Posted: Mon 9th Nov 2020

Calls for urgent assessment of how well pupils are engaging with remote learning

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

A Flintshire councillor has called for an urgent assessment on how well pupils are engaging with remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools across the county moved towards online teaching when they were forced to close due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in March.

While they have since reopened their doors, some year groups have been required to self-isolate following a number of confirmed cases of the virus.

Many schools are now in the process of developing “blended learning” for youngsters – a mixture of in-school and remote learning – when this occurs.

Cllr David Healey, a former teacher, said he was keen to understand how students were coping with less face-to-face interaction.

Speaking at a virtual meeting last week, the chair of Flintshire Council’s education, youth and culture scrutiny committee also raised concerns over the possibility of an increase in online bullying.

He said: “We’d want to have a handle on how well this is working and how well students are learning under these conditions at a fairly quick stage.

“It can’t wait for examination results or key stage results.

“I’m not saying that schools should be subjected to an additional layer of assessment, but I know schools will be monitoring pupil progress by their usual systems and will know whether it’s working or not.

“This is a brave new world and I’d want us to be able to have some feedback as far as the potential risk that pupils are not engaged with the new arrangements.”

He added: “While students are at home and on the internet, there is a greater opportunity for online bullying, either to engage in it or to be victims of it.

“Schools don’t have the same degree of control and I’m picking this up because we as a scrutiny committee have made a stand against abuse on social media.”

Fortnightly meetings have been held between the local authority and regional school improvement service GwE with a focus on developing distance and learning.

Officers said the education committee would also be given an update on how the system is working in the near future.

However, they stressed that the early signs were encouraging.

Flintshire’s school improvement manager Vicky Barlow said: “It’s a new way of working for pupils and it’s a new way of working for staff.

“Whilst there are definitely challenges, I have to say our teachers and our schools are responding very positively to meeting those challenges.

“There are lots of opportunities and lots of new ways of working which are actually going to add to the curriculum and add to the learners’ experience in school.

“It’s early days and it’s a new process, but I have to say the way our schools have responded literally overnight in March and continue not just to accept what’s there but to further develop has been really positive.”

A report on the effectiveness of blended learning is expected to be presented to the committee next month.

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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