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Distance Learning

Parent Guide to Distance Learning

Introduction

At Repton, we are proud of the teaching and learning that happens daily and the commitment and dedication of our experienced and passionate staff. During the enforced period of distance learning, our teachers will continue to deliver a high-quality British international education in a balanced and holistic manner.

While distance learning cannot replicate face-to-face learning in its entirety, digital learning platforms do provide new opportunities for learners of all ages to connect and learn in authentic, meaningful ways. During distance learning, our team will provide learning materials and activities that maintain the curriculum while at the same time, nurturing pupil wellbeing and promoting interaction.

Training and experience over the past year have enabled our teachers to constantly develop and improve their skills in the delivery of distance learning. Our teachers are striving towards finding the right balance between inspiring and instructional videos and live sessions focused on motivating pupils and helping them to get the most from online lessons. Our pupils too have been leaning – distance learning requires greater self-sufficiency and self-management to keep up with work.

Overcoming Challenges

Distance learning presents us all with challenges. We are all learning how to do things differently during this pandemic. Across our school community there is a wide range of comfort with technology and even very digitally aware young people may struggle with educational technology. Many important aspects of learning at Repton may not transfer easily to online environments and this is particularly relevant to our younger children who, whether learning takers place at home or at school, are very reliant on support.

We cannot be sure how long distance learning will need to continue but we do know that it won't last forever. Children and young people take cues from adult behaviour and attitudes and so it is essential that as a parent you stay calm, you communicate and you exude confidence and optimism. As parents, managing our own emotions and being realistic in our expectations during this difficult time will help our children stay focused on learning and get the most from our distance learning provision during this time.

This guidance is designed to help us all make the best of new and sometimes unfamiliar distance learning environments. Our aim is to share with you the online learning plans for your children and help you be ready for some of the more practical aspects of learning from home.

How you can support your child

We appreciate that families face challenges in managing their busy lives and that family members are being asked to juggle different schedules. We are aware of the complexities you face, and our distance learning plan has been developed to try to take this into consideration. Whilst no families situation is the same and the age of the pupils has a big impact on what can realistically be achieved by distance learning, we hope you will find the following tips useful

1. Establish routines and expectations

It is important to develop good habits from the start. Create a flexible routine and talk about how it is working over time. Try to arrange your days into predictable segments. Help your children to get up, get dressed and ready to learn at a reasonable time. Keep normal bedtime routines, including normal rules for digital devices. Where possible, try to adjust schedules to meet everyone’s needs.

2. Choose a good place to learn

Your family’s regular learning space for occasional homework might not work for extended periods. Establish a location that is dedicated to school-focused activities. Make sure it is quiet, free from distractions and has a good internet connection. If at all possible, make sure an adult monitors online learning. Keep doors open, and practice good digital safety.

3. Stay in touch

Teachers will mainly be communicating regularly through our online platforms and virtual learning environments. Stay in contact with subject and form teachers and school managers but please understand we may not be able to respond immediately. Please respond to our requests for feedback, we will draw upon this to improve our provision. If you have a question or concern, please make sure that these are directed to those best able to deal with your question – form teachers, subject teachers and the Head of Early Years, Head of Juniors, Head of Seniors, Head of Languages or Principal. It is essential that, for the speediest response let the right people know if you have concerns.

4. Help pupils ‘own’ their learning

We do not expect parents to be full-time teachers or to be educational and curriculum experts. We ask you to provide support and encouragement, and expect your children to play their part too. Please remember, children will struggle from time to time and questions are allowed and encouraged! Try not to help too much – we want our pupils to develop independence and it takes lots of practice. At Repton, your child engages with other students and any number of adults hundreds of times each day. Many of these social interactions will continues from a distance, but they will be different. Please accept that we cannot and you cannot, replace them all.

5. Discuss learning with your child

Not all children thrive in distance learning; some, particularly the younger children, will struggle with too much independence or lack of structure and will require your guidance as well as that of the teacher.

In the morning, you might ask:

  • What classes/subject do you have today?
  • Do you have any assessments?
  • How will you spend your time?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What can I do to help?

At the end of the day you might ask:

  • How far did you get in your learning tasks today?
  • What did you discover?
  • What was hard?
  • What could we do to make tomorrow better?

These brief conversations are important. Checking that you child has processed instructions received from their teachers helps them organise themselves and set priorities and can help avoid later challenges and disappointments. They also help pupils develop self-management and independence - essential skills for life.

6. Establish times for quiet and reflection

For families with children of different ages, and parents who may also be unexpectedly working from home more often, it is good to build in some time for peace and quiet. Siblings may need to work in different rooms to avoid distraction. Many families will need to negotiate access to devices, priorities for wi-fi bandwidth and schedules throughout the day. Noise-cancelling headphones can be useful. Remember reading is fundamental and your child should find time every day to read and wherever possible young children should read and share stories with an adult.

