New Skills As Academy Delivers Quality Online Teaching And Learning

Pilgrim Academy Teacher Julia Somerscales delivers a live morning ‘drop-in session' via Microsoft Teams to get children engaged and excited about their tasks for the day.

Daily live lessons, small groups working online, recordings of staff teaching and interactive reading and phonics sessions, are just some of the ways in which children at Pilgrim Academy are continuing with learning during lockdown.

Engagement from all pupils at Pilgrim Academy has been very high, with around 85%, either learning in school or taking part in online learning by the end of the first week. The Academy has also given out 22 iPads to support families who do not have the necessary technology.

Major investment from Tollbar Multi Academy Trust has ensured that Pilgrim Academy teachers can build upon the remote learning they were offering when pupils were absent and self-isolating last term. This has ensured that all children now learning at home during the UK’s full lockdown can continue, on the whole, with their normal timetable. Teachers are teaching live lessons directly into pupils’ homes via Microsoft Teams software.

On average, 60 pupils are still attending Pilgrim Academy every day, with over 90 attending at some point throughout the week. These children are from nursery; are vulnerable or are the children of critical workers. Pupils are divided into bubbles within their year group, so they are, in the main, being taught by teachers and teaching assistants they are familiar with.

Andy Clark, Principal of Pilgrim Academy, said: “We have made a rapid and smooth transition to using Microsoft Teams. Staff have received a lot of training and support from colleagues across the Trust but particularly from Mr Jordan Gibbon, Year 6 Teacher, who is taking the lead for remote learning.

“Mr Gibbon has produced a series of helpful videos for parents and children, as well as a series of helpful guides, which can be found on our website.  By the end of the first full week of remote learning, all teachers had started delivering live sessions, which included live Maths and English sessions, where sometimes, teachers share their screens, so children can see smartboard/PowerPoint presentations and other resources. In addition, there have been Reading, Phonics, Story time, Show and Tell, and Drop-in sessions for children and parents to ask questions. Some staff are using ‘break-out’ rooms where they are grouping children into pairs or small groups to discuss work, exactly like they would if they were in the classroom.

“Importantly, all staff are delivering some live sessions throughout the week, which is really important to make learning a lot more in-line with what it would be like in the classroom. This is also really important to support the children with their well-being so they can see and hear their teachers and friends on a regular basis.”

Mr Gibbon, who is leading the Remote Learning, said: “The transition to Microsoft Teams and the launch of live lessons has drastically improved the children’s remote-learning experience. The increased interactivity with teachers and peers has boosted both their engagement and motivation to learn, enabling them to make good progress.”

Parents and carers have also been fully supportive of the Academy.

One parent of a Year 5 pupil said: “My son is really enjoying the live sessions. He has been eager to complete the tasks, both before the lessons and the ones set for afterwards, and cannot wait for more to be scheduled in.”

A parent of a Year 3 pupil said that his son “is enjoying working using Microsoft Teams…we think the teachers have done an excellent job getting this system and the work online.”

A third parent of a Reception child said: “It was beneficial for me, even with background knowledge, to see the way in which the teachers interact and introduce the activities to the children, and the modelling of the activities to allow them to be completed by the children at home in the manner expected at school.  It also helped with home routine as we needed to be ready to engage.”

Year 3 and 4 Teacher, Sarah Brown said she felt it was important that pupils realised that teachers have also had to learn new skills to deliver the online learning. She said: “I have managed to do three live Maths lessons and three check-ins with pupils and I have really enjoyed it. I have finally entered the techno age!”

Principal Andy Clark added: “I cannot thank the teachers enough for the amazing effort they have put in to ensure our remote provision is up and running so quickly and the way they have adapted to this new way of teaching. It is also wonderful to see parents and children giving us so much support with our online learning.  We are determined to continue to deliver quality education remotely to all of our pupils for as long as this lockdown lasts to ensure that they can get the very best education possible at this time.”