Festival News: reflections on the first Ed-tech session 'beyond lockdown'.

Published: 23 September 2020
Louise McArdle (Learn Sheffield) reflects on the first session by Alistair Gittner, Paul Haigh and John Coats of EdTech Sheffield asking 'How do we build on what we learnt?'.

Beyond Lockdown: How do we build on what we learnt?

The above webinar, led by Alistair Gittner, Paul Haigh and John Coats was highly informative and particular pertinent to schools as they return following the prolonged period of closure for most pupils as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

King Ecgbert School and Notre Dame High School are official Department for Education EdTech demonstrator schools and are collectively known as EdTechSheff. http://edtechsheff.org/

In this first webinar which was aired on Wednesday 23rd September, the presenters gave lots of useful insights into how to ensure that schools continue to develop their approaches to remote/blended learning.

Teaching quality is the most important consideration in effective education. Whether pupils access remote learning synchronously (online or distance learning that happens in real time) or asynchronously (online learning content which is available for students to complete at a time that best suits them) or through a hybrid model, which includes a blend of both formats doesn’t really matter, as long as the elements of effective teaching are present.

The way information is presented when working remotely is particularly important and schools are advised to apply principles of cognitive science such as dual coding, working memory and Cognitive load theory in their teaching. It is also particularly important to teach students about metacognition and self-regulation strategies.

Tackling digital divide strategies and using technology to close the gaps for disadvantaged learner 

·         Check what families actually have, often they have wifi for games, just not laptops

·         The DFE continues to provide funds for laptops, make sure your school accesses this funding;

·         Consider using some of your PP money to fund chrome books for example, these can be purchased extremely cheaply;

·         Don’t forget to consider connectivity issues; it may be worth investing in 4G mobile phone data as it requires no wiring to the home;


Technology has enabled us to change the way we can meet, provide staff CPD and how flexible we can be with our approaches

·         Recorded training now means we can provide standardised input, part time staff can access key messages and we can receive the information at a time or place which best suits the recipient;

·         Once staff are familiar and confident with the technology, is is often a more efficient use of time;

·         Can engage with a wider range of schools and colleagues than prior to lockdown

·         We are not yet experts in remote DPD for adults – EEF Guidance REprot: Remote Adult Learning is a useful resource https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidence-summaries/evidence-reviews/remote-pd-rapid-evidence-assessment/


Further opportunities for working more flexibly for Support Staff

·         Although schools are ‘people places’ and face to face interaction is important, there are other ways that support staff could work including working from home;

·         Productivity can increase when WFH and by having an online ecosystem such as office 365, home workers can fully connect to the wider team and access the same resources.

·         ‘GS Wave’ phone app links school IP telephone system to staff mobiles


The session concluded with the presenters outlining what support schools can access. This includes:

·         Training to senior leaders on the evidence base around remote learning;

·         Training on metacognition and self-regulation;

·         Advice on remote learning policies/practice and safeguarding considerations;

·         Maths Hub work

·         Groups of schools – workgroups

·         2x1/2 days support

·         All free of charge for up to 30 schools


Many thanks to Alistair, Paul and John for such a great session, giving lots of useful advice and signposting us to many other sources of guidance.

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