7. Encourage physical activity and exercise

Children exert a lot of energy at school and not just in PE and games lessons. Living and working at home, children will need some room to let off steam. Moving (independently and together as a family) is vital to health, wellbeing, and readiness for learning. Exercise presents a good opportunity to enjoy family time. Consider setting new fitness goals and activities that keep hands busy, feet moving, and minds engaged. You may want to think about how your children can do more around the house with chores or other responsibilities.

8. Manage stress and make the most of an unusual situation

We are going through a time of major upheaval to our normal routines and ways of life, and it is natural that there is a measure of associated anxiety. Emotions may be running high, and children may be worried or fearful. As parents, you may be stressed as well and children will quickly pick up on this. We will ensure that the pupils will get age-appropriate factual information and ongoing reassurance from their teachers. We have put in place layers of support for Repton Malaysia pupils, so please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher, if you need assistance or advice. It is very important that we all remain positive and try to reframe challenges as opportunities such as spending time together, discovering new ideas and interests, and paying attention to activities that often get pushed aside by everyday tasks and responsibilities.

9. Monitor time on-screen and online

Distance learning does not mean staring at computer screens seven and half hours every day. Teachers will aim to build in variety, but it will require some trial and error before everyone finds balance between online and offline learning experiences. We have planned for pupil-teacher contact time via live sessions, but it is important that students screen time is kept to reasonable limits and hence, we aim to have carefully managed screen time whilst maintaining the quality of the learning experience. Our aim is to support overall student health and wellbeing whilst maintaining academic outcomes. You can help at home by finding ways to prevent ‘down time’ from becoming just more ‘screen time’.

10. Connect safely with friends, and be kind

The novelty of school being closed will fade quickly when the pupils start missing their friends, classmates, and teachers. Help your children maintain contact with friends through social media and other online technologies. But monitor your child’s social media use. Remind your child to be polite, respectful and appropriate in their communications, and to follow school guidelines in their interactions with others. Report unkindness and other problems so that everyone maintains healthy relationships and positive interactions.

Distance Learning in the Early Years

Distance learning presents a specific challenge for teachers and parents. Early Years children are most reliant on adults and so parents have little option but to shoulder a greater share of responsibility for their child’s learning. We aim to help and support parents through close interaction with our Head of Early Years so that learning will not diminish; our aim is to enhance it through rich and focused interaction between school and home. The Early Years is a time of deep learning, and when learning is based at home, we are able to focus in more acutely on aspects of Personal Development — something that cannot be taught formally. Personal Development in the Early Years Foundation Stage is a key element of early learning at Repton and requires parents in their role as children’s ‘first and most enduring educators’ to take the lead in distance learning. Those who care for and educate young children at home have an unprecedented opportunity to exercise the gift of nurture, to deepen bonds with their children and to draw upon their intuitive emotional response to their children.

Early Years Education – what ‘Distance’ really means

For teachers: Our teachers are acutely aware that it is impossible to replicate the intricate world of the classroom, the vital social interactions taking place as children learn to be part of a wider world, the careful planning of individual programmes for each child, so that their learning matches their personal learning journey. As a result the they need to work closely with parents to advise and guide and use technology to socially interact with the children on a daily basis.

For parents: The anxiety of receiving on line learning guidance, multiple resources (which although of the highest online quality, can never match the detailed and responsive learning that takes place in the school) managing their children’s responses, trying to give feedback and missing the ongoing dialogue with teachers, not to mention managing ‘working from home’.

Early Years Foundation Stage – Play Based Learning

The Early Years Foundation Stage is underpinned by the principle that that learning takes place through discovery. In school, our teachers create play-based opportunities that enable children to explore and discover. Activities are teacher facilitated; child initiated. This means that the teacher carefully sets up activities, environments and games that give the child opportunities to learn through their play. The teacher may sometimes guide by asking questions but rarely do they lead. Teachers carefully observe a child’s interaction with a resource, game or environment and then ask questions to focus the child on the learning. Obviously, this is extremely difficult to replicate through distance learning. However, parents and carers can create learning opportunities for their children at home

  • Resources can be made from items found around the home or commercially produced and can be used in an open-ended way
  • Space: indoors or outdoors, small and cosy - a nook, under a table covered with a blanket can become a place of imaginings
  • Time: extended and uninterrupted time to play allows children to become deeply involved. No need for a ‘school length’ day or adding pressure to ourselves or children
  • Mess: early learning is messy and unpredictable in all respects
  • Joining in: adults are encouraged to join in children’s play but they must respect children’s rules and decisions.

The adults role is to ask questions and support and enhance the play not to lead it.

Distance Learning in the Junior School

What can you expect?

Every Junior school day is planned to be an engaging one that brings to life every aspect of a child’s curriculum with lots of opportunities to interact with their teachers and classmates.
We aim to inspire your child with innovative lessons, unique learning opportunities and high-quality teaching as part of our blended learning approach

Our Distance Learning Experience has two key aspects:

  • Connected time where pupils can learn from their teachers ‘live’ using our safe and secure online platform.
  • Guided time where pupils learn independently through tailored tasks set by their teacher or pre-recorded lessons/activities

The Junior School aims to strike a balance between on and offline learning time so that your child can make the most of personalised primary learning from home.

Blended Learning

We believe that many elements blend together to make up a successful distance learning experience. The balance of the day will differ to a typical day in school but, depending on the age and stage of your child, a blended approach ensures that maximum learning is achieved through the delivery of a holistic education. This means the whole child is nurtured and education goes beyond the traditional model. All areas of the curriculum will be covered from English to maths to music, history to art, and assemblies to sports.

The school day is structured to include a mixture of synchronous, where teachers are online at the same time as the students, and asynchronous, where teachers have prepared learning experiences that pupils can access at their own time and pace. We make sure that the curriculum is delivered across these key elements. Each pupil has a timetable to help them understand what type of learning is taking place and show their parents how they can best support them.

Synchronous Learning includes:

  1. Live Time: This is when teachers use our video conferencing platform to create a virtual classroom where pupils can interact with their teachers and other pupils live. Teachers model new learning, deliver sequences of learning and give pupils opportunities to practice and collaborate in small groups and individually.
  2. Discussion Time: Collaboration and critical thinking are really important skills for the 21st Century. We ensure that our pupils have multiple opportunities to interact with each other virtually. Teachers can set prompts and then act as a guide as pupils develop their critical thinking skills by listening and acting on the feedback received from their peers and their teachers. Discussions happen in real time and over time, in writing and via video.
  3. Feedback and Improvement: Feedback is crucial for learning and so it is a constant element across all areas of the distance learning provision. Teachers give individual feedback when children are finding things tricky or arranging small calls to talk through their work. Most importantly, the pupils then act upon this feedback, so their learning improves.

Asynchronous learning includes:

  1. Record and Celebrate: This element is about celebrating and valuing the learning our pupils complete as well as reflecting on learning as it takes place. Our teachers support pupils to use the appropriate method to organise their learning, refer to previous knowledge and skills, and build on them as they progress with the curriculum. As with the physical school, we celebrate and share learning via virtual shows, performances and assemblies.
  2. Pupil Choice: An influential factor that improves learning outcomes is the choice over what, how and when learning takes place. We provide opportunities for pupils to have control and ownership over their learning. This supports well-being and increases their engagement and motivation.
  3. Project Time: This is when pupils get to take part in various learning opportunities set by their teachers. By giving pupils access to the materials and by providing clear instructions for them to follow, children can take part in the learning and follow their own interests. Feedback from the teacher keeps the learning on track.
  4. Screen-free time: Our teachers are mindful of the impact of screen use and ensure that learning opportunities that don’t require any screen use are a part of our offering. Screen-free times are carefully balanced throughout the day and are adjusted to cater for the age and needs of each child and family.

Distance Learning Platforms and Technology systems to support Distance Learning at Repton International School

With regards to the school’s core technological and communications systems, the following FAQs address how we will communicate and manage learning in the event that we must implement this distance learning plan.

Q1. How will Repton communicate with students, parents and staff in the event that school must close?

Repton will continue to use the same pathways it employs for normal day-to-day communications with parents and staff.

Pathway Audience Description
Email Staff, parents, students Email will be used for all major communications and announcements. Staff will also use email to communicate, although they will use other platforms to interact with students as well.
Google Suite Students and staff Google G Suite (Including Gmail, Docs, Classroom, Meet) will continue to be the platform used by most teachers. For video conferencing and live sessions in small or large groups, we will use Google Meet. EY year 1 Tapestry
 Managebac  IB students and staff IB students and staff will continue to utilise Managebac for planning, assessing and reporting and communicating with students.
Public Website General Public The Repton website will maintain general information related to the school closure www.repton.edu.my
IT support Staff, students, parents The Repton IT help desk will continue to support

 

Q2. Are there learning management systems and technological tools in this plan the same as those used during normal operations?

Yes. Repton’s systems are the same as those used during normal operations. The goal of this distance learning plan is to continue teaching and learning with as much alignment to normal school operations as possible.

Q3. How will Repton ensure that students have access to these systems off campus?

Students must ensure they have a device they can use in the event that the school shifts suddenly from face-to-face to distance learning. This includes laptops and ipads/tablets. Students will be expected to use their Repton Google profile and email to access the Repton Google Suite including Tapestry EY & Year 1 Google Meet and Google Classroom / Key Stage 1 & 2 / Key Stage 3, IGCSE and A Level and Google Meet which will be the platform of live sessions with the teachers and students. Google Classroom and Managebac (IB) will be the primary platforms to communicate, share work, present learning activities and provide feedback to students.

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